Game Review Ochmir Alien Battle Games


A game originating in the cities but now popular everywhere. It is played on a hexagonal board divided into 216 triangular grid-spaces. The 216 counters are doubled-sided, the ideogram-characters traditionally blue on white and white on blue; and are divided into ferrorn, which must remain stationary when placed on the board; thurin, which may move one space (across a line, not an angle); and leremoc, which have all the pieces on the board showing one’s chosen colour.

This is accomplished by forcing a reversal of the opposition’s counters, by gaining a majority of colour in a minor hexagon. The 6-triangle minor hexagons form a shifting, overlapping framework.

The distribution of characters means that a counter may or may not have a duplicate value on its reverse side; it is thus necessary to remember when placing a counter what is on the obverse.

A hand of counters is drawn, sight-unseen, from the ochmir bag on every sixth turn (a hand is six). Only one move or placement can be made per turn, unless this results in a majority in a minor hexagon, in which case all the counter reversals are carried out. Since majorities are retrospective, the turning of one hexagon to one colour will affect the hexagon-frames overlapping it.

There are no restrictions on where on the board a game may begin, and it is usual for two or three separate pattern conflicts to be set up. It is the ferrorn that determines the area of conflict.

Ochmir can also be played with three players (blue, white and brown), in which case the number of spaces that need be occupied for a majority in the minor hexagons decreases from 5 or 4 to 3. In this case there is also the shifting balance of alliances between players; and the game ends when one player gains the 144 counter majority of one colour.

A player may not turn own colour counters to reverse. In the case of a 3-3 split in a minor hexagon it is left until the shifting framework divides it up among other hexagons. The game can be played with retrospective reversals even when all 216 counters are on the board. Ochmir is not only about gaining control, but about keeping it afterwards.

The game is based on manipulation, not territory; and on mobility rather than rank. The values of the counters shift with the game; a player’s own counters are also those of the opposition. Themes of interdependence, mobility, manipulation, and control.