It doesn’t come out that often, once or twice a year maybe, but when it does it always gives me a great deal of satisfaction.
Black Orchestra is a well-balanced game played solo with two or three conspirators, and it’s this fact that makes it so rewarding – I know I’m in with a chance of winning every game and it usually goes right to the wire, making it a tense and exciting game to play.
The historical content is a draw too and it’s good to have games around like this that can teach us of times gone by, both the good and the bad. If you have the chance to play with a WWII history buff the game can be taken to a whole other level, as the events get expanded on and put into context, which can open a world of discussion (expect to add a good hour onto your game!).
I’ve heard people compare it to Pandemic and I can see why, but this game has more depth and variety to it, especially in the level of planning – like Pandemic on steroids maybe – but the theme may not appeal to the masses as much as saving the world from disease!
Also, like Pandemic, it is very easy to get into. The rules are straightforward and even when it isn’t your turn, you’ll find yourself getting involved, as you must work together. Though another part of the game that intrigues me, is the fact that sometimes one player can pull it out of the bag all on his own, which feels so thematic when it happens. Imagine, you’ve been down on your luck as a team and think it’s practically all over, when someone manoeuvres into the right place and takes that million to one shot… and it comes off! High fives all round, the drinks are on him!
As a solo game it presents a pretty puzzle. Formulating a plan, obtaining as many resources as possible to increase the chances of success, trying to get everything lined up so you can (careful choice of word) execute it, all takes some managing. The longer this takes the harder it can be to pin Hitler down, as the game tightens itself up as you work through it, making it a fraught last couple of turns and sometimes you just have to take your chances.
Knowing what I know now, would I have still bought it? Dur, yeah!
Will it remain in my collection? It certainly will. It may not be a regular to the table, but I enjoy the mechanisms it employs and above all, I really like the theme. Solo, it’s an easy game to get back into after a long break – the rules are straightforward and it’s quick to setup – which is great when you want something different but don’t want to struggle with rules.
One Year On – Black Orchestra is a solid co-operative game that plays very well solo. Luck can mostly be mitigated and really is the aim of the game, as you try to increase your chances with the dice and hence carry out your plan. For me, though, the theme of the game, and the way it meshes with the mechanisms, makes it a winner – if the theme didn’t appeal, then I’d have probably given it a miss.