Deep Sea Adventure —

Deep Sea Adventure is cute, but fundamentally broken. The idea of diving for treasure is a good one, as is the twist of having to come back before depleting a shared oxygen supply. And yet, the implementation of those ideas does not work, leading to a game where the best move is to crash it entirely.

The actual mechanics are very simple. A path of treasures extends from a submarine, with the best prizes being the furthest away from it. You roll a dice to move down the path, but the more treasures you have, the slower your stroll.

Picking up treasures also causes the oxygen counter to move down. And it’s a shared supply so the greedier players are, the quicker it counts down for everyone. So there’s this need to grab the most valuable treasure you can and then quickly come back to the ship.

All necessary elements for a fun “push your luck” game are there. The problem is that players incentives are all wrong.

Since the supply of oxygen is shared and picking up treasures makes it deplete faster, a player can easily drown everyone by picking up treasures aggressively out of the gate. And if you are in the lead, it’s the best way to make sure you stay on that lead. At best, nobody gets any points and you win with your first treasure. At worst, someone gets a low-scoring treasure and you are still ahead.

It’s a particularly powerful strategy because players who are losing can’t stay back like the leaders do. They must travel farther and take more risks to grab more valuable treasures. But doing that only makes them more vulnerable to sabotage. There’s no way to prevent it, you either try to go deep and sink or try to match the leader and lose because he was already ahead.

Ultimately, most of my plays of Deep Sea Adventure have ended up the same way: With one or several players deliberately tanking the game to prevent scoring. And that’s not a very fun game to play. It’s not what the design tries to do and far from an interesting experience.

DESIGNJun Sasaki, Goro Sasaki
3-6 (Not best with any number )LENGTH20 Minutes

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