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Subject: One Play Review: Aquasphere (2P) rss

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Stephen Sanders
United States
North Carolina
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Preperation:
Having never played a Stefan Feld game, I went into this with a since of uncertainty. I have watched reviews and playtroughs of a number of his games. I wanted to give one a try and when Aquasphere showed up on CSI for $17.99, I jumped on it.

The game arrived and my 18mo old "helped" me sort out all the pieces. I then watched the Watch It Played videos, one very well done playthrough (I can't remember the name), and read through the manual. The game seemed straight forward enough.

I convinced my nongamer girlfriend (only plays light games and party games) to sit down and play it with me.

Setup:
The game took a solid 10 minutes to set up for 2 players. Having everything presorted and understanding the iconography beforehand made a world of difference.

Once the boards were all ready to go, the colors are almost overwhelming. When we got the child to sleep and went downstairs to play the girlfriend's eyes got a couple sizes bigger when she saw the table. I could tell she was about to change her mind so I told her don't worry...you only take one action per turn.

Explaination:
I went into this worried. I decided to keep it super simple. I gave a run down of the 2 possible actions and then a quick over view of what the different areas did. I then gave a rundown of the scoring. After about 5 min we just jumped into the first turn.

By the time we were half way through the first round she was good to go. As we approached the end of the first round she began planning ahead slightly.

Turns out this game is really easy to pick up if you just keep it simple and let the players figure out the strategies on their own.

Gameplay:
I absolutely loved how quick the game progressed. With only 1 action per player there was no down time.

The game really gets good when you realize just how many possibilities those 2 possible actions give you. I could see how some people would find it constrictive, but I think that really adds to the theme. You are in a sea lab. You probably should feel a touch claustrophobic.

It truly feels like you are working in a sea lab. The claustrphobia, the needing to preform certain task to keep your engine running, and the managing all of you actions to preform the best. As far as Euros go I thought you could really get some theme out of this one.

The scoring between rounds was actually nice because it gave you a chance to rest your brain for a minute before diving back in (pun intended). You should also go into this game with a small note pad to help with the scoring phase.

Having to have the crystals worked for me. If you assume the whole point of the mission is to research crystals in the deep ocean. You shouldn't progress unless you are doing your job.

We finished the game in just under 90 minutes. This will speed up next time and did not feel like it overstayed it's welcome.

Results:
I lost. The game stayed close and a few wrong decisions, be it timing of moves or just using the wrong program did me in. After the game I asked my girlfriend if she liked it. She responded with "my brain hurts". We discussed it a bit more later on and she was really discussing the details of the game. The next day she mentioned how we could not play this with certain members of our game group. She also stated that next time she played she would not feel so overwhelmed.

Final Thoughts:

She actually wanted to play again. That tell me that the game did it's job. I am not sure fun is the way to describe this game. It is taxing on your mind and I immediately wanted to play again, but I still am not sure if it was "fun". The game seems like it will be very replayable due to the randomness of set up and rounds.

Pros:
Simple to pick up
Game Time (90min is not bad)
Colorful (really pretty on the table)
Brain Melting (I really liked having to think turns ahead)

Cons:
Game Time (90min or longer is bad for some people)
Colorful (can be overwhelming)
Brain Melting (Should not be played with people prone to AP)

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Enon Sci
United States
Portland
Oregon
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The great thing about this game is, after a learning game or two, it speeds up remarkably. After all, actions during a turn are generally rather quick.
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Jeff M.
United States
Jacksonville
Florida
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Anarchosyn wrote:
The great thing about this game is, after a learning game or two, it speeds up remarkably. After all, actions during a turn are generally rather quick.
I found this to be the case for me as well. My wife and I play this in about 45 minutes with set-up and tear down (I made a foam core insert, which helps a lot).
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