Published by Flatcar6 Studios, OAR ELSE is a comedic card game designed by Jason Fleming, Bob Heubel and Julia Huff.
The basic premise is that you and your friends (3-5 players) are adrift in a liferaft after your ship has sunk. Everyone has a
personal escape plan, plus there is a general escape plan, both of these plans require that 3 out of 4 items shown on the card
have to be collected.
There are a few anomalies between the rules and the components: these include -
The contents list say there are 3 Ability cards, the rules say 4. A separate pack of 3 cards held the 4th Ability
card, a Special Action card and a Food card.
The contents list 127 cards, with the 3 from the pack making a round total of 130 cards.
With the 3 cards there were 125 cards in the game I have.
The 5 "Paddling" cards are called Penny Tracking cards in the contents list.
8 Food cards (inc 1 from 3-pack) 7 in contents list.
19 Attack cards actual, listed as 22 Action/Block cards.
The Block cards are actually Item cards not Action cards. (Not clarified in rules but the Items with Green Hands are the Block cards)
5 Item cards with Red ID dots, 13 Item cards with Green Hand ID icon. Contents list 19 Action cards.
5 Special Action cards, not mentioned in contents.
Most of the cards have an icon in the left top corner as easy ID of card type, but the rules do not clarify this list and only mention the
icons once, the Purple icon under the Immediate Rescue Scenario heading.
I presume that the rules were written and then after play-testing the card mix was changed and the rules were not amended.
This isn't a major problem but it does cause a few headaches when playing the game for the first time with no previous idea
of how the game plays or the rules.
Speaking of the rules, they are not the clearest set you will ever read and appear to have appendices (not listed as such) that have the
feeling of being added as afterthoughts or at the least have been placed out of natural order. Rules writing is very difficult to get right
even by the most experienced game designer and these needed to be tidied and rewritten, in my opinion.
The Special Cards:
There is 1 Lifeboat card which all players begin in.
There are 5 Paddling cards, and 5 Player Aid cards, one dealt to each player, though this is not mentioned in the rules.
Special Action Cards: One only, has same ID icon as Special Item cards.
Special Item Cards: 4 . Neither these nor the Special Action cards are mentioned in the rules so they are basically just other card types
and the Special doesn't really mean special.
Ability Cards: 4 types, one of each only.
Copy Cat - allows you to copy an Ability from another player.
Thief - Steal a card from another player - this is from their hand (though it doesn't say so on the card) not from in front of them.
Pro Swimmer - Very powerful card. Each Paddle you play counts as 2 Paddles.
Pack Rat - Collect all cards that other players have to discard overboard (not straight discards).
The game begins as a cooperative game with each player trying to play items that are shown on the Immediate Rescue Card for the liferaft.
If 3 of the 4 items shown on the card are played then the game ends and then there is an individual tally of various card types to determine
the overall winner.
The other option is to go it alone and try to win by yourself. If you do this you declare you are jumping ship and going it alone with your
life-jacket. If you can match 3 of the 4 items on your personal Rescue Plan then you win.
There is another way to end the game/win. When 15 paddle cards have been played by the group in the liferaft then safety is considered
obtained. Or if a single player gets 15 Paddles on their own.
When a player is going after their personal winning conditions they are laying down item cards in front of them. There is no mention of
whether they can or cannot begin to lay these down in front of themselves before declaring a solo effort. Thus it appears that you can lay
out cards for both rescues (team or solo) and be in with a chance of winning either way.
Many of the cards have Attack on them. These are cards you play against other players. There is generally no point in playing these whilst
you are all on the raft together as you will then only antagonise other players towards you. Play all rescue item cards in front of you, whether
you need them or not. This way you are either helping your own secret cause or preventing another player from reaching their solo goal, they
cannot be taken from you once they are played out so there is never any need to hold onto them unless you want to finish with a flashy flourish.
Food cards, apart from those drawn in your first hand, must be auctioned off immediately they are drawn. The person who drew the Food card
when refilling their hand has to auction it off, even if they themselves need it. They also, it appears (though is never actually stated) cannot bid
for it themselves. The other players all offer a card (generally the card with the least use to anyone) and the Food holder has to select one of them
and take it into their hand. The other bid cards are then discarded.
My personal take on this game is that it hasn't been play-tested enough and the rules are not as succinct as they could have been. In other words it
seems like a good idea has been rushed into production. This is a shame because this is a good game idea, though I think 30-90 minutes for playing
is rather too long. It has 15 - 30 minutes concentration value at the most, plus it is possible to be dealt the 3 cards you need to win from the start, so
a player may win on their first turn, even before all players have had a turn.
The production quality is good and the artwork is finely amusing but in an effort to compound the rules onto one double-sided sheet the designers
have forgotten that new players will not already have their (the designers) insight into the game and therefore need illustrations and examples. For
instance the colour ID icons in the left corner of each card - why are these not listed in the rules (as with a colour pic of the icon and an explanation