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Awards

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • Clever worker placement / dice allocation combination
  • Easy to teach / learn
  • Very good Solo mode
  • No downtime between turns
  • Great components and Artwork

Might Not Like

  • Table hog
  • Very little variation between games
  • The vault side of the player mat seems underpowered
  • Set up and tear down is a little long for a simple game
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Wreck Raiders Review

WRECK RAIDERS

How do you like your board games? If you are like me you will like beautiful components, easy to learn rules, a unique twist on a familiar gameplay mechanism and a cool Solo mode that gives you the feel of the main game whilst adding something new. Wreck Raiders by Kids Table Board Games (KTBG) does all that and more.

Gonna Need A Bigger Boat

This is a 30 to 45 minute game for 1 to 5 players all about diving for treasure and building exotic aquariums. It uses a combination of worker placement and dice allocation together with resource management and set collection.

KTBG have once again managed to fit a lot of components into a very small box without compromising on quality. Not only are you getting a lovely looking main board representing a beach and surrounding sea full of shipwrecks, you also receive 6 diver meeples per player as well as crab meeples for scoring and player mats, lots of seashells, starfish and conches, exhibit cards, 6 dice, 1 reef board, lots of treasure tiles (more than are noted in the rule book), and a lot of aquarium pieces. This is the retail version of the game and yet it feels like a high quality deluxe edition.

The only problems with all of these components are the set up / tear down time and table space needed to play comfortably especially at the higher player counts. Towards the end of the game each player will have their player mat, exhibit cards and numerous aquariums in front of them causing a bit of table squeeze.

Dive, Dive, Dive

Have you noticed the inside of the top of the box? It is also a component for the game. Not only is it used for scoring (by moving your crabs around the outside track) it is also used during the game for rolling your dice. You will see there are 9 spaces within the box that contain pictures of the shells, conches and starfish. If any of the dice land on these spaces (even just touching them) you move these dice to the reef board showing the same picture (the other dice are just moved to the empty space of the reef). Then the starting player will draft a die and take a bonus shell if the die was in the shell space etc.

With this drafted dice you place one of your divers in a spot with the same number either at the beach or in one of the four wrecks. The benefit of the beach is it provides more shells, conches and starfish which can be used to modify the dice, purchase aquariums, and several other handy uses.

When a diver is placed at a wreck you gain one random treasure of that wrecks colour (if you pay a shell you gain a second treasure). If another player’s diver was already at this exact location you kick them out to the beach (where they will get the bonus for landing at that beach space). If there are other divers in the spaces next to your placed diver, they also receive a treasure from that wreck. This makes the dice drafting very important as you could place one of your divers next to two of your others resulting in 3 treasure tiles coming your way.

Sunken Treasure

With your recently acquired treasure tile you have two choices of where to place it, either in your display face down where it can be traded at a later stage for an exhibit card (which matches the displayed treasures) or in your vault face up for end game scoring.

The exhibit cards provide good scoring opportunities as well as bonuses for completing them with the treasures in the same order as shown on the cards. They also trigger the end of the game when a certain amount, depending on player count, has been claimed by an individual player.

The vault on the opposite side of the player mat seems less useful and the maximum score obtained from this is far less than could be obtained from the exhibits. It is a shame that there isn’t a bonus such as shells for completing lines in the vault which would push you to use it more often.

Aquariums

Once per turn you can purchase an aquarium piece by spending the printed cost of shells, conches and starfish. The bottom and middle pieces of the aquariums provide points (quite a lot of points which cannot be ignored otherwise you will lose to the players who took advantage of them) whilst the top of the aquarium provides bonus points depending on the cost of all of the other pieces of that aquarium, for example 2 points for each shell. You must always purchase a bottom piece first and after that, you can purchase as many middles as you want before you place a top piece.

Who’s Treasure Chest Is Best?

The game continues with all players drafting a die (re-rolling whenever necessary), placing their divers, collecting treasures, claiming exhibits and building aquariums until a player has claimed the required amount of exhibits to end the game. At this point, all other players have one more turn and end game scoring is calculated. You will score your exhibit cards, aquariums, and treasures in your vault. The winner is the player with the highest score. Tiebreakers are the first most leftover treasure in displays and the second most leftover seashells.

Diving For One?

The solo mode for this game is great, however just like the rules booklet advises I would say don’t attempt the solo mode until you have a good grasp of the game in multiplayer first.

The solo mode changes quite a lot of the game and unlike other games with a solo mode you are not playing against an A.I. player instead it feels like you are playing against a clock. In the best case scenario, you will have 6 rounds to get the best score possible but it could be a lot less than that if one of the end game triggers occurs. Once you have finished you compare your score to a table to see how you did. The solo mode is clever and distinctive and gives you that ‘one more go’ feeling.

Final Thoughts

I really like this game with its beautiful components, simple gameplay, clever use of dice combined with worker placement and fast game time, however there are a few drawbacks such as the tablespace needed (especially at the higher player counts), the set up and tear downtime, and very little variation between plays.

It is difficult to review this game without comparing it to another KTBG beauty which is Creature Comforts. They both have a clever use of workers combined with dice allocation, great components and art, simple enough rules and a good solo mode. However, where Creature Comforts nudges ahead for me is the push your luck mechanism and variation between plays. Saying that Wreck Raiders solo mode is fantastic and gives a completely different feeling to the multiplayer game.

I would say there is room in everyone's collection for both games and I would recommend Wreck Raiders for a great diving, treasure collecting, shell spending, aquarium building time.

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • Clever worker placement / dice allocation combination
  • Easy to teach / learn
  • Very good Solo mode
  • No downtime between turns
  • Great components and Artwork

Might not like

  • Table hog
  • Very little variation between games
  • The vault side of the player mat seems underpowered
  • Set up and tear down is a little long for a simple game

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