Review – Dive! Diver! Die! from Black Dove Games

Review – Dive! Diver! Die! from Black Dove Games, designed by Ng Edwin, Terence Lei and Mark Tham

It has been really great to see how new board game designs are coming from designers in so many different countries. This is great for our hobby and shows that there are talented designers all over. Black Dove Games from Singapore have produced a family game for 3-5 players aged 12+ which may just be a breakthrough game from the Far East.

Have you ever gone diving for treasure in the depths of the sea? I’ve always enjoyed watching shows on deep sea diving adventures so I was immediately intrigued with Dive! Diver! Die! Make no mistake, this is not a simulation of diving for treasure but a simple game where the players are all diving to see if they can collect the most coins. Of course, things are not that simple as there are decisions to make about how deep you will go and how long you will remain beneath the waves, risking how much oxygen will be available.

In essence, this is a push-your-luck game which will challenge the players in a fun, entertaining way.

The game comes with very colorful components with very nice comic-stylized artwork by Shawn Yap. The main game board is laid out showing the different levels of depth for your dive with associated treasure levels – the deeper you go the more you can gain. There are chits for each player, coins and numbered Player cards,  Event cards, Oxygenator cards, various dice and tokens. The quality of the artwork is very good and sets the theme and tone for a fun, light game. The quality of the cards themselves isn’t the highest but this is a minor quibble and it would be a good idea to sleeve them. Overall, this is an attractive game.

Gameplay

The framework of the game has the players taking 4 diving expeditions. During the preparation phase, the players will  organize and plan how they will conduct each expedition by –

– Drawing from a good variety of Event cards which are used to help themselves or hinder the other players

– Choose player cards to represent the Maximum Scavenge Duration they will spend underwater before you head back to the surface.

– Roll dice to determine how much gold is available for the taking during the current expedition

– Choose the depth they are each willing to risk going to remembering that the deeper they go, the greater the rewards

– Reveal an Oxygenator card(s) to see how much Oxygen is available (and see how your plans may be already under threat…)

The Diving Phase follows where the players take it in turns to descend one depth at a time to arrive at their pre-planned target depth. At each level descended, they will roll the Oxygen die to see if there is a positive or negative effect on the amount of oxygen available – very nerve wracking…

Arriving at their chosen depth, the players then choose how long they want to risk scavenging against the threat of how much Oxygen is left. They will also collect a bonus coin at the deeper levels (very tempting) or choose a Jewel of Zakarra token if using the advanced rules.

Having completed their scavenging, the players will keep their booty in a temporary pile until they ascend safely having survived with enough Oxygen or if they run out of Oxygen, they panic and drop everything in a rush to get to the surface to survive. The players ultimately have to decide how deep to go and how long to stay there which makes for a very nice level of tension. In amongst this, the Event cards may help you or can be used to hinder others which means nothing is ever safe and clear until you can return to the surface with your treasure.

A bonus is paid to you if you are the sole survivor of an expedition able to return to the boat with treasure.

The game ends after the 4th expedition where the winner is the player who has collected the most gold.

Advanced rules call for the players to collect a pair of Clues which will lead you to the precious jewel which is worth 50 gold.

Overall, the game flow works very well and it doesn’t take long to get to grips and play smoothly. The rules are clear and well-written. There is little down-time between player turns.

Did it work for me?

This is a terrific light game and I would  highly recommend it as a gateway game to use with non-gamers. There is a real sense of fun about it which comes across even in the way the rules are written. The mechanics are clever and the mix of cooperation over oxygen, “take-that” player interaction using the Event cards and risky push-you-luck decision making works very well. Dive! Diver! Die! is refreshing to play compared to a lot of dry Euros. I applaud Black Dove Games and I am very excited to see what they come up with in future designs!

Boardgames in Blighty Rating – 9 out of 10


Family Friendly?

Absolutely. The rules are simple to understand. A very nice game for the family and I would think that 10+ would be an appropriate age range.

For more information about Black Dove Games go to – http://www.blackdovegames.com/

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