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

Primordial Soup

English language edition of Ursuppe

List Price: $49.99
Your Price: $39.99
(20% savings!)
(Worth 3,999 Funagain Points!)

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Product Awards:  

Ages Play Time Players
12+ 120 minutes 3-4

Designer(s): Doris Matthaus, Frank Nestel

Manufacturer(s): Z-Man Games, Doris and Frank

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Product Description

You control a tribe of amoebas living in Earth's past trying to survive in the Primordial Soup. At first, your amoebas drift along, eating the nutrients that are available, but soon you'll have to figure out how to get to the rapidly depleting supply of nutrients before your opponent's amoebas beat you to it. You will purchase rule-breaking Gene cards to give your amoeba capabilities to be the top dog in the Soup. Some of these capabilities include more coordinated movement, longevity, aggression, etc. The player who keeps his amoebas alive and balances the use of his or her Gene cards will reign in the Soup.

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): Z-Man Games, Doris and Frank

  • Artist(s): Doris Matthaus

  • Year: 2005

  • Players: 3 - 4

  • Time: 120 minutes

  • Ages: 12 and up

  • Est. time to learn: 20-30 minutes

  • Weight: 1,368 grams

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


  • 220 wooden Foodstuff cubes
  • 28 wooden amoebas in different shapes
  • 37 wooden Biological Points
  • 4 wooden Score markers
  • 25 wooden damage beads
  • 44 cards(Gene and Environment cards)
  • 1 Game Board
  • 1 color rule booklet
  • 4 reference booklets
  • 2 dice

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 3.6 in 7 reviews

Soup is good brain food!
September 25, 2008

I brought this game about a year ago and I finally got a chance to play it. Well, it was worth the wait! In "Primordial Soup", you control amoebas, acquire genes so your amoebas can survive attacks, starvation and other amoebas who may have an appetite for something other than food (meaning you!). The rulebook explains the game very well, but you'll want to keep it close by. Some rules are a bit vague and could use further explanation, but it didn't ruin the game. When this happened, we checked out and were able to answer any questions we had. The game is a nice combination of luck and strategy. Even a casual gamer will be able to learn this game.

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.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.
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.

Note: this review refers to a different release of this product.

Show all 7 reviews >

Other Resources for Primordial Soup:

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