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Orange Shall Overcome

The setting for Liberation Game Design's Orange Shall Overcome is wartime Netherlands: specifically, the country under Nazi occupation. It takes its title from the graffiti 'OZO' used by the Resistance: 'Oranje Zal Overwinnen'. Players aren't physically combating the German occupiers in this game but they are working to achieve specific objectives to frustrate them and undermine the German war effort.

This is a cooperative game for 1-5 players and Marcel Kohler's design is very much a labour of love: tho' Orange Shall Overcome isn't a simulation, it is very firmly based the game on real history: the characters in the game were all real people who were heroes of the Dutch Resistance.

The double-sided board represents a map of a city divided into its urban and rural areas and with various locations. These differ between scenarios, so the board becomes effectively modular. The locations each incorporate a track showing their 'safety' from the Nazi occupiers; when a track hits zero it will trigger a raid... Some locations give you one of the resources used in the game (money, rations, documents, information or contacts) and others let you spend specific resources to take beneficial actions. At the start of a scenario there will be locations that have not yet been recruited to the Resistance. Before you can use those locations you'll need to visit them and pay the indicated resources.

Tho' it has a wargame setting, Orange Shall Overcome is essentially a pick-up-and-deliver game where players will need to visit locations to collect and make use of resources and take them, and people being hunted by the Nazis, to other specific locations; all while maintaining the safety of locations and your collective morale. Morale is important because it affects how many actions players can take in addition to their characters' basic actions.

On your turn you can always take three actions (including, for example, movement and taking the action available at your location), with the possibility of extra actions depending on the players' collective morale level. You've a choice between several general actions but your individual character cards will give you the option of some character-specific actions. Whatever actions you take, you'll also have to resolve the individual Occupier card that you draw. This gives you a choice between two effects, either of which negatively affects the game and so drives up the difficulty. In this way, things become increasingly challenging for players, adding a mounting sense of excitement as the game progresses and giving the gameplay a distinct arc.

After you complete the 'day' part of your turn, the 'night' phase adds to the threat level by lowering the safety of your location by an amount that corresponds to your character's position on their 'alibi' track and the number of resources you are holding onto: so two more elements to consider and balance.

The roads that connect the locations may be safely travelled or they may contain checkpoints controlled by police or, more threateningly, by enemy soldiers. When you encounter a checkpoint on a road, you draw an event card which poses a dilemma that forces you to choose between collaborating or refusing. Whichever option you choose will have an effect, and that effect will differ depending on whether the checkpoint was manned by enemy soldiers or police. If you've played any of the Plaid Hat games using Crossroads cards (Dead of Winter, Gen7, Freelancers) or you've encountered the city or road events in Gloomhaven (Cephalofair) these checkpoint dilemmas operate in a similar way. However, the checkpoints themselves aren't static: patrol cards trigger their movement and that will likely reduce your alibi level and will reduce the safety of locations passed by the patrol.

If you buy a ticket at the Station, train travel may offer a safer route because a ticket lets you move between locations without hazarding road checkpoints but each ticket has its own special instructions on the back that you trigger when you use the card...

Orange Shall Overcome is well produced, including art from Irene Cano, James Churchill and Filipe Ferreira. It comes with five different scenarios and each of these can be played at four levels of difficulty, which adds to its replayability. The game is thematically strong and exciting to play. And, with its biographies of the real-world Resistance heroes represented in the various scenarios, you can expect to leave the table knowing a lot more about this period of Dutch history than when you started. Tho' it's not a wargame, wargamers will get a kick out of this game, as will fans of other pick-up-and-deliver cooperative games like Pandemic (Z-Man Games).

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