One winner, two reviews
As d‘ Or 2020, Category Games for all
Studio H, a new games publisher in France, founded by Hicham Ayoub Bedran, erstwhile president of Matagot, and publishing house Hachette, has won the As d’Or in the Category Games for all with one of his two first publications, Oriflamme.
The topic of the game is nothing really new, once again we fight for a crown, the crown of the King of France, to be exact, and not surprisingly we, the players, are heads of influential families who want to win crown and throne for their family. To achieve this purpose, all players receive an identical set of ten power cards; a rather big element of chance is introduced by the face-down shuffling and unseen setting aside of three cards. With the remaining seven cards in hand, you play six rounds.
In turn, you select a card from your hand and put it into the so-called Influence Row, either as the first card of the row or as the last card of the row or on top of one of your own cards still in the row from a previous round. You cannot insert a card between two cards in the row.
When all have played a card, the round is resolved/scored, beginning with the first card in the row. You always resolve the top card of an eventual stack. When the card to be resolved is face-down, its owner decides if
- he leaves the card in place face-down and adds an influence marker to it, or
- if he reveals the card, resolves the effect and takes eventual influence markers off it. A once-only card is discarded after being resolved, a permanent card stays in place openly. When a once-only card was resolved and there is another one in the stack, this one is resolved; if not, the next card in the row is resolved-
If a card is removed due to the effect of another card, eventual influence markers on this card go back to stock.
And that’s all there is as regards to the rules - I must, however, mention a difference in rules in the German Pegasus edition compared to the rules in English and French: In those rules the starting player decides by placing the Oriflamme token - tip of the flame to the right or left - if the row of cards is resolved from left to right or from right to left in the scoring round. As this happens before placement of the cards, this does nor change anything as to game play.
Card effects themselves all relate to either taking, removing or relocating cards in the Influence Row and the acquisition of influence points; I do not need to describe them here, they are stated on the individual cards explicitly and unequivocally.
Those card effects and their resulting interactions with other cards in the Influence Row are of course the heart and the engine of the game; they provide a lot of interaction, and sometimes surprising effects, because you have forgotten which permanent card one of your fellow players as cleverly covered with one or two other cards and thus protected it for disastrous effects later in the game - yes, memory is a factor in the game, and of course also chance, when three cards are taken randomly out of play from each player’s deck.
Towards the end, the question is what the others might have left in hand? One card is not played from the hand of seven, so that in reality only six out of ten cards are used. This very mix of open, secret and missing information is the allure of the game. And exactly because of this mix if can - despite the fact that in won in France in the category of Games for All / Family Games - not really be categorized as a simple family game; the card interactions are too complex for that.
There is also a certain newbie disadvantage, despite text on the cards there will be an advantage for someone who has played the game already, towards one who plays it for the first time. The handling of the influence points is also a deciding factor, you want to win with most of them after six rounds, after all. Oriflamme is fun, you can bluff nicely and plan surprise attacks; to take calculated risks can be extremely rewarding! Components themselves are attractive, suited to the topic and rather gloomy, but colors of the various decks are easily distinguished and decks are also marked on the back with a different symbol of a heraldic animal for each deck.
All in all, a well-deserving winner and a very felicitous debut for a new publisher, from whom we can - I am sure - expect more and many good games!
Dagmar de Cassan
Designer: Adrien & Axel Hesling
Artist: Tomasz Jedruszek
Price: ca. 13 Euro
Publisher: Pegasus Spiele 2019
Genre: Card resolving
Users: With friends
Rules: de en es fr it
In-game text: yes
Lots of interaction
Simple, easily learned rules
Big element of chance
Card memory is helpful
Games featuring resolving of card displays by using card effects
Studio H (en fr), MS Edizioni (it), Gen-X (es)
My rating: 6
A simple game, a sophisticated game, despite the initial high chance element at the start a tactical and also strategic game, even if a bit chaotic sometimes. Absolutely recommendable.
Chance (pink): 2
Tactic (turquoise): 3
Strategy (blue): 1
Creativity (dark blue): 0
Knowledge (yellow): 0
Memory (orange): 2
Communication (red): 0
Interaction (brown): 3
Dexterity (green): 0
Action (dark green): 0