Friday, December 11, 2015

Oz In The Cards

As much as I would love to make sure all of my lovely readers (Yes, all 3 of you) pick up Adventures in Oz: Fantasy Roleplaying Beyond the Yellow Brick Road for their loved ones this Christmas (or whatever gift-giving holidays you do celebrate), some of you might already have the game and are looking for the next big thing to give this year.

So here are a couple of standalone card games that I've found that might just scratch that Oz gifting itch. Both are expressions of existing card games, but offer a fun, Ozzy twist.

Oz Fluxx: The fun of the Fluxx card games is that the rules are always changing. While the game starts simple (draw 1 card from the deck, then play one card from your hand each turn), there are cards that describe new rules which change those basics when they are played. The object of the game is to acquire a set of 2 or 3 Keeper cards (characters and objects from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz), but which set of cards you need to win is another element that can change as the players bring out different Goal cards.

Watch out for Creepers! Creeper cards represent the villains and monsters of the Wizard of Oz. If you have a Creeper in play, you cannot win the game unless the Goal card currently in play requires it.

Most of the Oz references in this version of the game are drawn from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, but it seems like the designers were trying to hew closely to the expectations from the film version. There are no Kalidahs, but the Fighting Trees and Winged Monkeys are present as Creeper cards. Three of Oz's four Witches make an appearance: Both Wicked Witches are Creepers, and the Good Witch of the North is a Keeper (looking much as she did when Denslow drew her), but Glinda the Good Witch of the South is not present.

There are some literary touches. For example, the Goal card that requires you to collect the Tin Woodman and the Scarecrow is titled "Future Leaders of Oz." A "Golden Cap" Action card lets a player summon and command the Winged Monkeys to rest in front of the player of their choice. Another Action card is called "Ozma's Decree," but it's the only reference to the extended canon that I found in the set.

All in all, it's a fairly simple, fun game for fans of the film version or the book. And if you want a version with a different theme, or to see what other fun games they have, check out

Munchkin Oz: This is currently a Target exclusive, and I picked up my set at my local Target store last week.

While Oz Fluxx only had slight connections to the deeper Oz canon, Munchkin Oz is bursting with them. Not content with simple Flying Monkeys and Fighting Trees, monsters and enemies from nearly every book are present. Rigmaroles and Flutterbudgets at level 1, all the way up through Wheelers, Whimsies and Invisible Bears, with the infamous Nome King as the set's only level 20 monster.

Gameplay is the same as other Munchkin games. You start as a Level 1 nobody competing with the other players to defeat monsters and be the first to rise to Level 10. On their turn, players "kick down the door," turning over a Door card to reveal a monster to fight (though other things turn up on Door cards). If a player's Level (and all bonuses from Treasure items) is greater than the monster's Level, they've won the fight, getting a Level closer to victory and drawing more Treasures to become more powerful.

One nice addition is the inclusion of Ally cards. A wide variety of characters from the Oz stories, from Dorothy Gale to Polychrome the Rainbow's Daughter can provide you with combat bonuses
 and special abilities.

The Treasure cards also bear a distinct Oz flavor. You can get a Yellow Brick from the Yellow Brick Road, take a peek at Ozma's Magic Painting, or make a quick escape by eating a Dama-Fruit. Even the traditional weapons and armor get into the fun, with the Gillikin Guisarme, the Munchkin Morningstar and the (I kid you not!) Baumstick!

Depending on the kind of Oz fan you are, you might not go for the combat theme. But if you can get past that, the Oz references are fairly constant and add to the fun. It can also be combined with other Munchkin sets to mix genres and jokes.

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