Meeple & Sons Review Wreck Raiders

Meeple & Sons Review Wreck Raiders

June 20, 2018 0 By Ryan Sanders

The Inquisitive Meeple and his two sons preview Kids Table Board Gaming’s new game, Wreck Raiders. For 2-4 players, Wreck Raiders is a dice drafting, worker placement game, that has players acting as treasure hunters diving for sunken treasure. It sure is pretty, but is it good? Check out our thoughts.


Overview

BGG Gameplay Description:

Wreck Raiders is an innovative dice-drafting worker placement system. Choose a die from the pool, then send one of your divers to any spot on the board with that number. But be warned: the spot you choose will help any diver in the spots next to you, whether they’re friendly or not. Will you risk letting a rival in on your haul to get that treasure you want, or can you find a way to grab yourself some extra loot?

Display your treasures to build museum exhibits, or send them to your vault for huge scoring opportunities… Don’t forget to visit the beach nearby to gather washed-up baubles and spend them to build awesome aquariums. (All sea creatures are treated ethically and released into the wild; also, they are cardboard tiles.)

When the game ends, you’ll earn coins for your exhibits, your vault, and your aquariums. The player with the most coins wins!”


General Idea of Gameplay:
 In Wreck Raiders (designed by Tim W.K. Brown and Joshua Cappel), players choose a single die result to determine where you want to place a meeple.

You can use the die to either:

1. Place a worker on the beach to collect baubles (which are multi-use tokens) 

or

2. place a worker on one of four shipwreck spots (each specialized in a different type of treasure).

However, if you place your meeple on a shipwreck, any meeples to the right or left of you (your own or other players) will also get one treasure. If you place where another player’s meeple is, you bump them of the shipwreck and onto the beach, where they will get some baubles for their trouble.

If you take a treasure you have to place it either in the display case or in your personal vault, each work slightly different and score differently at the end of the game. Displays require a certain combo of treasures (determined by cards in a deck). If you can get your combo in exact order, you get an “in-style” bonus (similar to another Josh Cappel game, Wasabi).

Players can also buy one aquarium piece (with baubles) which of course scores at the end of the game as well.

The game ends when X number (depending on player count) of display orders are fulfilled. The player with most points wins.

The treasure!


General Thoughts

Aquarium example

Wreck Raiders is the biggest (and deepest) game yet from Kids Table Board Gaming. While Foodfighters was more geared towards kids (or adults playing with kids), Wreck Raiders is not only for families but gamers as well. In fact, it feels like more of a game that say, Z-Man, Plan B or TMG Games would put out.  Rules and gameplay wise it is a little bit more advanced than the standard of gateway or family style games. It actually may just a step above the “gateway” label.

The Yays: Wreck Raider’s gameplay is very smooth and has a streamlined feeling. It also gives players some nice choices on how to spend their turn., while featuring some great twists/hooks for a worker placement game. For example, using the box lid as the dice pool is a cool feature, but it goes beyond that to include bonus spots you want your dice to roll on to in the dice pool.

The best twist, of course, is how the worker placement mechanic of the game works, with the divers interacting with each other (both in giving to other players and bumping other players). Also, it’s nice how collecting displays plays a little differently than placing tiles in vaults, and vaults are different than building your aquarium, it’s almost like three little different mini-games that congeal really well together. Though doing well in just one of the three won’t put you in the winner’s circle, you really need to have a good balance of all three scoring options to win.

Then you have the baubles themselves, multi-use tokens that can be used as special powers or to buy aquarium pieces or to decorate finished displays for extra points or treasure, which is a great tiny twist. Instead of just making baubles or sets of baubles worth victory points at the end of the game like one may expect from a Euro game, the designers made them act more like multi-use cards making them valuable in the game due to their diversity. 

Baubles

Like I mentioned above, Wreck Raiders feels more like a game put out by Euro game company like Z-Man, Plan B or TMG and not a game company that’s main focus is more on children’s games. I know that HABA and Blue Orange Games over the last few years, occasionally put out a family game that is for everyone – but Kids Table has taken it up a notch with Wreck Raiders. While it is family friendly, it really is a gamers game. In fact, it is, even more, advance and heavy than co-designer, Josh Cappel’s Z-Man Game, Wasabi, just to give a point of reference.

The Nays: – I have only minor gripes and those may be addressed with the final product, we will have to see. For example, the smallest gripe is there’s a chance at the end of the game, you will lap the scoreboard, it would be nice if they had a sticker you could place on one side that says 50+.

Also, remember that cool dice pool box lid I mentioned above? Well, there is a negative side to it as well, other players may not be able to see into the box lid to see the dice, because of their viewing angle at the table and so you will have to constantly pass it around (very carefully at that). I wonder if there should be an area you can move the dice on after they are rolled so all can see. Maybe a small board on the table that shows the three baubles types and a space for non-bonus dice that dice can be transferred to after rolling.

Dice pool box lid

We did have one 2-player game, where we came close to running out of starfish tokens and also a 4-player game, we actually ran out of gold tokens on a player’s turn (including none in discard pile), so they ended up not being able to take all the gold token they should have. So, I’m not sure if they should add more or have a rule about what happens when you run out of tokens.

I know in at least one previous Kids Table Game (Problem Picnic), they went out of their way to make it color-blind friendly. I hope they do here as the blue and purple may be too close in color for low light situations or and maybe for those players that are color-blind. I just hope they keep some kind of purple meeple. 

Perhaps the biggest con, is that if you were going for a 4 and 5 display orders, and they are taken before you claim them and the new orders are all 3 treasure orders, you are out of luck- as you must have exact count in orders and there is no way to discard treasures from your display. Now, keeping this in mind, you may want to always keep a display open, however, new players may not know this and it could cause them to have an unfavorable first impression.


Game Details

Breaking Down the Stats on the Box:

45 Mins Time Limit:I will say that if you have people in your playgroup that are AP prone, this game may take longer than the boxes’ marked 45 minute time (I think all our 4-player games have been a little over an hour). Planning ahead in the 4-player game is not always something one can do, as the dice you want, may have been taken. That leaves you trying to figure out what do with what is left, do I go on the beach and take bobbles (and maybe use them to buy an aquarium piece) or do I go into a wreck spot – and then which wreck spot, and then what do i do with the piece I just earned, etc.. you get the point.  

Ages 10+: The age is for 10+ and that feels about right, my 9 ½-year-old can (and has) played the game (and whose thoughts are written below). I am not sure how much he gets the depth of the gameplay. He understands the rules though.

2-4 Players: As for the 2-4 player stat, well, 2-players seems to work just fine (note: the majority of our plays were 4-players). Part of the diver mechanic is interacting with players, so the more players in your game, the more choices you have in who you interact with (i.e. maybe you want to place on 2 different dive sites, the players around each spot may help you make your decision) Though on the flip-side of that coin, you may be able to do more planning ahead with the dice with just 2-players, because only one will be taken between your last turn and your next.

Game Footprint: As far as table space goes, to play 4-player you will need about 3×4 foot table space and 2-players, the minimum about of space you need is about  34 inches squared (card table size).

End of a 4-player game on a 3ft by 4ft table

Rules and Components: While, it’s really isn’t fair to rate any of the components, as we got a nice prototype version of the game and not a final production. I will comment on some of the art, and graphical layout, which seems done or at very least near done quality. Graphically everything is laid out nicely like you expect from a Joshua Cappel game. Easy to read what is going on. There are some nice little details not only in the art but also in the gameplay. Another thing to notice is that any museum orders that require 5 of the same type, while you do not get style points, you do have the option to get both decorative bobble powers, which is a nice little touch. Art-wise, Apolline Etienne has done an amazing job. Especially the aquarium pieces featuring all works of sea life, and not just the same thing over and over again. Though on a theme note: what kind of place allows you to use skulls, starfish, and seashells as money to build an aquarium?


Meeple’s Final Thoughts

The player board. The left side is where your display goes where you try to fulfill orders. The right side is the vault. Under the vault is the basket where your baubles go.

For those looking for a new family game: If you are getting this game as a family game and your family doesn’t like games heavier than standard gateway games or if they don’t like longer games (an hour is long for a family game which is, after all, Kids Table main focus) then this game may not be for you. Though if you are looking to introduce your family to a worker placement game or a game that’s a step above the standard gateway, Wreck Raiders is a solid choice. Even if it doesn’t get played on a regular basis, it very well may be worth having in your collection. I know in our family’s case, I am glad we have it in our collection, even if it doesn’t get played all the time (due to tablespace or time limit).

For those looking for a new hobby game (gamers): First off, let me go on record, that I think without a doubt Wreck Raiders will overpass both Josh Cappel’s Wasabi and Tim W.K. Brown’s Gridstones as both their highest ranked game on Board Game Geek. As for the game itself, Wreck Raiders is definitely a game you should consider adding to your game collection, it stuffs a lot of great gameplay in the box. Everything from the theme to the art, to the twists this game adds to worker placement genre, is fantastic.

The axolotl

On a personal side note, I really thought it was cool that one of the aquarium tiles had an axolotl on it. This is a creature you wouldn’t expect at all to be in a board game with sea life illustrations. I actually hope that Kids Table considers some more aquarium pieces for stretch goals and we see more odd and wonderfully unique sea creatures like the axolotl from illustrator Apolline Etienne.


& Sons Thoughts

Worker placement board, you see the beach at the top and the 4 shipwrecks under it.

Green Meeple (9-yrs-old): I like the art in the game and how the aquarium had all kinds of cool different animals. I also liked, how if people bump you from a wreck, you go to the beach and can get something for it. I like being able to move my meeple around from one spot to a different spot. Overall, I think it’s a really fun, really cool game and I definitely play it again, anytime!

Blue Meeple (12-yrs-old): I really liked Wreck Raiders theme, that players are diving for relics over the typical ocean game where it’s just about sea life. I also liked the artwork and how the aquarium pieces have a huge variety of sea life instead of some same old fish, whales, and sharks. I think that’s a cool little attention to detail. As far as the gameplay goes, I really like the way the dice pool mechanic works. Something that stood out to me and that I loved was the way the museum display worked and how players could get extra tokens if they fulfilled the order exactly. I think Wreck Raiders is a really fun game overall and I enjoyed it.


Closing Links

Wreck Raiders on Kickstarter 

Note: Kids Table BG sent us a free preview copy of Wreck Raiders for an honest review. 



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