Monday, 18 July 2016

Ultra Mare

Monday, and I (Sam) spent the day in Newport Asda whilst waiting for my passport to be renewed. Four hours in an Asda cafe was pushing it, but there was a heatwave outside and it was Newport. I was thinking I'd gen up on Copper Country, but the wifi at the Asda Newport cafe doesn't let you watch videos, it seems, so I was forced to focus on the depressing reality of... reality.

Come the evening, I didn't have time to gen up on Copper Country, because of a combination of lengthy rules and rapscallion children prevented it. Instead when Ian and Andrew arrived, we played another game that's sat in a cupboard for a few months unplayed: Oltre Mare. This game is Euro-y in many ways: it's a map of the Mediterranean; you're stocking up ships, and delivering goods.  The best trader wins.

to be honest, it's a card game really

But in other ways it's quite atypical of a Euro: the only cube to be pushed is along the score track, and you couldn't truly describe it as dry: trading with each other is pivotal, and the game has a delicate balance of managing your hand: the goods you want to deliver versus how many cards you're allowed in your hand, versus how many cards you can play on the next turn. Often you find yourself with a well-stocked hand but a hand limit of 4, and you're literally giving cards away to avoid punishment - for if you have too much stuff on your ship, the pirates come and get you.


We all liked it. The first half of the game was quite slow, as we got up to speed, but after the interim scoring the second half of the game took about twenty minutes: a combination of familiarity and the big guns coming out. I didn't note the scores down, but Ian pipped me to a win by a single point (something like 64 to 63) with Andrew back around 59. A close thing.

A close thing, but a long first play, coming in around 1hr 40mins, so Andrew suggested lighter fare in the form of Pickonimo. The first round gave a portent of what was to come when all three of us went bust. Then I surged into a healthy lead, only to be pegged back by Andrew. Andrew surged into a healthier lead... but this time, he was not to be caught. Poor Ian was never in the running, going serially bust:

Andrew 9
Sam 6
Ian 1

Then we played Outfoxed. This is a kids game that is intriguing enough to merit a look by grown-ups; it's a co-operative where the players are working out which fox stole the pie. It's gonna be one of sixteen foxes, and on each turn you either look for clues or suspects, slowly revealing the sixteen foxes and eliminating them from your enquiries via the clues. The chance element is dice: if you don't roll what you set out to roll, the fox moves back towards his or her den, and it they make it home before you figure out the culprit, the players lose!

one we played earlier

It's rather fun. The fox was only halfway home, though, when we figured out who stole the pie: it was Maggie!

Then we ended with Push It, which I managed to clinch at the last from Ian:

Sam 11
Ian 10
Andrew 7


  1. Thanks for hosting, Sam. It was a lovely evening. Oltre Mare reminded me of Serenissima, simply because of the location. I just checked: we haven't played Serenissima for about six years! It's a nice game, and I'd like to play it through a few more times to see if it has hidden depths.

    And Outfoxed is great. Very simple rules but still with that feeling of trying to solve a crime before it's too late.

  2. I have Oltre Mare and Copper Country. Both (surprise, surprise) unplayed. So please let me know when you fancy giving either a whirl and I'll try nd gen up on the rules.

    I think I once owned the first edition of Serenissima, but have only played the second and didn't really get on with it.

  3. Hey Andy. I'd be up for Oltre Mare again for sure. And def want to try Copper Country at some point....

  4. We played Serennissima a LOT back in the day. Fond memories but I don't pine to play it again.