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Subject: [Roger's Reviews] Deep Sea Adventure: The Drowning Game rss

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"L'état, c'est moi."
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Caution: May contain wargame like substance
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Photo credit: Henk Rolleman

Deep Sea Adventure
A game 2-6 players designed by Jun Sasaki.


"Think I had a wet dream
Cruisin' through the Gulf Stream
Oooh-ooh-ooh-ooh
Wet dream..."

― chorus of Kip Adotta's pun filled song Wet Dream


Introduction
If you've frequented the BGG store, you'll have seen that they offer games by publisher Oink Games. Small Japanese company offering small box games, about the size of a cigarette pack (back when everyone knew what that meant).

I first gave the game a spin at BGG Con 2015, and really liked it, but balked at the price tag. Then I saw it on Amazon.ca for $29.01, meaning free shipping and no concerns about the exchange rate, so I said what the heck.

Deep Sea Adventure is a small game, but as they say, good things come in small packages.

Components
The game comes in a tiny box, and inside there are 32 treasure tiles, 16 X marks the spot tiles, 2 six dice that are have 1-3 twice (i.e. a pair of d3), a sub tile, six diver meeples, and a marker for the air. Oh, and rules.

All in a small box.

Rules and Gameplay
So what kind of game do you get in this magnificent little box?

A relatively simple one. The layout is simple. The tiles have a number of dots (bubbles) on them, and you lay them out any way you please in a long chain with the one dots nearest the sub, and the four dots at the end.

Photo credit: Henk Rolleman

Going down is easy
Decide who's going first (I've been using free app Chwasi of late) and then roll the pair of d3 and head down. Once you get to your destination, you can choose to pick up the treasure there, drop a treasure you're carrying, or simply enjoy the space. If you take the treasure there, replace it with an X tile and stand on it. No peeking at the treasure tile until you're back aboard. If you happen to pass a space someone's already in, pretend it isn't there, don't count it, and wave as you pass. As the game progresses, at some point you're going to decide you want to go back up.

Coming up for air
Once you've decided you have all the treasure you can carry, you're going to want to head up. You can only change direction once, so you're committed. If you forget to declare you're heading back, you continue heading down. Now, treasure is nice, but it's heavy. So for every piece of treasure you're carrying, you subtract one from the die roll. The 2d3. The 2-6 result with an expected roll of 3.5. If you're lucky, you'll make it back aboard before the sub runs out of air. If you're not, you'll have two pieces of treasure and roll a 2, going... nowhere.

Breathe
Air is the catch in this game. If you're empty handed, you're not using any air. But the air on the sub is shared by all players, and if you're carrying treasure, every piece carried uses up one unit of air. You're not allowed back onto the sub without treasure. And if the air runs out before you get back aboard, the treasure you were carrying sinks to the bottom of the ocean.

And you? You drown.

For those who made it back to the sub, you keep the treasure tokens and get to look at how many points you've earned. The treasures that sink to the bottom end up in piles of three. Ah, but... those stacks only count as one treasure for air and movement purposes. There's some incentive to try and get them.

The X markers are removed, the game is reset, and you do this for a total of three rounds. High score wins.

Conclusions
This game is built for people who love push your luck games with a soupçon of strategy, a hint of strategy, and the hilarity of watching first time players take one roll too many and drown.

This game is fun and decently strategic with two. It's a complete riot with five. With six it's every diver for themselves. Everyone is watching everyone else, waiting for the first treasure laden diver to reverse course and the mad scramble to return to the sub before the air runs out begins.

The game has some built in limitations. The probability of rolling any given value is easy to calculate. If you've got six players and everyone has a treasure, you know there aren't many rounds to go before the air runs out. You're bound to have someone at the table look at the situation and spend more time looking at the game state and knowing the outcome of the round after everyone's rolled once given the variables in play.

But...

If you're not a statistician by avocation...

And you like watching the expression in the eyes of your opponents as they realize they're not going to make it back into the sub...

Then Deep Sea Adventure is for you.

Or as my friends and I like to call it, the Drowning Game.


Thank you for reading this latest installment of Roger's Reviews. I've been an avid board gamer all my life and a wargamer for over thirty years. I have a strong preference for well designed games that allow players to focus on trying to make good decisions.

Among my favourites I include Twilight Struggle, the Combat Commander Series, the Musket & Pike Battle Series, Julius Caesar, Maria, EastFront, Here I Stand, Napoleon's Triumph, Unhappy King Charles!

You can subscribe to my reviews at this geeklist: [Roger's Reviews] The Complete Collection and I also encourage you to purchase this very stylish microbadge: mb
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