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Sea Salt and Paper Two Player Review

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All board game reviews and ratings from “A Pair of Meeples” are entirely based on the game at two players. You can learn more about our rating system by clicking below.


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Sea Salt and Paper might be one of the best card games to come out in recent years and has quickly risen in popularity, but will it stand the test of time or be washed away with the tide?

Sea Salt and Paper Review

8 out of 10
Sea Salt and Paper Two Player Review A Pair of Meeples

Is it Good For Two Players? : The best player count!

Sea Salt and Paper is leagues above many of the card games we’ve played in recent years.  Once you get past some initial confusion about the rules, games are quick, aggressive, and tactile in a super enjoyable way.

It feels like a classic card game while still having the decision space and nuances of a more modern one. The art is exceptional and the theme is a great match for the gameplay.  If you’re looking for a satisfying but quick playing card game we don’t think you can go wrong with this one.

Theme: 8/10
Replayability: 6/10
Components: 6/10
Conflict: 7/10
Fun: 6/10

His Rating
8 out of 10
Her Rating
8 out of 10

Pros

Extremely portable with a nice durable box that you can practically fit in your pocket

Easy to teach to new players

Quick and simple to setup and play

Excellent decision space for a card game without a lot of complexity

Surprisingly strategic (especially at two)

Cons

May be too luck-dependent for some (more so at higher player counts)

Cards are very difficult to shuffle

A little confusing when initially learning

Gameplay Experience:

Sea Salt and Paper board game review

Sea Salt and Paper is a game that we saw littered all over the internet before its release and we were intrigued as it looked like a cool little card game.  When a game is pushed that hard on social platforms though we become a little doubtful as to whether it’s really good or not.

Ultimately, we forgot about it until I came across it the other day while shopping and decided to see if all the posts about the game were true or if they were just advertisements for another mediocre game.  

First, this game is super tiny.  A box just big enough to hold the cards and that’s all.  Not only is there no wasted space, the box is super nice and durable so you can actually just throw this game into your pocket if you want to and not worry about it much.

Sea Salt and Paper Box

After cracking open the cards, I was shocked by how thick and heavy they were too.  They felt good in hand and featured excellent vibrant art with an origami ocean themed creation on each.  These extra thick cards come with some problems though.  

On paper (literally), this quality of card sounds perfect, but they are so thick that you can’t shuffle them in the slightest.  I gave it one solid attempt and said no way, resorting to table shuffling.  You can split the deck in two and shuffle each part but shuffling at all risks creasing the cards and turning them into origami just like the art because they are so stiff.  The durability is great and the cards will last a while, but the fact that you almost have to table shuffle partially negates the ultra-portability of this game.

After I was done being a weirdo and overanalyzing the game box and its contents, we scanned the game’s QR code to watch how to play.  Normally, I would do my due diligence and take all the necessary steps to learn how to play, but I told myself, it’s just a card game, we can learn this one on the fly.

Well let’s just say we played the first few rounds incorrectly, I should know by now to never underestimate the process of learning a new game, even a simple one.  Once we had the rules down though, it was becoming easy to see this game was maybe deserving of all the attention it had gotten online.

Sea Salt and Paper packs a lot of “game” into a very tiny package.  My wife and I are suckers (the human variety, not the fish) for games that accomplish this.  There’s just something about pulling out a game that practically fits in the palm of your hand and can grab people’s attention for hours on end.

Anyway, this game does that.  To be honest it was a little confusing initially but once we grasped the rules it was extremely simple to play.  If one person knows how to play, teaching the game to others should be no problem.

And while it is very straightforward and quick to play there are so many different aspects to the gameplay.  On the ocean’s surface it may seem like a simple set collection game, but just underneath are vast depths of decisions for players to dare I say fathom.  

Wow, didn’t think we could cram that many ocean puns into one sentence, did you?

Do you go for matching colors, because you think your opponent is going to bet and you are only going to be able to score your color bonus?  Or do you try and end it without betting before they get a chance even though the round will almost become a wash?  Maybe you go all in on the duo cards to try and take as many extra actions as possible.

There’s a shocking number of things to think about when playing this neat card game, and that’s what makes this game so good and why we should have not underestimated it.  

This game is a lot more direct and aggressive than we normally prefer but the quick playtime and multiple round scoring make this higher conflict work and be quite fun.  There were multiple rounds where we cursed at each other and laughed as we kept stealing cards back and forth.  

It’s been a while since we’ve played a new card game that made us laugh during a round.  We’ve played Sea Salt and Paper a lot since and while its freshness has worn off, it’s definitely one of the better new card games that has made its way into our collection and one that we’ll be pulling out often.

How to Play Sea Salt and Paper:

Sea Salt and Paper is pretty simple at its core but understanding the difference between the different types of cards and the effects of betting is where it gets a little tricky.

The goal of the game is to reach a player-dependent point limit first mostly by gaining sets of the same card.  In a two player game, the score to get is 40 points.  There are a few other ways to score that we will get to later.

Sea Salt and Paper Collector Cards

All cards are shuffled and then two are drawn and placed in separate stacks face up next to the deck.  

Decide who will go first and then players will take turns drawing cards.  They can pick up one card from one of the two faceup piles or draw two and discard one from the deck.  This is the main action players must do on their turn.

A player may optionally play a pair of “duo” cards from their hand after drawing and discarding.  These duo cards score 1 point at the end of the round but also grant the player an immediate bonus.  These effects are below:

  • Crabs: Let you add a card from a discard pile to your hand
  • Boats: Let you immediately take another turn
  • Fish: Let you add the top card of the deck to your hand
  • Shark and Swimmer: Let you steal a card at random from your opponent
Sea Salt and Paper Duo Cards

The other action a player can take at the end of their turn is to end the round if they have 7 or more points.  They can either say stop and both players will just score their cards immediately, or say Last Chance which is essentially them betting they win the round.  

When a player calls Last Chance their opponents get one more turn and the scoring is dependent on the outcome.

  • If the player calls correctly they will score their cards and a color bonus (points equal to their largest set of colors) while their opponent will only score their color bonus
  • If a player calls incorrectly they will only score their color bonus and all players will score normally

Knowing when to stop the round and when to declare “Last Call” is where Sea Salt and Paper gets very interesting.

There are also four mermaid cards in the game.  These cards score for sets of colors just like a color bonus would but they are treated as regular scoring cards, (this is a little confusing at first).  If a player manages to get all four mermaids in hand they win the game, not just the round.

Sea Salt and Paper Mermaid Cards

There is also one multiplier card for each of the standard set collection cards, these give you additional points for each of that card type you have at the end of the round.

Sea Salt and Paper Point Multiplyer Card

Players need to keep track of their score at all times and also pay attention to what’s being discarded and picked up to know what actions to take.  There are a lot of little decisions to make in Sea Salt and Paper and although there is a lot of luck involved, every action feels meaningful and like you’re working towards a goal.

Conclusion:

Sea Salt and Paper is leagues above many of the card games we’ve played in recent years.  Once you get past some initial confusion about the rules, games are quick, aggressive, and tactile in a super enjoyable way.

We had a blast the first time we played and it greatly exceeded our very pessimistic expectations about what we had anticipated as an over-advertised game. It’s safe to say this game is very deserving of all the attention it has garnered.

It feels like a classic card game while still having the decision space and nuances of a more modern one. The art is exceptional and the theme is a great match for the gameplay.  If you’re looking for a satisfying but quick playing card game we don’t think you can go wrong with this one.

There are so many fun little decisions to make throughout the course of a round making the game extremely satisfying to play (especially so in two player games).  Even though luck still is a big factor, it feels like a “game” because of all these trade-offs between actions.

The unique round-ending action also adds a lot of tension.  Without this stopping and betting mechanism, a lot of what makes this game special would be lost.  This is not just one of the bigger decisions in the game but one that adds the “wow” or excitement factor.

“Last Chances” gives hope to those who fall behind. Maybe you got lucky and drew the perfect hand fast and get to move up the leaderboard while everybody else scores their puny color bonuses, or you held out just hoping to screw over whoever decided to risk it betting.

Without it, this game would very much suffer from a runaway leader problem, but with it, players can often take that comeback move or at least survive until the next round.

While the game itself is exceptional, there are a few minor annoyances that we mentioned earlier.  The cards are too thick which is nice for durability but a nightmare for shuffling, almost turning their high quality into a total negative.

You’ll likely be putting more wear on the cards and printing by table shuffling or some other crazy technique.  I know this sounds like nitpicking, and we agree, but it does make this otherwise “quick setup” game a little tedious and frustrating in those regards.

Other than that issue though this game is great for almost anyone in our opinion.  While it doesn’t have 20,000 leagues of depth to it, it has enough for more experienced players to keep coming back while still being simple enough to teach to new players in minutes.

The game can be pretty direct though, but in our opinion, it works well and is quite fun.  For those who don’t like aggressive and confrontational games though it’s something to think about when deciding if Sea Salt and Paper is the right game for you.

Is Sea Salt & Paper Good For 2 Players?

Most will likely prefer this game with just two players.  It can be a more fun, confrontational, and chaotic experience with more but for the best and most strategic gameplay, two players is where it’s at.

With two players you can pay more attention to what your opponent picks up and discards and plan accordingly.  More importantly, the discard piles will change a lot less between your turns making them an essential tool at your disposal and one you will have to effectively manage.

At this player count you will also be able to more easily judge the current standing of the game in terms of deciding when to stop or declare the last call.  The tension of doing these actions is almost increased with just two players as they become even more strategic and crucial for success.

With more players, it becomes much more about luck of the draw since you lose a lot of control over the discard pile.  This means some rounds will more often result in players feeling like they didn’t even have a chance as one player “gets lucky” and ends the round quickly.

Overall, “two players” accentuates a lot of the positive aspects of Sea Salt and Paper’s gameplay while more players do so with the negatives.  All player counts work, they just play very differently.

Playing Sea Salt & Paper with just two players also has the added bonus of being quicker.  With more players, the game can drag out and take a little longer than what we believe is appropriate for this type of game.

Pros:

  • Extremely portable with a nice durable box that you can practically fit in your pocket.
  • Easy to teach to new players
  • Quick and simple to setup and play
  • Excellent decision space for a card game without a lot of complexity
  • Surprisingly strategic (especially at two)

Cons:

  • May be too luck-dependent for some (more so at higher player counts)
  • Cards are very difficult to shuffle
  • A little confusing when initially learning

Pandasaurus Games Sea Salt and Paper Card Game - Ocean-Themed Strategy Game, Fast-Paced and Tactical, Fun Family Game for Kids and Adults, Ages 8+, 2-4 Players, 30-45 Minute Playtime, Made
Pandasaurus Games Sea Salt and Paper Card Game - Ocean-Themed Strategy Game, Fast-Paced and Tactical, Fun Family Game for Kids and Adults, Ages 8+, 2-4 Players, 30-45 Minute Playtime, Made
Pandasaurus Games Sea Salt and Paper Card Game - Ocean-Themed Strategy Game, Fast-Paced and Tactical, Fun Family Game for Kids and Adults, Ages 8+, 2-4 Players, 30-45 Minute Playtime, Made

We hope this Sea Salt and Paper two player review has helped you.

Our reviews are not paid reviews, but some games are given to us, we do not let this affect our opinions in any way. This post may contain affiliate links so we might receive compensation if you sign up for or purchase products linked to. As an Amazon Associate, we can earn from qualifying purchases. This helps cover our site's costs and allows us to continue reviewing games.


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