Dale Yu: Review of Onirim, 2014 Edition (Z-man Games)


  • Designer: Shadi Torbey
  • Publisher: Z-Man games
  • Players: 1-2
  • Ages: 10+
  • Time: ~15 mins


Times played: 2 with newest edition, at least 10 with original version


Onirim is a clever solo/2p card game where the player(s) work against the game to try to get 8 door cards on the table so you can escape the labyrinth that you are stuck in…


The Base (Solo) Game


The base game is for one player.  It consists of 76 cards – 8 door cards (2 each in 4 colors), 10 nightmare cards and a bunch of location cards split amongst the 4 colored suits.  The whole deck is shuffled and you draw a starting hand of 5 cards.


Door cards (ignore the Incubus on the top)

Door cards (ignore the Incubus on the top)

Each turn is fairly simple – on a turn, you play a card or discard a card.  The most important rule is that the card played may not have a symbol (moon, sun, key) in common with the previously played card.  If you are able to play three cards in a row of the same color, you then search through the deck to find a door of that color to put on the table.


You could choose to discard a card (to preserve a string of color already played, for instance).  If you play a Key card though, you get to look at the top 5 cards of the deck, discard one of them and then place the other 4 back in the order of your choice.


the location cards with a nightmare on the right

the location cards with a nightmare on the right

Then, you refill your hand back up to 5 cards by drawing from the deck.  If you draw a location card, it simply is added to your hand. If you draw a Door card, you may play it to the table if you can discard a Key card of the same color – otherwise the Door goes into Limbo.  If you draw a Nightmare card, then you have 4 options


1 – discard a key card

2 – place a previously found Door in the Limbo pile

3 – reveal the top 5 cards from the deck, discard all the location cards and place all the Door and Nightmare cards in the Limbo pile

4 – discard your whole hand and draw a new hand of 5 cards


Once you have drawn back up to 5 cards and/or dealt with your Nightmare, you shuffle the Limbo pile back into the main deck of cards.  This ends your turn and you repeat the phases again.  You win the game if you are able to get all 8 door cards on the table at once.  You lose the game if you run out of cards to refill your hand with.


The Cooperative Game


You can also play the game with 2 players – the setup is a little different… each player gets a hand of 3 cards and there are 2 cards face up between the players, and those cards are considered to be in both hands.  When you play a card, you can choose from either the 3 in your hand or from the 2 on the table. Additionally, when you choose to discard your whole hand (in response to a Nightmare), you must discard both the cards in your own hand as well as the two on the table.


There is one rule change in the turn actions – when you discard a card, you many also choose to swap a card from his personal hand to the shared cards on the table.  This allows you to help out your partner if you see he needs a particular color.  Each player plays his own string of cards , and the game is won when each player has a full set of each of the four colors of doors in front of him.


The Expansions


What? There’s more?  Yup – in the original version, I think you got 2 or 3 expansions in the box.  In this new version, you now get 7 expansions.  In each expansion, there are some extra cards that need to be added to your deck.  The rules clearly highlight which cards need to be added to the base deck in order to play.


While I won’t go into full details about each one – short descriptions of a few will give the variety


The Book of Steps Lost and Found – this expansion adds in 8 goal cards. These are shuffled and placed in a face up row.  You must collect the doors in the order shown in the row.  If you find a door out of order, it goes into the Limbo pile.  There are 3 special actions (spells) that can be taken to assist you in this more difficult quest.


The Glyphs – you add in 8 glyph cards to the deck, 2 of each color. You also add in 4 more door cards, one of each color.  In order to win, you must have all 12 doors on the table.  The Glyph cards have an added ability when they are discarded – when you do, you reveal the top 5 cards of the deck.  If there is at least one door in those cards, you may choose one of them to go face up on the table. The other cards are placed on the bottom of the deck.  If there is no door, you place all 5 under the deck.


There are 5 other expansions in the rule book with their own cards and rules.  I’ve pretty much stuck to the base game and the two expansions I outlined above thus far…


here's what greets you when you open the box!

here’s what greets you when you open the box!

My thoughts on the game


I really liked this one when it came out – I was in need of a new solitaire game, and Onirim fit the bill.  It was always a pretty difficult game for me to win, so I usually just stuck to the base game.  There is a lot of risk management in the game – you obviously would like to play three cards of the same color in a row each time to get a door, but if you pass on too many cards, you’ll find yourself at the end of the deck before you know it.  Also, trying to figure out when the right time to search for a door with  a key discard is crucial.  Being able to get one or two doors on the table at the cost of only one card is usually necessary for me to win the game.


The cooperative game is an enjoyable activity, and though the victory conditions are a bit more stringent, you get a lot more flexibility with the two shared cards.  You can further increase the difficulty of the cooperative game by not allowing table talk.


From what I’ve seen of the expansions so far, they add interesting twists to the game.  Each one comes with its own set of challenges that really does change how you approach the game.  Like I said, I will freely admit that I haven’t been able to delve into those expansions as much as I would have liked yet, but I’m sure that this winter will give me plenty of opportunity to get to them.


The new box is a bit larger than the previous Z-man edition (which came in a small traditional German card game box) – but it’s still not that big – 6.25” x 6.25” x 1.75”, and realistically, if you were really trying to save space, and you had the rules memorized – the entire game is contained in the cards, so you could just carry those around if you wanted.


Camel Up is a standard 30cm square box

Camel Up is a standard 30cm square box

There aren’t many occasions for me to play 2-player games right now – because I have two sons that like to play games, and I generally don’t want to leave anybody out… – but I’m always on the lookout for nice solo games, and this one fits the bill for that, with the added benefit that it can be expanded to a 2p game if someone else can play.


Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers

Dale Y: I like it (solo game), I like it (co-op game)

About Dale Yu

Dale Yu is the Editor of the Opinionated Gamers. He can occasionally be found working as a volunteer administrator for BoardGameGeek, and he previously wrote for BoardGame News.
This entry was posted in Essen 2014, Reviews. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Dale Yu: Review of Onirim, 2014 Edition (Z-man Games)

  1. Pingback: Today in Board Games Issue #234 - Should I Buy the Battle of Five Armies? - Today in Board Games

  2. Dale, do you think the box would hold all of the cards when sleeved? This game sees a lot of shuffling/handling almost like a a deck-builder.

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