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Game Overview: A semi-cooperative game where the team of players attempt to navigate through a swamp. Players will help control the path of the boat as they gather different natural treasures that will help both the team and their own secret agenda. While you navigate the swamp you must always be aware of the man eating crocodile that continuously follows you throughout the swamp trying to prevent anyone from winning or leaving the swamp.
Box Contents: A small box that measures just 11 inches x 11 inches. You will find only three things in the box. The rules manual, 44 oversized square cards, and tokens that represent your boat and the crocodile. The double sided cards are well made and have acceptable art upon them. There is nothing special about the tokens but you can easily tell the difference between the two.
Clarity of Rules: For such a small sized game, the rules manual is longer than I would have expected coming in at 24 total pages. The manual is mostly text with just a few pictures thrown in. For some people that may work but I thought that additional pictures would have made the game easier to learn.
Game Play: As noted above, the cards are double sided. One side has the swamp and all available places that your boat or the crocodile can be moved to. On the other side, you will find either a coordinate, which is represented by a compass, or a Let’s Move card. The coordinate and let’s move cards are all shuffled together which forms the draw deck. As with any game that has two sided cards, it can be confusing at first which side has to face up in the deck and towards the other players. Here, you want the swamp to be viewed by all players and keep the coordinate and let’s move cards to yourself. To begin your deck, each player takes 3 cards from the deck.
The player that will be going first is given a pilot card as they will be controlling the boat first. This can move to other players as the game progresses. The pilot draws 2 additional cards. With one of the two starting swamp cards on the table, the pilot can choose any two cards from their hand and place them to the right of the starting card to form the first three cards of the swamp. They should take into consideration any of the agendas that they have when selecting the cards.
On the players turn, they have two choices along with drawing a card.
1. Play either a coordinate or let’s move card.
2. Discard a card to rotate a pile, move the boat, move the croc, and to change the pilot.
3. Draw a card and end your turn.
If you choose to play a coordinate card. These cards have a number between 1 and 4 in each corner. These are played by pointing one number towards a player in the game. These represent how far that player may be allowed to move the boat. There are four different colors for the coordinate cards. This is important in that another player can play a coordinate card of the same color on top of the current card, if the number that points towards them increases.
The other type of card that can be played is the Let’s Move card. When this is played on top of a coordinate card, the players are locked into whatever number currently points in their direction for that pile of coordinate cards.
At this point, the boat is ready to be moved. One of the corners on the coordinate card will have a white background, this is the first player to move the boat in the swamp. There are certain spaces that the boat can’t be moved onto (mangrove trees) and restrictions on the directions that the players must follow. Whoever is the current pilot, gets to move the boat one additional spot on their turn. You will attempt to move the boat towards the natural treasures found on the swamp board (Heartroot, Mooncap, Kingsfoil, and Bluefisher) that will benefit you based on the character role that you have.
Each time the boat moves over one of the natural treasures, the card that represents that item is rotated to show all players how many of those have been obtained during the journey.
Once all players have moved, it is now the Crocodiles turn to move. The croc has its own card that shows how many spaces it needs to move. It increases by one with each Kingsfoil treasure that is obtained by the group. When being moved, it always moves towards the boat.
Play continues for the round until three Let’s Move cards have been played or when players have no cards left in their hands. Each player then adds up the coordinate cards that are pointing towards them and the player with the highest number gets to move the boat additional spaces.
The next round beings by adding new swamp cards and continuing through the steps noted above until a player chooses to leave the swamp through an exit spot (must have at least 3 Kingsfoil treasure) that can be found on each card. Then each player adds up all points earned based on the secret agenda that they had using the number of treasures that were found. The game can also end if the croc catches the boat or if there aren’t enough cards to hand out to players, then all players lose as they have run out of time.
Replay Ability: The swamp path will be different each play, so that will help with the replay ability. However, there are just seven adventurer cards and if you play the game consistently, I think you will begin to recognize who the other players have based on the actions they are taking when moving the boat. If you just play the game occasionally, it shouldn’t be a problem. There are two expansions (Waterfall and Swamp Tiger) that are included to extend out the replay ability. You also have the ability to begin the croc at different levels.
Appropriate Audience: The game suggests 13+ for the age, likely due to the two small wooden tokens. However, someone much younger should easily be able to understand the game rules and would be able to play along.
What We Liked/Didn't Like: We enjoyed the way the cards are used from the coordinate cards to the tracking of the treasures and crocodile movements. These truly has a unique feel to them. The player aids are extremely useful, which can be found on the back of the character cards. While the game sells itself as semi cooperative it really doesn’t feel that way as everyone seems to be out to do what is best for themselves and in no way looking out for the group. The crocodile is an important part of the game but the players can easily get away from him by avoiding the Kingsfoil treasures at the start of the game.