Oh My Goods Review - So Close, Oh So Close!

Right, straight off the bat, stupid title. OK, got that one out of the way so we can ignore that now. Oh My Goods is a small filler that escaped my attention until being asked to review it, but it had three things going for it. The designer, Alexander Pfister is also the man who designed the wonderful Isle of Skye (guest blog review coming very soon, when my host hurries and publishes it!), which has been the centre of attention of several high profile awards recently. Mayfair/Lookout Games are also known for putting out some solid Euro's in the field of resource management and goods production. And Oh My Goods was marketed as a filler experience utilising that same theme. All very promising so far.

Some of my favourite Euro's that use this theme (Fields of Arle, Le Havre and Caverna for example) are so because I get a kick out of the gradual build up of your own personal creation, plus the thematic touches of focusing on certain trades just for the enjoyment factor. If I can be the butcher and concentrate on that all game, then I will and see what happens. Now you'll have noticed that the above three games mentioned are all Uwe Rosenberg titles who is currently my "king" of this genre. They're also meaty, heavy Euro's. So not only is this a different designer, but it's also a 30 minute filler game. Can it really re-create the same feeling in what those heavier titles provide in such a small box and time span?



Designer: Alexander Pfister
Publisher: Mayfair Games / Lookout Games
Age: 10+
Players: 2-4
Time: 30 min
RRP: £13.99


Oh My Goods, It's A Euro Filler!

From BoardGameGeek:

In Oh My Goods, first released as Royal Goods, players are European craftsmen during the Middle Ages who produce tools, barrels, glass windows and many other goods. Only if you make clever use of your production chains will you have the most victory points at the end of the game.

The goal of Oh My Goods is to construct an economic engine by constructing new production buildings and utilising them to produce a variety of goods for money or for producing other goods. The possibilities of what you can build are managed by a market phase where cards are randomly drawn from the deck and these depict what resources are available to all players. They will then have to produce what goods they can from what's available, utilising additional cards from their hand if necessary to fill up the gaps.

Should they be successful, they can benefit from further production chains which allow other goods already produced to be used for further production. For example to make bread from a bakery will originally require grain to produce, but should the player have any flour available from a nearby mill, they can produce more.

Players only have one worker to begin with, who they have to assign to a building to produce any goods. Further assistants can be acquired to produce more goods as time goes on. As soon as a player has built 8 buildings, one more round is played and then the total points from buildings, workers and money are totalled up to determine the winner.




Sending Your Worker To Produce Efficiently 


So we've got a very small box and rightly so, because Oh My Goods consists of 110 cards and that's about it. No dice, no wooden pieces, no nothing. But these cards look very nice and colourful. The graphic design is very clear without feeling too cluttered and the artwork is really nice indeed. I like all the little details that the buildings have with people and animals running about going about their daily lives. Takes me back to the days of old civilization games on the PC where you watched your villagers perform daily tasks.

At an RRP of £13.99 it doesn't break the bank either. Cheep and cheerful, it can easily accommodate as a travel game and keeps to its expected running time of 30 minutes without overstaying its welcome, although that's a double edged sword as we'll see later. 


 The rules are straightforward and easy to follow and despite its small size, you have some interesting choices to make each round with your multi-use cards, whether you want to hold on to them for missing resources or to actually build them and start using them as production. There's a lot of variety in the goods you can produce and they have different values assigned to them. 


Sending Your Worker To Produce Sloppily



So far so good, however Oh My Goods suffers from two aspects in my opinion. Firstly the push-your-luck style of the market phase. Various resources are revealed randomly at the start of the round and then you have to assign your worker based on whether you believe you can make those goods. Then further resources are placed out and you have to make do. This means that unless you get lucky with the card draw, you're gambling on whether your worker can produce the goods that round and if they can't, it's quite a setback. You're pushing your luck, which isn't a mechanic seen in Euro games of this nature and there's probably a good reason for that.

If you want a simple experience and don't mind the luck factor, this probably won't bother you and if so you're going to get more enjoyment here. But it is possible for a turn to go to waste if you don't quite get what you were hoping for and you can't really plan for it. Sometimes this mitigates itself if all players get burned at some point, but occasionally one player will just have it all his way and he'll have a big advantage as a result. I can live with it on this occasion given that it's a small filler at the end of the day, however the next point I'm less comfortable with.

There's no sense of enjoyment from building your little village. You don't get time to appreciate building a chain of buildings that work together in a nice thematic economic engine because it's over too quickly. This is because rushing for cheaper buildings to end the game quickly is easily a dominant strategy over saving up for those really expensive ones. The point difference is just far too low to make them worthwhile and so you're literally just building whatever you can afford for the sake of building and that's assuming you drew something cheap in your hand to begin with.

So you find that there isn't much interaction between the buildings themselves. Trying to aim for that smooth production chain is more often than not going to result in your defeat because of the amount of work it takes to get that set up and going. It ruins any incentive for me to even try for it as I'm just going to rush those 8 buildings out fast. In no game can I say "I'm going to focus on linen/leather and clothes production" because if I do so, I'm likely hurting my chances of winning. I should instead be getting out buildings as and when I can. One minute I'm a baker, the next I'm putting out a glassblower building. Now I didn't expect lakes of theme when I saw Oh My Goods so that's a nitpick, but the problem that rush strategies dominate over all others is just too big of an issue for me to ignore. If it was more balanced, I could see this becoming an excellent filler, it was so close to being one.



Verdict


Oh My Goods got off to a promising start. Despite the appalling name, it looked very pretty, the graphic design was solid, very charming artwork and it was a nice small box with a deck of cards, so not too complicated. Game play is quite smooth and it can be wrapped up within 30-40 minutes without trouble - a good one to play with younger players certainly or as a gateway experience.

However the problems associated with the push-your-luck market phase and the dominant rush strategy spoil what could have been a great little Euro filler game, as the market could do with some more. Turns can go to waste simply by bad luck and you never feel inclined to want to build the larger buildings and set up thematic chains because anyone opting for putting out all the cheap stuff will most likely win by default.

Some tweaks to the points on the larger buildings could possibly fix this - no doubt I'm sure some variants will pop up on Board Game Geek over time. Just enough to make them worth aiming for. Other ideas have been suggested and they sound good and worth a try. Because Oh My Goods is not a bad game, it's worthy of redemption. But reviewing this out of the box as it's given to you, it starts off great and comes so close to finishing great, but then misses the mark on the home stretch - a shame given the recent solid lineup by the designer - well you can't win them all.



If you are interested in this game you can find a copy at your friendly local gaming store - http://www.findyourgamestore.co.uk/



YOU WILL LIKE THIS GAME IF:


You want to enjoy resource management in a short time-frame.


You want an easily portable game that is simple to teach and play.


You're willing to tweak a rule or two.



YOU WILL NOT LIKE THIS GAME IF:


You think it's too lucky with the market phase mechanic.


You want a more meaty experience, in which case buy a big box Euro.


You feel the rush strategy essentially dominates the game and spoils the build-up.

0 comments: