Pack O Games Set 2 Review

Pack O Games Set 2 is a set of four microgames with all different themes and mechanics on Kickstarter now all designed by Chris Handy.  Each game is on the intermediate or challenging scale of Pack O Games.  These games: GYM, SOW, ORC, and RUM all come in a gum sized game box. Perfect for gaming on the go or if you have a small table space.

Let’s start off looking at my personal favorite of the set: SOW

Here is the initial set up for SOW
Here is the initial set up for SOW

SOW is a set collecting card game for 2-4 players in which players try to make a bouquet of flowers in their favorite color to maximize points. SOW uses the Mancala mechanic of picking up a row of flowers and dropping them one by one around the garden. When you land a seed card as your last card, all seeds of that color in the row flip to the flower side. When you land a flower card as your last card, then you pick one of the two colors shown on the flower and all flowers with that color get added to your bouquet (if it was placed in your wheelbarrow). Players continue placing cards on their turn until each row has only 0 or 1 cards in it. Then players add up their points. If the center color has their favorite color, they get 3 points, if it’s on the outer, 2 points, and 1 point for every flower that does not have their favorite color. Whoever has the most points, wins the game.

SOW is definitely my favorite of the new Pack O Games set. I love how much planning and thinking goes into each turn, and trying to maximize future turns by using the Mancala style card placing. I also like the pace of the game, it never feels slow as the game space changes every turn. I enjoy the whimsical art of SOW. Our only issue is the red color is basically impossible to see for some colorblind players since brown and red look the same to those who have red-green colorblindness. Other than that, the game is very fun, and the most thinky of all the Pack O Games of Set 2.

Next up in the list is GYM: 

GYM in the play phase
GYM in the play phase

GYM is a drafting and area control card game for 2, 4 or 6 players where gamers try to pick the best students for the sporting events chosen. There are two phases to GYM: pick phase and play phase.  The pick phase is drafting one student at a time into your hand for the play phase.  If you choose a bully, you can influence which sporting events will get chosen for the play phase. Use the bullies to your advantage to pick which sporting events that you have the most skills in. Each student has two skills which varying levels. These levels will give points towards the area control (play phase) part the game. The play phase is where players choose one student to play at an event, then do an event action.  These actions can cause two students to swap places or even to steal a kid from your opponent.  Play continues until a player has played their last card, then add up points.  If you win an event, you gain points by the difference of your opponent at that event.  Whoever has the most points wins the game.

GYM reminds me very much of a faster, simpler Smash Up, which for me is a positive thing.  Where Smash Up drags on, GYM’s pace keeps the randomness of the game fun and light. There is also strategy in the drafting of your students and using the bullies to your advantage. The art of GYM is very fun, and shows a great diversity of kids. My only complaint is that soccer was not one of the possible sporting events! But that’s just personal opinion. Overall, GYM is an enjoyable area control game that can be a good intro to games like Smash Up or drafting games.

Third in the set is ORC:

ORC mid-game
ORC mid-game

ORC is a 2 player only area control card game in which players use clans of orcs to take over territories and earn points.  Players use careful planning and hand management in order to gain dominance in territories.  ORC is a quick game involving 6 rounds of battles.  A battle happens when a stockpile next to the territory is emptied.  Players then tally up their orcs at the battle, whoever has the most wins that battle.  After 6 battles, the game is over, and players count up their conquered territories. Players earn extra points in the orcs kept in their hand match the color of your conquered territories. Whoever has the most points wins.

When I played ORC, I immediately thought of Battleline or other such head to head area control games. You want to win territories but with using less cards than your opponent for maximum efficiently.  You also want to keep note of the cards left in your hand at the end of the game, since you’ll get extra points if the colors of the territories you conquered are in your hand.  The gameplay is very quick and players can get a couple of games in before dinner or waiting for the train.  The art of ORC isn’t quite as bright as I would like, but that’s personal preference.  The cards are a little busy looking.  I think if the cards had orc clan symbols instead of the orcs themselves it would be easier to see across the table.  Other than that, ORC is quick and fun card game.

Lastly, we have RUM:

RUM in action
RUM in action

RUM is a rummy style card game with a hilarious pirate theme for 2-4 players.  Players collect rum they find from a shipwreck and play them as sets in order to gain a majority in a color. The parrot can show up at any time and ruin your plans.  You will be cursing at the end of the game. Play continues until a specific number of points is reached (dependent on number of players), or the castaway clock is at 7 when the parrot is revealed.  Players add up their points and whoever has the most wins.

In RUM you take turns collecting different colored rum bottles in order to make sets and gain majority of a color.  You can steal majority of a color by playing higher sets. However, the parrot prevents players from hoarding cards like in many other rummy games. While I highly enjoy the art and theme of RUM, I didn’t enjoy the randomness of the parrot.  While it should only come up every so turns, it can come up more often and prevent you from fully enjoying the game.  I suggest playing a couple of games of RUM to account for the randomness of the parrot. RUM would be a good game to introduce players who like rummy style games.

 

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