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Ursuppe

Publisher: Doris & Frank
Players: 2-4
Reproduced here with kind permission from Funagain Games.

Primitive Civilization

I suppose you could compare Ursuppe to Avalon Hill's classic Civilization in a lot of ways. You start out with a bare-bones population and you gradually add all sorts of bells and whistles to your population until it is undeniably the best in the land. Or in the case of Ursuppe, the best in the primordial soup.

This game is extremely fun, although it's hard to say exactly why. You get such a feeling of pleasure watching your amoebas evolve from simple eat-and-poop machines to something fancy that can move where it wants or defend itself against attacks or proliferate at great rates.

The playing board is monochromatic and could be construed as rather dull, but once all the pieces are on it everything looks fine (indeed I am glad that the board is not garish as it would make the playing pieces hard to see). The cards and wooden amoeba playing pieces are of fine quality. As an added touch, the gene cards have English written on the back so that the linguistically challenged of us can play with little more knowledge of German than the fact that the word for 'East' starts with an O.

The game can have a tendency to drag if players concentrate too much on every little thing, especially in the buying of the gene cards, of which there is quite a variety. The game picks up quickly, though, and is usually over too soon.

Ursuppe is a very fun game, and definitely gives you a new appreciation for how tough life must be for microorganisms. Although it is often temporarily out of print (Doris and Frank is a small company and must do short print runs), Ursuppe is definitely worth the trouble it can take to get a copy.

For those who enjoy Ursuppe there is an expansion, Frisch Abgeschmeckt ('freshly spiced') which allows more players and more genetic variety.

Ursuppe: Frisch Abgeschemckt

The Spice of Life

Frisch Abgeschmeckt ('freshly spiced') is an expansion to Doris and Frank's wonderful Ursuppe, a game of the single-celled struggle for survival in the primordial soup.

This is really two expansions in one: first, it has all the amoebas and sundry parts you need to play Ursuppe with six players; and second, it contains 26 new genes giving your amoebas additional abilities. Most of the new genes have come from suggestions made by players on the Net. You can play with either or both expansions.

The spirit of the original Ursuppe is retained by Frisch Abgeschmeckt, which doesn't really add anything essential (unless your playing group usually numbers five or six); nonetheless this is a must-have for any Ursuppe fan.

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