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Omicron Protocol Review


Quick Look: Omicron Protocol

Designer: Brendan Kendrick, Bernie Lin
Publisher: Dead Alive Games
Year Published: 2019
No. of Players: 2–4
Ages: 13+
Playing Time: 60–120 Minutes

Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com

Review
Omicron is the fifteenth letter of the Greek alphabet. A protocol is an official response of procedure with how to deal with a situation. Usually a diplomatic response from a government, but also used in business dealings. In reading the backstory for the game, the name creates more questions of what happened in our future world to require the action of quarantining a city, leaving the residents to fend for themselves.

Omicron Protocol is a scenario-based strategy combat game. There are 2 sides competing against each other to accomplish the objective of the scenario. Although they are not facing off against each other, they are competing for the same objective, which means the opposing force has to be dealt with.

One of the Survivalists

We played Omicron Protocol with 3 players. We played with two players controlling 1 faction against the other player and their faction. The offset didn’t put the game out of balance from the point of the pieces on the mat. It is also hard to say if the two-headed team was better than the one. There was an advantage for the two players being able to talk over their strategy. At the same time, the individual player was able to coordinate their actions easier.

Seeker's backstory

The game has some starter scenarios for learning movement and abilities. The system is straight forward and we found it easy to understand. The difficulty came with the number of options available and deciding which was the best path forward to complete the objective. This is where the individual player-team had some advantage, as they were handling the entire team instead of just part of it. The multi-player team ended up focusing more on the abilities of their characters and that required more conversation and bartering between the players.

There are multiple levels of strategy. Strategy starts in the pre-game setup when each faction chooses which characters are being sent on the mission. The introductions have preselected characters; however, in the full-game scenarios, players choose. Individual abilities of the characters, how they can interact, and how they pair up with the factions special abilities that can be used become considerations for who goes out into the field.

Along with the dealing with the other faction, there are the Cyber-Memetic Sociopaths (CyMS). The name has been changed to fit the backstory presented but the CyMS (pronounced “sims”) are basically zombies attracted by sound (but the news can’t say there really was an outbreak of zombies). As you are working to complete the objective of the scenario, the noise you make can draw the attention of the CyMS. The opposing force can also take actions that draw attention towards the other team as part of their strategy.

Survivalist Faction (from Dead Alive website)

Setup
To begin play, it needs to be decided who is going to play which faction. In the base game reviewed here, there are only two factions, the Survivalists and the Peacemakers. It is noted that additional factions are planned for.

A scenario is then decided on. You have an option of 4 scenarios along with 2 learning scenarios. Each game scenario has special rules that include how the board is set up (it does not appear that any of the scenarios presented use the background scene of the mat).

The factions now decide who they are sending on the mission. The characters are revealed and added to the game board in the starting areas.

Gameplay
The main goal is to complete the objective. Omicron Protocol is not an arena combat (but you could create such a scenario). The backstory is one where people are working to survive the situation they have found themselves in and working to get out of the quarantined city.

As the scenario progresses, more Cyms enter the area. This provides an increase in pressure on the players for how they play the scenario.

The factions take alternating turns with their characters. The CyMS are then able to take action after each character if the conditions are right. Once the Scenarios objective has been reached by one of the factions, a winner is declared.

Theme and Mechanics
There is a strong backstory for Omicron Protocol. Along with what was presented in the rulebook, there were links to additional stories to build a stronger background.

After choosing your team from your faction, gameplay is handled with additional mechanics.

Peacemaker faction (from Dead Alive Games website)

Each faction starts their turn with a set number of action points. Those points are divided by the player(s) between all of the characters in play. During the turn a faction needs to balance the use of their action points to utilize all of their characters. This can lead to some interesting conversations when there is more than one player directing the actions of the characters on the board.

Combat is determined using a dice pool. A number of dice are rolled, and those that are equal to or greater than the target score hits. The hits are used for several different actions from the character. They can deal damage, trigger abilities, or if the dice are not spent (including those that don’t score), they can be used for improving future attempted roles.

The mechanics were easy to follow--it was just a matter of remembering what options each character has and deciding when and how to use them.

Artwork and Components
Reviewed a prototype, so artwork and components may change.

The miniatures are good depictions of the characters represented on the faction member cards.

The Good
  • Multiple levels of strategy
  • Minis! How can you go wrong with a game that has minis?
The Bad
  • Early play is slow due to the number of options and based on situation, character, and faction.

Final Thoughts
Omicron Protocol was fun and presents some unique options.

Being a scenario-based game allows players to develop their own scenarios. It was mentioned in the information I have that Dead Alive Games will be making available more scenarios and working with players to share scenarios developed by others. There could be solitaire scenarios or ones for larger groups. I believe the larger group scenarios would be harder and longer to play due to the interaction required by the players on the same team.

We also looked at the possibility of have the odd player (we had three) take on the role of the CyMS. This puts them in a non-win situation, but gives them constant activity of their own “faction.”

Not only is Omicron the fifteenth letter of the Greek alphabet, in mathematics it is used as the symbol for growth rates, and in other instances it is tied with Omega, the end.

Players Who Like
  • Zombie games (just call them zombies when you’re playing)
  • One-on-one strategy combat
  • Miniatures games
During play testing (from Dead Alive Games website)


Check out Omicron Protocol on

           

On KICKSTARTER now. Campaign ends June 20, 2019.



Daniel Yocom - Reviewer

Daniel Yocom does geeky things by night because his day job won’t let him. This dates back to the 1960s through games, books, movies, and stranger things better shared in small groups. He’s written hundreds of articles about these topics for his own blog, other websites, and magazines along with stories, after extensive research. His research includes attending conventions, sharing on panels and presentations, and road-tripping with his wife. Join in the geeky fun at guildmastergaming@blogspot.com.

See Daniel's reviews HERE.
Omicron Protocol Review Omicron Protocol Review Reviewed by Guild Master Gaming on May 22, 2019 Rating: 5

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