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AKA: Desert Oasis

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Product Awards:  

Ages Play Time Players
10+ 45-60 minutes 3-5

Designer(s): Alan R Moon, Aaron Weissblum

Manufacturer(s): Uberplay Entertainment

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Product Description

You are the head of a Mongolian family, intent on becoming the most powerful in the land. Use your resources wisely to take control of fertile steppe lands to raise horses, which will bring prestige and honor. Build ovoos to pour the blessings of luck into your life. Raise camels to build wealth. Control the beautiful oases to improve the quality of life for you and your family. The player with the most points at the end of the game will be anointed the Noble of the Oasis.

Product Awards

Games Magazine Awards
Family Strategy Game Nominee, 2005
Spiel des Jahres
Recommended, 2004

Product Information

  • Designer(s): Alan R Moon, Aaron Weissblum

  • Manufacturer(s): Uberplay Entertainment

  • Artist(s): Franz Vohwinkel

  • Year: 2004

  • Players: 3 - 5

  • Time: 45 - 60 minutes

  • Ages: 10 and up

  • Weight: 1,389 grams

  • Language Requirements: This is an international edition or domestic edition of an imported item. Game components are language-independent. Manufacturer's rules are printed in English.


  • 1 game board
  • 88 tiles
  • 54 playing cards
  • 62 scoring markers
  • 20 wooden control markers
  • 100 wooden camels
  • 5 priority counters
  • 1 instruction booklet

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 4.6 in 5 reviews

by Toni G.
How much more fun can you have with camels?
March 22, 2009

We played this game for the first time this afternoon and loved it! It has something of the feel of Carcassonne with a trading game thrown in for fun. The rules are very easy to understand and game play is very fast paced.

There is an element of strategy involved. You can block other player's expansions with your own or you can gang up on a player who appears to be winning. You can strategically pick up a bid, giving that player your turn position. You have to actually pay attention to the tiles and modifiers you are picking up. It can come back to haunt you if you play all 20 camels without picking up at least 1 commodity (rug) tile. If that happens, you get zero points for all of those camels. Balance is good here. Pick one or two kinds of tiles to focus on and their corresponding modifier tiles and you can really rack up the points.

Placement of the tiles is also important. You can block off your opponent to keep them from getting too big of an area of control or you can place yours so that you can't be blocked so easily. But spending too much time building up an area can keep you from getting the modifiers you need to multiply your scores.

This would be a great family game, especially with 8 or 9 year olds. There aren't a lot of complicated rules to remember, placement is easy to understand, and after all, you get to play a game that has camels!

by Mark Gerdes
Has all the good elements
March 22, 2009

Reminiscent of both Carcassone and Settlers with tile placing and bidding. More than one way to win. Good player interaction both positive and a bit of cut-throat. Nice set of components.

Probably the most interesting element is that at the start of the turn each player puts out 1-3 cards as an offer to the other players. You really want to attract the player who goes first to take your offer over the others because that means you will go first next turn. If your offer stinks, you will end up going last. But then again... how much stuff do you want to give the other player to go first? You could be giving them the winning margin.

No set turn limit, the game ends when no more tiles can be placed.

by Dr Jay
There Goes the Neighborhood (desert)!
April 16, 2004

What could be so fascinating about a Mongolian desert, camel paths, and various tiles (oasis, steppes, and stones)? What comes though is a workable game with constant need to stop your neighbors from encroaching with their own tiles.

The bidding makes the game particularly workable. You receive five cards at the beginning. You may turn up three cards maximum for a bid. If you have only one or two cards left in your hand at the end of any round, you may only turn up one bid card. Each player draws an overturned round coin with a number from 1 to 5 (3-5 player game). That is the turn for you to place your overturned bid cards. You cannot look at any of the five cards or so before deciding on your bid. In future rounds, if you place two cards as your bid, you may replenish your hand with one new card from the Draw deck. If you only place one card as your bid, you may replenish your hand with two cards placed immediately under your stock without looking at them. If you bid three cards, you may not have any new cards from the Draw deck.

Seven types of cards for bidding exist: oases, ovoos, steppes, horses, stony plains, commodities (rugs), and the cards themselves. Let's say you open your bid with a card showing three camels. A partner across from you turns over two cards, one commodity and one stone. Eventually, in our five-player game, all players turned over their bids. Then, the player with the No. 1 coin decides which bid from the other players to accept. Let's say that player chooses two commodities (rugs) on one card and one stony plain. The No. 1 player gives his No. 1 coin to the No. 5 player who had two commodities and one stony plain. That bid is accepted.

As you probably guessed, the No. 5 player now becomes the No. 1 player on the next round. By 'sweetening the pie' with more bid cards (up to three), players can begin to manipulate the position they will play in the next round. It was so frustrating, for example, to have one player offer only a water well as his bid for the round. As you probably surmised, the No. 5 player in any round has to take what is left on the bidding boards when all other players have chosen their special cards.

Let's return to a player choosing three camels (card) as the bid. That's a No. 2 player for that round. He gives the camels to the No. 4 player, who, in turn, gives the No. 2 player his coin for No. 2 (next round). That transaction is almost completed. Now, the No. 2 player places three camels from his total stock of 20 on the camel path part of the game board. He or she can only place the camels contiguously on the square tile path, not diagonally.

As the game progresses (we went through about 12 rounds), the players keep track of their multiplications. For example, the total camels need commodities (rugs) for their multiplying. The oasis total tiles need water well rectangles. The total steppes need horse rectangles. The total stone tiles need ovoo rectangles. Here's how the multiplication works for the scoring. You possess seven camels in your herd on the camel path. You have two rugs. Therefore, at the end of the game, you multiply 2 rugs times 7 camels or 14 victory points on the point track around the board.

My frustration started when one of the players placed a steppe tile next to my well-built four oases (two shown on the board as bonuses). That same player also placed a steppe in the path of my other five steppe tiles. Here's the rub. According to the rules, you cannot place the same tile or color next to another player who has the same steppe, oasis, or stony plain. You effectively block another player from placing the same kind of tile.

The scores reflected the competitiveness of the experience: 115 (all in oases and water wells), 82 (all in camels and stones), 78 (mostly in steppes and stones), 70 (mostly in steppes), and 50 (steppes). Two cogent comments summed how players believed. You should be generous in your offers during the bids to secure the position of first, second, and so forth. You should be particular in what you specialize in for steppes, oases, or stoney plains. You should make sure you have the multipliers (commodities, horses, water wells, and ovoos)to support your specialization.

I think Uberplay has done it again with quality games. From Bridges of Shangri-La to Oasis, Uberplay continues to show with good designers and good designs it can manufacture games worthy of repeated play.

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