For about a year and a half, my son was deeply obsessed with ocean animals. During this time, this game came in at the book and toy store where I work. Of course I snatched it up.
What You Get
58 very large playing cards
a sheet of shark stickers
How To Play
To set up, set aside the 10 Power cards that are in the deck. This is pretty easy because they have different backs. Shuffle them. Then, shuffle the rest of the cards and deal them out to each player.
The game mechanics are very much like "War." Each player flips over a card. If it's a shark card, the player with the highest number takes all cards into his winnings pile. If it is an "Extinction" card, the player must read it and take whatever action is required before continuing, then he must turn over another card and the winner takes all of the cards , including the "Extinction" card. If at any time there is a tie between the 2 highest numbered sharks, then each player must draw a "Power" card. This power card will add to, subtract from, or multiply the value of his shark card. The winning player takes all cards involved except the Power cards, which are shuffled back into the Power card deck.
The game ends when all cards are played through one time. At this time, all players count up the number of cards in their winnings pile. Then, each player draws one more Power card and uses it to modify that score. The player with the highest final number wins.
What We Like
It's Over Fast
Because you only go through the deck a single time, this game plays pretty quickly. Indeed it's one of the few games that actually plays faster with more players.
The artwork on these cards is a darn good reason to buy this game. The artwork is all done by two artists and friends, Ray Troll and Matt Celesky. Living in Alaska, I'm quite familiar with Ray Troll. The artwork in these cards is humorous and captivating.
On each card, the top half is artwork and the bottom is information. My son has read all of the cards and learned quite a bit from them. Each provides information like when the shark lived (if extinct), its scientific name, what it eats, etc.
Sharks of All Kinds
I had no idea there were such neat sharks. One of our favorites is the "Cookie Cutter" shark, so named because it takes perfectly identical shaped bites out of it's preys, rather than eating the whole animal. This deck really does a great job of conveying the diversity of sharks.
What We Don't Like
Game play is flat boring. My son thinks it's OK, but doesn't love it. He tends to dig out this game more often to read the cards than to play the game. The cards really are very cool. It's really too bad they didn't spend more effort developing a good game to go with the artwork.
This game is 100% luck. There are no decisions to be made in this game at all. I don't mind luck in a game. But, I like there to be some strategy too. This game has none.
This game says for ages 5 and up. That's fairly accurate. The youngest children will need assistance if they draw a multiplier Power card, but otherwise it's fine for little ones.
This is a really boring game and as such I wouldn't recommend it. However, if you have a child who is really interested in sharks and is in the 5 to 8 year old age range, you might buy this game for them anyway. The cards are well worth having just for the artwork and information on them.
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Yes, I really am that awesome.
And I'd like to add that based on this review, I googled "Cookie Cutter Shark." The photo of somebody's leg with a cookie cutter bite is...well...I'd rather not think of how much it makes the inside of his leg look like beef.
I played this game with my son who, somewhat to my surprise has never played war. For a kid it is an exciting surprise to flip over a card. I know why War is still around and is played by kids. It's fun for them.
I actually had fun as well. I liked looking at the pictures (which I think are quite nice, but some of those extinct sharks gave me nightmares!) I like reading the bits written. As a confession, I was obsessed with sharks in Middle School. These cards bring back fond memories of a number of shark related incidents.
I like that there was some sort of attempt to not just make it war, but there is no provisions for the order of the draw of the power cards. Yes, I know, who cares. I really don't, at least not when it comes to playing the game. But after reading some more complex rules, to miss something simple like that is... I dunno. Sloppy.
Also, I always played war until someone was out of cards (is this totally insane or what?!?!?) This game thankfully gives you permission to quit and count cards when the deck is out.
Other than these minor notes, I quite like the review for this simple game... thanks!