Board Game Review: Oh My God! There’s An Axe In My Head
Seattle game designer David Fooden is finally getting his board game published, even if he’s doing it himself. I first met David through Eric of Gamma Ray Games. He mentioned that he had a board game in the works that would be published in upcoming months. Two years and a few attempted publishers later, and David decided to go the self publishing route—which in 2011 means Kickstarter. I’m a big fan of Kickstarter. While it is sometimes abused, it is also a great space for creators to get their vision out to whatever niche audience they appeal to and otherwise wouldn’t have been able to reach.
Now, about the actual game. I first tried OMGTAAIMH (yes, it’s hard to take that acronym seriously) at Go Play Northwest, a local roleplaying game convention here in Seattle. The game was more complex than I imagined it would be. There are bargaining elements—something I usually don’t care for in games. However, in this case the decisions and negotiations you make with other players affect other aspects of your long-term strategy, which is something I haven’t seen before. There are many different ways to gain victory points, and it’s a good idea to diversify; points you gain may be nullified by event cards or the untimely death of key diplomats.
Strategies also vary slightly depending on where you start on the board. Starting towards the edge of the board gives more safety but less mobility, while players starting in the center will be in the line of fire, er…axe, more often, but if they survive are more likely to escape the board. The action and diplomacy cards range from standard board game fare, such as dodging an attack, to more Axe-In-My-Head specific events, such as completely wiping out any current negotiations on the board. The sheer havoc this creates is a lot of fun, and you really can’t take losing that hard. You can’t beat these cards for the element of surprise, and I’ll definitely be on my toes waiting for some of the more powerful cards to show up.
With OMGTAAIMH, the theme is inseparable from the gameplay. Personally, politics tend to bore me, but the political elements are playful enough in OMGTAAIMH that I got a kick out of them anyway. The revisionist history theme makes it that much harder to take the game too seriously, and there are plenty of jokes aimed at the various countries. The negotiations you are able to make are affected by who you are already alligned with, and if your translator dies, well, no more new alliances for your country. During the first game I played, most of the people playing didn’t know each other when we sat down, but by the end of it we were hurling faux-accented insults at each other with abandon and swearing allegiance to our allies.
A lot of detail went into every aspect of the game, and every rule and minor element fits the humorous theme, as well as the vintage-style art. This is a quality game that is light enough to appeal to casual gamers, with enough strategic elements to interest the more competitive such as myself. There is enough going on that I can see myself wanting to play this often, especially with the relatively short play time. The $45 USD backer level on the Kickstarter includes a copy of the game with limited edition event cards, with free delivery to your door. Grab a copy of Oh My God! There’s An Axe In My Head—The Game Of International Diplomacy and give some support to some awesome game designers.