As my son gets older, I am trying to play more and more games with him, partly because I want him to unplug from electronics (not that I try to expose him to too much of that) and see the exciting world that games can bring you and partly because I am selfish and want another person to play games with me. We’ve tried various classics from my childhood and while they serve their purpose of teaching basic gaming skills, they don’t seem to hold his attention throughout a whole game.
Thankfully, there are great gaming companies out there who focus their catalog specifically on children and I would argue that the best one is Kids Table Board Gaming (KTBG). Presently, they have released Foodfighters, Problem Picnic, and Haunt the House, and I am the proud owner of all three. However, I am not here to tell you about those three games. Instead, I am going to tell you about their latest game currently on Kickstarter. It is called Wreck Raiders, and it plays 2-4 players ages 10+. It takes about 45 minutes to play, and it can be yours for a pledge of 38 Canadian dollars on Kickstarter!
In this game, you are the leader of a team of treasure hunters exploring a lagoon for shipwrecks. You will work on creating exhibits and aquariums for the museum, but also build up your own vault as well!
1. Place the board in the middle of the table.
2. Shuffle the four Treasure Piles face down in the respective groups, and place them near their respective spots on the board.
3. Put the three types of Baubles near the beach end of the board.
4. Shuffle the Exhibits deck and reveal a number equal to one plus the number of players.
5. Shuffle the three stacks of Aquarium tiles (bottoms, middles, and tops), and create a market with three face-up tiles of each stack.
6. Give each player a Player Mat, a colored Player Marker, and a certain number of Divers in their color based on player count.
7. Pick a random start player (which in my house is usually my son).
8. Take the box lid and flip it upside down to form the Dice Pool. You will use a certain number of dice based on player count. For the first turn of the game, the starting player will roll the dice into the Dice Pool (or in my case, my son will roll them every time they need rolling). Note: When you roll the dice, roll them with gusto! If any dice end up slightly in a bauble zone (square), place the dice squarely in there, so that it is obvious to all players and can’t be nudged out when someone (again my son) bumps the box lid and moves the dice by mistake.
Game Play – On your turn, you can perform up to four steps in the following order:
1. Take a Die From the Pool – Choose one of the remaining dice. If none are remaining, roll them as described above. Note: If the die is in a Bauble Zone, claim the indicated Bauble.
2. Move a Diver and Collect Rewards – Choose one of your Divers and move it to a numbered spot matching the value of the Die you claimed from step one. You may move to the beach or a wreck. You then get the appropriate Baubles or Treasures depending where your Diver went.
3. Claim One or More Exhibits (if you want to) – If one or more of your three display lines matches one of the Exhibits, you may claim it by discarding the appropriate Treasures. Note: It is possible to get bonus points by adding decorations or having Treasures in the exact order.
4. Buy One Aquarium Piece (if you want to) – Once per turn, if you have the appropriate baubles, you can claim an Aquarium tile. Note: You must start with a bottom, can have multiple middles, and only have one top.
The game will trigger when a player has a number of Exhibits equal to the number of Divers they started with. Final scores are based on Exhibits, Vaults, and Aquariums with the highest score being the winner!
Before I get into the review for this game, I’d like to say a little note about the company itself. Having played through all four games in KTBG‘s catalog, it has been fascinating to watch their company and their games mature. They have always aimed to publish games that kids and adults can play together, but with each subsequent game they release, they are introducing new mechanics, stretching our brains a little more, and helping us to grow as gamers.
1. The art and graphics in this game are phenomenal! Apolline Etienne (artist from other KTBG title Haunt the House) really knocked this one out of the park. The sea creatures are vibrant and life-like, and it’s great to see the variety of creatures from puffer fish to narwhals (a personal favorite of my wife).
2. The game play is intuitive but it provides you a nice crunchy feeling in your brain, deciding which dice to take and where to place your worker. Do I place my worker next to my opponent’s worker and give them a benefit too, or do I go somewhere else, so only I get the benefit?
3. There is also a nice tension of deciding what do with all the treasures and baubles you collect. Do I use my baubles to build my aquarium or for short term benefits like making a wild card or taking an extra treasure? And my treasures…oh boy, that almost feels press your luck. I get extra points for having the same colors and unique pieces on the colors, but if I grab a duplicate and can’t use it to build an exhibit, then I lose some points. Lots to think about!
1. About the only neutral I have is the game box being used as a dice pool as well. I love the idea in theory, because it is done like this in another game I love – Rattle, Battle, Grab the Loot. However, there is potential for this to end poorly. If the box gets crushed, ripped, or something else, then a large portion of the game is effectively ruined as well.
1. This is a nitpitck, but the game is recommended for ages 10+, and while that’s fair, I would argue not your average 10 year old. Most 10 year olds can grasp the basics and core of this game, but I can see where this game could be more geared towards a seasoned 10 year old gamer or an adult. In that regards, I would compare it to Takenoko in that it is approachable and easy to learn, but someone with more experience could crush you by optimizing their moves.
Bearing all this in mind, my family and I highly enjoyed this game. The game play is fun and engaging, the art keeps captivating you each time you play it, and the game always ends with you wishing you had just one more turn. These are the hallmarks of a great game. Highly recommended!
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Copyright 2018 Stuart Dunn