Thursday, 11 August 2011

The World According to Ubi

A while ago I posted about quiz board games of days gone by, and both cwj and bj recommended Ubi ( The World According to Ubi. ) This is what cwj said –

“We (good, keen quizzers) played it once, and gave up on it as hopelessly difficult. But then on a subsequent holiday got really into it. It is an excellent game, and would recommend it very highly.You have to be in the right frame of mind to play it and it certainly takes some getting used to. And it will not be suitable for a family game. You need to be play it with solid quizzers.”

I didn’t actually make the post in the first place because I was desperately looking for a good quiz board game to play. Still, this comment and bj’s comment intrigued me enough that I bought the game from ebay for a few pounds.

Apparently The World According to Ubi was created by Scott Abbott and Chris Haney, the creators of Trivial Pursuit, and it was launched on the market in 1986. I don’t think that it ever set the world alight in terms of sales, but it has a very loyal following apparently. I checked Facebook, and there’s at least one group dedicated to the game, with over 50 members.

On opening the package my first thought was that it looked like a Krypton Factor test as redesigned by the freemasons. Triangles, pyramids and single eyes are very much in evidence. The difficulty cwj and bj mentioned becomes obvious from your first reading of the rules. Let me quote a little : -
The winner is the player who first assembles the four Rubi scoring facets to form a complete Rubi (pyramid) topped by the Rubi Ubi finishing piece. Rubi facets are earned by answering one Ubi in each of the four Ubi Zones with triangular precision.”

That sounds OK – not desperately unlike Trivial Pursuit – with assembling pyramids substituted for collecting cheese. However the key phrase is triangular precision. Again, from the rules : -

“The player born closest to March 15th in the calendar year plays first. The player with the first turn rolls the rubi cubis ( dice ) to determine the ubi zone and degree of precision , either hexagonal or triangular required for the answer.
One rubi cubi is the zone cubi, having one face for each of the four zones, and two for the ubi eye. ( The zones are Americas – Europe – Water ( embracing Australia and the world’s oceans, seas , lakes, islands rivers and shores ) – Universal ( Asia, Africa and other places ) When the ubi eye is rolled the player may choose any ubi zone. The other rubi cubi is the precision cubi which will show either a hexagon , a triangle or an ubi eye. If a hexagon is rolled, then the answer must be the number of the hexagon in which the location is found. If a triangle is rolled, the answer must provide the number of the hexagon and the triangle within it, denoted by S,E,A,R,C or H on the Rubicon Reticule map reader. The player may choose to give hexagonal or triangular precision is the ubi eye is rolled on the precision cubi. “

Yes, it sounds off putting, doesn’t it? Yet once you get the hang of it, its very absorbing. They key is the questions. Each one starts with – ubi – which the latin scholars among us know is the latin for where. So to pick a random sample : -

AMR – Ubi Chile poke at Peru ?
EUR – Ubi Lusitania headed when seabedded ?
WAT - Ubi Seven Sisters see the sea near Seaford ?
UNI - Ubi Morocco’s most populated place plonked ?

Answers –
AMR – Southern Peru 282- A
EUR – Liverpool 454-H
WAT – Seven Sisters Cliffs Sussex 447 – H
UNI – Casablanca – Morocco 340- A 511 – A

The thing is its not enough to know the answer, you have to find the correct spot on the map, and that’s, not to put too fine a point on it, difficult. Which is the really good thing about the game. These are very different from pretty much any other trivia game out there, and all the better for it.

In terms of sales I don’t know how long it was on the market, or how much it sold, but somehow I doubt that it ever set the world alight. Although you can see how it repeats some of the features which gave Trivial Pursuit its appeal – sumptuous box – a lot of ‘game’ for your money – questions to answer and things to collect – you can also see how this would only ever have minority appeal. Its based on one knowledge subject rather than all of them – its complicated and its difficult. Of course, for its fans, these are probably exactly the features which make it much better than Trivial Pursuit.

I wouldn’t say I’m hooked, but the game has already absorbed several hours of admittedly none too valuable time. So cwj and bj - thanks .

1 comment:

bj said...

I had difficulty even getting people to listen to the rules all the way through before writing off the game. I kept getting comments like Ubi Scooby Dooby? and people collapsing in fits of giggles.