Omen: A Reign of War Review & Kickstarter Preview

Omen: A Reign of War is the base game in the Omen saga being rereleased on Kickstarter by Kolossal Games, designed by John Clowdus. What you are seeing is a preproduction copy provided by Kolossal Games. Check the game out on Kickstarter here!

Omen Box

Omen: A Reign of War

Omen: A Reign of War is a two-player dueling card game a la Magic the Gathering or Netrunner that is a complete experience in one box. It offers all the fun and destruction of a CCG dueler, without any deck-building or buying of booster packs, and the whole thing can take less than 30 minutes.

There are three things that set the Omen series apart from the many 2-player games of this ilk:

1) Multiple decision points.

There are multiple decision points in a single turn of Omen that are all extremely meaningful. The first is the wealth step, which allows you to collect up to 3 cards and/or up to three 3 coins, i.e., 1 card 2 coins or 2 cards 1 coin. However, if you choose 3 coins, you get a fourth coin as a bonus. Likewise, if you choose 3 cards, you get a fourth card as a bonus. This extra bonus is always on your mind as you play, trying to figure out how to eek out that small extra advantage. The cards offer opportunity, but the coins offer you the ability to deploy your current opportunities. This is all just in the first step of each turn! Then, you have to figure out which of the three battlefields to contest. You’ll never be able to win them all, so strategically determining which to focus on is important. And finally, an offering step allows you to get coins/cards in anticipation of your next turn, but forces you to sacrifice a potentially great card.

2) Achievement system that forces you to expand wider than you’d like.

The achievements in Omen give you 6 different scoring conditions that aren’t always lined up with the general flow of battle. One is to have a beast unit in every city. This isn’t something that is going to happen on its own — you have to actively seek out opportunities to achieve these feats. When you start playing your first game of Omen, you assume that most of the back and forth will have to do with the battles and reward tiles, but you quickly realize how integral the achievements are.

3) All players use the same deck of cards.

This means that your decisions in the game are almost entirely tactical. You aren’t waiting for “that one card” that unlocks your decks potential. Each turn, you are evaluating the current board state and making almost euro-game-like decisions. It is a controlled sort of chaos, as you push the game towards your victory.

Why I’m Backing It

As it’s easy to see, the art in Omen is breath-taking. The illustrations manage to evoke a theme and setting without being too sharply literal, a style that’s softer and leaves more to the imagination. It may be my favorite art in a board game, ever.

What I love, and what may not work for everyone, is the ruthlessness of the game. This is downright a knife fight in a phonebooth game. You can’t get too attached to any of your cards, because your opponent will find a way to destroy them. It’s baked into the DNA to be a take-that game, you need to be on your toes and constantly ready to adapt to absolutely anything — sometimes forcing you to completely adjust your plan every single turn. The delicious fragility of this sort of gameplay can create incredibly tense moments between you and your opponent, rewarding the player that can respond faster and smarter.

I own Omen: A Reign of War Omega Edition, as well as these preproduction copies of the new edition, and without a doubt, I will be an hour-one backer going all-in for the new edition with all the add-ons. It’s that good. I’m so excited to dive into the other two expansion boxes.

More to come.

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