It’s hard to believe that we haven’t reviewed one of our family’s most played games. Today, we are righting this wrong and sharing our thoughts on Deep Sea Adventure from Oink Games. Are you ready to dive into the dark blue depths for treasure beyond your wildest dreams?
I’m going to start this review by saying that Deep Sea Adventure is deceptive. The graphic design is simple and unassuming. The gameplay of roll and move is accessible to even the most novice gamer. Deep Sea Adventure will lure you in then leave your little diver meeple lying dead at the bottom of the ocean. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that our family loves this game.
Deep Sea Adventure can be set up anywhere that you have a flat playing surface. At the top you set up a cardboard submarine that will keep track of all the players’ collective oxygen. Below the submarine, tiles are laid out going from single dot tokens down to the tokens with four dots. Be creative and lay these tokens out in any shape you want. Each token has a hidden value that represents a treasure value that is face down. This is how you’ll calculate your victory points after each of the 3 rounds in the game.
On a players turn, they will roll the two wooden dice and move that many spaces. Each die has the numbers 1 – 3 on them. The most a player can roll is 6 and the least is 2. When a player travels down into the ocean, they skip over any spaces that are occupied by other players. Having a line of people in front of you can be a huge perk if you want to travel deeper below the surface.
When a player lands on a token, they have to make a decision to take the token or leave it on the board. This is where the game takes a turn and becomes way more difficult than expected. For each token a player has collected during the round, they lower the communal oxygen level by that many points in future turns. They also take that number of points off their dice roll on their turn. A player who rolls a 4 and has 2 treasure tokens can now only move 2 spaces because the treasure is weighing them down.
As soon as that first player takes treasure, players start to grab what they can knowing that oxygen will become scarcer each turn. Deep Sea Adventure deceives players into believing they can make it back to the sub. Bad rolls and players grabbing more treasure will destroy any hope of getting back to the surface.
It’s very common for players to run out of oxygen their first time at the table while seasoned players are laughed at for only taking two turns and swimming back to the ship. Friends will turn into enemies as they take more treasure hoping they roll a perfect 6 every turn, which never ends up happening. I can’t count how many times I’ve yelled “Stop breathing my oxygen!” at my family and friends.
Deep Sea Adventure is a push your luck game that makes players interact with one another at the table and that’s why this pocket-sized game is so amazing.
If a player gets back to the sub, they can look at the values on their treasure tokens. If a player dies in the ocean, their treasure sinks to the bottom of the path. Each round the path gets smaller because the spaces where treasure was taken close up and the most valuable treasure at the bottom gets closer to the top.
I can’t say that Deep Sea Adventure is a strategy game. The dice dictate how fast and how far you travel. Bad rolls happen and can really impede players at times. BUT, if you go into Deep Sea Adventure without some kind of strategy, you’ll be left floating outside the submarine while your friends wave to you from inside counting their treasure.
The more I’ve played this game, the more conservative I get. I rarely take more than 2 turns before heading back to the ship on the first round. I only take risks toward the end of the game if I’m not in the lead. I’m cautious about how much treasure I take when rolls aren’t going my way. After drowning a couple times, the game teaches you not to be too risky.
Three rounds of Deep Sea Adventure take about 25-30 minutes. The game is so good and very different at every player count. With 2 players, it feels like a game of chicken as you work to get back to the submarine. At 6 players it feels like a chaotic face-off as you watch what everyone else at the table does.
This is not for the gaming snob in your life. If your friend or family member regularly says “dice are so antiquated and doesn’t give the player enough control”, this game will anger them. We love the challenge that Deep Sea Adventure gives because you aren’t guaranteed the ability to move. I’ve been that person sitting 1 space outside the sub rolling nothing but 2’s carrying 2 pieces of treasure (2-2=0). As frustrating as it can be, this game is such a blast to play.
The game is very accessible for both kids and adults. Last Christmas I got a kick out of watching my kids teach their grandfather how to play this game while laying around on the floor of the living room. The game is so portable that this is the game that gets thrown into Erin’s purse when we go for coffee or a date night.
Deep Sea Adventure is definitely not a game for everyone. No game is. If you are willing to accept the challenge of diving into the unforgiving depths of the ocean, there’s a lot to love in this tiny game.
Swim into your local game shop to grab a copy of Deep Sea Adventure or purchase it online through Amazon today.
- Scales well and feels very different at different player counts
- Ultra portable and can be played anywhere
- Easy to teach in under 5 minutes
- Dice…they may just kill you (and make you lose)
- Some may not like the “push your luck” aspect