Alright, this is it. The last Oink game in my collection, and also the first Oink game that I bought — Deep Sea Adventure. If this review seems a bit out of date, well, it is; I wrote it like a year+ ago and kept meaning to publish it, and now, here we are.
In Deep Sea Adventure, you and your up-to-five coplayers are adventuring … in the deep sea (as you’d expect), looking for a variety of treasures in the ruins to become the richest. Unfortunately, due to some, well, pre-finding your fortune budget constraints, you have to share a submarine with your rivals. To further your nautical misfortune, there’s only so much air in the sub. Can you make it to the depths and find your treasure?
So the setup for this game is fairly simple. In the box you’ll find some figures, a submarine, and some dice:
Set the submarine in the center of the table and let each player pick a figure of their choice.
Next, you’ll find some tiles with one, two, three, or four pips on them:
These are the Ruin tokens. Shuffle the ones, the twos, the threes, and the fours (keeping them separated by number of pips) and then add them to the bottom of the sub, making a path from one-pip tiles to four-pip tiles at the end.
Set the red token on the “25” on the sub.
You’ll also notice you have a bunch of these:
These are blank tokens. Set those aside for now; you don’t really need them, yet. Once your play area looks like this, you should be ready to start:
So, Deep Sea Adventure is played over three rounds. Each round you’ll go out, try to get treasure, and try not to drown. Each round is played as a series of player turns, that happen like so:
- Decrease the available air. So you won’t do this on your first turn, generally. When you do this, you drop the air by one place for each Ruin token you have. That … might be a lot! If the air hits “0”, this is the last turn of the round. Note that if you are on the sub, air does not decrease on your “turn”. You technically don’t take any more turns, either, once you make it back to the sub.
- Decide to press forward, or turn back. You start your first turn moving forward (away from the sub), and you cannot move forward again once you’ve decided to turn back (towards the sub). If you accidentally skip this step and roll the dice, you move forward. Don’t forget to turn back, otherwise you’ll drown!
- Roll the dice and move. You move one space fewer for each Ruin token you have. This means if you have six Ruin tokens, you cannot move. So, don’t do that. If you land back on the sub, your turn immediately ends (and the round is over, for you, at least). Note that when you would move through a space occupied by another player, it doesn’t count as a space. (You must actually be able to move, though, to qualify, so no hoarding Ruin tokens and hoping for the best.)
- Decide what to do on a space. So you land on a space. Generally, you can do one of three things on a given space:
- Nothing. You can just stop there for free. Like free parking.
- Take a Ruin token. If you are stopped on a Ruin token, you can take it and add it to your stash (do not look at the number on the other side of it, yet) and then replace that Ruin token with a blank token.
- Drop a Ruin token. If you are stopped on a blank token, you can replace it with any Ruin token from your stash. This will slow down air leakage and you will be able to move one space further. Sometimes, worth it.
So once all that’s done, check for the end of the round. If the air is not currently “0”, the next player takes their turn. If the air is “0”, the round ends.
If you did not make it back to the sub at the end of the round, you start drowning. Your rivals manage to pull you back to the sub, but you dropped the Ruin tokens you were holding onto. Starting from the furthest player from the sub, place tokens at the end of the path in stacks of three (you can choose how to stack your tiles if you are split between two stacks). These stacks only count as one tile for gameplay purposes (decreasing air, slowing movement, etc). Seems valuable!
If you did make it back to the sub, flip over the Ruin tokens you got this round. The number on the back is the points you’ve scored. Note that the one-pip Ruin tokens can be worth 0. Sucks, but, Poseidon is a whimsical character.
Now, remove all the blank tokens from the path and compress it so it’s contiguous, and then start a new round. Play continues until three rounds have passed, at which time the player with the most points wins!
Player Count Differences
The interesting thing about it is that it plays fairly similarly with large numbers of people because you can move further with more players (since there are more people you can skip over) even though the air runs out faster, as you need fewer turns to go deep into the depths. I’d say there’s no real difference at various player counts, as far as I’ve played, and it’s fun with any number.
It’s kind of a press-your-luck game, so it depends a bit on dice rolls, but there are still things you can do to be a bit more strategic.
- Generally, once someone has started going back, you probably want to start heading back, too. If you push too far into the depths, you’ll drown, and unless you get lucky with the rolls, you’re going to have difficulty getting back. You’d prefer not to drown, as you might guess.
- Don’t take more than three Ruin tokens, unless you’re planning on drowning. Sometimes it’s helpful to drown holding a BUNCH of Ruin tokens to try and make the path shorter, so that might be part of your strategy. I don’t really see it playing out that well, but you do you. You could also try to take extra Ruin tokens to try and drown other players, you insane monster. If you take more than three Ruin tokens, though, it becomes very difficult to move (since you take a -3 movement penalty with three movement tokens, and with 6 you cannot move). As you might also guess, you’d like to be able to move, otherwise you’re just dooming yourself to a watery grave.
- Generally you might as well pick up a Ruin token right before you get back on the sub. If you’re very close to the sub it might be worth trying to grab one of those one-pip tokens so you can just pop on the sub with some extra points. Be careful, though, as you might end up taking a 0-value token.
- I would say to go for the four-pip tokens a bit later in the game, once the path has shrunk a bit. If you dive too deep you’re likely to stay down there, so… maybe wait for it to come to you.
Other than that, just try to roll well.
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- Short, light, and easy to learn. It’s a great game for starting game night or bringing and teaching your family. Kind of bummed I didn’t get a chance to break it out for Thanksgiving / insert-your-favorite-holiday.
- Novel theme. Surprisingly not the only submarine-themed game I own (thanks, Captain Sonar!), but the idea of sharing a submarine to look for underwater treasure is pretty great.
- Cute aesthetic. It’s whimsical, which I appreciate, but I think that’s also consistent with the general style of games Oink puts out.
- Very portable. As is consistently a good thing about Oink games, you can basically take them anywhere. This one’s a bit more of a space hog than some of the others, but it’s still good.
- Manages to use the multi-round gameplay in a smart way. Since the path is constantly changing, having multiple rounds does make a lot of sense, so I appreciate that in this game. Generally, I get pissy when games have multiple-round “games” that don’t really have any significant state change between each round, solely to up the game’s play time.
- Fairly simplistic. I feel like this is a bit unfair, but it doesn’t have much depth (pun semi-intended). That’s fine, not every game needs to, but if you’re not looking for sort of a light game you might want to look elsewhere. That said, this can essentially be levied across the board at Oink Games, so I wouldn’t consider this to be a particularly strong meh; it just might be a meh for some people.
- It would have been nice to have a bit more art. I really enjoy the aesthetic, but it would have been cool to have art on the Ruin tokens or something. I can imagine how that’d up the cost of the game, though.
- The luck factor may frustrate some players. Not only the luck factor of what ruins tiles you draw, but also the luck factor of the dice rolling. Sure, there’s some luck mitigation by having the ruins tokens decrease your movement ability, but you might see some players confounded by the compounding luck elements of both, simultaneously. Just keep an eye out.
Overall: 7.75 / 10
Overall, Deep Sea Adventure is a lot of fun! I don’t think it has a lot of frills, but it’s a fun press-your-luck game with an aesthetic that I’m fond of. I’m especially fond of the theme, as there are (to be fair, an increasing number) not many submarine-themed games that I can think of, offhand, and unique themes always have a nice place in my game library. Generally, this sees a lot of plays from me when I’m starting (or ending) game night, as it’s simple enough that you can get into it without a ton of extra thought, but it’s still fun and has some depth to it. If you’re looking for a fun, quick game, Deep Sea Adventure is a pretty solid choice.