Orp: The Market for Space Merchant Translators

Viewers of the British version of The Apprentice TV show will be familiar with the round where the teams are given a list of items to buy but where they aren't entirely certain what all of them are. The contestants' confusion seems predicated on none having access to the internet - tho' they all seem to be wielding smartphones. Jorge Zhang's Orp is built around a similar uncertainty but, in this 3-5 player card game, the confusion is better explained. Players each have a card specifying the mix of items they need to acquire for their wealthy client but the items in the market are all consigned in crates labelled in an alien language. Each player starts off with the pair of 'key' cards that gives them the translation for one of the five types of item but they don't know which items correspond to any of the other alien words and symbols. Unless you are playing with five players, there will be at least one spare pair of key cards: for these, one half of each pair is revealed. Players all have a starting 'hand' of four or five item cards, tho' you may prefer players to keep their item cards face up in front of them on the table.


Orp then is a deduction and puzzle game where players will be trying to determine the words/symbols that correspond to the mix of items they need to deliver to their patron. On your turn, you can 'investigate' by asking another player a yes/no question about one of their two key cards (the item or the word/symbol). They may or may not give you a truthful answer. You can tho' call their bluff. This forces the player to flip the previously face-down card so that all the players can see it. If they were telling the truth, the questioner has to discard one of the item cards from their 'hand'. The player who answered truthfully also gets to peek at one of the face-down unallocated key cards. A player caught out in a lie has to discard an item card.


In addition to an 'investigate' action, you can pick up an item card from the face-down deck (tho' if this would take your 'hand' size above five cards, you'll have to discard down). Alternatively, you can force a trade with another player - taking one of their item cards and giving them one of yours. The other alternative action in a three- or four-player game is to discard two item cards from your hand in order to peek at one of the unallocated key cards.



Players aren't all seeking to collect the same mix of items, and tho' your client has asked you to buy a total of five items, these will comprise just three unique items as you'll be asked to get two each of two of the items. This means you don't necessarily have to translate all the alien words/symbols in order to win. There's a logic puzzle element to the game in that you might use logical deduction to work out a translation via a process of elimination. If, on your turn, you believe your item cards exactly meet your client's specific requirements, you reveal your client request card and confirm whether or not you've won by peeking as necessary at any still face-down key cards. If you are correct, you've won. If you made a mistake, you're out of the game and it continues with the remaining players.


We've especially enjoyed Orp with three and four players because having unallocated key cards allows for a push-your-luck element: you can peek at a hidden card, which can be invaluable, but at a cost of depleting your hand and so setting you back at least two turns before you can build back up to five cards; and you cannot possibly meet your client's demands with fewer than five cards.


Orp plays quickly: our Board's Eye View plays mostly ran to around 10 minutes - making this an ideal games night filler. It's a compact game too, so one to consider as a stocking filler as the festive season approaches. Click here to order copies direct from the publisher, Jay-Zee Games.


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