om_nom_nomBy Michael Chamberlain

Om Nom Nom is a light family simultaneous selections game designed by Meelis Looveer and published by Brain Games this year (2013). This game, sporting its amazingly catchy name, sold out at Essen, but we are lucky enough to have a copy.

Om Nom Nom plays two to six players and is themed on three separate food chains. Players each choose a creature each turn to play in the hope of surviving long enough to eat others for points. Play time for this games is 20 minutes and is recommended for players eight years old and up. While I would agree with the play length, I found this game can be played by younger gamers who will still have a good time.

The game comes in a nice family friendly box showing some of the animals in the game around a pond scene. The art style is light, clear and inviting. Once inside the box there are the 36 animal cards (six sets of the six different animals for each of the potential players), the animal dice of which there are 15, three game boards, score pad, pencil and a clear multi lingual rule book. The size of the box has been dictated by the three game boards. These and the cards have the same clear art style as the box and there is one for each of the three food chains. The fifteen dice that, while nice and clear, are printed and not engraved so they will start to wear in time.

Set up for the game is nice and simple with each player taking a set of animal cards in their colour. The three game boards are placed in the centre of the table and the fifteen dice are rolled and then placed on their corresponding spaces. Each die has three red sides (carrot, cheese and fly) and three black sides (rabbit, mouse and frog) the red sides are the bottom of the food chains and the black ones are in the middle of the food chains.

The game itself is played over three rounds; within each there will be six shared turns. At the end of the three rounds the player with the most points will be declared the winner. One point is awarded for each card and each black icon that is captured/eaten and two points for each red icon.

Each round, players will select one card and place it face down in front of them. Then, simultaneously, all of the cards are revealed and placed on the appropriate spaces on the boards. From the top of each of the boards they eat whatever is beneath them sharing the spoils equally. If there is not enough to share between player’s then the extra prey is just removed. So first of all hedgehogs will eat frogs, cats will eat mice and wolves will eat rabbits. Then if there are any remaining frogs, mice or rabbits they will eat the flies, cheese and carrots respectively. If the animal you played is not eaten by its predator you get to claim your card for your score pile. So while the safe bet is to play animals higher on the food chain, those won’t grab you as many points and there is no way to avoid playing those more vulnerable creatures as every card will have to be played before the round is over.

This game has very light and simple rules, which make for fun and quick learning as well as play. As a game for players who don’t take themselves too seriously and enjoy a little chaos in a slightly “take that!” environment, it’s awesome. The fifteen random dice/creature start up keeps each game slightly different and fresher for it. All of the components are nicely produced and the lack of any written portion of the game means that there is no language gap at all.

Really anyone can be taught to play this game provided, one person know the rules. Experience tells me that you can play this anywhere from a hotel room (Saturday night after a long day at Spiel) or at an airport on the back of a sofa (with friends you’ve only just met, also on their way home from Spiel) and have a great time. As a two player game there is a lot more trying to read your opponent and it makes for a far more strategic feeling game. With four players there is a lot more luck in it and with six player it becomes very much a party game, that is very luck dependent but still screamingly good fun. I’m really happy to have had the chance to play this one and I am sure it will see lots of play with friends, family and most of all my kids.

Mav

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