Ryan takes a look at 10 Gallon Tank, an upcoming card game, from Winsmith Games.
10 Gallon Tank is a 2-5 player family card game that uses the I-Split-You-Choose mechanic with a twist. Over the course of the game (which is the same number of rounds as players) players are trying to collect different fish for their home aquariums. There are 6 types of fish in the game, and all 6 have a different way to score.
The starting player of the round will place fish cards (from a shuffled facedown deck, of course) in a 4×4 grid (3×3 in 2-player). And then will split it along the grid lines (in a straight line). The twist is now all other players (starting in clockwise order) will split the fish as well. In a 2 and 3 player game, everyone splits the grid again, but this time starting with the last player and ending with the starting player. Then each player gets to choose a group (in 2 & 3 players you can choose 2 groups, using the same rules of player order in the splitting phase). It should be noted that a group very well maybe 1 fish or 3+, depending on how the fish in the tank we split up. No matter the player count, you will always have a single group leftover that is discarded out of the game. Fish cards that you choose are placed face down in front of you until the end of the game. Rinse and repeat until all players have had a turn of being the start player for a single round. Then everyone flips over their fish and adds up their points.
I should note there is a single treasure chest in the game that is worth 7 points. Also, there are three goal cards that are shuffled at the start of the game, and one is put on at the start of the game. For example, one that gives you 5 points if you have at least 1 of all 6 fish types at the end of the game. Another thing of note, the game scales with cards that are taken out if you are not playing a certain player count. So in a 3-player game, your deck will have 49 of the 85 cards, etc.
With that – let’s dive in and talk about thoughts.
Some neutral thoughts on 10 Gallon Tank to keep in mind are that you need a decent amount of table space because you are splitting up the grid 4×4 card grid so that you can easily see the different groupings. It also doesn’t add too much new to set collection mechanic where each thing scores differently. There is one fish that requires you to discard an already collected fish if you are to keep it, but outside of that, it has a lot of standard set collection special scoring you see if Go Nuts for Donuts, Sushi Go, and the like.
For me the biggest negative is that it uses cards over tiles, I assume that is to keep the price down and maybe the portability of the game., However, since you are never holding the cards in your hand and you are laying them out like tiles in a grid, tiles would take up less table space than the cards and be better quality.
While not a negative for everyone (and not really for me), I know some like tiebreakers in their games, in 10 Gallon Tank, if you tie – there is no tiebreaker, so you have to share the victory.
The biggest positive it has going for it (besides the nice art and theme that isn’t overdone) is that it does do something new with the I-Split-You-Choose mechanic. Unlike NY Slice or Sundae Split – everyone splits in every round before the choosing begins. It makes it different enough that even if you have the later games, this one can still have this one the shelf and not have the same game. It also makes it so players are more involved with every aspect of the game round, instead of just the back half of the round like say Sundae Split, because they too are involved in the split.
I do want to comment that I used all 3 game goals that were provided in the preview copy. They are really well thought out and have a tiny impact on your game strategy. I think my favorite may be the one where you DON’T want to get all 6 fish, while it is the easiest goal to complete, it caused an interesting dynamic in our game. It makes it so you have to be careful with what groups you take as you are trying to avoid at least one kind of fish. It also may factor in what you cut not just for yourself but your opponents if you can figure out what kind of fish they are trying to avoid so they can make the goal.
One aspect of 10 Gallon Tank that surprised me in how fast it plays. I mean the first time we played a 3- player game, and it felt like it was over in a flash, any faster and it would have been too fast. That is of course if you don’t have someone prone to AP in your group. It does help that what people have in front of them is not public knowledge outside of the initial taking. Later, we timed it and it comes out to be about 10-12 minutes to play once you know how to in a 3-player game. However, that means for us that we can play multiple games in a row or be able to play it on an evening where we don’t want to play more than a few minutes.
I will say the first time we played, I wasn’t blown away by 10 Gallon Tank, I thought “it’s okay” – however, it honestly got better the second game and by the third game we played, it went from its okay to this is fun! Funny enough, my wife expressed the same thoughts about the first verse following players to me as well. It may have to do with knowing what to expect or how understanding fully how the fish score, I don’t know, but we really enjoyed our subsequent plays.
Is 10 Gallon Tank for you? It depends. Are you looking for a fast, fun, super easy to teach card game? How about a game that plays a little different than what you may be used or already have in your collection? If the answer is ‘yes’ to any of those then be sure to check out 10 Gallon Tank.
10 Gallon Tank will be on Kickstarter on January 21st, 2020.
Thanks to Winsmith Games for sending a copy of 10 Gallon Tank for an honest review.