Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Aquamarine - Postmark Games knocks it out of the park again

Yes, if I was going to learn Poatmark Games’ Voyages, I was going to learn Aquamarine as well. (And, yes, Waypoints and Battle Card are also on the list)

Aquamarine is a Print-and-Play Roll-and-Write that is designed to be a multiplayer solitaire. Which means you can shove in as many players as you want without slowing the game down. That seems to have been Postmark Games general model, making games that are Covid friendly. 
(Meaning low-cost-point games you make yourself and play via video conferencing or solo. Games you never have to leave the house for, as long as you have a printer)

In Aquamarine, you are diving and looking at marine life. The board is a grid with features like fish and rocks and beacons. It also has layers. The deeper you go, the more oxygen you need to use. You get three dives per game but you are limited by both turns and oxygen.

Here’s the core mechanic. Each turn, you roll two dice.  You’re going to draw a shape that’s as many squares as one of the dice. But, if you pick the larger number, you have to pay the difference in oxygen. The first shape has to touch one of the boats at the top of the board. Every following shape has to touch at least one side of the last shape you drew.

So you aee drawing a path of odd-shaped boxes. And you score points for the sea life you enclose inside the boxes.

Other tidbits: there’s a day cycle and a night cycle, which affects some of the scoring. If you roll doubles, you not only don’t have an oxygen penalty, you draw a shape with two extra squares. 

There are four official maps, including one that takes up two sheets of paper. Each one has its own tweaks and there are fanmade maps as well. I’ve only been playing the first one so far but I’m already planning on laminating _at least_ all of the official maps.

The core idea, drawing in a path of boxes, is very simple but works very well. I have seen the mechanic of being able to adjust the shape of the boxes before but very rarely. It’s easy to understand and intuitive but it also gives you a lot of interesting choices.

The end result is a really good game.

I can’t help but compare Aquamarine to Voyages. Same designers, same publisher, same mission statement. And I think Voyages is a little stronger. The duties charts allow for greater customization of boards and I find the game play more tense. Voyages feels like a game system to me while Aquamarine has, so far, felt like a game with multiple boards.

With that said, Aquamarine is still an amazing game. It’s really fun and the mechanics are really flexible. There are times when the more relaxing game play is what you are looking for. And there are definitely people who I’d recommend Aquamarine over Voyages to.
Between Voyages and Aquamarine, Postmark games has hit  it out of the park twice for me.

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