Headed to Kickstarter any minute now (LIVE NOW!), Tricky Tides is the latest offering by Steven Aramini (Groves, Circle the Wagons). In it, players will sail the high seas, stopping at various ports to pick up goods and transport them across the waters to other islands where they can turn those goods in for points. The pick up & deliver back-end of Tricky Tides is powered by a clever take on trick taking, all of which works together quite seamlessly.
**KICKSTARTER PREVIEW ALERT! – All images are either of a prototype or stolen from the Kickstarter campaign page! Nothing is final!**
The flow of Tricky Tides is fairly straightforward. Each round is broken into two main phases, the trick and sailing.
During the trick, each player will play a single navigation card from their hand of 8. The design of these cards are one of the many clever little notes in Tricky Tides’ construction. Each card has a suit, a number, and a compass. The suit and number are used in the classic trick-taking way: the lead player sets the suit which all must follow (if they can), and the player who played the highest number of the lead suit becomes the lead player for the rest of the turn and the following round.
Each of the cards (in addition to its number and suit) dictates what potential directions your ship can move during the sailing phase. So each time you play a card into a trick, you need to weight not only how well it will do as compared to the other cards, but also what movement options it will give you in the second phase. It’s a clever way of adding strategy to the otherwise straightforward trick taking phase of the game.
The sailing phase has players (in turn order as determined by the trick), move their ships around the island chain. When a ship docks at an island, it can either pick up all of one type of good or it can drop off a set of goods to complete an order. These orders are the main point-scoring mechanism in the game, apart from some bonus scoring based on each player’s secret objective cards.
A game of Tricky Tides lasts 3 rounds of 6 tricks each, after which players add up their gold and a winner is declared!
Jess: Me too! I especially liked when we added in the extras, like the surprisingly helpful sea monsters (who move, upgrade, and steal goods) and the events that change the game up in unique ways each round.
Jess: I know what you mean – at 4, there was just a little too much chaos on the board for me to feel like I was able to really capitalize on any given strategy. With 2 players, you can plan your pickups and deliveries a lot more effectively; at 4, it was a lot more ‘grab whatever goods you can and hope it works out’. Still fun though.
All in all, we had a really good time with Tricky Tides. The mechanics are well-considered and the gameplay is accessible and fun. We also really liked the visual presentation; the stippling artwork done by Naomi Ferrall required an exacting hand and we love how it looks on the table.
By merging a great implementation of classic trick taking with pick up & deliver, Tricky Tidesis the sort of game that anyone will be able to engage with. We’ll provide links to the Tricky Tides Kickstarter as soon as it goes live!
(Gameosity received a prototype of this game, with the option of requesting a finished version. We were not otherwise compensated.)