Meeple Nation has kindly requested my thoughts on a game that I have played recently. This concept was troubling because I have played so many games that I simply didn’t know where to begin. Then I had a moment of realization!
I took a trip to northern Wyoming so my daughter could take part in her cousin’s youth group by going on a trek (where youths pull a handcart across the open expanse for a few days). While I was there enjoying the fragrances of fermenting beet wastes in the town’s sediment ponds, I decided to play a game with my brother-in-law, daughter, and niece. The game was called Uk’otoa. I had never opened it. In fact, I had only bought it because it was cheap and it put my online order total, on other games in my cart, over the free shipping limit.
I pulled off the plastic wrapping and punched the ship tiles. The rules only took a few minutes to read and a few more minutes to actually understand. The game is pretty straightforward with 3-5 players, in turn, building the remnants of a sinking ship (caused by Uk’otoa), placing crew members on ship tiles, randomly assigning each person to be over two different crews, and then gathering and playing cards while the sea monster devours the crew and destroys the remnants of the ship.
This game is not a game where the winner sails off happily into the sunset on a lifeboat laden with pirate loot. To the contrary, the ultimate goal of this game is not to stay alive, but to die last (so you can laugh at your fellow crewmates’ last moments). You are partners with the person on your left and your right. It is great when you get to feed the person across the table’s crew to Uk’otoa. The opposite feelings manifest themselves when a beloved family member or close friend pushes you in front of them to save their own skin (and they do it with a smile or feigned humility).
While Uk’otoa does not make my top 10 games list, it is a short and simple game worthy of playthrough with a few people when time is short and a good gaming experience matters. My biggest drawback was the lack of color for the bland, gray Uk’otoa figure. My brother-in-law helped me fix that with some miniatures painting lessons and now the game has new life and flavor (along with my first painted figure). Sometimes a new paint job is all that’s needed to take a one-trick pony out and show it off a few more times.
Which would you rather be eaten by?
My overall rating for Uk’otoa is 6.5/10. Enjoy it for what it is. Just realize the limitations for what it isn’t.