A Little Bit of Everything: A Preview of Pack O Game Set 2

Pack O Game Set 2

Can a game get any smaller than a pack of gum? These four pocket-sized games, now on Kickstarter, are the next installment in the Pack O Game series and offer a wide range of genres and gameplay. We recently had a chance to play and review all of them — take a look!

Gym

Gym

Gym is divided into two phases. During the first phase, players take turns choosing students to add to their hand. Each student has varying degrees of skills in up to two gym events. Some students are bullies. When a player chooses a bully, he can increase the likelihood that one of the six gym events will be chosen for the second phase.

After all the students have been chosen, four events are selected. The events are chosen based on which ones the bullies pushed for the most.

During the second phase of the game, players take turns playing a student on an event. Each event has six open slots, three for your team and three for your opponent’s. After you play a student, you may choose to use either the special ability of the event you just played into or one of the event abilities that the student is skilled at. Special abilities include such actions as moving students from one event to another or swapping cards with another player.

The game is for two, four, or six players, with players splitting into two even groups.

Review: playing Gym is a fun blend of planning three steps ahead while constantly having to reevaluate and plot a new strategy on the fly. From the pick phase, where you often end up watching the events you were counting on get pushed out of the running, to the event phase in which carefully laid plans are thrown into turmoil by your opponent’s crafty use of an event’s special ability, everything is constantly changing and you have to be prepared to change your strategy at a moment’s notice.

Gameplay was very intuitive and rules were easy to pick up. It is fun how quickly the advantage shifts between both sides. The game felt well-balanced and the shifting event lineup lends the game replay value.

This is a great two-player game, but not quite as much fun with four or six players. Playing on teams doesn’t feel like it adds anything, and takes away the amount of time you’re actively playing yourself. On the other hand, the artwork for the game is great, and we appreciated how diverse all the characters were.

Orc

Orc

Orc is a two-player game. There are six territories of different colors. On your turn you choose to send one or two orcs into battle, choosing which territory to send them to. After playing your cards, you draw from one of six piles. Each pile is associated with one of the territories. After a pile is depleted, the battle commences for its territory and the player who has the most orcs present, wins it.

Each orc is one of six colors and once you’ve sent a specific color to a territory, you cannot play a different color into that battle. At the end of the game, your score includes the number of territories you won as well as the number of orcs you hold in your hand which match your conquered territories.

Review: Orc was our favorite game of the set. It plays quite quickly, and we kept coming back for rematch after rematch. Balancing how many orcs to send into battle with how many you want to keep in your hand was a fun challenge and you’re often faced with some tough choices when it comes to which territories you should fight for.

It was also the easiest game to learn with the simplest rules. Because of this, there’s plenty of room on the game’s rule sheet to give plenty of examples, while some of the other games required a little more careful reading to figure out gameplay.

Rum

Rum

In Rum players draw facedown cards from a pile referred to as "the shipwreck" or one of the three face-up cards that form "the beach." Each card has one colored rum bottle at one end and two different colored rum bottles at the other. Your goal is to claim as many of the seven colored captain cards as you can by playing sets of rum bottles whose colors match a captain card. Captain cards may be stolen from opponents, but each time one is stolen, it will require you to play at least one more rum card in the set.

The game continues until the castaway clock reaches eight or a player achieves a set amount of points, which is different for the number of players. The clock advances each time the shipwreck runs out of cards, or when the parrot is drawn. If you draw the parrot from the shipwreck, you’ll be forced to discard two or three cards. But if the parrot pops up on the beach, everyone has to discard.

Review: Rum is a clever game of chance. As the game progresses, you need to push your luck more and more if you want to win a captain card away from another player. With everyone eventually holding out longer and longer before playing cards, the stakes quickly start to escalate as the odds of drawing the parrot becomes more likely.

Turns are quite quick and you stay actively engaged during your opponents’ turns as you watch to see if you can figure out what sets they’re trying to collect and if it will interfere with your plans.

The game is quite light on strategy, so if luck doesn’t interest you, this won’t be your favorite game from the batch, but if you enjoy games with a lot of chance and just a hint of plotting for spice, Rum definitely delivers.

Sow

Sow

Sow is for two to four players. Players are attempting to gather bouquets of flowers. The cards are laid out in twelve rows in the shape of a circle. Each row has two seed cards. Players take turns picking up a row of two or more cards, and disturbing them one card at a time, starting on a row immediately next to the one they just picked up.

Every seed is one of four colors. When a seed is the last card you lay down, it causes every seed matching its color in that row to turn into a flower. Each player owns two of the rows, and each flower is composed of two colors. When a flower is the last card to be laid down on a turn and is placed in a player’s row, the active player choses one of the flower’s two colors and the row’s owner gets to collect all flowers matching that color in that row and add them to his bouquet.

The game ends when there are no rows left with two or more cards. Each player has a special color which is revealed at the end and the flowers in your bouquet which contain that color score extra points. The player with the highest score wins the game.

Review: Sow was our least favorite game of the group, the only one we didn’t immediately want to play again. Perhaps we just weren’t very good strategists, but we found it difficult to manipulate the flowers and seeds to land in advantageous locations or to plan many turns ahead. Also near the end, the final moves all pretty much dictate themselves.

That being said, it still showed the creativity of the designer and the diverse game setup and rules that this Pack O Game set offers. It's also quite enjoyable how the color which will score each individual player the most points is kept secret from everyone until the end of the game — this kept things more suspenseful and helped to keep everyone in the running until the very end.

Final Word

If you're looking for a variety of games that are easy to take with you, this new Pack O Game line is worth checking out on Kickstarter. A few of the games stood out from the others as being more enjoyable, yet there is a wide range of gameplay that offers a little bit of something for everyone.

Pros: Diverse genres and game designs, clever and compact cards and boxes

Cons: Size of the rule sheets limit the number of examples given, some of the games are more fun than others

Disclosure: this preview is based on our evaluation of an unpublished prototype of the games, which are subject to change prior to publication. While a modest payment was received to expedite the review process, our thoughts and opinions expressed here are honest and accurate.