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Store:  Strategy Games
Edition:  Ursuppe/Primordial Soup
Series:  Ursuppe
Theme:  Evolution
Format:  Board Games


Funagain Games does not stock this edition of this title [], but it may be available in another edition. Try: Primordial Soup

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Product Awards:  

Ages Players
12+ 3-4

Designer(s): Doris Matthaus, Frank Nestel

Manufacturer(s): Doris and Frank

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Product Description

Each player controls a tribe of primeval Amoebas, at a time in the earth's history when there are no higher forms of life. At the start of the game, the Amoebas can feed, multiply and move in an uncoordinated fashion. By buying Gene cards, players can extend the capabilities of their amoebas, changing the way the game's rules operate on them, and so influencing the development of their tribe. Obviously though, it isn't always so easy, but the more living amoeba you have, and the greater their capabilities, the greater the advance of evolution, which is the way to victory in this game.

Product Awards

Games Magazine Awards
Best Family Strategy Game, 2006
Deutscher Spiele Preis
2nd place, 1998

Product Information

  • Designer(s): Doris Matthaus, Frank Nestel

  • Manufacturer(s): Doris and Frank

  • Artist(s): Doris Matthaus

  • Year: 1997

  • Players: 3 - 4

  • Ages: 12 and up

  • Weight: 1,210 grams

  • Language Requirements: Game components are printed in multiple languages, including English. An English translation of the rules is provided.


  • 1 Game Board
  • 28 Amoebas in 4 different colors and 4 different types
  • 37 Biological Points (BP), 30 small and 7 large
  • 25 Damage Point (DP) beads
  • 220 Foodstuff cubes, 55 in each of 4 different colors
  • 4 Score markers
  • 33 Gene cards, with capabilities for the amoebas (3 Blank cards)
  • 11 Environment cards
  • 2 Dice
  • 4 Reference cards
  • Rules

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 3.3 in 6 reviews

Primordial. Savage. One-celled.
February 02, 1999

This is one of my favorites of the 1998 game crop.

The premise is simple. You represent a tribe of amoeba in the primordial soup. Your objectives: Eat. Divide. Evolve.

You must cope with currents, changes in the ozone layer, food shortages and predator/prey relationships. In general, the way to do this is to develop mutations, of which there are many. The mutations include such things as Speed (allowing you to move twice in a turn), Struggle For Survival (allows you to eat other amoeba if food is insufficient), and Armor (an advanced mutation that protects you against being eaten).

Be careful, though, because every mutation you develop makes you that much more susceptible to changes in the ozone... which could cost you, either in terms of your mutations or in terms of BPs (Biological Points, or Beeps for short), the currency you use to evolve, move and divide.

This is a great game. Gameplay is straightforward enough that a young person can understand it, and yet there are sufficient choices and the game is complex enough that it will appeal to many hardcore gamers. Highly recommended.

PRIME(ordial) Soup for dinner! Ahhh... a fresh game theme.
December 04, 1999

The great thing (or bad thing depending on which side of the fence you stand) about German games are their many various themes (some abstract) wrapped around a game. In the game of Ursuppe, the theme is less abstract. Cultivate amoebas and win by getting to the top of the soup. OK, so that's my interpretation. Really you score points by two mechanisms. The first is based on the number of amoebas you have on the board. The second is based on the number of Gene cards you have which alter the charactoristics of your ameobas and help them survive.

The game is a blast to play. Each turn is divided into six phases in which everyone performs actions in turn. This helps minimize the downtime between players. These turns are basically as follows:

  1. Move your ameobas, feed and poop. If you can't feed, you starve and take a damage point.
  2. Change the ozone layer. This is a mechanism that serves two purposes. It determines the movement direction of the 'soup' for the next turn, and shows the ozone thickness. The second item will affect the number of gene cards a person may hold at any one time.
  3. Buy new gene cards.
  4. Collect BP's from the bank (the game's money) to buy new amoebas.
  5. Remove dead amoebas (those with two damage points or more).
  6. Scoring round.

First player to reach the dark area of the scoring track wins.

OK. So some of this is a rehash of the big review provided below. What makes it fun is trying to figure out what combination of genes will help your amoebas to survive. In our last game, the person who was last ended up winning by getting a good combination of genes at the right time. This makes for a game where you're not out of it just because you're in last place. The luck factor in the game is minimal for the theme (after all, how advanced are amoebas). The first game we played with four players clocked in at 2 and 1/2 hours, with about 1/2 hour of that going to covering the rules and playing a sample round. This leaves about two hours for the game which is about right. It may be a little long for some folks, but there is an optional mechanism that allows the game to end after playing through the ozone layer cards once and the person furthest ahead is winner. When played this way with four experienced players, you can get done in about 1 and 1/2 hours. All the usual raves about the bits apply. Good board, good pieces (I pushed the dowels in by hand Urrrahh!), rules in English and German on both the cards and rules sheet, etc. There's a great web site at Doris and Frank that has a FAQ, strategies and variations.

Overall, this game gets and 85db on the Mulder Meter. It's got plenty of shelf life before adding the expansion which makes the game more interesting.

Primitive Civilization
August 11, 1999

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.

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