Alexander Pfister has an almost faultless record in delivering brilliant games. Great Western Trail, Backout: Hong Kong, and more recently, Maracaibo, My personal favourite is Port Royal due to the awesome push your luck mechanic deployed in that game. However, back in 2015, Pfister released his third game, Oh My Goods and it has quite an interesting story.
Initially called Royal Goods, the game landed with mixed reviews. Some strong criticism was received from certain reviewers around a some of the rules that made part of the game mechanic pretty much just luck driven. Also, initially, in what is essentially an engine builder, the Royal Goods rules did not really allow you to ever really make use of your engine. Obviously quite a frustration for most players.
Play testing is a huge part of any game design, and surely was for this game too. So I do find it hard to believe these two major issues did not come up in this process. Or maybe they did, and it was discounted. Either way, it was certainly noted by Pfister after these criticism were directed towards his game post launch. The story goes that he replied to a you tube reviewer in the comments of one certain negative review saying he would make the changes. He did, and we now have Oh My Goods.
Play My Goods
The Game works quite simply. You are dealt cards which can either be used face down on another building to represent the goods that building has produced, as a resource to build another building, or as a building itself that you hope to construct. Your job is to decide how you use your cards to get as many buildings made throughout the game in a way they work best with each other. For example, constructing one building may generate a product that is needed to fuel a second building. Chain reactions like this can be very powerful in the later rounds. And very satisfying! As soon as someone has built 8 buildings that triggers the end game and everyone has one last round in which all buildings are activated. Get card. Choose which card to play. Use Card to build engine. Most effective engine wins. Simple!
Push it Real Goods
This has an element of push you luck about it. The game is played over a number if days. Each day with 4 phases. During the sunrise and sunset phase, you are drawing cards for the group to collectively use the resources of. Some cards have half suns on them, when two sun icons are drawn, that’s the end of the phase. So you could have between 2 and 10 cards, potentially more, drawn in these phases.
You have a chance to react to the first round of drawing and adjust your strategy which I like. But the second phase, you are locked in. This I love. I adore the push your luck mechanic, and here, like in Port Royal, Pfister nails it. There is a real tension from this. Watching the cards being drawn and waiting for one more particular resource is great fun. You know what your opponent needs at this stage too probably, so it’s a great moment payed out each round. This really does bring a lot of joy to each game.
The new version of the game is essentially the same, just with a few rules tweaks and a new name! Most notably these two. Firstly, one rule that now allows you to change your entire hand at the start of the game so that if you don’t have the resources you need, you have one mulligan to try and change that. There are not that many major resources to be dealt out, so chances are this will sort most players out most of the time. Luck element fixed.
The second rule change allows players to use every building they have in the final round irrelevant of the other mechanics in the game that restrict this throughout the rest of the game. A fully flowing engine in the final round. Stalled engine problem fixed.
A Well Oiled Engine.
The game plays 2-4, but works best in a 2 in my opinion. For the portability and simplicity of teaching, it is great to have in your collection for quick filler game, or as a concept game to introduce new people to the hobby. Introducing people to the concept of engine building, push your luck and an element of action queue with the 4 phases of each day too.
So is the game any good? Well for me, it was to start with. And I like playing with the original rules sometimes for a more advanced game. But I do absolutely see why the criticism was made and the changes were implemented. It does make it a better game, that is true. And it now allows for this game to work for more player types. For example, I would now say this is a perfect filler for any gaming group, no matter what your experience is with a card based engine builder. The rules are more forgiving. It is a more even game now for new players. That is most definitely a good thing. For a shade over a tenner, with a couple of very good expansions, I would say this is pretty high up on my list of “must haves” for most collections.