Oh My Goods!

The Game
Oh My Goods! comes in a small box and it is a pure card game. It is designed by Alexander Pfister. I have played a few of his games and they are popular – Great Western Trail, Mombasa, Isle of Skye. However I found them just okay and I didn’t like them as much as most gamers. I enjoyed Oh My Goods! more than his better known games. It made me want to play again immediately after my first game. 
Oh My Goods! is a game for 2 to 4 players. You build factories, and send your workers to work at them to produce goods. To produce goods you need raw materials. Goods produced at one factory (the output) can become the raw materials for another (the input). Goods are worth money and you spend them to recruit workers and build more factories. The game ends after a player builds his or her eighth factory. You score points for factories, workers and goods. 
One important mechanism in the game is how all players get some random raw materials every round which is used for production at factories. You reveal cards one by one from the deck until you have two cards with a sun icon. About half the cards in the game have suns. The cards revealed this way will be about half the raw materials available. You will do this again to generate more raw materials, but before that you have to decide where to send your workers to work, and also in which mode they are to work. Assigning your workers to factories means you are attempting to produce goods there. If all the raw materials needed are already available, that’s great for you. If they aren’t yet (which is often the case) you will have to decide how much risk you want to take. There is a chance that after the second revelation round you still won’t have enough of the raw materials you want. The worker mode also comes into play. Normally your worker produces two goods, and you must provide all the required raw materials. However you can ask him to work sloppily and only produce one good. By doing this he needs one raw material fewer. So it’s a balance between risk and reward. Going for full production can be risky. Doing things sloppily means you produce only half, but it is a safer option.
You have some hand cards. If your worker is short on raw materials, you can fill the shortage from your hand. That’s one way of mitigating risk. 
Whenever a factory is able to initiate production, you can feed it a different kind of raw material to increase production. This is a very effective way to produce in bulk. These secondary raw materials can be from your hand or they can be ready goods from your other factories. 
These are assistants, i.e. additional workers, you can pay to recruit. Costs at the top left, victory point values at the top right. To recruit an assistant you must fulfil the condition stated. Here the conditions are all related to having built a specific number of a specific type of factory. Assistants only produce one good and have no sloppy work mode. 
There is another important use of your hand cards. They are the factories you get to build. Every round you will be able to draw new cards. You need to balance between using them as raw materials and saving them to be built as factories. What factories you have access to is determined by card draw. 
When your factory produces goods, you draw cards from the deck and place them face-down on top of your factory. These represent goods you have in storage. Goods of different factories have different values. When you need to use money, you sell (i.e. discard) goods for money. 
So in this game the cards are common raw materials (when face-up at the centre of the table), private raw materials (when in your hand), factories (when played face-up before you) and goods (when face-down on top of your factories). 
The Play
It turns out to be harder than I expected to create a fancy production chain. Ideally I want to build a series of factories where the output of the first feeds as input to the second, and so on, so that I keep doing value-add to my goods. That’s much easier said than done. You don’t always draw the cards you want. Also you are under constant time pressure. Playing to 8 cards is fast. You really cannot afford to take your sweet time to orchestrate your perfect assembly line of factories. Most of the time, quick and dirty will beat procrastinating and waiting for the stars to align. There is uncertainly most of the time due to not knowing which raw materials will be available. There is angst in choosing between high risk high reward and low risk low reward. The game presents difficult decisions. 
One tactic I tried was building factories with different raw materials needs. This way, no matter what raw materials were made available for a round, there was a factory which had a good chance of being activated. I could send my worker there. I’m not entirely sure this is a good tactic. If many of my factories are the low level ones needing just the basic raw materials, I may not be very profitable. 
Getting to the eighth factory felt like the blink of an eye. The game is tantalising in this sense. You feel you are almost there in completing your perfect combo of factories, but just one step away and the game end is triggered. This is the best kind of game balance and pacing. End when you are in that most exciting moment. That’s what made me want to play again immediately after my first game. 
The Thoughts
Oh My Goods! is a small but crunchy game. It reminds me of tableau games, but it is not exactly that. Not all of your factories will jive with one another. Creating your perfect chain of factories is just the ideal you pursue, not necessarily something you will actually achieve. And that’s what makes this game such an engaging puzzle. How do you do the best with what you are dealt. There is plenty of tough and delicious decisions. 



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