Hey ho, awesome gamers!
Welcome to my review of Aquamarine, the new print-and-play, roll-and-write game from Postmark games.
I previously reviewed their last print-and-play game, Voyages back in January, so check that one out here!
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No. of players: 1-100
Designers: Matthew Dunstan and Rory Muldoon
Artist: Rory Muldoon
Publisher: Postmark Games
Time: 20-30 mins
So, Postmark Games have delivered again with a fantastic print-and-play, roll-and-write game and this one looks even more gorgeous than the last one!
Aquamarine is live on Kickstarter – Click here to Pledge!!!
In Aquamarine, you play as a deep-sea diver exploring an underwater world to see how many interesting things you can find before your air, or time, runs out. Each turn 2d6 are rolled and each player picks one of the results to determine how many squares they explore on the map. You begin at the surface and have to make your way down trying to use your dice rolls in the most efficient way possible.
When exploring, you must draw a rectangle enclosing a number of squares corresponding to the die roll you chose. If you choose the higher number than you lose air equal to the difference between the values.
Watch your air!
Air is a scarce resource. Each player has a maximum of three tanks of air to use, each with 12 air slots. If you run out of air in a tank, you must resurface and next turn start a new dive from the water’s surface.
Once you get beolow a certain depth, nine squares deep, you will be using an extra air slot each turn and below 16 squares deep, you will use 2 air slots per turn. Look out for the bubbles, though, as they will allow you to ignore air requirements for a turn if you cover them with an exploratory rectangle.
Time’s a Tickin’
Whilst trying to be economical with your air, time will be ticking away as well. The game has a maximum of 24 turns, each representing an hour of the day. The round tracker has 12 sections representing daytime and 12 representing night-time. Keep your eye on the clock, as not only will it help you plan your routes, but day and night have their own effects on the rewards available.
The combination of these two mechanics, air and time, represent the crucial tension in the game. Do you want to conserve air and descend more slowly with the potential of running out of time for later dives, or do you want to move faster and risk running out of air too soon?!
Whilst you are diving you will be on the look out for various items of interest and you will need to be very strategic in your thinking. Stingrays only score points during the day and Cuttlefish only score points at night and if you want to score a pair of Beacons, one must be discovered during the day and the other at night.
One nice mechanic is that each game you roll a d6 to determine what time of day you begin at. This means that you will want to adjust your starting positions or routes depending on that initial roll.
Each of the icons on the map will score you points, except the jelly fish which give you minus two, so watch out for them! Coral give you one point each, but only if you don’t enclose more than one type of coral in the same box. Fish can be a big earner, especially if you manage to get multiple fish in one rectangle, and the flags are big prizes.
Some of the most important items to get are the shipwrecks. If you manage to explore a whole shipwreck, using any number of boxes, you get to choose a special bonus. You can choose to buff your scores in cuttlefish, coral, flags, shipwrecks, beacons or stingrays. Landing multiple shipwrecks can be a game-changer, but some of them are really hard to get!
Aquamarine is really quick to get into and play. The rules are light and simple and even though the full colour map is lovely to behold, there are low ink options for those who don’t want to break the bank on colour ink!
What I love about Aquamarine is that although the concept is simple and rules are quick to learn, there is a fair amount of depth (pun intended!) to the game. It’s easy to play, but hard to excel at it. To achieve higher scores, one really has to consider one’s strategy carefully and use the dice rolls strategically.
There is a high level of challenge built into the game. I’ve played a bunch of times now, both solo and with others, and I don’t feel like I’ve clocked it at all. I keep coming back for more as there is always just one more prize a bit deeper that I know I can get with the right fall of the dice or the right strategy!
And I have only played one map! The team at Postmark games have assured me that new maps will be coming online over time as happened with voyages.
I’m really looking forward to seeing how this game develops and wish the Postmark team great success in their kickstarter for it!
And watch their lovely trailer:
I love Aquamarine. It is fun and challenging and highly accessible. Simple enough to explain to my 9 year old yet challenging enough to keep me coming back for more.
If you are already a fan of roll-and-write games, then I’m sure you will love Aquamarine, and if you are new to the genre, then this is a great game to introduce you to the concept. Go back it on Kickstarter, it will be well worth a few quid!
Let me know in the comments below if you intend to back Aquamarine on Kickstarter, and tell us your favorite print-and-plays, or roll-and-writes!