Deep Blue – The Review

This is for #Blogmas 2019 day 25. As such this is a bit quicker than my usual reviews. At some point I’ll come back to this and dive deeper into it.

Deep Blue is a push-your luck game by Days Of Wonder. In this game players control 2 boats as they traverse the big blue heading for diving sites and then diving for sunken treasure.
Each player has a starter deck of four cards and can use these cards to either purchase extra cards in a quasi deck-builder style or to move their two boats about on the central board.
In a turn a player can:
1. Play cards to move boats.
2. Play cards to buy extra cards.
3. Resting – all played cards are placed in each players’ personal discard pile, these are shuffled and three are added to the hand.
4. Diving
Once a boat reaches a dive site, they are placed in one of the available bonus slots that either assist with a dive, or improve the rewards from a successful dive. When a player declares they are going on a dive (by putting the diving bell on the appropriate spot) players who have boats at adjacent locations may rush their boats there (but not on a bonus spot).
The lead diver then draws gems out of the bag. There are 19 gems to start off with but more can be added during the game. 8 of the gems represent diving hazards (4 oxygen depletions and 4 monster encounters). The diver can draw gems from the bag until they either choose to stop or draw more hazards than they can deal with. The first oxygen and monster is freely overlooked, but the subsequent require either a diving bonus or a card in hand. If the dive is successful all players get the full points. If not, only those players who could counter the final hazard get the points.

This is one of the more basic games from Days of Wonder, but there’s still enough going on to keep it interesting.
The push-your-luck mechanic is always a divisive one, so if it’s not a thing you like in games, this is probably not the game for you. However, I did enjoy the level of stress and indecision that builds up with the drawing of each gem, even if it’s not me doing it – or even invested in that particular dive. There can be a certain element of pure luck, for one dive I drew two oxygen gems and that was that.
As usual with games by Days of Wonder, this is a beautiful game with well-produced components. All the cards are fully illustrated and the gems are a mixture of opaque or translucent. There are some Captain’s Log cards which add special rules for four dives in each game, which is a nice way of giving each game a different feel. However, the cards themselves haven’t got the rounded corners that most playing cards have and feel like they’ve just come off the guillotine.
Each player is also given a rather snazzy plastic treasure chest to hold their victory points in. This does seem to be a little bit over the top, particularly as all the previous Days of Wonders games have 1-sided VP tokens that simply sit face-down in front of each player. They’re nice, but unnecessary – had they been made out of wood, they would be better still.

Final thoughts:
I liked this game but I can see fans of previous Days of Wonders titles feeling a little underwhelmed as this is not as meaty has they rest. Having said that, knowing Days of Wonders’ propensity for throwing out expansions for their games, I would not at all be surprised to see a slew of expansions bigging up the game over the next few years. I would probably get them too.

Score: 4 out of 5.

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