I picked up this small die-rolling game from the last Essen, and only recently had a chance to play it. It turned out, from some rules threads, that the English rules provided have a few serious errors, so I thought that a review which was actually mostly rules overview would be helpful to anyone who has found a copy.
The players are resort owners, trying to get the most swimmers frolicking off their particular beach, and those swimmers yield points. The basic turn is a throw of seven of the basic blue swimmer dice which have sides [3 2 1 ~ ~ ~]. Immediately following a standard blue throw, players can choose to take points equal to the number of swimmers showing. If all the dice show swimmers (there are no empty water waves), the people hold a beach party for double score!
In most cases, though, you're going to have one or more of those pesky water wave dice which you can choose to re-roll. In this case, all the dice showing swimmers are set aside to (probably) score and the yellow event die is rolled. This dice has faces [+ + - - ^ ^], sides which add a die, take a die away, or trigger a shark attack.
In the sunny or rainy weather cases, you either add or remove a blue die from your wave dice, and re-roll. Any swimmer are added to the set-aside scoring pile. If you have any waves left you make a keep/re-roll choice, and if you don't, Beach Party! (and double score!) Here, we've rolled a sun, good weather, which adds one of the dice we re-roll, getting another swimmer, but being left with two waves.
Let's say you bravely re-roll again. Perhaps you're behind, perhaps you just want to see some of these swimmers attacked by sharks. This time, your pre-reroll event dice throw turns up sharks. Now the whole game changes. Those swimmers already in the water instantly turn from easy points to a deadly liability. All dice showing waves are returned to the supply, all set-aside dice with formerly safe swimmers are brought out, add one shark die and mix well.
The shark dice has three shark faces and some waves [^ ^^ ^^^ ~ ~ ~] In the first shark roll, we roll a ^^, a double shark, which attempts to eat a two-swimmer die, or two one-swimmer dice, or finally a three-swimmer die. Each time sharks are present, you do the best match for eaten swimmers from the rolled dice. If there are any unmatched swimmers, they are rescued and set aside to score. For each eaten dice, add a yellow disc, and if there was at least one swimmer eaten, add another shark die to the frenzy. Finally, if there are any water-wave dice, re-roll them with all your sharks.
If by some miracle all your swimmers escape, you receive triple the number of rescued swimmers as points. This doesn't happen that much, but it's worth keeping in mind if you tend to lucky rolls.
Here's the roll with two shark dice, one is a safe wave, the other eats another swimmer dice. Nobody escapes this round, a third shark arrives, and we have to re-roll the final dice. I wouldn't give this swimmer many chances next roll.
When all the swimmers have been eaten or rescued and there are no water waves left, the shark attack concludes and the game continues with the next person's turn.
After each players turn, check if the game ends immediately (because the player manages to get to 100 points) As always, poker chips are the ideal way to keep score.
Now, if you're still holding those yellow discs on your next turn (because nobody else has been sufficiently badly mauled by sharks to be forced to take them from you), you'll start rolling with one fewer dice for each disc (to a minimum of 1). Fortunately, every turn you successfully non-shark score you can discard a disc, (or 2 for a beach party)
It's cute, but irrelevant, that the rules specifically try to explain away the cases where you rescue more people than you had on the beach (passing snorkelers) or fail to rescue them all even though the sharks eat none (they climb aboad passing boats and never return).
Shark Attacks is a somewhat cute little dice game. The push-your-luck element isn't as well developed as I'd like, it would be interesting to have the option of re-rolling low valued swimmer dice, and quite a few of the decisions in the game seem unfortunately obvious. If you prefer your dice games to have a drawn out disaster style let-down rather than the sharp death of something like Pickomino, this could be a good choice.