November 09, 2011

The Best Game Company You've Never Heard Of

A few months back I was scouring the reviews over at BoardGameGeek to find some interesting new games to play. Something that caught my eye was a game entitled Omen: Reign of War. What finally cemented it for me was Drake's review over on his blog. It had been released a few months previously, but I couldn't find anything out about it from my local game shops. No one had heard of it. Turning my focus online I found that this small publisher's games are only available through their website So I took a (smallish) risk and ordered a copy.

When it arrived I found the packaging choice very interesting: they've chosen to use black plastic cases that look almost identical to old-style VHS cases, simply lacking the round knobby things that would keep the tape in place. Distinctive and fun choice.

Looking more closely at the game itself, it is a rather simple yet inspired design. Each of the unit cards in the game has multiple uses, so even if you can't afford to pay for the card, you can discard it to get more gold or more cards. In addition to great game play, the artwork is stunning all 'round.

With what I'd seen of Omen: Reign of War after two plays I decided to order the expansion, Omen: Shattered Aegis. I have yet to try the expansion, but it has more options for variant gameplay, tons of new cards, and even more standout artwork.

Another of their deluxe sized games was recently released. It's also a card game, but comes with more components than Omen. It's called Hemloch, and is designed by the same fellow that designed Omen, John Clowdus. You can certainly tell that it was by the same designer as it does have a similar style. However, it's also quite unique in the game play. While still technically an area control game, the method in which you go about things is vastly different, and the feel of the game is unique enough that you don't feel like you're playing the same game.

If there was one negative thing I had to say about Small Box Games it actually wouldn't be about their games at all. It would be about their shipping. Of the three items I've purchased from them, two of them have arrived with broken boxes. John was quick to reply to my emails personally, and sent me a replacement for the first broken case. I haven't bothered to notify them about the second because it's a minor break of one corner which can be fixed with a touch of glue. It is frustrating though, and I can see people being upset about receiving damaged goods. A simple fix for this would be a small investment in bubble wrap.

So if you're looking for a unique game to add to your collection, try something from Small Box Games!

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