There’s nothing worse than having wild animals attempting to consume your brain, but this is where we find ourselves in the card game Oh My Brain, published by 25th Century Games. The goal is to hold on to as many brain tokens as you can as you shed cards (and rely on a bit of luck) around the campfire.
I’ve got to admit that I’m in love with the style and art in this game, but the theme makes very little sense. Thankfully, the fast-paced gameplay and “take that” mechanics of the game that work really well.
Players start with 6 cards in their hand and 3 cards in their cemetery. Each round ends when one player has shed all their cards from both places or when someone has lost all their brain tokens.
In the center of the table, players have to play a higher card value than the player before them into the “campfire.” This is what the pile of cards are called in the center of the table. Cards are numbered from 1 to 19, with the majority of the cards being median numbers from 6 to 12. When a player has less than 3 cards in their hand at the end of their turn, they pick up a card from their cemetery. Reducing your hand is the only way you can access these cemetery cards, which is a mechanic I really like.
If you are unable to play a card, you’ll lose a brain token from your stash of 9 and draw 2 new cards. One card will go to your hand and the other is added to your cemetery. This isn’t always a bad thing because the cards in the campfire are then cleared and you start fresh. You can now lay down a number as low or as high as you’d like.
Not all creatures are created equal in Oh My Brain The 0, 8, and 11 cards all have special abilities that can work to your advantage. The 0 card is a wild and can be played on any card. This is the easiest way to get out of a jam, but also resets the campfire for the next player to play anything they want.
The 8 card forces the next player in turn order to play a lower card. Players holding high cards will be forced to lose a brain and draw more cards if they don’t have these smaller card values.
The 11 card is fantastic because it wipes out the current stack of cards in the campfire and allows you to take another full turn. Chaining together a couple 11 cards is a fantastic way to shed cards and keep other players at bay.
The lowest and highest value creatures in the deck will have a pink marshmallow symbol at the top. If you play this card, you must roll the pink die, which can be super helpful or a real drag. Half of the die faces work to your benefit while the other half can really screw you over. One of my favorite die faces is the one that allows you to take another full turn. This is only helpful if you can actually beat the previous card you laid down. This die mechanic introduces just enough luck into the game that some gamers will become frustrated.
Sit by the Campfire
After my first play of Oh My Brain, I honestly thought it was an “ok” card game. I was far more impressed with the innovative box design and fantastic art style of the game. After more than a dozen games, though, my tone has changed for several reasons.
First, everyone around me has loved the game. The first weekend we had the game, we must have played it twice a day. My nephews were in town and they fell in love with the game. Since it plays 2 to 5 players, we would finish a game and another family member would jump in for the next game. When I taught the game to Erin, she specifically requested that we bring it with us to Thanksgiving family gatherings.
Second, the card play is deeper than I initially experienced. I’m a big fan of card games like Fuji Flush and Scout, which have you shedding cards and looking for just the right way to outplay your opponents. Oh My Brain is at its best when you are anticipating what other players have and using the specialty cards to your advantage. There’s even some take-that when you play a pair of identical cards. For example, if I play two 5’s, the duplicate version of the card is put in the cemetery of the player of my choice.
Finally, playing with two players is actually a really good experience. I’m generally not a fan of 2-player card games. They often feel uncompetitive and that you’re just going through the motions, wishing you had another player. Oh My Brain was actually really fun at just 2-players. It surprised me how competitive the game was, and I never thought once about wishing someone else was available to play.
Oh My Brain is a game that was a slow burn for me. Our first two games felt clunky and I really didn’t love the experience. However, once we worked out the kinks and the gameplay became faster, I really had a great time.
I’m still constantly impressed with the design and boxing choices of Oh My Brain. I would have never anticipated it being one of our most played games during the holidays with family and friends. If you’re looking for a fun card game with a unique graphic style, Oh My Brain is an excellent purchase for your next game night.
You can buy Oh My Brain from the 25th Century Games webstore or through Amazon today.
- Unique style from the color palette to illustrations
- Cemetery mechanic keeps cards just out of reach
- Competitive at all player counts
- Bad die rolls are punishing
- First couple of games will feel clunky