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In 1864 in the totally fictitious Ominus Valley, Egypt in Bedforshire, 6000 equally fictitious but still mysterious, hieroglyphic decorated cubes were created by Pharaoh Yaymundo and collected into sets of 26. He chose this number because it is equally divisible by 3 and by 4 while only leaving a few over for fun. Yaymundo then drew a line in the sand, well actually several lines, and before he knew it he had created a grid that closely resembled the flattened pyramid of King Harmanee.

Around 150 years later King Harmanee's ancestor, Queen Jennee, met up with Yaymundo's relative, also known as Yaymundo (aka Andy Roo) and they rolled together the dice-like cubes which they renamed as Ominoes after the Bedfordshire Valley where they were imagined. After a few rolls in the sand Jennee and Andy discovered that the cubes were clumping together and even more weirdly they saw that the face up hieroglyphics were grouping in same face clusters, and at that moment a game was born and identified.

OMINOES is a dice based boardgame for 4 players, with revised rules for 2 and 3 players. It is designed and published by Andrew Harman of YAY! Games and comes in a splendid tin package, ideal for displaying on game shelves anywhere.

The OMINOES "board" doubles up as a mouse mat. being made of the same or similar material and is decorated in a square overlaid red-sand with Egyptian styled hieroglyphics complete with an Ouroborus in the central four squares. The Ominoes (six-sided dice shaped cubes) feature the 4 player colours as "favoured" gods; Horus, the Green Falcon, Ra, the Yellow Sun, Khepri, the Blue Scarab, Apep and the Red Snake, with two non-god like sides,Yay-Ra, the Mover and Ominotep, the Black Serpent, completing the 5th and 6th sides of the Ominoe. The names of the four coloured sides are correctly agreed named after Ancient Egyptian gods. The two Black sides,which are not gods, are designed specifically as game mechanics. (I used Yay-Ra as a mechanic once but he didn't know his Chevrolet from his Chariot). The RULES are durable and Set (pun intended) on both sides of one, colourful sheet of heavy paper.

As already mentioned, the players favour one of the (actual Ancient Egyptian) gods and take the coloured Worship Token of their favourite, placing it on the Score Track on the zero section on the playing board. A Start player is decided upon and Let the Games Begin.

OMINOES is a simple game in every way. There is no planning or scheming just die rolling and back-stabbing. On their Turn the player takes one Ominoe from the general supply and rolls it, putting it to one side for a moment. They then, if possible, move an Ominoe that shows the same god as the rolled die and is already positioned on the board. This Ominoe has to be moved orthagonally, never diagonally and must be moved exactly three (3) squares. If no Ominoe on the board shows the same face as the roll then no Ominoe is moved; similarly if there is an Ominoe on the board with the same colour face as the rolled die but it cannot move exactly three squares then no Ominoe is moved. If one of the Black sides is rolled, quite often as there are two Black sides and only one of each other colour, then for Yay-Ra ANY Ominoe on the board is moved exactly three squares, or Ominotep who is re-rolled and then placed on the board (even if Ominotep or Yay-Ra is rolled). Finally the originally rolled Ominoe is placed onto the board with the rolled face showing. That is truly how simple the game mechanics are.

The idea is for the players to try to form groups of four or more of their chosen gods colour, generally using the Black die faces as "jokers" (they count as whatever colour the current player wishes them to. For example if a Yay-Ra is next to a Red Apep god then it could be counted as Red. If it were between Red and Blue it could count as Red for the current player and then Blue for the next player if they so wish. However once a group of four or more of the same colour Ominoes are together they can be claimed (but only on a player's Turn not during another player's Turn) and removed from the board and scored by moving the Token on the track; the game ending when one player's Token has reached or passed 13.

OMINOES is a luck based game where rolling the wrong colour can assist you in moving another player's on-board Ominoes away from a potential scoring position and a right coloured (your chosen colour or a non-godly Black face) roll can help you build a score. If there is any skill, which there really isn't, you could argue that it is in the moving of the Ominoes before placing the one rolled. There is a rule which entails the forbidding of any Ominoe to ever enter the Sacred Ouroborus (no Ominoes into the central 4 squares) but that serves to make it more difficult to place an Ominoe as well as much harder to be able to move an Ominoe.

OMINOES is sort of like the baby born from a discreet alliance between CONNECT 4 and BOXES (aka Pigs in a Pen). Despite its name it has no similarities with DOMINOES except perhaps that you can probably time a Pizza delivery by the length of time it takes to play a full game.

OMINOES is a fun piece of abstract nonsense that fits in wonderfully with the range of fast family games YAY! Games are committing to the public gaming market place via the wonderful world of KICKSTARTER and OMINOES may well be their next project. Andrew Harman is making a name for himself as a game designer of note and will probably find himself approached some day by one of the major international players, such as Hasbro or Mattel, to create a new family game to rival CLUEDO or GAME of LIFE etc. Until then invite your friends around and have an evening with a few glasses of wine, a couple of cheesey snacks and a huge serving of OMINOES, FRANKENSTEIN'S BODIES and SANDCASTLES. YAY!


© Chris Baylis 2011-2015