AQUALIN

Reviewed by Herb Levy

AQUALIN (Kosmos, 2 players, ages 8 and up, 20 minutes; $19.95)

 

The sea is a wonderful place filled with all sorts of creatures. In Aqualin, a 2 player game designed by Marcello Bertocchi, players are faced with an assortment of these creatures and each player will compete to “corral” them into as big and as many “schools” as they can!

Aqualin comes in the standard 2 player Kosmos box that holds a 6 x 6 board (representing a “reef”) and 36 acrylic tiles showing the 6 different sea creatures in the game (crab, fish, jellyfish, sea horse, starfish and turtle) in six different colors (blue, green, pink, purple, red and yellow). One player will try to create as many big schools of creatures by type as possible; the other will try to group these creatures by color. The player most successful will win!

Tiles are turned face down and scrambled to make a “stockpile”. Six are revealed to form a “drafting pool”. In turn, a player will choose one tile from the pool and place it anywhere on the board. Tiles need not touch or even be in close proximity. After the first tile is placed, turns follow a specific procedure.

First, a player MAY move ONE tile up, down or sideways (but NOT diagonal) along the row or column it occupies until it meets another tile (or the edge of the board). Tiles may NOT be jumped. Then a tile is chosen from the pool and placed. Finally, a new tile is drawn from the stockpile so the next player has 6 tiles to choose from. (As tiles are placed and the game nears its conclusion, the amount of tiles in the draft will, of course, lessen.) Once all tiles have been placed on the board, players score. 

Schools of the creatures are scored (and tiles may be part of schools for EACH player). Schools are considered contiguous groups of tiles (side by side and NOT diagonal). A school of 2 is worth 1 point, 3 will give you 3 points, 4 is worth 6 points, 5 will give you 10 and, if you manage to connect all 6 of a group, 15 points is your reward. The player with the highest score wins!

Graphic quality of the game is totally in keeping with that of the Kosmos line: first class. The acrylic tiles are attractive and nice to the touch. In the beginning of play, tile placement doesn’t seem that important as the board is wide open. But as the board begins to fill, tile movement becomes more and more restricted so a little planning goes a long way. It also helps if you keep track of what tiles have already appeared. If you need a turtle to complete a huge school, make sure that all the turtles have not already been placed! If you need a yellow tile, be aware just how many yellow tiles have been exposed and how many are still hidden in the stockpile. It pays to be alert!

In our playings (and depending on how your brain works), we have found it easier to “see” and, consequently, plan and manipulate tiles when color and not creature is the goal. If you share this perceived inequality (which, in fact, may not be an inequality at all), it can be easily fixed by playing two games, back to back, with each player playing creatures and colors once and then totaling the scores of the two games. 

In these times when 2 player games are a highly prized commodity, Aqualin is a light and charming entry in the Kosmos 2 player line to help satisfy that need. – – – – – – – – – – – – – Herb Levy


Have feedback? We’d love to hear from you.

 

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