Onirim Mini Review

solo game of Onirim in play

Today's review is of the solo game (with optional two-player rules) Onirim.

In Onirim, you are inside a dream world.  In this dream world, you are attempting to go through eight doors in order to escape - but you have to be careful, because terrible nightmares might come out and attack you on your way.  (Or something like that - the theme is very odd and unclear to me.)  However, here's how the game works - you have a hand of five cards.  Each of these five cards has a color and a symbol.  In the deck there are also door cards and nightmare cards.  Each turn, you must either play or discard a card.  You may never play two cards with the same symbol next to each other.  If you play three cards of the same color in a row, then you can search the deck, take a door card of the corresponding color, and put it in play.  At the end of your turn, you draw back up to five cards.  If one of your new cards is a door, then you have the option of immediately playing a card from your hand with a matching color and a key symbol to gain that door - otherwise, it will shuffle back into the deck.  If you draw a nightmare card, then you must either discard a key from your hand, put a gained door back into the deck, discard the top five cards of the deck (other than doors and nightmares), or discard your hand and draw back up to five.  If you want to avoid nightmare cards, then your only defense is by discarding cards with the key symbol.  Whenever you discard a card with the key symbol, you are able to look at the top five cards from the deck; you must then discard one of those cards, and you may rearrange the other cards however you would like.  If you are able to successfully get all eight doors into play before the deck runs out, then you win!

towers for the card game Onirim
Building towers
The first thing that I like about Onirim is that there are a lot of alternative ways to play (or "expansions" if you prefer).  What I described above are the rules for the basic game.  The basic game is fairly easy, in my opinion.  However, once you start adding in more expansions, the game gets quite a bit more challenging.  For example, one expansion forces you to play the doors in a certain order - but this added difficulty is (somewhat) balanced by allowing you three different magical abilities.  You pay for these abilities by removing from the game a certain number of cards in your discard pile.  One of these abilities allows you to swap the order for two of the doors that you need to gain.  Another one allows you to take a card from the bottom of the deck and put it on top, and the third allows you to ignore a drawn nightmare card.  The second expansion adds more challenges by having four "tower" cards that need to be played in addition to the doors - each of which will get wiped out by a nightmare (if you have not successfully played all four of them).  The final expansion adds hate-filled cards that can place a gained door immediately back into the deck, remove all of the red cards from the deck, shuffle a nightmare back into the deck, etc. Mixing and matching these various expansions really allows the game to be less trivial, and forces the player to make more important decisions.

The second pro that I have for Onirim is that it is small, portable, and can be played solo.  This is the winning combination for a game to be something that I would take on a business trip.  It also helps that the game only lists at $15.  So, if you have a business trip coming up, and you enjoy playing board games, Onirim is an obvious choice.  (Well, after you've gotten tired of Friday - my favorite solo game.)

Onirim a solo card game has nightmares and happy dreams
Nightmares and "Happy Dreams"
Now, even when mixing and matching expansions in Onirim, my biggest con is that the choices that you make aren't especially varied.  Essentially, the main decisions you are making are what to play (or discard), and what to do with your keys.  Keys can be used to order the deck (and get rid of nightmares), but they can also instantly gain doors when drawn, so they are also useful to keep.  Of course, you could also keep them and, if a nightmare is drawn, you can discard one at that point.  In the base game, especially, you are simply reacting to what you draw.  Do you have a lot of green cards?  Then, you should play the green cards and open the green doors.  The expansions help mitigate this con to an extent, but ultimately there are not a lot of varied strategies in the game.

Overall, I give the game an 8.0/10.  That's really about all there is about Onirim.  The game isn't terribly complicated, but it is a good option when looking for a portable single player game. 

If you are looking for games that you can play solo, you might also check out Friday, Nemo's War, and Lord of the Rings: The Card Game.

1 comment:

  1. The artwork looks really interesting. I almost want to buy it just to see what all of the cards look like. I don't know that I have ever really played a solo game before. Might head over and check out Friday.