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The Reef

English language edition


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Ages Play Time Players
10+ 45 minutes 2

Designer(s): Christine Lehmann, Wolfgang Lehmann

Manufacturer(s): Kosmos, Rio Grande Games

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Product Description

The coral reef teems with vibrantly colored fish. Neptune has enlisted the aid of the players to breed specific varieties of fish to paint the reef in the colors of the rainbow. First, a player must find a coral card where the parent fish can meet. Then, the player looks for the right parents to produce the fish Neptune wants. All can be found in the waters flowing around the reef. With more reef boats and the right worms, a player is better prepared to succeed in his mission for Neptune.

Product Information

  • Designer(s): Christine Lehmann, Wolfgang Lehmann

  • Manufacturer(s): Kosmos, Rio Grande Games

  • Year: 2000

  • Players: 2

  • Time: 45 minutes

  • Ages: 10 and up

  • Weight: 323 grams

  • Language Requirements: This is an international edition or domestic edition of an imported item. Game components are language-independent. Manufacturer's rules are printed in English.

Product Reviews

 
 
 
 
 

Average Rating: 3 in 3 reviews


 
 
 
 
 
by Ed
WISH 3 COULD PLAY!
September 30, 2000

We have been playing this game every night since it arrived 2 weeks ago and still find it challenging and fun!

Briefly:

  1. Players start with one trawler (fishing boat) each and face each other across the 'river'.
  2. The river is 8 cards long and 4 cards wide, and 'refreshes' (ie. the content changes) after every turn.
  3. 2 rows of the river's cards (the ones closest to the players' trawlers) are face up while the 2 middle rows are faced down.
  4. Players are given 'worms' of different colors to start with and roll 2 dice to get more during their turn.
  5. The goal: use the right colored worms to buy corals, mummy and/or daddy fishes, pearls (which can be used as worms of any color), sharks (to chase away opponents fishes or to 'refresh' more of the river, or more trawlers.
  6. the catch: the kiddie fishes (random) determine which colored mummuy and/or daddy fish are needed to mate on a coral; you can only hook he mummy/daddy fish with either worm(s) of the same color or using a pearl.

It's very challenging because both players race to find matching mummy/daddy fishes to hook to their corals. And you don't know what's in the middle 2 rows of the river (you can use worms to find out) or what will be in the river after it is 'refreshed' (ie, change of river cards).

Players constantly face decisions as to what color worms to keep, when they should use their sharks, whether they should explore the middle 2 rows or the river, buy more trawlers, etc.

Yes, luck is involved, but not to the extent that you can lose the entire game (ie. not as much luck as say, Mille Bornes).

The cards are really nice and colorful. The only downside is that the rules don't clearly state how the river refreshes, and we feel that it would be better with more cards (now we quickly reach a stage where we re-use discarded cards).

Our other favorites are Settlers of Catan, Acquire, RoboRally; in-betweens/party are Leaky Pipe, Mille Bornes, Pirateer.

 
 
 
 
 
Lite fare, cute for spouses and non-gamers
October 04, 2000

The game is ok, but a little long for what it is plus it can drag. Luck plays a big part and the decisions aren't very challenging. Still, I kind of like the game, maybe because of the theme. It's relaxing.

We made the following variant, to minimize the luck factor, and to add some more decision making to the game:

1a) Each player starts with a reef in the first location of their side of the reef (next to their boat). This is to prevent one player from being blocked for a great deal of time and losing the game early on.

1b) When initially placing cards in the row closest to the players, each player takes 1 clam and 1 shark and 5 other random cards, mixes them and places them in their row. This ensures that both players don't start off too dissimilarly and have at least some control over their environment.

2a) At the start of the game place 4 cards face up off to the side.

2b) Rather then replenishing each player's side of the reef (the face up cards) from the face down deck, instead draw from the 4 face up cards, replacing each card as it is selected with one from the available card deck.

What this does is allow the players to control what goes in their row. One player won't get hosed early on because they have no reef or are stuck with unneeded fish.

We had a game where one player had two reefs and the other couldn't get one for many many turns. By the time they did, the first player had completed 2 pairs and was in excellent position. The trailing player had to spend many worms to reveal the hidden cards, and since a reef didn't come up, the first player was able to grab the needed fish. It made for a frustrating game for the second player.

 
 
 
 
 
Colorful and Tedious
October 24, 2001

This game has an excellent premise. What could be more fun than the birds and the bees, er, rather, fish breeding?

The cards are colorful, but not good for those with any type of visual color deficiency.

There are 60 reef cards in the deck. The layout takes up a lot of space--not a good game for a round table. The layout consists of four rows of eight reef cards, with the top and bottom row turned face up, the middle rows face down; this represents the reef. One end of the reef is the shore and the other is the open ocean. On the ocean end of the reef are laid out the 'offspring' cards showing the type of fish to breed. This results in four rows of 9 cards each; more than half the reef cards are in play already.

Play begins on the shore side of the rows. You must have a trawler on your side of the rows in order to get cards out of a particular column. You are given one trawler for free; subsequent trawlers cost three worms each. Trawlers must be added to columns sequentially from the shore side out--they represent the player's 'reach' into the ocean.

From here, it's a simple game of resource acquisition; get the proper color worms to purchase the mommy and daddy fish.

The tedium comes in when cards are purchased from the reef. The last segment of each turn is high tide--the water of the reef flows to the shore. All cards (except offspring) are shifted to fill in the spaces cleared by cards which have been purchased, plus face up cards with no fish are automatically removed when they hit the shore. This leads to a great deal of card shifting and shuffling and general confusion. It is, without a doubt, the worst mechanism I've ever seen in a card game. And it's just a nightmare if you play with anyone who is obsessive about neatness.

This game is unpredictable; it's mostly luck, though a little conniving is possible. It has a good 'screw your neighbor' mechanism in the shark card, but it doesn't provide enough amusement to overcome the shortcomings of this game.

While this isn't a worthless game, it doesn't quite reach the level of a 'good' game. I'm desperately searching for someone to take it off my hands.

Other Resources for The Reef:

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