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[Review] Ogre Bash

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tomvasel
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Joined: 03/23/2011

Korean board game cafes are something to see - especially those that cater to the youth. Most of these cafes have large plastic hammers, the type you find at county fairs, right next to their game inventory. Whenever someone loses a game, the winner gets to smash the losers in the head; something everyone finds great fun. When I visit, occasionally I am asked to hit someone (It’s even funnier to get hit by the American, I guess.), something I do with great relish. When I first saw the game Ogre Bash (Cloud Kingdom Games, 2004 - Matt Mayfield), it reminded me of this interesting Korean custom.

Sadly, however, the game does not include any bonking of neighbor’s heads, but rather is simply a card game, where one attempts to collect a set of cards. The theme of the game is that of ogre’s bashing each other, but that merely masks a simple, light set-collection card game. I enjoyed the theme, I enjoyed the simple game play, but the game is really only enjoyed by people who are in the mood for a very light card game. I fear that it is too chaotic for serious gamers, but that children will be delighted by the game.

A deck of eighty-five cards is shuffled, and five are dealt to each player. Each card is one of two types, an “Ouch” card or a “Bash” card. Bash cards are split into five different suits, each showing a different ogre: Crash, Gnash, Smash, Trash, and Percy. Bash cards are also either “left”, “right”, or “across.” Ouch cards act as special cards, and are one of six different types: “Big Bash”, “Go Bash”, “Hurt Bad”, “Fix Club”, “Steal”, and “My Ear!” There are also some “Wild” bash cards. Players are trying to get one of six different winning hands, each worth a certain amount of points.
- Wild Bash: This hand has five of the same Bash card type (Right, Left, or Across), with one Wild card involved. (1 point)
- Bashful: This hand is the same as the Wild Bash, but with no Wild card allowed. (2 points)
- Me, Me, Me, Me, Me: This hand has five Bash cards, all with the same ogre name. (3 points)
- Family Portrait: This hand has one Bash card, one of each of the five ogre names. (3 points)
- Ouch My Ear!: This hand has five “ouch” cards, one of which must be an “Ouch My Ear” card. (4 points)
- Ogre Bash: This hand is the same as Bashful, but all the ogre names must also be the same. (5 points)
The player to the left of the dealer goes first with play proceeding clockwise around the table.

On a turn, a player checks to see if they have a winning hand (not possible on the first turn). If not, they draw a card, and play one from their hand. The instructions on the card are immediately followed, and then the card is discarded. Play then passes to the next player.
- Bash cards: Each player gives one card to the player in the direction the card indicates simultaneously.
- Steal: The player takes a random card from the player on their left, who then takes one from the person on their left, etc.
- Fix Club: The player can discard any amount of cards to draw replacements.
- Go Bash: The player can ask for a specific direction of a bash card, and the player they ask must produce it if possible and give it to the player, accepting a card in return.
- Big Bash: The player must trade one card with each other player at the table.
- Hurt Bad: The player takes a random card from another player, who then loses the rest of their cards. The player playing “Hurt Bad” then discards a card.
- My Ear: This card does nothing.

When one player produces a winning hand (at the beginning of their turn), they score points for that hand, and a new round is begun, with new cards dealt. Players keep track of the scores, and the first player to reach ten points is the winner!

Some comments on the game...

1.) Components: I really enjoyed the tin box the game came in. I buy a lot of tin boxes to store my card games in, and it’s nice to finally be able to purchase one already in a tin box that is decorated with the game’s graphics. The cards are of a good quality and are easy to read, but I have two problems with them. One, there are different pictures for each of the five different ogres; but because the graphics on the faces of the cards are in black and white, it’s often easy to get them mixed up. The names on the ogres are also rather small and are in the same font. This all may sound like nitpicking, but a game is so much more enjoyable to play when you can glance at a card and know immediately what suit it is. I would have foregone the color on the back of the cards and put it on the fronts instead. As it is, I am coloring my orcs in, to help facilitate ease of play with my copy. Other than that annoyance, I do like the components - especially the box.

2.) Rules: The rules are on two sides of a sheet of paper, but are very clear and concise, including the warning “No use real club when play game. Just use card.” The one side of the rules shows pictorial descriptions of each of the six winning hands and makes for a nice player aid. I found that the game was easy to teach but that most players had a hard time grasping the concept that a winning hand was only acceptable at the beginning of their turn. Whenever a player got a winning hand, they often wanted to shout it out immediately, but instead had to wait until their turn, usually assuring that by that time, the cards in their hand would be changed.

3.) Website: There is a very nice flash demo at the website: www.cloudkingdom.com, that allows one to play against computer opponents. It really gives a good feel to how the game works (without the noisy human opponents), so if you’re interested, it’s a good place to check out.

4.) Chaos: That is precisely the reason that, although fun, this game is considered light, family fare. It’s tremendously difficult to hang onto a winning hand for a turn, because chances are that you will be forced to exchange cards with other players. Now, one can count the cards in the deck, watch which cards are played by others, etc., to help give them some statistical advantage; but many times, players are just blindly throwing cards around, hoping to get what they need. I found that this concept, especially when tied to the theme, made for a pleasant diversion, but serious gamers would probably be quite annoyed.

5.) Theme and Fun Factor: I like the idea of ogres bashing each other; it just produces snickers of glee. And if players get into the mood, talking in “ogre-speak” (such as written on the cards), the game can be fun. But if you want to play a serious set-collection card game, this isn’t it. There are many, many better card games out there although none that talk about head bashing to such a degree.

6.) Kids: Children love the game, mostly because they really can “dig” the theme, and because they don’t mind the chaos of their hands constantly shifting. There’s a bit of a “take that” feel to the game, but every player can do it on every turn; so there’s not too many hard feelings. I don’t think using this game with kids will help their strategic analysis skills, but they do have fun.

So, if you’re looking for a funny, light card game to play with children, then this is an excellent choice. If, however, you are looking for a deep yet simple card game, then I recommend you pass this one by. I liked the theme and fast game play, but realized that my best audience for this game would be kids and teenagers. I was certainly right in that regard but still consider the purchase worth it, as the kids really enjoy the game.

Tom Vasel
“Real men play board games.”

Zzzzz
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Joined: 06/20/2008
[Review] Ogre Bash

Amazing, I actually played it this weekend with the Cloud Kingdom folks at GenCON. So here is my two cent review additions.... since Tom covered the game basics.

If you want a game that is simple, fast and fun. Orge bash is a good fit. A very fitting theme that helps a ton at making the game fun for many people.

I only have a few comments about some of the gameplay.

When I played the game with 4 people, it seemed to get very chaotic as players switch cards(left, right or across based on card), but I think Tom had a good reason, the cards did seem a little hard to differentiate. The ability to distinguish can also slow game-play, since it can take a little time to figure out your cards and select one to exchange.

During a 3 person demo, the option for exhanging cards across is lost. The solution is to exchange left, fine solution, but when comparing the exchange to a 4 person game, I missed the true across exchange.

As for the serious gamer, I think even a serious gamer will get a few good plays before the lack of depth outways the fun theme factor.

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