Orc-Lympics is a fast-playing card game that takes place over two phases – drafting cards and then bidding for victory point cards. Or, to put some more flavor in it, gathering your team of Orc-lympians and then having them compete against each other for glory.
Each player (Orc-lympics can handle up to 5) starts with 8 cards, and these are drafted in the traditional manner – take one, pass to the left, repeat. There are seven different cards in the deck, each representing a different fantasy race (elves, orcs, dwarfs, djinns, etc.). Each Orc-lympian has three stats – speed, cunning, and strength. The most common cards (the humans) have the lowest values (1/1/1), while the least common have the highest (4/2/0). However, you can’t just take the ‘best’ card every time because at the end of the draft you only get to keep three races. So having one of each ‘good’ race may not be a great plan.
Once the draft is complete, the competitions begin. Each Orc-lympics has seven competitions, but they aren’t the same each time (you know before the draft what the competitions will be, so you can adjust your draft strategy accordingly). The competitions are randomly selected, then arranged in order from lowest value to highest (this only affects the value for the winner, second place is always the same points except for the final competition).
The competition plays out one card at a time, as players ‘bid’ on the competition card. All cards used in the bidding are ‘resting’ until recovered – but players only recover cards if they didn’t win first or second place, and even then recover only one. These limited resources mean that players need to be careful with their cards, picking and choosing which competitions to even bother with. For example, if you don’t have any Djinni (the strongest competitor in cunning), you might just plan to take a pass on any cunning competition and use that to recover cards. Most significantly, the limited resources means that not paying attention can mean no ability to compete in the final, highest-value competition. This might be the right way to play, depending on your options. But it’s not fun if you end up like that unintentionally.
The cards are sturdily constructed. I’ve heard the art described as chibi, and while I’m not saying that’s wrong, the characters aren’t quite as cute as the vision I’d normally conjure up with that label (the human, in particular, looks pretty demented). Personally, the giant heads remind me of some flavor of Funko Pop!, or one of the variety of other big head figures on the market these days. But the pictures are right there, so you can judge for yourself.
Orc-lympics reminds me of Colossal Arena, which is a game I’m pretty fond of. Not that the mechanics are direct parallels – drafting and betting are not exactly the same thing. But both involve careful management of available cards to win rounds of competition. And both have fantasy themes that really have nothing to do with the gameplay (Colossal Arena, in particular, had a more flavorful theme when it was a horse-racing game called Grand National Derby).
Orc-lympics is eminently suitable as a filler or a game to play with the family (the box says 8+ and our 8-year-old was easily able to grasp the game; just watch out for sad faces if they run out of cards the first game). It plays very quickly (the box time of 15 minutes is not a lie). It has real choices to make, both in drafting and in card play, but they aren’t heady choices that require lots of consideration.
And the price point and box size make it an excellent stocking stuffer.
Promotional consideration was provided in the form of a review copy.