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October 21, 2014 / Jett

Oceania Review

In Oceania, 1-2 players take the high seas in search of new land. Starting with an empty board, players explore this uncharted territory by building the world with randomly-drawn tiles. Along the way, players can place scouts on islands as their bid to take control over them. At the end of the game, the player with control over the most tiles with islands on them wins. Despite its clever design, the game struggles to generate any fun or excitement.

Oceania Board Game

There are a number of smart design choices that were made in order for this game to function. For instance, the tiles are designed in a way that lets players create an assortment of different land and island combinations without it looking weird or disjointed. In rare cases where players cannot place a tile because it can’t fit with the other pieces on the board, players hold onto that piece until the end of the game, at which point they’ll be used as a penalty against their final score. Also, should one open space get left open while being fully surrounded by other tiles or borders, reserve tiles of each type are available to fill in the gaps. Once you get a feel for it, tile placement becomes critical to your success. Ideally, you’ll want to make the islands you created as large as possible while stunting the growth of your opponent’s territories.

The scouting mechanic is also well thought out. Each player gets a handful of scout tiles with a varying number of scouts on them. After placing a tile with land on it, players can choose to leave a scout behind to try and control that area. However, opponents can place their own scouts on future expansions of that island as a means of snatching control away from you. In cases where a tie occurs, no one gets the points. Since you don’t get enough scouts to cover your every move, you must pock your battles wisely.

Oceania Board GameAll of these elements make Oceania a game with some strategic bite, but the actual experience of playing it isn’t all that exciting. The theme of sea exploration ultimately did little to mask the clinical nature of the gameplay. I applaud it on an academic level, though it feels more like putting together a jigsaw puzzle or solving a math problem rather than playing a game. Because it falls short on generating thrills, this is a hard one to recommend.

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Leave a Comment
  1. INK1ing / Oct 24 2014 8:52 AM

    It sounds a little dry which is a shame because it looks so nice.

  2. Jett / Oct 24 2014 7:42 PM

    Thanks for the comment! What are some of your favourite board games?

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