There’s treasure below! A storied treasure map plots out the locations of several unplundered marine wrecks. But it’s obvious you are not the only one with this information! Gather your crew, stock your supplies, and set seas for the biggest treasure hunt of all time!
Deep Blue is a press your luck bag drawing game for 2-5 players that takes about 30-40 mins to play. It plays best with four players.
The game is setup by placing six basic sites face up randomly on the board, and the nine advanced tiles face down. Next, you’ll choose a scenario. There will be fourteen wreck sites for players to explore. All players get two boats in their color, a player board, a starting crew, and a treasure chest.
Players choose one of four actions on their turn: Recruit, Sail, Rest or Dive. You may recruit a crew member from the market by playing a card with the money icon (cards contain many icons and can be used to pay for different things based on that icon.) Crew members can do several things: protect you from hazards, allow you to sail further, or score bonus points.
To sail, you’ll play cards with the propeller icon and move your boats the number of spaces indicated (following the routes). You can move one or both of your boats, allocating the moves as you like. If you land on wreck tile, place your boat in one of the colored scout spots. Rest allows you to shuffle all the cards from your rest (discard) area back into your deck.
Dive is the most complicated of the actions. If one of your boats is on a wreck tile you may initiate a dive. Once a dive is initiated, players on neighboring sites can rush to the tile to take part. The dive leader takes the cloth bag and blindly draws a gem at a time, and everyone participating checks to be sure they’re still ok or may play crew cards to help with the dive. Gems designate hazards and treasure—divers can start to run out of air or find gold nuggets. Players may be knocked out of the dive by running into too many hazards. The dive ends when the leader decides to stop and all players score for the drawn gems. All players can also gain VP from crew cards played during this phase.
The game ends after the fourth sunken city is found. Players count their VP from the treasure chest to see who has won!
It should be noted that I have only two modes of play when it comes to blind drawn—foolishly cautious or entirely reckless. Once I’d played this a couple of times, I decided it was time to double down on reckless—it is a race for treasure, right?
I’ve mentioned it in other reviews, but I really like multi-use cards. Deep Blue does a nice job with this through crew cards, ensuring I can take all my actions with one hand of cards instead of three or four different types. Additionally, there’s a little strategy in using your hand effectively. Do I spend it all on moving further out or save some for diving?
Like most Days of Wonder games, this one features bold, bright art and some unique bits to play with—I found myself playing with the boats and treasure chests before the game started. Days of Wonder continues to combine color and symbols to accommodate players with vision issues, though sometimes things could blend into the bright backgrounds. Deep Blue also has a nice cast of characters—there’s diversity in the crew. However, a few folks at the table found the draw bag and gems a little small for drawing if you have larger hands.
Drawing from the bag as a group also heightened the suspense. A lot of games in this family tend to feel somewhat solitary, so having everyone on the edge of their seat awaiting the next pull really emphasized that cooperative competitiveness.
The variable setup also adds to the replay value and the scenarios gave enough twist to make a new game interesting without changing the rules radically. In particular, it ends up coming off a lot like the other games in Days of Wonder’s collection—easy to teach, fun to play, but not so much to put off younger or less experienced players. It’s probably not going to satisfy hardcore gamers, but not everything needs to—this is a great seaside holiday game for everyone to enjoy.
Easy to teach and a thrilling romp through the high seas, Deep Blue finds that the family fun treasure was inside us all along. Great table presence and a unique theme should entice most to the table, and quick to learn rules along with some fun push your luck mechanics should keep everyone laughing and chatting throughout the game. Deep Blue is not super complex, but a fun diversion that young and old could enjoy.
Final Score: 4 Stars – Fun bag builder that works for the whole family. Excellent use of multi-use cards. Could use a bigger bag and gems.
• Interesting theme kicks off the competition
• Great table presence
• Easy to teach and learn
• Bag and gems could be larger
• Small readability issues on tiles