Sea Monsters Game Review
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Players: 2-4 (ages 5+)
Playing Time: about 10 minutes

Ahoy, mateys! Board your ships and set sail for the New World! But beware—the seas are full of monsters!

Before playing the Sea Monsters Game, there’s a little bit of setup required. First, you need to set up the board by placing the eight sea monster tiles facedown on the designated spots. Players then choose an Old World Port of Call (England, France, Spain, or Portugal), set up the three ships that match their chosen country’s flag, and draw one New World Port of Call card, which tells each player where he or she will be headed once the game begins.

At the beginning of your turn, you roll the blue Seafarer’s Die. If you roll a number, you move one or more of your ship pieces across the board toward your New World Port of Call. But if you roll a sea monster, you then roll the green Deep Sea Die. If you roll a number, you get to flip over one of the sea monster tiles and move it that number of spaces, shipwrecking any ships in its path (and sending them back to their original port of call). Or, if you roll a typhoon, you draw a Typhoon Card and follow its instructions.

Players take turns moving their ships and sending their opponents off-course until a ship arrives at its designated New World Port of Call. That player is then declared the winner.

The Sea Monsters Game is definitely a beautifully drawn game. From the board to the sea monsters to the ships, the illustrations are all spectacular. The game play, however, could have used some more work.

On one hand, there’s a lot going on here. Young players may have a hard time managing three ships and ever-changing ports of call—and even grown-ups might find it challenging to remember which of the dice to roll when.

On the other hand, though, the actual game play is extremely simple and straightforward—and, without many (if any) strategies to keep things exciting, players will quickly lose interest.

As I played, a number of issues jumped out at my opponent and me. For instance, the player who chooses England is at a serious disadvantage from the beginning—because it’s far away from most ports of call, while the other three are pretty centrally located. Also, I couldn’t quite understand the advantage of playing with more than one ship—since only one of them needs to make it across the board. While it would mean that you’d have a backup plan if you get shipwrecked, the journey across the board isn’t that long—so you’re better off making a run for it with one ship and hoping for the best.

So while the Sea Monsters Game is really cool to look at, the game itself is complex yet lacking in strategies and surprises. The seafaring concept alone might keep some kids interested for a while—but there isn’t a whole lot here to keep them coming back for more.

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