Game Time: 30-45 minutes
Over the past few years, there has been a rise of casual games: games that can be played in less than an hour but still offer the same entertainment value as bigger board games. These games can serve as a good time-filler, as well as a palette cleanser between long games. It allows the play group to refresh and bring up the energy that may have been lost in longer games. Today, I will be reviewing one such game: Overseers.
Overseers is a card drafting game in which players take the roles of emissaries sent to Earth by a goddess. Players are to collect the virtues and vices of humankind in hopes of balancing the world…. Or not. Simply put, the players are drafting cards and trying to assemble a combination that gives them the most points. The player with the most points after 3 rounds wins.
Anyone who has ever drafted will know how this works. Players will be given six cards from the same deck. Each player takes one of these cards and passes the rest over to the player to the left. This continues until that player picks 5 cards; the last cards are put into a discard pile. The cards being drafted represent virtues and vices (Love, Hope, Anger, and Greed). Some cards are worth a set amount of points while others will grant the player more if they pick a combination of cards. The goal is to draft the most points, but be careful because the next phase is Judgment.
The Judgment phase is a voting phase in which each player will reveal three of the five cards they have obtained card on the table. Based on what they see, they must vote on the person they think has the strongest combination. That player then has two options:
- Concede – Admit to having the strongest combination and discard any two cards the player is holding
- Deny the Claim – Once all the cards are reveal, if that player did in fact have the strongest combination, they are forced to discard the two cards that give the highest value. If the player did not have the strongest combination, they may pick a card from the discard pile
Once the Judgment phase ends and the cards have been revealed, the Steal phase occurs. A player that has drafted the most Greed cards may steal a card form another player. After that, final scores are calculated and gold is awarded. This process is repeated two more times and the player with the most gold is the winner.
Players will also be given a random Emissary card before each round. Each emissary has a special power that can trigger during different phases of the draft. Emissary cards can hinder other players or award the players holding it. These cards might give each player a better idea of how they might want to play that round. Once a draft round is finished, the Emissary cards are reshuffled and a random one is dealt for the next two rounds.
Straight out of the box, it is a very beautiful game. The artwork on the Emissary cards alone is worth the $20 price point. The layout on the cards is well designed and helps the learning process go quickly. This game delivers by supplying players with their own reversible cheat sheet. One side is a flow chart that explains the phases of the game; the other side tells you how many cards should be in the deck depending on the amount of players. After the first round of drafting, everyone should have a basic understanding of the rules.
I am always in the mood to draft, so I find this game very appealing. Similar to Love Letter, deduction is needed to figure out the best cards to draft. The cheat sheet will let every player know exactly how many cards they will play with and how many copies of a card might be available. Emissary cards are also public knowledge so players will have an idea what to watch out for. I had a pretty good read at the table so I was able to squeeze out a victory by the end of the game.
Final Score: 7/10
It is a beautiful and well-designed game that still has that back stab element I am always looking for. The ability to deduct and draft the strongest combination, while at the same time bluffing, made this game enjoyable. Some of the wording on the cards and in the rules did confuse the group and lead to a minor mistake, but it did not slow anything down. In terms of re-play value, I don’t see myself playing more than two games at a time, but that is the intended purpose of a casual game: a game that gets us ready for the next game.