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Store:  Strategy Games
Theme:  Fish
Format:  Board Games


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Play Time Players
45-210 minutes 2-6

Designer(s): Dirk Schleef, Meike Jacobsen

Manufacturer(s): Jacobsen Spiele, Schleef

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Product Information

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 2 in 2 reviews

by Dr Jay
Will my air tank last, or should I call Baywatch?
November 26, 1999

Too many reviewers say the game lacks punch. Yet, our three-player (up to six can play) game proved Diver convincingly achieves balance and promotes playability.

Diver takes more than beautiful components to become playable. We found the decisions on what tanks to purchase and the movement with the deeper parts of the ocean challenging. Our small tanks could be purchased for 20 units, the medium tanks for 40 units, and the large tanks for 60 units. The contract cards with six assigned fish photos to fulfill and circles for slide show snapshots proved difficult to obtain. You could only obtain two snapshots, with one being the assigned fish if you preferred, for each turn. It took three snapshots or two turns to give a lecture in the bar.

The silhouettes of the fish were difficult to ascertain at times. One fish from a distance and its coloring looked like another one. It was fun to charter a boat for 20 units (You start the game with 120 units) and choose the appropriate air tank. Once we mastered the mechanics of the game, the air tanks and their numbers made more sense. You take your colored flipper and move it down one notch on the appropriate oxygen cylinder each time movement occurs. Let's say you have a blue streak on the board with -6. You have a nine on your air tank for your movement. You are allowed to only move +3 because of the subtraction. That kind of analysis can play havoc with making sure the player can return to the boat before all the air is used up. Two of our players did not return to their boats in time, and they were forced to pay 60 units instead of 20 when chartering another boat.

Once you had three snapshots of different marine animals, you could give your lecture. That experience entitled you to 120 units on the next round. You win the game by how many units are accumulated throughout the play rounds. Your goal is to achieve six different assigned fish pictures, which are worth 200 units apiece. The snapshots are worth 40 units apiece.

The event cards make the game more balanced. The explanation of the event cards in the English rules helped tremendously. I would like to have seen the event card explanations better alphabetized for ease of reading, though. As one of the three players commented, you are winning the game at one point and losing at another juncture. One event card worked well for all us, the one that gives you an extra snapshot for the bar lecture. That card, also, if held at the end of the game, gives you 40 units the same as any other snapshot obtained.

Boldness can get one in trouble fast with the game. You think a dive is possible with a small air tank, and then the trip back to the boat doesn't occur. In certain deep waters when seeking a turtle assigned fish picture, I should have gone with a heavy tank instead of a medium tank. Also, the marking of the red arrows for the currents forces the diver to take a long route to reach the prized photo. Fortunately, another player drew an event card for storms, and we were all forced to return to the boats by the shortest route.

As I viewed the other players, they continued to accumulate assigned fish pictures up to four. In a desperate move, I returned to the Dive Center and decided to purchase a heavy tank and swim some distance for the specially decorated fish. Also, with only two boats in the game, I was forced to make that decision. You may, also, if the boat is in dry dock, hitch a ride with a fellow diver. The catch becomes: Is that fellow diver going in the same direction you are? You still have to pay 20 units to the bank for the privilege of hitching that ride. Only three divers can ride in any given boat.

Some major holes in the rules occurred, and house rules had to be quickly instituted. Here are some of our major consternations:

  1. If you have storms and jelly fish stings, do you have to give up any picture taking at the point of drawing those event cards?
  2. When randomness is called for by the event card, is the affected diver expected to move in a particular direction? We decided on a house rule of 1-2, one way, 3-4, another way, and 5-6 die roll, a third way.
  3. When the diver is asked to move back with an event card, must the diver retrace his steps instead of moving any direction?

The game reached a climax when one player achieved five assigned fish pictures. The other players had secured four assigned fish pictures. The game was called because of the lateness of the hour with the following scores: 1,160 units, 1,040 units, and 1,020 units. Those close scores tell us the game turns out with fairly good balance. It is not so much competing with other players as competing with yourself. You experience a technique similar to the ones with railroad games. The group agreed, in spite of the frustrations, Diver had more going for it than simply filling air tanks and looking for handsome fish.

You probably wonder if that long swim worked. It did, because the heavy tank gave me just enough air to find the assigned fish and return to the Dive Center. As one of the players commented who had scuba dived, the realism of the game was apparent throughout the evening.

Great Atmosphere - Weak Game
May 18, 1999

In this game you and your fellow players are scuba divers looking for that perfect combination of undersea snapshots. The variables are oxygen tanks which come in various sizes (the larger cost more and let you stay out longer), the random board setup (the board consists of a central island which is surrounded by six randomly positioned areas of currents and reefs) and random event cards.

First, the low points - For the non-German speaker, the cards are all writing with no pictures to aid the memory as to what the card does, so the first couple of games will involve a lot of looking back at the translation. In addition, this is a game of run-around and get objects before someone else does. There are very few strategies that succeed for this game. The random event cards try to spice this up a little, but they truly are random and usually end up just muddying the waters. Enough random event cards later, the players figure out who have the most money left after acquiring the appropriate pictures and a winner is declared... and promptly look for some other game to play.

With that said, the good points - the components are the most beautiful I have seen in years, possibly some of the best ever. The board is bright and colourful. The jigsaw puzzle assembly of the board for variety is clever. The playing chits have really nice photos of sea life. The plastic boat and aqualung pieces are large, sturdy and colourful. The box has a molded storage bin for each piece. A lot of thought went into the presentation. Way to go guys.

With that said - who should buy this? Someone who is very into scuba diving or underwater photography.

I guess the bottom line is: great components in search of a game.

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