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Updated: Oct 25, 2020

This is a game you don't see a lot of so we dusted a copy down for a play.

Ubi was published in 1986 by Horn Abbot. It was designed by Scott Abbot and Chris Haney as a follow up to their runaway hit Trivial Pursuit, which had become a worldwide best seller over the previous five years. It was launched with much hype and fanfare. After the unrivalled success of Trivial Pursuit, the release of a new trivia game from the same stable attracted news coverage from national newspapers and television. This, we were told, would be the Next Big Thing.

As with most proclaimed Next Big Things, the prediction proved to be wide of the mark. The Latin name probably didn't help. The large triangular box made the game stand out but was perhaps unhelpful to retailers who wanted to make best use of their shelf space: they'd be happy with a standout shaped box that sold well but would be doubly keen to get shod of a triangular box that stayed on the shelves. This game did just that.

Ubi is Latin for 'Where' (inter alia), and the idea of this game is that players take turns to answer trivia questions that are each answered with a specific geographic location. Dice are rolled to determine the continent in which the question and answer are located. Unlike Trivial Pursuit, there is no triaging by subject; sport, politics, history - your question could be on anything. Some Ubi questions were opaque, others seemed to give the place name in the question itself.

What sets Ubi apart from other trivia games is also what makes it so difficult to play. There is nothing gained from knowing the right answer unless you are able to find the precise geographic location on the large unlabelled world map that comes in the box. You may know that Bonn was the capital of Germany in 1986 when the game was published but how accurately can you find Bonn on an unlabelled world map. It's not sufficient to point your finger (or rather the map reader device) at Germany, you need much more precision than that even to meet the lower level precision requirement that rewards a correct answer with another turn. You need to be able to find the location with even greater accuracy to earn the pyramid token for that continent (fulfilling the same role as the pie segments in Trivial Pursuit).

Ubi disappointed because it turned out not to be nowhere near as easy to play as its predecessor. I daresay it had its adherents among those whose trivia knowledge is matched by a eidetic memory of atlas locations but, for others, it proved simply too frustrating.

(Review by Selwyn Ward)

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