By: Timothy Mattes
Oni the game of messing with nobles during the fall festival in Japan is played over four rounds each round you are given a goal card that represents who you need to attack. You start with four cards, Attack, Peek, Reveal, and Swap. During a round everybody chooses a card to play and reveals them simultaneously. In turn order beginning with the starting player the cards are resolved. After all cards are resolved you check the board to see if any nobles were attacked. If they were the round ends everyone reveals the goal cards and points are awarded based on who had which noble. If no nobles were attacked the cards in the center rotate and play continues.
Oni is one of those card games where the rules and the board layout either intrigue people or intimidate them. Thankfully our group is the former because the game was quite fun. Combining elements from Coup, Resistance, and Three card Monty; Oni takes you on a journey of deduction, bluffing, and Opportunism. Most of our games were three players but the game goes up to six players and really shines with more players. The rounds last longer the moves are more epic and the plays that present themselves are so much crunchier than in the three player games we played. That being said the three and four player games are quite fun and provide a nice quick filler in between bigger games. The moment that truly made this game shine for me was when I played the swap card after seeing the card I needed to attack and moving a completely different card in the hopes that a player would then swap the card I need for the one I moved. Sound confusing? It was but it worked flawlessly and made me so happy.
Overall Oni is a very smart social deduction game that doesn’t require the players to close their eyes or even lie. The game is a solid filler that infects you in a way similar to love letter; you play it and acknowledge that it was fun and move on, then a little while later you realize that you really really want to play it again. I love games like this, they are like the earworms of tabletop. The fact that this is an import and translated fairly well is a solid plus. The style of play that it offers and the replay ability makes each game a completely different experience. I strongly recommend changing out the nobles in play after each game if you choose to play this more than once in a night. It will add confusion and confusion is fun.
Final thoughts, I do not know what the going price is for a copy of Oni but I do feel that it is a game worth checking the kickstarter when it launches in the next few weeks and I strongly recommend picking a copy up if you like social deduction games like the Resistance.
Final Score: 8.7/10