We always like different kind of games and one of those great examples is the game Canvas which has transparent cards that you play with. After falling in love with that game, we were searching for games with a similar art style, that’s how we came across Dive. The gameplay is totally different, but in Dive you also play with beautiful big transparent tiles with all kinds of sea creatures on them. In this board game, you try to dive to the bottom of the ocean with your companions in search of sea turtles or mantra rays while trying to avoid sharks. The ocean remains a deep and mysterious place and you could come across many creatures on your adventure. We couldn’t wait to start so let’s dive in!
How to Play.
The setup is quick and easy in this game fortunately. If you don’t have a clear white table, place the sheet provided by the creators of the game in the middle of the table. You can then place the cardboard frame on it. Shuffle the ocean cards well by tossing, turning and flipping them around. Then place them on the cardboard frame. Place the descent board next to the ocean and choose your diver to play with. After choosing your diver board, also take five air tokens (numbered 1,2,3,4,5), a screen, a diver pawn that can be placed on zero of the descent board and a matching seashell token of your color. You are now ready to dive.
The game is played simultaneously in three phases. At the beginning of the first phase, each player takes their five numbered air tokens and play behind their screen. You have five spaces on your dive board where you can plan your dive with the air tokens. During this phase, your objective is to descend as deep as possible by guessing with the air tokens what you will encounter. Each air token has two sides. A normal blue side with a number and a side with a shark and number on it. At this point, you simply guess what you think you will encounter in the next five levels with the top space starting at level one. If you think you see a shark on level three (so after two ocean tiles), make sure you turn your air token to the shark side. If you think you see a turtle or mantra, make sure to bet high since they will help you descend faster. You can do this by placing a high number on the level where you think you see a turtle or mantra. You can even stack air tokens, like a five and a three for example, creating a higher number. If you do this, you can’t descend five levels this round since you only have five tokens.
Once each player is done planning, you all remove your screen to reveal your planning. Then one diver can remove each ocean card layer by layer to see what is on the card and to see if each player guessed correctly. If you encounter a shark, the air token of each player must be on the shark side on that level. If you encounter a sea turtle or manta ray, the creatures will help the player that has planned the highest number for that level. Everything else you encounter, like fish for example, is purely decoration. Is a player guessed wrong, they remove all the tokens starting from the wrong level. If there was a shark on level three for example, but a player didn’t place their air token on the shark side, then all air tokens from level three and lower are removed. If you have guessed all (or some) layers correct and they contain a green sea turtle while you have the biggest number planned, you immediately advance one space on the descent board, a red turtle will let you advance two spaces and a manta ray will take you to the next space occupied by the next diver if there is one.
When all of this is resolved, it’s time for the rest phase. For every level you have guessed correctly, you may now descent one space on the descent board. In this phase the values of the air tokens don’t matter anymore. If you reach the deep water on the descent board (number 16), the rules are changed a little. If you make a mistake in your planning while in the deep waters, you have to remove all of your tokens, even the ones who were already found to be correct. In the deep waters, the manta ray also won’t advance you any further. A manta ray can always only bring you to level 16.
You can also choose to dive with companions. Each companion has different abilities that you can use one time in the game. Like covering up the ocean tiles partly, or descending to level six for example. Playing with companions is optional.
You win the game if after the rest phase you have reached or surpassed space 23 on the descent board.
Playthrough of the game.
With me being a perfectionist and never wanting to make mistakes, I can say I was struggling. Especially in the beginning of this game, the ocean tiles lay in a very thick stack which makes it very hard to see clearly what even the top layer contains sometimes. Which is also why it’s such a brilliant design. But I decided I was going to try my best and started planning. I could see a shark, somewhere… Maybe level three? And do I see a turtle below it, or is it actually above it? This game is surprisingly hard in a fun and unexpected way. We also had a lot of fun every time we took away the screens. We both often had made very different decisions thinking sharks or sea turtles were on completely different levels. Often one of us or even both was wrong.
There was one pretty big minor in this game for us. When we tried to play this game in the evening without natural daylight, we found this was impossible to do so. We play board games the most often in the evening, so we were disappointed to see we couldn’t do that with Dive. We have tried to place lights underneath and on top of the game, but nothing seemed to light up the game in a playable way. Other than that, this game is a light, fun and easy game that doesn’t take a long time. It’s a lot of fun to discover what choices other players have made during the planning phase, or to discover all of you might have guessed wrong. There is even a simplified mode for kids for example, where you only have to locate sharks. The game also comes with a perfect insert that fits the constructed cardboard with the ocean tiles and all the other components on point. Lastly, the art in this game is really well and clever made. The ocean tiles contain a lot of art that can also distract you from the sea turtles and sharks. It fits the game really well.
Dive is a short guessing game with unique art on transparent tiles. The goal of the game is to be the first to dive to the bottom of the ocean by carefully planning what you think to encounter on your journey to the deep. The art in this game is very unique, but also cleverly can distract you from seeing to far into the ocean. The game is simple and easy to learn and even has a simplified mode to play with kids for example. The only negative part for us about this game is that we can’t play it in the evening if there is no natural light since normal lamps will reflect on the transparent tiles to much. Other then that, this is a lovely game that provides you with a small surprise with each ocean tile that is revealed. We are happy to have this in our collection.