Oceania: Everything You Need To Know

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Oceania is a tile laying euro style game for 1-2 players which lasts about 10-20 minutes. It was designed by Klaus Teuber (of Settlers of Catan fame) and released in 2004.

It’s very similar to Carcassonne in that it has tile placement and land control mechanics. However, it’s a little more confrontational since you can bully players out of their area of control.

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A Little Backstory

This game is a simplified version of another board game called Entdecker (German for discoverer). The game was created by Klaus Teuber in 1996. Originally, the game was published in German.

In 2001 an updated version titled Die Neuen Entdecker was published by Kosmos and, eventually, Mayfair Games in English under the title Entdecker – Exploring New Horizons. This final version of Entdecker went on to win the Essen Feather, an award for exceptionally well written rules. 

In Entdecker, players start off with an empty grid, which is an unexplored sea. Players place tiles to slowly reveal the shape of islands in the sea. Once completely discovered, those islands can be explored. These basic rules of Entdecker provided an outline for what Oceania would be.

What’s In The Box?

The most prominent piece in the box is a board with a 5 by 7 grid which is our unexplored region of the world. Around the edges we have ports, represented by circles, which will be the starting points of our exploration efforts.

There are also two sets of tiles, the main tiles are referred to as sea tiles and there are 35 of them. Each tile has a combination of sea, land, and dotted lines to represent sea routes. There are a second set of tiles which are nearly identical to sea tiles but feature a cloud icon.

A small wooden ship is included to show where the starting player will start the turn out. There are also scouts which are represented by small tiles that have 1, 2, or 3 scouts on them. Your scouts will give you more control over the island.

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How Do You Play?

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Setting the game Up

One of the best part of this game is how quick it is to set up. It takes less than 5 minutes to set up. The basic setup steps are:

  1. Sea tiles are mixed and placed face down.
  2. Three sea tiles are drawn and set aside (this randomizes the game slightly).
  3. The reserve tiles are set in a pile face up.
  4. Each player takes a their set of scouts.
  5. The wooden ship is taken by the starting player.

How each turn works

We’ll start with the two player version of the game. There is a section later on that explains the solo gameplay. The multipalyer gameplay is just as simple as the set up and can be broken down into just a few steps:

1. Choose A Starting Location

Each player picks a point to set sail from. There is one real stipulation to choosing a starting point: it has to connect to an unexplored area. You can choose to sail from one of the circles around the board, as long as a tile isn’t connected to it. You can also sail from any tile with a dotted line, as long as there is an unexplored tile next to it.

2. Place A Tile

A player will pick a sea tile and show it to the other player. The player that pulled the tile can then place it anywhere that it connects to all the adjacent tiles correctly. For instance, land must touch land and sea has to connect to more sea.  Additionally, one of the dotted lines on the placed tile has to lead to an unexplored area.

If a player can’t place the tile, it’s placed in front of them and takes 2 points away from that player at the end of the game. There is one piece of information that isn’t super clear in the rules: land can’t touch the border of the map. However, dotted lines can lead to the top of the map.

3. Place A Scout

The player that placed the tile can place a scout on that tile if the tile had any land on it. However, if the tile had two pieces of land separated by water, they’ll have to pick one of them.

The players have scout tokens worth 1-3 points. The more scouts on a piece of land, the more control they have over that land.

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Finishing the game

The game ends when the board is complete or the sea tile pile is empty. Each finished island that a player has a scout on gives that player a point for every island tile. If both players have scouts on the island then the one with the most gets the points.

If both players have the same amount of scouts, neither player gets points.  Of course, after adding up island points you will have to subtract 2 points for every tile you couldn’t place.

For more depth

There are two rules that you can decide to play with or without. I would recommend trying them out after the first game since they add a ton of depth.

1. Surrounded Spaces

If any space becomes completely surrounded by either sea or land, the person that placed the last tile can place a reserve tile in the middle section. This is a great way to finish sections of land and it also works on tiles next to borders.

Because of that, this tactic works especially well for corners.

2. Using Past Tiles

Instead of drawing a sea tile, a player can choose to place a tile that is in front of them that couldn’t be placed earlier in the game. Unfortunately, you’ll sacrifice one of your scout tiles to place it.

Naturally, it makes the most since to use this at the very end of the game when gaining more than 2 points from a land tile placement is rare.

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How to play solo

The solo game keeps the starting and placement rules but tosses out the scout tiles completely. Instead your goal is to just put as much land on the board as possible. Each island is worth the amount of tiles it has squared (i.e. a five tile island is worth twenty-five points). Which makes larger islands better.

The catch is that each unexplored tile is worth -20 points, so trying to build a bigger island risks unused tiles and potentially an unexplored area. The solo game plays in less than 10 minutes and plays a lot like a puzzle, which isn’t unusual for a solitaire board game.

This version of the board game can be played at 

If you want to print out the actual rulebook, here’s a link to it.

Should You Play It?

This is a great little filler game but it doesn’t do a great job at making you feel like you’ve done anything by the end of it. I would definitely recommend this if you’ve got some people around that don’t usually play board games and only have a short amount of time to kill. However, there are plenty of other games that do this better in my opinion.

If anything, this game is mainly for those people trying to finish their collection of Klaus Teuber games. The game is also pretty good at making you want to see what the full version of Entdecker has to offer.


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