The Dangerous Sea Sneak Peek
Demo copy provided by Dangerous Games to the reviewer free of charge. All logos and the name The Dangerous Sea are trademarks of Dangerous Games.
Svalfi Kolfinnsson fought the strong current, holding the sun stone up periodically to site their position. They had been moving upon the water for many settings of the sun, and while thus far the seas have been calm, Svalfi knew the gods were fickle, often seeking to test a warrior. Only the best entered Valhalla, and certainly not the weak, for Odin sought to surround himself with only the strongest warriors to fight the Fenris. Svalfi stowed his sun stone and placed both hands upon the till, pulling it slightly to the left. An hour’s time came and went and Svalfi began to fear his careful use of the sun had misled him. Suddenly a shout from the front of the longship struck his ears. LAND! LAND! His fellow vikings worked furiously at the oars, and within the span of 30 minutes the gentle scrape of sand against the bottom of the longship greeted his ears. Harvest may have been poor this year, but the thin tendrils of smoke on the horizon spoke of one thing. Men! Soft bellied weak men, with food and treasures ripe for the taking. Svalfi smiled, wiped the sea foam from his beard and stepped out of the Wyrm crested longship onto shore.
What is the Dangerous Sea?
The Dangerous Sea is a board game currently under production by Dangerous Games. It is designed by Daniel Wilson II with artwork and graphics by Gary J. Smith. It is for 2 to 4 players and I would set the age range from about age 10 and up. The theme of The Dangerous Sea centers around the life of Vikings. In specific players take up the roles of a Viking Jarl and his/her longship of raiders. The players make decisions every round to either explore, scout, sail or make war on fellow viking tribes. While they are “viking” or raiding they also may encounter runes. The first player to collect 5 runes wins the game.
What is included in the box?
- 4 Player Pawns and 1 Ghost Ship Pawn
- 1 Season Clock
- 20 White Cargo Cube
- 1 Pad of score sheets
- 1 Compass Die Roll Reference Chart
- 48 Yellow Resource Cubes
- 16 Sea Cards
- 8 six sided dice
- 24 Rune Stone discs
- 1 Game board
- 144 Sea Tiles
It should be mentioned this review is on the demo copy there may be more or less included in the finished product. Setup of the game materials took less than 10 minutes and once all the stickers were placed on the discs and pawns setup generally takes 5 minutes or less.
Play begins in the spring. Historically, The Vikings endured the long hard winter, sowed there crops at the beginning of spring and sailed out upon the seas afterward for raids. The game follows this ideal. Players are given a number of action points to spend each turn. The number of action points directly relate to the number of players. In my test I was only able to play with 2 players so we had 6 action points every turn. The longships weight can also determine action points as well, lowering your action point pool if your ship is overloaded.
On a player’s turn they can do the following actions which all cost 1 action point
- Look – Spend 1 action point to pull out a tile and place it adjacent to your current tile. This prevents you from sailing into something dangerous and losing crew
- Sail – Move your pawn onto a revealed tile that is adjacent to you. If you land on a tile with resources or crew claim them and add them to your score card. Once a resource or crew is taken, flip the tile over to show it is exhausted.
- Explore – Some choose reward over risk, and instead of looking and being cautious will boldly forge ahead throwing caution to the wind. Move and reveal a tile and reap the rewards or consequences
- Scuttle Cargo or Crew – if your ship is to laden down or your crew are eating faster than you can provide them food and water, you have to option of scuttling it. If you scuttle in the open water, whatever you get rid of is lost forever to the waves. If you scuttle near an island you can leave the resources or crew there for yourself later or someone else to pick up.
- Combat, the very thing Vikings are known for is quick and easily handled affair. If you land on a tile with another players pawn, you may initiate combat. Players both roll dice equal to the number of crew members plus the captain. The player with the highest sum wins.
- Bookkeeping – Tally any new resources, rune stones or crew, subtract ten units or “fisk” (Viking measurement of weight) of food and water for each crew member beyond the captain each turn.
If combat occurs the winner and the loser negotiate over the spoils. There are standards in place that allow the winner to negotiate or ask for: ( I will note here the manual was a little confusing, but from later inferences in the manual I “think” you only get to choose one of the options below not all)
- An amount of food or water equal to the amount by which they beat their opponent x 10
- Kill the difference in sailors between you and your opponent (Example: if I have 7 sailors and my opponent the loser has 10 sailors they now lose 3 sailors bringing their total to 7)
- A Rune Stone
- Stop the losing player from moving any further this turn (This is only done if the loser was the current player this turn)
Non-player resolution Turn
Once all players have completed their individual turn it is time for the other elements to have a go. First one player draws a sea card, two sea cards if it is during the winter. One of three outcomes may occur:
- Calm Seas – a nice peaceful day for looting on the open waters
- Storm – Roll a die and consult your compass to see which direction the storm blows everyone’s ships. Everyone’s ship will move one tile in that direction. If you roll a 5 or 6 you roll again. If you do not roll a 1-4 by the third try, everyone weathers the storm.
- Ghost Ship – The Ghost Ship comes out to play, by rolling two dice, one for the row and the other for the column the ship appears in. For normal movement use the compass chart and a dice to decide which direction the Ghost Ship moves. On 1-4 the Ghost Ship ALWAYS moves four tiles in the direction the compass gives. If the Ghost Ship lands on a tile with another player on it, it initiates combat with the player. If a 5 comes up all players roll one dice and the lowest becomes the Ghost Ships next victim. The Ghost Ship immediately moves to their tile and attacks. If the dice comes up 6 the Ghost Ship does nothing for this turn. When the Ghost Ship wins combat it always kills one of the crew members of the player who lost. If they have no crew members they flip their score card over and cannot participate in combat till their next turn.
Other aspects of play not mentioned
So when play begins there is just a blank game board. The 4 corners each have a open sea tile and this is where players will start play from. All the tiles are within a big bag, shaken and the active player reaches into the bag to select one random tile every time they look, or they explore. As players move around the board exploring or looking, more tiles appear. Each tile serves a specific purpose. They fit into the following categories:
- Food – 30 units or fisk of food; flip it over when you take the resource, flip it back over once it hits spring as it generates another resource
- Water – 30 units or fisk of water; flip it over when you take the resource, flip it back over once it hits spring as it generates another resource
- Crew – One villager you recruit to your ship if you have less than 5 crew; flip it over when you take the resource, flip it back over once it hits spring as it generates another resource
- Rocky Island – This rocky island damages your hull, Roll a die to determine what you lose
- Island of Disease – Roll a die, on 1-4 you lose that many crew members on 5 or 6 you escape without harm; If you have no crew your turn ends here because you are sick
- Rune Stone Island – take one rune stone from the rune stone bag and flip the island over; it does not replenish in spring
Overall Impression of the Game
The game plays quickly. Very quickly in fact. In the space of an hour we got in two play sessions. It reminds me a lot of Settlers of Catan in some facets. Certainly the gameplay is comparable and while the rules are fairly simple, there are still many strategies that can be put into use. For a Demo copy the game pieces were pretty decent. I have seen games go all the way through the process and not have the quality level the demo copy does. The white cargo cubes really do not feel like they have a solid purpose. With the resource yellow cubes they make sense as once the the board gets full it is very hard to flip tiles. Instead of flipping tiles you place the yellow cube down on the tile to represent a resource being available.
I can say for certain this game will make the rotation in Casa Bishop. Were I a major game developer, I would be talking with Mr. Wilson. I could easily see this game gaining some traction in the board game community with the right backing. Currently, Kickstarter plans are on hold but you can keep up to date by following Dangerous Games on Facebook and Twitter. The Developer also has a company website and currently offers a way to print out and make your own custom The Dangerous Sea game. I really do hope that things work out for Mr. Wilson. The Dangerous Sea promises to be a great game and if you can get a hold of a demo copy or make your own, I highly suggest it.
Until next time,
Keep rolling them bones!