I'm a bit in a "tile-laying" phase and, after the satisfaction I got with Tajemnicze Pdoziemia and Palavan, and being a bit carried on by April's sea faring theme, I stumbled upon Oceania and couldn't quite resist. So, I hunted for it on the second-hand market, got lucky as it popped up soon enough, met the previous owner in Paris and brought the game back home.
(image from BGG)
Then I tried it, and it seemed utterly lame. You have a little wooden ship and must explore a grid board. Each turn, you put your little boat on a square with an open-ended road (all square edges but the "north" edge start with such a road), draw a tile, and either place it where you can or discard it. If one single square is surrounded by edges or tiles, you can put a "Reserve" tile on it that fits the requirement. Of a bunch of squares are fully surrounded by land, you can also put Reserve tiles.
When the board is full, or when you run out of tiles (both can happen), you score your game. For each completed island you score its size to the square (a 4 tiles island is 16 points), for each empty square, you lose 20 points. That's it. Playing seemed so pointless I didn't even try to count my score.
Okay, but on Friday, I tried again. And it suddenly clicked, and I got hooked! It felt so fun, I couldn't resist play three games in a row (it's pretty fast so that's not a feast). The first time I got 117 points, then it simply went downhill (on my last game this day I got -88 points in the end).
This is a very fun game; extremely simple, but addictive, like a mobile game on board. It's rather pretty, and despite the fundamentally abstract nature of the game, it manages to get thematic. I remember old fifteenth century maps of the New World in which only bits of coasts were indicated - they couldn't know which were islands, which were continents. And this reproduces exactly this feeling: you launch your little expedition, round off the island, come back. Sometimes the land stretches out and you cannot go past it. It's actually a wonder how a game this simple can trigger some thrills akin to these ancient, fragmentary maps.
It's a great light and quick solo experience, just as I love them!