Summer is for Gaming

Art by Sophie Blackall

Summer Reading is coming right up and this year’s theme is Oceans of Possibilities. There are sooo many awesome games about Oceans and Fish and Merlife that we could not choose!

Here are some titles you might want to use in your programs this summer.

Board Games

Aqualin: Tile Laying Game

• Designer: Marcello Bertocchi
• Publisher: Kosmos
• 2 players
• 20 minutes
• Age: 10+

Publisher Description: “There’s turmoil at the reef, with different sea animals forming swarms again and again. Each turn in Aqualin, the active player selects one of six stones and places it on an empty field. One player is trying to make groups of the same color, while the other is forming groups of identical sea creatures, with players having the ability to move a stone before placing a new one to form new swarms. The larger the group, the more points it’s worth, and whoever scores the most points wins!”

Deep Sea Adventure: Push Your Luck Game

• Designer: Jun Sasaki & Goro Sasaki
• Publisher: Oink Games
• 3-6 players
• 30 minutes
• Age: 8+

Publisher Description: “A group of adventurers got together on a submarine to try and gather the treasures that sleep at the bottom of the sea. Everyone geared up in diver suits, but having a very old submarine means sharing the same oxygen tank. If one of them dives too deep, the other divers’ lives will be on the line! Will the adventurers make it back to the submarine safely?”

Noctiluca: Dice Placing Game

• Designer: Shem Phillips
• Publisher: Z-Man Games
• 1-4 players
• 30 minutes
• Age: 8+

Publisher Description: “On the warmest nights of the year, the otherwise quiet waters are filled with shimmering lights as the dormant noctiluca awaken. Renowned for their restorative properties, the noctiluca are desired by many healers. Only the most skilled divers can navigate the waters to collect these mysterious glowing creatures and deliver them to healers across the land. Can you catch the embers of the sea”

Oceans: Strategy Board Game

• Designer: Nick Bentley, Dominic Crapuchettes, Ben Goldman, Brian O’Neill
• Publisher: North Star Games
• 2-4 players
• 30-90 minutes
• Age: 12+

Publisher Description: “Oceans is a strategy game where you create a vibrant web of marine life through millions of years of evolution. It depicts the boundary between the known world near the ocean’s surface, and the unknown mysteries lurking in the deep.”

Reef: Pattern Building Game

• Designer: Emerson Matsuuchi
• Publisher: Next Move Games
• 2-4 players
• 30-45 minutes
• Age: 8+

Publisher Description: “In the game Reef, players take on the role of a coral reef, carefully selecting colors and patterns in which to grow and expand. On each turn, players can choose to pick up a new card from a choice of four, or play a card that is already in hand. Each card provides two reef pieces and a pattern that scores points if the existing reef has it (after placing the two new pieces). Whoever has the most points when the reef pieces (or card deck) run out wins!”

Tsuro of the Seas: Board Game

• Designer: Tom McMurchie & Jordan Weisman
• Publisher: Calliope Games
• 2-8 players
• 20-40 minutes
• Age: 8+

Publisher Description: “In Tsuro of the Seas, you will sail the treacherous waters of the Mystic Seas in an engaging game of adventure and suspense! As the captain of a mighty ship, you will navigate the seas by placing wake tiles to direct your vessel. Take great caution to avoid your opponents’ ships and the dangerous daikaiju (monsters) lurking under the surface. Guide your ship with a steady hand and be the last captain sailing to survive the Mystic Seas and win!”

TTRPGs

Alas for the Awful Sea

• Designer: Hayley Gordon & Vee Hendro
• Publisher: Storybrewers
• 3-5 players and 1 GM
• 60+ minutes
• Age: 13+•
• Available in PDF: https://storybrewersroleplaying.com/shop/alas-awful-sea-pdf/?v=7516fd43adaa 

Publisher Description: “Alas for the Awful Sea is a story-focused tabletop roleplaying game about a ship’s crew navigating the remote British Isles. There, they face a world consumed with suspicion, sadness, and desperation.Struggles for power have deadly consequences; mysterious disappearances plague the region; and those who seem human may not all be so. Amidst all this, the sea sends forth strange messages. Will you be the one to listen?”

Submerged: Solo Journaling

• Designer: Dale Blackburn & Peter Graham
• Publisher: Arcane Atlas Games
• 1 player
• 15+ minutes
• Age: 10+
• Available: PDF https://atlasarcane.itch.io/submerged

Publisher Description: “In this game, you take on the role of a daring explorer aboard a submersible. You have been charged with venturing into the depths of the ocean, to find something wondrous and undiscovered, hidden deep below the waves.”

What Waits Beneath: Solo Journaling

• Designer: Nevyn Holmes & Julie-Anne “Jam” Muños
• 1 player
• 15+ minutes
• Age: 10+
• Available: PDF https://forktwenty.itch.io/what-waits-beneath & Physical https://www.dinoberryjam.com/studio/p/what-waits-beneath 

Publisher Description: “In What Waits Beneath, prompts will guide you to write about your unique journeys to the depths. In What Waits Beneath, prompts will guide you to write about your unique journeys to the depths. You’ll be playing a game similar to the classic card game, Memory. With a 5×3 spread of face-down cards, you will roll dice and flip cards to try to find treasures lost at sea.”


Like our list? Would you like to write one for GameRT? Let us know at GameRT@ala.org!

One comment

  1. Thank you for this list, but I’m surprised you did not include the following video games:

    -Abzu (“deep water” in Sumerian and Akkadian languages): a worldless relaxed game with somewhat unusual controls. You play as a female driver, explore the sea and interact with the creatures while being accompanied by some strange droids. You can also sit and meditate watching the animals in the meantime (some of them will be eaten by predators). Kudos for its debunking our almost unnecessary fear of sharks and its ecological message. It can be played on the PC, Nintendo Switch and PlayStation 4. One last thing: the animals all have their common name in English.

    -Beyond Blue: made in collaboration with BBC studios, it is set in the near future. You play as Mirai, a woman of color who is a scientist and explorer of the sea. Interact with the local fauna, meet mysterious creatures, “collect them all”, study sperm whales songs and chat with your fellow scientists, while something bad is happening nearby in the ocean. This is an educational yet fun game, in which you can unlock informative videos while playing. It was created by the same developers of Never Alone.

    – In Other Waters: a xenoscientist from the future discovers a peculiar computer on an alien world. We will play as it. Minimalist graphics with gorgeous color palette, lots of reading, information about earth marine biology and a strong ecological message make this game one of my favorites. It can be played on PC and Nintendo Switch, as far as I know.

    -Endless Ocean & Endless Ocean 2: the oldies are the goodies here. Made exclusively for Nintendo Wii, these two games will make you explore old ruins, interact with the local fauna in different ways (feeding, healing in the second one, and unlocking information), travel around the world (the 2nd), collect artefacts, shoot photos and learning a lot. Like other game in this list, the second one has a strong ecological message.

    I hope this will be useful to someone.
    Cheers!
    Giulia from Italy

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