Print and Play (Oh My Darling)

I now imagine my life is narrated in this font.

Staying up to date with all of Todd Sanders’ projects is functionally impossible — for reference, he’s already finished four games in 2015 alone, and we’re only halfway through the year’s second month. But it’s been a long while since we examined anything by one of the most prolific creators of free print-and-play projects, which means it’s high time we dive back in. This time, the game in question is Do Not Forsake Me (Oh My Darling), one of the winners of the BoardGameGeek 18-Card Minigame Contest.

Yes, you read that right. 18 cards.

Not pictured: a will of IRON. Or at least a will of pewter.

Everything you need to play Do Not Forsake Me (Oh My Darling).

It’s hard not to focus too much on the sheer technical achievement of a game like Do Not Forsake Me. The contest rules were simple: entrants were limited to a slim 18 cards — assembled from just two sheets of paper, for anyone who knows how to use their printer’s double-siding feature (I don’t) — and that’s it. No external sheet of rules, no dice, no marker pawns. Nothing but those 18 cards.

With that in mind, Do Not Forsake Me seems hellbent on exploiting every possible advantage in order to skirt these limitations and still produce a compelling solo experience. And what a solo experience it is, telling the tale of retro-astro bounty hunters looking for that last big score out at the edge of space, their supplies and crew diminishing as the thickness of their wallets increases, a feat the game accomplishes despite the fact that it could fit into most wallets. The title card, for example, is not only double-sided, with the first page of rules printed on its reverse, but it’s also the player’s ship marker. The cards that make up the ship rotate and flip to show how well you’re doing, showing the strength of your crew and the level of repair of your various equipment, like your Wave Motion Cannon and crisis-evading Navcomm. The map is randomized each game from four cards, and the dice cards—

Well, let’s talk about those.

Though hip crewmembers abbreviate it to The D.N.F.M.O.M.D.

Your ship, the Do Not Forsake Me (Oh My Darling).

Central to the gameplay of Do Not Forsake Me is the RSF — the Rotate/Shuffle/Flip, the means by which you thoroughly mix the game’s tiny decks. In the case of the six dice cards, you’ll be rotating, shuffling, and flipping with regularity, because these things bear quite a bit of responsibility. All in one, these cards handle the events that threaten your ship as you jet around the sector, the Navcomm’s attempts to cancel those events, the appearance of bounties that can be hunted or evaded, the aforementioned evading or hunting, and the damage suffered by your ship should you fail to defeat or escape your quarry. And it’s a brilliantly simple system, albeit a physically dizzying one once you RSF the deck for the thirtieth time over the course of one game.

Technical accomplishments aside, the game itself is classic Todd Sanders, its spartan but gorgeous graphical design evoking the loneliness of space, the precariousness of life lived on the edge, and an aging ship and weary crew who just need that extra fistful of credits before they can hang up their fishbowl helmets for good. Spare dashes of seasoning, like running across Mad Tom again after an ignominious defeat, or suddenly dealing with a crew mutiny, add space-blue-tinted flavor to the proceedings.

Most of its decisions revolve around how far you’ll travel each turn and whether you’ll purchase upgrades now or once you reach a space station; or at all, considering that your goal is to acquire enough credits to retire. For a quick print-and-play game, it’s a pleasantly broad space to play around in, even if most of the tensest moments are resolved via the aforementioned visits to the dice cards. It also becomes a bit repetitive once you’ve acquired enough credits to comfortably afford any upgrades, and it never quite nails that agonizing I won the instant I verged on defeat sweet spot that most solo games aspire to.

Including, once you've finished with the game, being almost as good as a business card for picking your teeth.

The dice cards have many, many uses.

Even so, the real draw of Do Not Forsake Me (Oh My Darling) rests in its gorgeous construction, both from the visual and design standpoints. It does a remarkable lot with remarkably little, and the game itself, while rarely challenging, is a lot of fun for a handful of plays.

In short: come for the elegance of the design and the mastery of its contest limitations, then stay because the game is way better than one would expect of a mere 18 cards.

You can find the files to print and play Do Not Forsake Me (Oh My Darling) over here.

Posted on February 17, 2015, in Board Game and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I was on the fence for this one, guess I’ll have to print it now!

    I would love to hear your thoughts on another print and play solo from Mr Sanders, The Maiden in the Forest. Please and thank you!

  2. Thanks for the review Dan. A couple of the expansions i am working on for the game will add additional dice cards to help with the RSFing. you can always use dice as well, though that is not as much fun

    • I wouldn’t dream of replacing the dice cards with real dice — they’re one of the game’s most enjoyable elements! It’s just that it gets a touch repetitive once I hit ~20 credits and there isn’t really any chance they’ll stop me from retiring wealthy.

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