There’s a lot to explore in the deep, dark ocean. As a young start up explorer, keen to find alluring sea treasure, you set out on an epic adventure to the deepest depths to discover the most lucrative artefacts. Unfortunately, deep sea exploration is an expensive endeavour, and in order to finance the journey you’ve had to band together with a bunch of other similarly minded adventurers, rent a dinky old submarine, and begrudgingly share resources with them for your journey. Now it’s up to you to be the biggest oxygen hog, and ruthlessly leave your ‘colleagues’ breathless in order to secure the most treasure and have the most profitable Deep Sea Adventure!
2-6 Players| 30 Minutes | Designed by Jun Sasaki & Goro Sasaki
Deep Sea Adventure is one game in the ever expanding series of Oink Games’ small box series. All games in the series come in tiny form factor boxes, with simplistic cut-out artwork and minimal text on the box. Each game in the set has a distinctive play and theme, and are generally regarded as high quality, both in production and in design.
How does it work?
A game of Deep Sea Adventure is played over the course of three rounds. It is a roll-to-move game with a push your luck element. Players all begin each round on the submarine, with a path of treasure set out trailing off into the depths of the ocean. The sub starts with 25 ‘air’, which is shared by all players. The aim for prospective adventurers, is to leave the submarine, retrieve some treasure, and get back to the airlock before the shared air supply runs out (assume they are all connected to the sub with air hoses).
On your turn, you first decide if you would like to turn around to return to the submarine, or continue adventuring. After that, the player rolls two dice (essentially d3’s) and moves along the path. Skipping past any other players they run into, they will end up landing on a treasure token, which they can decide to pick up or not. Treasure is broken up into 4 levels, with each having a range of potential values. Players only find out how much collected treasure is worth at the end of each round.
On subsequent turns, players continue to decide direction, and roll to move, with an interesting catch. Once a player is carrying treasure, their movement is slowed by one point for each treasure they carry. In addition, at the beginning of their turn, they use up the shared air on the submarine by one point for each treasure they carry. In this way, players are racing against each other to get back with treasure before the air runs out!
Anyone left outside when the air expires drops all their treasure and rushes back to the sub empty handed, ready for a new round. After three rounds, players total up the points on their retrieved treasure and determine the victor.
What do I think?
I’ve played quite a few games of Deep Sea Adventure and it is always a lot of fun. The game scales really well for varied player count and has no rule changes to do so.
The Good Stuff
- Deep Sea Adventure easy to teach and learn. A simple two minute explanation will have everyone on board with the mechanics of the game, and after the first round (10 mins) everyone should have a good understanding of the strategy. New players always ask for a rematch!
- The game’s multiple round format lets new players improve quickly, and the increased stakes each round (more points) mean that new players who pick up the game over the first round aren’t really penalised by not knowing the strategy and doing terribly in the beginning.
- Everyone who has played this game has had the experience in the first round of the first game where they went out too far, ran out of air, and then went ‘Ahhh’ when the game clicked and the push your luck element of the game made sense. It’s a great feeling!
- Deep Sea Adventure is a ‘big’ game in a tiny box. It’s cute, and has great quality components. While it comes in a tiny box, nothing is tiny for the sake of being tiny (I’m looking at you Tiny Epic games).
- Supporting 6 players with such a small game is really cool.
- The game has a very interesting mechanism for player interaction – feels almost like a co-op but in reality it is a competition over an available resource (the air).
The Bad Stuff
- The push your luck factor of the game probably errs a little far to the luck side for some player’s tastes. While great for casual play (anyone might win if they are sensible) there isn’t a lot of scope for improving skill or strategy. This means that repeated plays don’t make players ‘better’.
- It’s not obvious the dice are d3’s, and a lot of people I’ve played with have been surprised to discover this after a few rolls. I always forget to explain this and it could have been made clearer using some other type of dice, but this is a minor issue.
- There is a large variance in the potential points a tile can have. You could do objectively better than another player (collect more high level pieces than them) but then have been unlucky and gotten all low value treasure where they got higher values. This can be pretty annoying!
- The player interactivity is very high and may leave some players feeling upset when they don’t get to achieve the goal. Being too conservative actually aids the other players, and playing high risk is generally bad for everyone but especially bad for you. It’s hard to find the sweet spot in between, and rare that all players can manage it in a single game.
In terms of ratio of game : box volume, Deep Sea Adventure has got to be very high on the charts. I was amazed when I first played at how a non-card based light game could be fit into the tiny Oink box, and am still impressed at how fun the game can be. It is a perfect family or party game because of the push your luck gameplay. Rounds always end with laughter when there are players who were way too ambitious and greedy trying to drag massive sacks of treasure back, only to have to drop them and scurry back with nothing. It can be a little bit of a challenge to get your hands on a copy depending on where you are, but if you get the opportunity, try it out!