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Tom Vasel
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Odds ‘R (Eagle Games, 2003 – Roger L. Schlaifer) was quite a surprise offering from Eagle Games. I was used to large, beautiful light war games from this company, with huge boards and hundreds of plastic miniatures. This is their first game that has deviated from that formula, and a party game – at that! I’m a big fan of party games, and I really enjoy Eagle Games production values, so I figured the game had a good chance of being a success.

After playing the game, my thoughts are positive, but a little mixed. It’s a decent party game, with a smattering of strategy and a LOT of luck. The components are very nice, although even my lack of taste is offended by the garishness of the board. The questions are fascinating, and those who played it had a lot of fun. Strategy gamers will be turned off by the massive amount of luck in the game, but I am sure that folks who enjoy gambling and odds (the theme of the game), will enjoy it immensely. Is the game worth the price? I think there are better party games out there that are considerably cheaper (and more mobile), but if you like the theme – odds are (heh) that it’s the best game of its genre.
A large octagonal board (the only one I’ve ever seen – with the exception of Can’t Stop) is placed in the middle of the table. Each of the two to four players places their pawn on the starting space of that color. The board is made up of three concentric circles, with varying amount of spaces on each one. Each player is given $1,000 worth of chips, in various denominations, placed on matching spots on their side of the board. Each person in the game has the option of buying a lottery ticket for $25, one of ninety. Each lottery ticket has three numbers on it – one to be used in a two-player, three-player, or four-player game. A $500 chip is thrown into the “Lottery Pool” in the middle of the board, a Grab Bag with 15 tokens in it is put near the board, as well as some dice, a cardboard “cow chip”, and a box of 360 question cards. One player is randomly chosen to go first, with the rest of the players following in clockwise order.

On a turn, a player rolls two six-sided dice, and moves their pawn around the board that many spaces. If they pass their starting space, they move up to the next level. Once a player lands on a space, the next player draws a question from a box of question cards, and reads the lottery number at the top. If any player has a ticket that matches that number, they turn in the ticket and receive all the money in the pool. The reader then states the card’s question to the current player. The question is about some kind of statistics (i.e. “If you had been one of the wives of King Henry VIII of England, what was your chance of being beheaded?”, with three options for answers (in our example, they are 2 in 6, 3 in 6, and 5 in 6). The player reading the question shows the other players the correct answer (on the card). All players must then place money on the ante – equal to the minimum of the board level the current player is on ($25, $50, or $100). Each player then wagers any amount (a multiple of the ante) on whether they think the current player will answer the question correctly or incorrectly. The current player, seeing how everybody else bets, then must bid on themselves to answer the question correctly – but has a maximum limit of four times the ante. They then guess the answer, and the reader states whether they got it right or not. Everybody who bid incorrectly loses all the money they bet into the pool in the middle of the table, while those who bid correctly get a matching amount of money from the bank, according to the odds on the space. Many spaces are action spaces, and only have odds of 1:1. However, some spaces have 2 to 1, 3 to 1, or 5 to 1 odds. These spaces pay the winners quite a bit more!

If a player gets a question wrong, a “dinger” piece is placed on their token, and their turn ends. If they miss a fifth question, they get a “dunce cap” placed on their piece – causing them to miss a turn and lose $500 to the pool in the middle. After that turn, all “dingers” are removed. If, on the other hand, the player gets the question right, and they are on an action space, they get to do some strange thing – good and/or bad.
- On a GrabBag space, they pull a chip from the grab bag, and follow it’s instructions.
- On a CowChipFlip space, they flip the cow chip in the air, calling it – heads or tails. If they are right, they win the amount of money shown on the space.
- On a De-Dinger space, they turn in all their dingers, receiving $100 for each one.
- On a 2x Multiplier space, the player rolls the two dice, as well as a “GoAhead/GoBack” die. They then move double that amount, forward or backwards – based on the die. If they land on another action space, they can take that action – but no question.
- On a SnakeBite space, the player doesn’t even get a question! They must either pay every opponent $250, or roll the dice and move double spaces backwards.

When moving up a level, the player has the opportunity to purchase another lottery ticket – to a maximum of three. When one player reaches the middle of the board – the final space, they win all the money in the middle and $100 from each other player for every “dinger” the other player’s have. All the money for all the players is totaled, and the player with the most money wins!

Some comments on the game…

1.) Components: The components, overall, are very well done – typical of Eagle Games thus far. The chips are thick and large, rather extravagant for how many there are. The pawns look ridiculous, but that is because the dingers fit on them. The tickets were a little flimsy, and it took a while to tear them apart – I wish they had been precut. The cow chip and other chips are of excellent quality. The board’s shape is nifty, and it’s quite functional – it just looks rather hideous. It’s typical American company claptrap – not quite what I expected from Eagle. Maybe it’s the gambling motif – I don’t have much experience with gambling halls – perhaps they, too are this garish – so maybe the board is fitting. I do think that the spots to put the chips of each denomination for each player is a stroke of genius, however – it really made everything easier to sort. Everything fits well in a plastic case custom made for the game, and inside a rather large box, sturdy and bright.

2.) Rules: The rules are very easy to read – but I was absolutely startled by the way that they jumped from point to point. There was really no order to them, they just went over different pieces of the game, bit by bit. Fortunately, there is a Quick Start card included that makes everything simple. Either way, the game is extremely simple to teach others, although the methods of wagering may be confusing to some.

3.) Strategy and Luck: there is some strategy to the game, but mostly luck. I mean, if you have all three of your ticket numbers called (max possible), and I have none – is there much chance of me winning the game? The cow chip flip, the grab bag, the questions themselves – are mostly all luck. So where is the strategy? It lies mostly within the betting itself. Players must learn to read the other players and figure out how they will answer the questions, and then bet accordingly. In many of the questions, there is an answer so ridiculous, that it is obviously wrong. However, I have picked this answer before. Why is that? It’s simple, really – if all the other players have bet HUGE amounts that I will get the question right, then by deliberately getting it wrong, I can cause them to lose all that money. Of course, the flip side is that I will also lose a little money and get a “dinger”. In many situations, it’s worth it. Watching how the other players bid on you may also help you get the question right. Of course, you always have at least a 33% chance of getting it right – so one could always just “wing” it, bid a lot, and just guess wildly!

4.) Theme: The theme of the game is gambling – something I’m not really interested in introducing kids to, so I doubt that this game will see non-adult play. Also, many of the questions on the cards were of an adult nature – nothing too horrible, but certainly enough to prevent me from playing the game with kids under 13. Of course, even though I don’t gamble, I really enjoyed the theme of the game – and everybody had fun – even my wife, who missed every question she tried to answer!

5.) Fun Factor: The game is a lot of fun – if you enjoy playing the odds. If you’re looking for deep strategy, the massive randomness, especially from the lottery tickets, will frustrate you to no end. I didn’t mind that as much – and liked trying to wager on how others would guess. The questions on the card had funny and useful information on them, adding to the flavor of the game. Everybody who played the game enjoyed it and said they would gladly play it again.

So, my conclusion is that if you like the theme of gambling, then you’ll probably like this game. Even if you aren’t a big fan of gambling, you still might like the game, just probably not as much. Party game fans and those who enjoy light-fare will also probably be highly entertained by this game. I won’t deny that the massive luck element, combined with a high price, will probably turn others off – so I cannot recommend it for everyone. If you think you might like this game, you probably will. If you’re not sure, then I recommend that you try it before buying it.

Tom Vasel
 
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