W. Eric Martin
Days of Wonder has announced its big box release for 2019, a game that has been in development for six years with designers Asger Harding Granerud and Daniel Skjold Pedersen. The game in question is Deep Blue, and here's a summary of the setting and gameplay from the publisher:
Buying this fabled map was a stroke of genius. The most ancient, legendary, and extravagant underwater wrecks are waiting for divers. Diving suits and oxygen tanks are aboard, and the ship is ready to weigh anchor. There's no time to lose! The increased hustle and bustle of the harbor, with ship captains attempting to hire the best divers and historians, can mean only one thing: Other captains have the same map, and the biggest treasure hunt of all time is about to begin!
Deep Blue is a press-your-luck and engine-building, family game in which players dive for wealth and may join and benefit from other player's diving fortunes. In this game, players have to collect the right crew of divers, sailors, and archeologists, race to wreck sites to claim the best spots to dive from, and scout the seas to discover new wrecks. Players have to take risks if they want to be the most wealthy diver!
I've played Deep Blue twice in prototype form, with the earliest such game being in 2017. To add more to this description, the game has a bit of a group press-your-luck element to it along the lines of Diamant, but in a grander design with lots more going on compared to the pure "should I stay or should I go" nature of that other game.
Details might have changed since those earlier games, but here's the gist of things: Players start on the game board in the same location, the dock from which each player's single ship will sail. You will travel to different locations on the map, acquiring assistants along the way, some of which can supply needed equipment at the right time and some of which can help you make a grand score out of what might otherwise be a so-so treasure haul.
Someone will dive at a location, and others can possibly join in on the dive, trying to score at the same time as that other player, but the active player is the one in charge of the dive, which is represented by the player pulling colored stones from a common bag. You can see the initial breakdown of the bag components on the player aide shown at the left below:
You have treasure in three values (1, 2, 4) as well as threats, with one of them (blue) requiring more oxygen to continue your exploration and the other one (black) requiring defenses of some type. The active player pulls stones from the bag one by one, trying for a big haul, but also trying to pull, say, blue stones if they have lots of oxygen in reserve. Other players who are mooching off this player's dive need to assess whether they want to continue the dive or bail with what they've already acquired for if they suddenly need more oxygen but don't have it in hand, they'll need to drop everything to return to the surface.
The contents of the bag change over the course of the game. You can see that it starts with no green or purple stones, for example, yet some of the assistants that you can acquire will score points for you when those colors are drawn. As you acquire these assistants, you customize your abilities in the game, which will affect where you want to dive and with whom.
Deep Blue is for 2-5 players, ages 8+, with a playing time of 45 minutes and a MSRP of US$50/€45. The game is due out in October 2019 in both Europe and North America, but the publisher says at this point they're not sure whether the game will be out at the beginning of the month or will debut at SPIEL '19 at month's end.