Among the hundreds of large releases at this years Essen Spiel board game fair in Germany, there was a single deck of cards. However, in that deck of cards sat one of the years most famous and attractive games - one you should not miss.
Sea Salt & Papers'' minimalist size might have left it in the physical shadow of many of its neighbors'' table-filling boards and miniatures, but its art style quickly made it out as something different from the norm.
The games'' pocket-sized box is relatively large than a standard playing cards, and the 58 cards inside are decorated with stunning origami creations.
Each papercraft design is based on the sea, from crabs and mermaids to lighthouses and ships, and was created for real by origami designers Lucien Derainne and Pierre-Yves Gallard before being snapped for the game. (I can assure you, the designs are equally as impressive in person.)
Theo Riviere, a card game based on very basic elements, creates a fairly basic set-collection affair with an intriguing risk-reward structure, although it may be unconventional.
Players draw two cards from the top of the deck, before picking one to keep and one to add to one of the two discard piles on the table. In the alternative, they may choose to pick up the top card of both discards instead of drawing fresh cards.
Some cards include rewards for specific types of cards, including lighthouses for boats, captains for sailors, and others.
So far, so card game. Sea Salt & Paper is far from the first card game to ask players to collect sets for points. However, there is still room for it to set itself apart at the end of each round.
When one player has scored seven or more points, they may pick to conclude the round. They don''t have to, however, and will keep going as long as they like. Choosing to finish the round comes with the possibility of a major points windfall, if you''re willing to be risky.
The goal of putting an end to the round is one of two ways: the player says stop and everybody pays the points on their cards. Everybody benefits, thus there is no major incentive to do so, other than to avoid another incoming call.
Sea Salt & Papers masterstroke is a risk-reward wager that you have more points than anyone else around the table. Keep an eye on your cards, and you score bonus points for each card in your most popular match, according to your card number. (Side note: Each card has different symbols to indicate their colour for colourblind players.)
It''s an exciting interactive twist that encourages going for break, while striving to break beyond the minimum score required to end a round in pursuit of a game-winning bounty. It''s also a fun transition to a temporary one-versus-all arrangement, as the rest of the table collectively strives to take you down. Hubris is guaranteed.
The option to reveal duo cards on your turn is added to the sharp competitive gameplay, which allows you to steal cards from competitors, draw extra cards, and even take another turn, depending on how much you want them to be tempting. Their points are still, although they are now revealed to your opponents as they secretly discover how their own score compares based on the fragment of information they have.
The Sea Salt & Papers gameplay isn''t enormously exciting, but the combination of its compact appearance, a detailed visuals, and a clever twist on set-collecting classics gives this tiny box far more potential than you might expect. It easily merits a place alongside the likes of Love Letter, Cockroach Poker, and 6 nimmt as a small, affordable game to take with you and break out to fill 15 minutes here or there.
Discovering it at Essen Spiel 2022 felt like spotting a glinting treasure erected along the beach - one you can only help but show off to others.