The Oniverse that started with Onirim is one of the safe havens for solo players. The games had been published by Z-Man Games for more than 10 years. The end of this collaboration did not mean the end of the Oniverse. Rather, it was the beginning of something new. The conversation with Shadi Torbey was about the Oniverse and the new publisher inPatience.
This article is part four of our series of publisher reviews. In this we introduce publishers and show their history, their current games and can also give a small preview of future projects of the publisher.
When the Oniverse was created, solo play was still an exotic rarity. More than 10 years later, the Oniverse is still around and solo play is far more common. Almost every board game gets a variant to play it solo. Sometimes that works. But sometimes you also notice that it was forced afterwards to have the “1” in the number of people.
With the new publisher inPatience, the “1” is the focus. Anyone who buys inPatience games can be sure that a great solo gaming experience awaits them. However, exclusive solo games are currently not planned. All games can be played at least cooperatively in pairs.
The Big Bang of the Oniverse
In his youth, Sadi Torbey was a big fan of Dungeons & Dragons. It was later joined by Magic: The Gathering. According to his own statement, he overslept the advent of “modern” board games a bit. Being an opera singer made it difficult to get the right groups together for Magic over time. So it went more in the direction of modern board games, which were then mainly played with family and friends between concert tours.
is particularly formative here Lord of the Rings by Reiner Knizia, which was published by Kosmos Verlag. The cooperative game principle, which was still a rarity at the time, represented a great challenge. In order to understand the game better after a few defeats and to develop strategies, he quickly played a few games solo. This was the beginning of the fascination with solo games.
When the tour started again, Shadi didn't want to miss the games and started playing solitaire. But he didn't like this kind of abstract and luck-heavy game.
He had been trying to develop his own games since the early 2000s. When he came up with an idea for a game about opera, he says he made all the mistakes one can make in game design. However, as in music, those initial mistakes were a great way to learn.
The idea for the Oniverse just needed a little spark.
On tour he bought himself Al Cabohne. The (at the time) only game in the Bohnanza series that can also be played solo. Since this compact game was so good but only represented a solo exception in the large Bohnanza series, the desire arose for a separate series of games that should all be playable solo. In the evening the ideas were closed Onirim and urbion (formerly Equilibrion) born.
The Oniverse is born
After the first prototype of Onirim was ready, the original plan was to publish the games for the French-speaking countries themselves and just look for a partner for other regions. The idea of an own publishing company was put on hold by an offer from Z-Man Games. Z-Man secures worldwide rights Onirim and in the years that followed, all of the Oniverse's titles appeared there.
The goal of an entire gaming universe has existed since the idea of Onirim and Urbion. It soon became clear that this wish would also be implemented. Sophie Gravel bought Z-Man Games and the publisher became part of Filosofia. She herself was a big fan of the games and so appeared over time Urbion, Castellion, Sylvion, Nautilion and Aerion.
Despite good reviews, Z-Man Games, now part of the Asmodee Group, decided to end the collaboration. For Shadi, the decision came as a semi-surprise, as he says in an interview on BGG.
However, this was not the end of the Oniverse, but the start of something completely new. An idea as old as Onirim himself came up again: his own publishing house.
He calls the timing good. Even if the idea is old, in the many years that he has worked with Z-Man, he has learned a lot about what is important in a publishing house.
The publisher should not be limited to the Oniverse. Titles from other game designers will also appear. The first and so far only confirmed one is very well known, especially in the solo area. But more on that later.
The map of the Oniverse
Currently there are only Oniverse games at inPatience. The first title by another author will not appear until next year.
Onirim was the first game to appear in the Oniverse. Originally it was supposed to be about good and bad angels. But the subject changes to good dreams and nightmares. Onirim is a hand management and set collection game. In a dream labyrinth, the dreamwalker must find eight Oneiric doors. This succeeds either if three cards of the same color are played in a row or if a key card of the same color is in hand when a door card is drawn. But nightmares also lurk in the labyrinth, making the search difficult.
Next followed urbion, which is about maintaining the balance between good and bad dreams (Sognae and Incubi). Unlike the other Oniverse titles, this title will not be relaunched until 2024.
The Oniverse expanded in 2015 with two new titles. sylvion is a tower defense game in which you have to defend the forest against flames. First, the defense deck is created using a special drafting mechanism. Then you have to fend off the seemingly endless waves of enemy flames.
The castellion it is a tile placement game. Here the solo player must defend the castle in the center of the Oniverse against three monsters. Each turn, a tile is revealed and either placed or discarded for its special ability. If all three monsters have attacked and the foundation of the castle is still standing, the defense was successful.
The most recent two titles of the Oniverse move on a new underground. This is also where dice appear for the first time. In Nautilion a crew for the submarine of the same name must be assembled. The submarine must reach the phantom boat's “port” in the depths before it can reach home.
With Aerion after the depths of the ocean it goes high in the air. In this puzzle-like game you have to win the right blueprints, materials and crew members for the new air fleet. You gain access to these by rolling the right combinations.
A mechanism off Aerion was direct inspiration for the novelty Stellarion.
What all games of the Oniverse have in common are the included mini expansions. Leader is here Onirim with seven expansions and two more promo expansions. They ensure a high level of replayability, since these expansions can also be combined with each other in a game. The rules of the basic games, which are kept as simple as possible, help you get started quickly.
To the stars and then?
The announcement of the new publisher coincided with the announcement of this year's Oniverse novelty Stellarion connected. Here elements of the predecessor Aerion were installed. The idea with Aerion was to have a game with a dice mechanism comparable to Kniffel. However, there should be no free rerolls. This is only possible by discarding cards that also double as timers.
To cushion the randomness of the dice, there is no single large deck of cards here, but several small decks whose composition is always the same. With Stellarion this deck management should then be further developed and is now the central mechanism there. For the first time there is also a small game board. However, this does not change the size of the small box.
In Stellarion you take on the role of the director of the observatory. This even kicked in on the red cards Onirim on. The telescopes are trained on the stars, planets and nebulas of the Oniverse and the spaceships just wait for their launch. The novelty will be available at SPIEL, where inPatience will also have its own stand.
Auch urbion will be reissued. It's the only title not yet released in an "Oniverse format" box. This re-release is expected to appear in 2024. Also planned for 2024 are two more titles that are currently in development and about which nothing can be announced yet.
However, a novelty for 2023 has already been announced. The author here is not Shadi Torbey, but a person who has already made a name for himself, especially in the solo area: Morten Monrad Pedersen. The Automa Factory he founded has, among other things, the solo modes for Wingbeat, Viticulture, Scythe or patchwork fabric developed. His own game bears the name Skoventyr.
The contact between the two authors has existed since a good review that Morten said Aerion had written. The two have been in touch ever since and Shadi (before inPatience existed) was involved in playtesting. After founding inPatience, Shadi recalled the tested game. Since this had not yet been signed by any publisher, Skoventyr the first title by another author to be published by inPatience.
In this cooperative card game for 1-4 players, players must defeat Gamle Erik (Danish devil). This hunts the badger Vogter, who is the soul of the forest. There are enough allies to win in the fight against Gamle Erik's evil helpers. However, as described in Danish mythology, these allies are always linked to evil. Each turn, an ally must be played, discarded for the special ability, or a card drawn. The game is recommended for ages 10+ and lasts around 15 minutes.
Finally, there is good news for German fans of the Oniverse and those who want to become one. In 2023 some Oniverse games will also be available in German. We're not yet revealing who will take over.
If you don't want to wait until then, you should definitely drop by the inPatience booth (5I104) at SPIEL.
Last updated on 2.12.2022/XNUMX/XNUMX / Affiliate Links / Images from the Amazon Product Advertising API. * = Affiliate links. Images from Amazon PA API