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Board Game Review # 10 – Oceania

2010 October 27
by Michael Schroeder

Looking for a quick and easy game that won’t take up a lot of your time and that is also playable solo or 2 players? Give Oceania a try. Oceania is a  game published by by Mayfair Games and designed by Klaus Teuber.

Number of players: 1-2

Age: 8+

Playing time: 10-30 minutes

Oceania by Mayfair Games

Oceania by Mayfair Games

What’s the game about:

A description from the publisher…

Experience the adventure of exploring unknown islands! Each game presents new and unique challenges, for the board is different every time you play.

In the 2-player variant, you and your opponent seek to claim the biggest islands in Oceania. The most successful explorer is the victor!

Or you can be your own opponent in the solo variant. You will seek out larger, more valuable islands as the game challenges you to beat your own record score!

Oceania is the smaller but no less exciting brother of the classic Klaus Teuber game “Entdecker®,” also published by Mayfair Games.

Basic idea in my own words:

Oceania is a tile laying game set in the theme of a ship exploring uncharted water and islands. The contents of the game include a short instruction manual, tiles (reserve and normal), a small game board and a ship. With the game board laid out and the tiles set into shuffled piles to draw from, a players turn consists of picking up a randomly selected tile, and placing it down on the board, in the hopes that you can find a matching terrain against the tile you just picked up, similar to Carcassonne. But unlike Carcassonne, there will be times where you can’t find a match, with your tile, so you must keep that tile in your own pile.

Rules Rundown

  1. Choose a starting tile on the board and place the wooden ship there. The starting point must be one of the circles on the edge of the board or a sea tile that has already been explored. An explored tile is simply one that is laid out on the board.
  2. Draw a random sea tile or one of your collection of sea tiles and place it on the board. The placed tile must be next to a tile of location with the ship present. Also, the tile’s dashed line must match up with an adjacent dashed line.
  3. If the tile cannot be placed, that tile must be kept in front of the player. That tile, will count as points against you in the end of the game, so be sure to get rid of them! If, during your turn, you place a discarded tile of yours, you first must place a scout tile.
  4. Scout tiles are the important part of the game. This is another aspect of the game that is similar to Carcassonne. You’ll get points for placing a scout tile on a tile that you just placed. Different scout tiles have numbered values on then, so a tile may be 1 or 2. In the end of the game, the scout tiles are counted up on the tiles that have land on them. Whoever has the most scouts out on an island, claims that island. Those points are counted up – 1 point per land tile on an area with your scouts. Then, you’ll receive negative 2 points for any discarded tile in front of you.

There is a different type of tile in the game, that has a cloud image on it, in addition to being a normal tile. These tiles are reserve tiles. Reserve tiles are meant to be used when explored areas form an enclosure. So for instance, if there’s 1 or two, or X empty areas, completely surrounded by explored sea areas, you pick these reserve tiles and just fill up the surrounded, empty areas. So there is incentive to leave a box or rectangle shape on the board of explored tiles.

Game end occurs when no other tiles can be placed.

Component Quality: 2/5

This game only cost me around $10. I didn’t expect much. The quality and feel of the box feels similar to that of a puzzle. The tile quality is OK. It’s not as thick as Carcassonne or other game bits but it will do. The wooden ship…can’t say much about that. It’s a meeple ship, of sorts.

Theme: 4/5

The theme bonds well with the game. It’s not a theme that over excites me, but it suffices and shouldn’t bother anyone.

Instruction manual: 3/5

The manual is decently written – no real qualms there. It’s in color, not too long.

Luck Factor: 5/5

I’m going to go right up to the top with a 5 here. The game is heavily driven on drawing randomly shuffled tiles. That’s an intense amount of luck. There is certainly strategy in the game though…

Strategy: 3/5

The strategy in this game is to balance out your scout tiles and to try and think a step ahead in building your islands of explored sea tiles. “Well, I’m going to try and make this island bigger, but I must also consider that my opponent can close it off, and therefore, place a scout there, or more scouts, and trump my claim to this island.”

Overall feelings: 3/5

Oceania is an average game. I gave it a 6 on board game geek. This was one of my first board game purchases. I wanted something that I could play solo or 2 players, and that didn’t take up too much time. This is a good filler game. It is extremely short. There’s not a big feeling of satisfaction at the end of the game, but nonetheless, for the price, it’s worth checking out. I honestly haven’t played it in a long time, but that doesn’t mean I won’t. Actually, now that I think of it, I have it’s status listed as “for trade.” I certainly am glad I did not spend more money on the game, but for the amount I spent on it, it’s a good purchase.

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