Are you an expert in folded paper art, and all things sea related? Well, luckily, you don’t have to be for this one! In Sea Salt & Paper you just have to collect sets, play duos, and make sure you get the round to end at just the right time to score you the most points. Simple enough, right? I guess we’ll find out!
What Is It?
Hand Management – Each turn players can either take a card off one of 2 discard piles, or draw 2 cards off the deck, choosing one to keep and one to discard. So they either know exactly what they are getting, or they can try to find a card they need more, but then risk discarding a great card for their opponent. Throughout the game, players can also choose to hold on to all their cards, as an attempt to keep their points a secret, or play “duos” to get small in-game bonuses like extra draws, extra turns, or even stealing a card from another player’s hand (a reason to maybe not keep a ton of cards in your hand. Cards that can score will count regardless if they are in-hand or played to the table.
Set Collection – Players are trying to get sets of various sizes to score points. Some cards want to be in pairs, some score better the more you have of them, and some score for how many you have of a certain type or color.
Push Your Luck – When a player have 7 or more points in their cards (between in-hand and cards they played) they can choose to end the round. So while it may be tempting to keep going for more cards, you never know when someone will end things! Players can say STOP to end the round immediately, or LAST CHANCE to give all other players one more turn. Last Chance will change bonus scoring for that round depending on if the person who called for it has the most points that round or not.
Who Is It For?
- 2 to 4 Players – Scales fine, no complaints based on player count
- Ages 8 & Up – Simple and small ruleset, so it’ll be great for a wide age range
- Fans of set collection with just a touch of pushing your luck
- Players who don’t mind not knowing when a round will end, and like that variability in round lengths
- Aesthetics – I love the art on these cards! I think the folded paper photos are so much fun, and I just loved looking at them all
- Box – No bigger than it needs to be, which I’m honestly always appreciative of
- Rules – Well-written, not too long
- Lots of ways to score
- Colorblind friendly – All the colors have a little symbol associated with them so you can tell them apart easily
- Hooray for reference cards for the in-game abilities for duos
- Turns are quick, gameplay is smooth
- I felt like the mermaid rule (get all 4 = instant win) was a bit odd, but definitely interesting. Do you risk picking up the mermaids in hopes of getting all four, or focus more on the other sets that are guaranteed points?
- I thought the shark/swimmer cards felt out of place because it was such a random take-that mechanic, it didn’t seem like it fit the vibe of the rest of the game
- There are 4 reference cards for the card abilities, but only 2 for the color guide, I wish there had been 4 of each
- I wasn’t huge on the abrupt ending of rounds. I was never sure when a good time to end the round was, and any time someone else ended it, I felt like I wasn’t in a great position. To me, it was more confusing than just having a standard “a round is X turns”
I love the look of this game, and love seeing all the different cards as they get drawn/discarded/played. It’s such a fun and unique look.
The game itself definitely has some uniqueness to it as well, since you start off with nothing in your hand, and you really have to decide as you go what sets you want to aim for in order to score points.
The round-end trigger is also very different since the players are in control of when, and how, a round ends. It makes you feel a little on edge not knowing which turn will be your last.
I definitely see this one appealing to a large audience. But to me it felt very same-y play to play, so it didn’t feel that exciting to keep bringing it to the table repeatedly. I felt a low replay value for my taste. But if you prefer games that have easy to remember, small rulesets, and little set-up, so it’s easy to get to the table, it’s certainly worth checking out!
My Final Rating – 5/10
Designers – Bruno Cathala, Théo Rivière
Artists – Lucien Derainne, Pierre-Yves Gallard
Publisher – Pandasaurus Games
MSRP – $14.95
*I was provided a copy of this game to do this review*
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