Wednesday, March 25, 2009

#24: Secrets of the Deep

  • designer: Wolfgang Riedesser
  • publisher: Ravensburger
  • date: 1991
  • BoardGameGeek rank/rating: not ranked/6.02
  • age: 7+
  • # of players: 2-5
  • print status: OOP
  • cost: there is at least one copy available for trade on BGG...
I bought this game because of the company who made it - at that point in my game collecting (some 17 years ago), the English releases from Ravensburger had a stellar track record. We're talking stuff like Scotland Yard, Flying Carpet, Hare & Tortoise, etc. So, sight unseen, I grabbed this off the high-end toy store shelf & plunked down my hard-earned cash to add it to my collection.

Over time, it's become one of my favorite games to play with kids. It's probably too fast for gamers - there's really no time to develop any kind of strategic plan - but it tells a story, has lots of adventure and a good bit of tension, esp. if other players are working to keep you from getting back to the boat.

The board is a side view of an underwater treasure trove, with 3 different sized chests (made from molded plastic) at the bottom of the board and a boat (which even has felt on the reverse so it slides easily across the board) at the top. There's also a captain's wheel spinner permanently attached to the board & a deck of event cards. (BTW, the game insert works like a charm - when the board is folded up, the spinner fits into one of the depressions in the insert.)

In turn, each player spins the spinner - which can move you 1, 2, or 3 spaces... or cause you to draw an event card. You then can add one of your dive tanks to the spin and make your move off the boat and down to the treasure.

Let me explain the dive tanks. Each player has 4 (or 5, if more players are playing) tokens, which add to your move or allow you to move one of the non-player dolphin pieces. They also limit the amount of time underwater. When you use them, you flip them over. If you run out of air (tokens) on a particular dive, you must surface without a treasure. Regardless of how you got back to the boat, you replenish your air (flip all the tokens back right side up) and move the boat forward to the next step.

So, you've got to manage your air, avoid the other divers (you can't move through them), use the dolphins (there are 2 of them) to your advantage - as they can push divers, and watch the time... when the boat reaches the far side of the board, the game is over.

Then comes the "let's test your eyesight" part of the game. Each of the treasure chests has a point value in the indentation on the underside: 2-4 points for the easiest to reach chests, 3-5 points for the medium chests, and 4-6 points for the treasure chests at the bottom of the sea. Points are added together and the player with the most is the winner.

A game-savvy 6 year old can easily play this - though there is a bit of reading (due to the event cards) which probably pushes it older when playing without an adult. I like it best with 3 players - you can mess with each other but the game moves at the right pace. 5 players is probably too many.

No comments: