Omerta – Helvetiq – Preview

Omerta - Helvetiq - Preview 1
Omerta - Helvetiq - Preview 2

Theme and What is it?

9/10

Omerta brings players to life as infamous prohibition gangsters.  Alas, your alliances with other mobs is all for nothing at the moment.  Because your stockpiles of alcohol are being raided!  You need to shift stock somewhere safe or just dump it entirely.  Destroying product is just a cost of doing business and not getting caught.  So do it.  Don’t get caught.

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Gameplay Mechanics

8/10

Players start with 4 facedown cards from the deck.  They can peek ONCE at two of them.  Then players get to take the top discarded card or a card from the deck and decide what to do with it when they see it.  They can put a card from the deck into discard or swap one of their current cards with the new one, discarding the old.  As a bonus, if a bottle card gets discarded any player can race to discard an equal cost bottle.  The first to do so has successfully dumped some stock.  If someone does it wrong, they get their card back and another facedown from the deck as a penalty.

Where it gets really interesting is when a player discards a character card.  These cards usually have an instant effect they can activate when discarded.  These will mess with other players or give an advantage to you.

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Initial Impressions

8/10

This looks very similar to other highly successful games like Cabo and Silver.  It throws its own unique twist into the game.  I have not played these other games but everyone I showed it to made the comparisons to the base mechanics from the others.  They all really enjoyed it.  Particularly how much the theme is wrapped up in Omerta.  Everyone enjoyed shouting OMERTA at the start of their turn if they were confident they were winning (and low enough on remaining alcohol to slip by).

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Game Build Quality

10/10

Omerta has a simple lineup of components that fits in a very small box.  I can see stuffing this in a game bag as a short 20 minute filler game for any game day.  The space it takes up is well worth having the option of putting Omerta on the table.  The card quality feels good and will stand up to repeat play.  The entire game is just cards so you know exactly what to expect.

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Artistic Direction

8/10

I particularly liked that each character card that has the same effect has different artwork.  People are unique and not just copied from each other.  Which is a rare thing to see in today’s gaming industry.  When you can just print extra copies of the same card you don’t bother making artwork unique.  Hevetiq gets serious credit for going the extra mile.  The famous gangster cards are mostly unnecessary for gameplay but give players more immersion into the 1930s Chicago setting.

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Fun Factor

9/10

The most fun things in Omerta are how you target players that seem to be doing well and manipulate conditions.  Shuffling someone’s cards so they don’t know which ones are their low valued good cards and which is their absolutely devastating character ruining everything for them is MEAN!  But it is even more cruel when they discard a killer to counter you and now have one less card in their stock as well as not being messed with.  

There are as many rounds as there are players, so one good turn early deserves an equally bad one later on.  Players will self regulate who they target.  It works so well.

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Age Range & Weight

10/10

10+ is a fair rating.  You could easily play this with younger players but the memory aspect might be difficult for them to avoid frustrating mistakes.  Omerta functions well with any age group of players.  

The difficulty to learn is negligible.  You can basically pull out the small rulebook and read the 1 page setup and 2 page how to play rules on the spot as you get game night rolling and be just fine.  Everything is clearly written and easily accessible.

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Conclusions

9/10

Omerta is one of the best thematic filler games I have played in quite some time.  It serves a vital purpose for giving players something to do when someone is late to game day, there is only a little time left at the end of the night, or you want something to do while making a few pizzas do a disappearing act.  

The tactical tension in such a simple game is very satisfying.  Every choice is important and remembering what other players have visibly taken might be just as important as knowing what is in your own hand.  Omerta gets my full recommendation as a filler all game rooms should have on their shelves.

Omerta - Helvetiq - Preview
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