So, after letting it sit in my closet much longer than intended, I finally got in some plays for Omen: A Reign of War. (BoardGameGeek link - it's apparently not on Amazon.)
In Omen, the players are in the midst of a mythological war that seems to be set in ancient Greece. They are struggling to accomplish feats and overtake a few war-torn cities by using Soldiers, Oracles, and Beasts (such as Satyrs, a Phoenix, and Minotaurs). Each turn consists of a few different steps - first is the wealth step in which you are allowed to take a combination of three cards or coins. If you use all three of these choices to take the same thing (three cards or three coins), then you get a bonus item of the type you selected. Next, you play hoards of cards from your hand into the three different cities. When playing soldiers, they have effects that occur immediately, with beasts you either get to use their ability or play them for strength, and with oracles, they have abilities that occur every round. After you are satisfied with what you have played (generally because you ran out of coins), then all of your oracle abilities occur. Next, you check to see if you have accomplished any of the six feats (such as having a soldier in each city). Finally, it's time for action. You check to see if any of the cities are "war torn." A city is war torn if your opponent has three units in it, or there are a total of five units (or more) in the city. If this occurs, both players compare strength in the city, and whoever has the highest strength is the winner - thus getting to claim the top card from the city (each city has four cards). Whoever wins must remove all but one of his units, and the loser can keep two of his. (Note: during all parts of the game, including this one, beasts count as two units, and so the winner cannot keep a beast.) The last step of the turn is an optional offering - the active player has the option to discard a card from his hand in order to gain extra cards or coins (not a combination) equal to the card's offering value. Play alternates in this fashion until one player has accomplished five of his six feats, or until two of the cities have been scored four times. At that point, whoever has the most points (from scoring cities and feats) is the winner.
|A war torn city|
The next pro that I have for Omen: A Reign of War is that I like the different unit types. I like that each type has a different way of being used in the game, and that each of these different types can be incredibly effective if used correctly - oracles can give you long running bonuses, soldiers can give you a one-two punch of gaining strength and an effect, and beasts can powerfully swing a battle for a city (or do some other ridiculous ability). This diversity of types is a nice touch, and it is also nice that there are different Feats that can reward you for each of the different types. (There is a feat for having one soldier in each city, another for having one beast in each city, and a third for having one oracle in each city.) Granted, the downside of the feats focusing on having several units of the same type is that this adds a luck of the draw element to being able to accomplish some of the feats - which can be frustrating, since feats are one of your only two ways of scoring points.
The final pro that I will mention about Omen are the amazing combos that are possible. It is really interesting to watch how some of the different cards combine together to make for incredibly powerful turns. You may be able to play a soldier that allows you to draw two cards and force your opponent to discard two cards, then you can play another soldier that allows you to move the first soldier - thus triggering his effect a second time. (And, by doing so, accomplishing a feat of forcing your opponent to discard three or more cards in a turn.) If you add in another card that allows you to draw a card and steal money from your opponent, suddenly you've been able to cripple your opponent in both cards and money, draw five cards (yet another of the six feats), and get a lot of strength on the battlefield - all with three cards! (Plus, you've refilled your hand, which helps set you up for the next turn.) Again - watching some of these combos can be a lot of fun.
|Beasts can have amazing abilities|
My next con for Omen is also about combos. Too often, executing powerful combos feels like a result of luck more than a result of planning. Why? Because the best combos generally come from getting to draw cards mid turn. Let's take the scenario that I gave in my final pro. On most turns, you will start with only a few cards. So, first, you play the soldier that allows you to draw two cards and force your opponent to discard two cards. This card is strong, all on its own. Now, say that you draw the soldier that allows you to move another soldier - boom, you're able to trigger your original soldier again. And thus you draw two more cards. What do you get next? A card that allows you to get more coins (or steal them from your opponent)? Now, you can play that, which then gives you enough resources to play yet another card. But what part of that was planned at the beginning of the turn? Playing the original soldier. More often than not, I felt like the combos, though powerful, were very reactionary. I'm not going to say that everyone agrees with this opinion - but it was definitely a sentiment that I had after playing.
The last con that I will mention has to do with countering your opponent. In this game, every strategy seems to have cards that help you counter them. This is a good trait. So, you might be wondering, why is it listed in the section for cons? Because whether you actually get the cards you need for countering them will all be based on the luck of the draw. Take oracles as an example. Oracles help you in some small way every turn - they give bonuses like drawing a card, gaining a coin, or stealing a coin from your opponent. Fortunately, there are several different soldiers that can discard oracles. But, if you don't ever successfully draw these cards (or you are forced to discard them before you can play them), then you won't ever be able to get rid of their oracles, because they won't be forced to discard them by anything that they do, including scoring a city. So, you may draw the exact same cards two games in a row, but if you draw them when you need them one game and draw them when they aren't relevant the next, then you will have drastically different amounts of success.
|Omen is very text heavy|
Overall, I give Omen: A Reign of War a 7.0/10. I really thought that I was going to love this game. In fact, when I traded for it, I was incredibly excited about getting to try it out. But, for whatever reason, it fell somewhat flat for me. Hopefully I've been able to solidify my thoughts well enough to help you understand if this one would be a good choice for you, or if you think it's one that you should pass on.
If you like games like Omen, you should also check out Summoner Wars, Glory to Rome, and Eminent Domain.