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Subject: Brave Reviews: Reef | Brave New Boardgames rss

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Rowan Morris
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G'day BGG people!

Here is the Brave Review of Reef, written by Rodney Owen at Brave New Boardgames. If you enjoy the review, please take a look at all we have to offer at www.bravenewboardgames.com.au !!

Also if you would like to see the Review including pictures and pretty things, just jump across to here: https://www.bravenewboardgames.com.au/home/_reef


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One of the biggest games last year was Azul. It was a simple game full of strategy and big plastic components. It sold hundreds of thousands of copies, won the Spiel des Jahres and made its way onto the wish lists of board gamers from all around the world. So it’s no surprise that one of the most talked about games this year features a lot of similarities. Reef is a simple game full of strategy and big plastic components and also published by Next Move Games. Instead of laying Spanish tile, in Reef, players take on the role of a coral reef and over a series of turns build up their reef by placing bright and colourful pieces of coral on the reef bed. In the words of Brad Pitt; "What’s in the box?" Reef comes with 112 coral pieces (28 each of yellow, green, purple and a reddy/apricot colour), 60 cards, 88 point tokens, 4 player boards and 1 rulebook.

Reef is extremely simple to play. Players receive one player board each, 2 cards and 4 coral pieces, one of each type. These pieces are placed in the middle of the board and you’re now ready to play. On their turn, players take one of two actions. First, they can draw a card. Each card contains coral pieces on the top and coral icons on the bottom. Taking cards scores you points, which can be found on the bottom right corner of the card. The second action a player can take is playing a card from their hand. When a card is played the player will take the coral pieces identified on the top of the card and then place them anywhere on their player board. They then score the pattern on the bottom of the card. If the pattern appears once on their board they can take point tokens equal to the number on the bottom right corner of the card. If the pattern appears multiple times, take the shown number of points as many times as the pattern appears. When scoring, only the top view is relevant.

Play continues until all of one colour coral piece is used. Players will finish the round and count their score tokens. The player with the most points wins.

When I first saw Reef, I didn’t think much of it. The big brightly coloured pieces make it look somewhat like a preschool child's toy. I actually checked the box to make sure it wasn’t made by Fisher Price. The game also seemed extremely simple too but I played it regardless. The theme appealed to me. I love coral reefs. I find them very calming and serene. One of the greatest experiences of my life is learning how to scuba dive in the greatest reef on earth, the Great Barrier Reef. However, my mind changed not long into my first game. What I initially thought was a simple game was more in-depth and complex. You need to be thinking several moves ahead in order to plan and execute moves to maximise your points. You also have some interesting decisions to make. When you play are a card, you can only use it’s scoring ability when it’s played. Therefore, If you play a card in order to gain the coral pieces on the top and you don’t have the bottom pattern on your board, you miss the opportunity to score it. Sometimes you’ll need to decide to sacrifice points or do something else.

Despite my initial thoughts about the coral pieces, the components in this game are great. The artwork on player boards and cards are really nice and functional. However, the hero of this game are those big colourful plastic coral pieces. When you play them onto your board they form a tableau which is simply stunning. Do search for #reefgame on Instagram and you’ll find more than 500 photos of tableaux gamers all over the world have created. The pieces are extremely tactile too. They are a pleasure to touch and play with. I’ve lost count of the number of times I found myself playing with the coral pieces in between turns.
I was also a big fan of the rule book. It only has 4 pages (it is as big as the box though) with very clear explanations of the game and how to play it. Lots of diagrams help explain it. There’s no ambiguity which I like. A note to game designers, this is how to do a rule book.
This is a quick game to teach. It can be easily taught in about 10 minutes. It also plays really quickly. The box indicates 30- 45 minutes play and that time goes quite quickly. You don’t sit there waiting for ages for your turn. Given how simple it is to teach, learn and play and the components, I can see this being a great family game. It's something the kids can play and enjoy even if they don’t get the deeper strategy.

That’s what I really like about this game. For me, where it falls short is player interaction, or should I say lack thereof. As each player has their own game board, they play independently. Moves you make have no impact on other players. This means there’s very little opportunity hinder your opponent's progress ( I do like a Take that mechanic, especially if I’m losing). Because we were playing our own game too, we were focused on our little world. There was very little chatting during the game which was a shame.

Overall, I really liked Reef. It was a surprise hit for me and has been a hit all over the world. It’s a game for the whole family that you can play again and again. This would look great on your shelf!

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Written by Rodney Owen
Author / Publisher
Brave New Boardgames



If you enjoyed this review, Brave Reviews or anything that we at Brave New Boardgames are doing, we would really appreciate your support to keep on doing and keep on bringing everything that we have been and more to you, the readers. We have a support page on the website that you can find at https://www.bravenewboardgames.com.au/support. Any donation would be sincerely appreciated and allows us to bring you top quality work. Thanks, folks!
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Lucas H
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Great review! I’m surprised by how much I like the game as well.

The closest the game gets to interaction is at the end, where you may be able to prevent some big plays by ending things faster than one opponent expects. Conversely I think there’s a pretty interesting decision about how greedy to be—can I get one
more turn and score two extra 3-height towers?
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Rowan Morris
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Yeah we thought the same thing!
Thank you very much for the kind words!
 
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