Full disclosure: A review copy of Sunken Sailor was provided by Buffalo Games.
Content warning: This is an adult party game, so there may be pictures, text, and / or descriptions that contain adult language.
Ah, adult party games. There are just … so many. There’s the adult Codenames variant, an adult variant of Anomia, and now, an Adult Variant of A Fake Artist Goes to New York, Sunken Sailor. This is part of the 50ish board games that Target is pushing out in 2017. It’s kind of an interesting thing — a bunch of Target-exclusive board games.
Anyways, Sunken Sailor is probably a bit closer to Drunken Sailor, in that you’re playing a group of sailors bandying stories about the previous evening, but one sailor doesn’t quite remember the previous evening. That said, they don’t want anyone to know what’s happened, so they’ll try their best to contribute to the stories being told. Can you figure out which person among you is the Sunken Sailor? Or can you hide your secret from the group?
Setup is pretty simple — shuffle the story card envelopes, grab one, and pull out X cards, where X is the number of players you have, minus one:
Then, grab a Sunken Sailor card:
Shuffle one into the stack of cards you grabbed, and deal each player one. Also, give each player a crayon:
Now, set out the paper and you’re ready to start!
So, similar to a Fake Artist, every player must, on their turn, draw one contiguous stroke on the paper. As soon as your crayon leaves the paper, you’re done.
Pass it around, no talking! Each player gets a chance to draw, and then each player gets to take another turn. After two full rounds, show the drawing to every player and have all players put their crayons in front of them.
Just like the One Night games, you’ll then 1-2-3 point at who you think the Sunken Sailor is.
- If you don’t get a majority of players to guess the Sunken Sailor, the Sunken Sailor gets 2 points. I somewhat think they mean plurality, here, but honestly, you can just play this bit how you want. It’s hardly the most important part of the game.
- If you guess the Sunken Sailor, you get 1 point. That is, unless the Sunken Sailor guesses the word.
- If the Sunken Sailor is caught, they have a chance to guess the word. If they do, they get 1 point and nobody else does. Ouch.
Keep playing until any one player scores 4 points! Or, just play like I do and play each game as its own round.
Player Count Differences
I don’t think there’s much of a difference for the regular artists at any player count other than the probability of you being the Sunken Sailor decreases as you add more players. That’s just … math, though.
It does get much harder being the Sunken Sailor at lower player counts because you just have less information and it’s already very difficult to hide. I’d recommend this at 4+, but probably stick to 5 – 8.
- Sunken Sailor: try to copy someone else’s work. Sometimes you don’t have the option; you have to commit early and you might be wrong and, well, that sucks. You also want to avoid the situation where the other artists might be so convinced that you’re the Fake Artist that they stop drawing so that they don’t give you more information. That’s not good. What you should do is try to duplicate certain things in the image. See a bird? Add another. See a mountain? Now it’s two mountains. See an eye? Why not give it two? That’s generally an alright way to slide under some radars.
- Sunken Sailor: remember that everything is nautical. You might not do a bad job adding oceans or boats to the picture, if you’re really stuck.
- Sunken Sailor: it’s not the worst idea to just start off with a circle. If it’s a pirate, now it’s a face. If it’s a seagull, well, figure that bit out later. It’s kind of interesting, and I want to see where that’ll get me in future games.
- If you think the Sunken Sailor is obvious, don’t give them extra information. You should provide as little information as possible. I actually spent time drawing OVER someone else’s drawing because I thought it leaked too much information. Weirdly, they ended up being the Sunken Sailor. What a world.
- Don’t go overboard (heh). I see a lot of games where players get a bit too into drawing and end up just drawing the word, meaning that the Sunken Sailor can pretty much instantly guess it, if they get accused at all.
- Be patient. Don’t think you’ve got someone in the first round. Wait for context to appear, think about what information you have available, and come to a conclusion once you’ve spent some time with the information.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- The wooden box is nice. Gotta give it to them — it’s a nice wood box that’s got a magnetic seal. Feels nice in the hand and has a good heft to it.
- It is kind of nice to not have a player sit out every round. In A Fake ArtistA Fake Artist, one player has to be the Question Master and doesn’t get to play, and that’s not a bummer or anything, but it’s nice that everyone gets to play every round.
- The bigger piece of paper is nice. Gives you a lot more space to draw on, which is nice.
- Crayons are easier to replace than markers, which is helpful. That said, these ones are kind of mediocre. They … don’t draw all that well.
- The graphic design is nice. It’s whimsical and nautical!
- Doesn’t have any label on any side. It’s a bit frustrating, storage-wise. Not sure where to put it so I can see it. This happens with a lot of games.
- The envelopes are, conceptually, kind of odd, I guess. There’s an envelope with Sunken Sailor cards (even though you really only need one?), and all the other cards are in their own envelopes. I kind of wish they had gone with just having a generic blank card in each envelope sorta like Spyfall.
- I am just generally against play-multiple-rounds-and-keep-score-between-rounds games. A few of the Oink Games do it and it annoys me, Spyfall does it, Love Letter does it, and I ignore it for all of them. I’d recommend the same thing, here.
- It’s trying really, really hard. Sorry, y’all. I get it; it’s a bunch of sailors and etc. etc. etc., but a lot of the cards literally have phrases like “you fishy fucker” for pretty much no reason. It doesn’t make the game more interesting or engaging, in my opinion; it just feels kind of forced. It reminds me of the Shadow the Hedgehog game for Gamecube, and not because the entire Sonic the Hedgehog franchise is like beyond parody or something endearing. It also means that this is Not Safe For Work, which makes it really difficult to get it played. I’m actually really thankful that my work group was too busy to play this when I first got it, because I didn’t realize it was NSFW and that would have been a whole thing.
- The cards are written in … cursive? That’s kind of difficult to read. I guess that they’re all thematically like, sailors telling stories, but it’s kind of weird that the cards are only written in cursive. The word you’re supposed to use is underlined, and you’re the Sunken Sailor if you don’t see any underlined word. It’s just … an odd affect.
- The limited word selection is mildly frustrating. Unlike, say, A Fake Artist, Sunken Sailor is limited to the words inside of the Spyfall-esque Story Card packs, and they’re all vaguely nautical-themed. It seems nice if you’re going to the beach or going on a cruise, but kind of limited within that. I’d rather just be able to come up with my own words, or use an app like Werewords.
Overall: 3.5 / 10
Overall, I mean, it’s a fun little game, but it’s missing a big part of what makes A Fake Artist so great — it’s portable, whereas this is kinda bulky. I think my major point of frustration with it is just the heavy-handed use of sexually-charged language and swear words for shock value more than any sort of gameplay … thing. I get that there’s a whole thing around adult party games, at the moment, but … I can play A Fake Artist with my family, and I just wouldn’t play this with my family. If you’re into adult party games and you need a variant of A Fake Artist, rather than, say, just using adult themes for your copy of A Fake Artist, then this should be right up your alley. Or if you’re on a boat! I could totally see playing this on a boat. That said, to be fair, this also isn’t a bad game for a White Elephant exchange or to give to your Cards Against Humanity-playing friends. Other than that … I’ll probably just stick with A Fake Artist Goes to New York.