Solo play: Onirim

Beyond Dungeon Roll, this list is a real struggle to rank. Do I push games with creative mechanics higher, or games that ultimately speak to me more? I’m inclined to go with the former, in this case, only because the things that make my no. 3 work as a solo game make for such a tight, decision-addled game. But Onirim (Shadi Torbey, Z-Man Games), my no. 4 may very well get more play for its relative lightness, small footprint, and fascinating artwork/theming.

The theme is, admittedly, rather light. It has something to do with being caught in a dream world, and there are nightmares, and you have to unlock dreams… or something. It has kind of a light dungeon-crawl feel to it in that you’re playing cards to walk a corridor, hoping to ‘find’ a door by completing a set1. Alternatively, doors can be collected by drawing them if you happen to have a corresponding key card. Occasionally, nightmares come up which must be resolved in one of several ways, all of which essentially rob you of cards. If you get through all the doors by the end of the deck, you win; otherwise not so much.

I find the base game of Onirim quite captivating, but if one outgrows it, there are nine expansions out there (that I’m aware of). The original edition came with three, the current release comes with those three plus another four, and at least two promo expansions are out there in the wild. I won’t get into the expansions, but I think it’s worth mentioning that this game can be changed up in a lot of different ways.

Ultimately Onirim is a quick game with decisions that feel meaningful, and many opportunities to vary gameplay. If I have one pet peeve about this game, it is the constant shuffling. You shuffle a lot in a game of Onirim. But the cards are high-enough quality to handle it, and it’s a minor nitpick in such a lovely and engaging solo experience.

  1. Not exactly set collection in the traditional sense, but that’s what it feels like. Essentially you need to play three cards of a single color in a row, and no two adjacent cards in line can have matching symbols. ↩︎