Dark Imp has two different categories of Print-and-Play Roll-and-Write games: notepads and placemats. While notepads are smaller and low ink, placemats needs two sheets of paper per player sheet and are in color. Beach Life is the first placemat game I’ve tried.
Beach Life is made of up five mini-games themed around the kind of aquatic life you find at the shoreline. (Oysters, razor clams, starfish, sea snails and crabs, in case you’re curious) Each turn , someone rolls three dice. Each player picks two dice. One to choose a mini game (sixes are wild for this choice) and one to use in the game you choose.
Five times per game, you can use the third die as a second action in the mini game you choose. The first player to complete a mini game gets a bonus five points. If you can’t use a roll, you check off a No Roll box. When a player checks off their third No Roll Box, the game ends and high score wins.
Each of the mini games is pretty simple. Check off numbers or fill numbers in. The crab walking to the water is my favorite. Each successive number has to be plus or minus one to the last one. But the closer you get to the shore, the smaller the numbers have to be.
I went into Beach Life with low expectations. The artwork is child-friendly to the point where it would look at home in Highlights. Each of the mini-games would be too simple and limited to stand in its own.
However, having to balance the die rolls between the five games proved to be more interesting than I expected. Sometimes, the choices are obvious but balancing the rest of your play until you get the rolls you are hoping for is where the decisions are.
I expected Beach Life to be a game aimed at younger kids. Instead, it’s pretty solidly in casual gamer territory and in a fun way. In fact, it feels more original than any of the notepad line.
The biggest issue I have with it is that it’s ink heavy and ideally should be printed in color. (That’s pretty much the case for all the placemat games) That really limits it in my mind for larger groups, like classrooms. But I think that’s manageable for a smaller group.
Beach Life has left me more interested in Dark Imp and their placemat games in particular.
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