Wednesday, March 7, 2012

First play: Oltre Mare....

The classic trading game Bohnanza is a bit hit-or-miss for me.  I recognize the genius of it but I find it rather long and exhausting and I tire of all the haggling about halfway through every game.  And since the game really is nothing but haggling, well, there you go.  So I have been searching for awhile for Emanuele Ornella's Oltre Mare from 2004 as I had heard it was a bit like Bohnanza in terms of set collection but with a more fleshed-out game surrounding all the trading. 

Beautiful little unnecessary ships....

And boy was I right!  What an elegant and lively game.  Oltre Mare combines the trading of the bean game with more hand management, a simple economy, and cleverly integrated action selection.  And there is even a light memory element incorporated into the play that is reminiscent of one of my favourite card games, Mamma Mia.  And okay, one could argue the gorgeous ships and board are superfluous to the gameplay but I think they add greatly to the theme of trading in the Mediterranean. 

I love this delight of a game and can't wait to play it again.  It's not too deep but still thoughtful, fast-paced, and very interactive.  I feel like this one will pair perfectly with bottle of fine Italian wine, some tapas, and a few very animated friends.  Definitely glad I finally picked it up.