Diving Into the Print at Home Realm with Aquamarine
Dive deep into the ocean to discover everything from rare creatures and coral to ancient shipwrecks in Aquamarine.
Lately, there has been an influx of low-cost print-and-play solo games offered through crowdfunding. As was expected, I picked up a bunch of them… And still never got around to printing any of them out! But with the need for a game with the letter “Q” in its title, Aquamarine popped up, and it was more than its name I was interested in!
With a trusty map of the area, dice rolls form the basis for shapes. A single dive takes place by drawing connected rectangles, while the air supply slowly decreases. Sights can be seen everywhere, yet there are unique scoring conditions for all! It all flows well during 3 separate dives.
September 16, 2022
September 16, 2022
10" x 14"
Night and Day Timing
Note that I chose to use the low-ink version to save my printer and have some fun with coloring! There is also a gorgeous full-color version that can be printed out.
I was immediately interested in the simple but clever timing mechanic. Each turn corresponded to the day or night, as did the possible sightings of rare creatures.
If I enclosed a cuttlefish during the day, it wasn’t actually there. This led to some very interesting decisions.
There were actually lots of choices! And when the dice didn’t go my way, I could still hope for better turns.
Adding a Little Color
My trusty Faber Castell pens and Staedtler neon markers came to the rescue! I liked the simplicity of the artwork in this low-ink version. Very easy and fun to color it all!
Yet even better was the actual gameplay. I thought it might feel repetitive or obvious from taking a quick glance at the map. In reality, rarely did I have every turn planned.
When the dice showed unique values, taking the larger option meant that air was used up equal to the difference.
In other words, a 1 and 6 could be disastrous! With limited time to dive, I had to strike a balance with the shape sizes.
My plays took about 20 minutes each, likely owing to my carefully drawn lines! Yet I found myself glad to play a total of 4 times in a row with barely any pauses.
Better discoveries were hidden near the bottom, but that took careful conservation of air. And no dive could ever connect up, which meant I came close to disaster here!
This is only the first map included. I could keep playing… Particularly since I never hit the highest scoring tier.
It was easy to draw the shapes, but challenging to figure out the best paths to the bottom of the sea. Very fun!
Never Underestimate the Power of Simplicity
Fancy, high-quality components have become a common part of the hobby for me. Most of my collection contains some beautifully produced games that have a special sort of table presence. But that doesn’t mean everything. Frankly, had I seen print-and-play games years ago, I might have written them off as unfinished works or prototypes.
As always, though, my perspective continues to change as I see what every game is about! My only complaint is that I needed to use my printer… Because my printer is a cranky monster that enjoys sassing me every few pages. Ha! What I discovered with this play was a nicely developed game that wasn’t overly complex, yet offered a lot of decisions.
Those decisions were meaningful, too. It wasn’t like my choices were random. It was all about tracing potential paths and trying to figure out what to do if the dice didn’t roll my way. I even turned a dive into a dead end purely so I could discover a final shipwreck. That actually was worth it… Possibly. I could have done many other things.
Even looking at the top area near the boats should say a lot. Deciding where to start and how to descend is often based on the dice. So even my preferred path down might have been ignored due to some difficulty with the starting shape. It all looks so simple, but there’s a lot more going on with so many ways to earn victory points and dive, dive, dive!
Even my terrible outings had some interesting moments. I tried to find more of the shipwrecks for extra bonuses. Going for the one in the upper left was… Tricky!
Each of the 3 dives could start from the different boats, although I almost decided to do 2 dives from the middle boat. So long as the shapes never touch, that’s an option.
But when some of the other dives took longer, I had to look for the quickest path between the rocks.
I will say that a static map like this could seem repetitive, but I’m still seeing some new things I could try out!
Play Number: 1-4
Solo Mode: Included in the Base Game
Play Details: Map 01
Outcome: 60, 95, 78, 61 (1 Win and 3 Losses)
My highest score saw me reach the very bottom of the ocean! And near the upper right is the odd shape possible with a pair of 6s. I could break free from the requirement of a rectangle and do what I wanted to. Extremely useful, even if I accidentally circled the wrong shipwreck bonus! Fixed that in time for the final scoring. This one was a lot of fun, and I look forward to trying out more maps!
Price & Value
Challenges & Mechanics
Design & Theme
Components & Rules
Achievement & Enjoyment
Distinctness & Randomness
+ Pros (Positives)
- There is a lot of excitement with each roll since a dive path can often continue in different directions.
- Discoveries are mainly rewarded with victory points, yet there is a real sense of seeing new things in the ocean.
- Choosing where to start a dive is a crucial part of the strategy, but there isn’t necessarily a dominant choice.
- Rolling the dice adds a layer of fun unpredictability, especially since doubles offer a special large shape.
- Even with the same map, choices don’t feel repetitive with the way the time of day and dice change decisions.
- The rules are easy to understand with an intuitive sequence and scoring reminders directly on the play sheet.
– Cons (Negatives)
- It’s a minor issue, but the rules print out on 3 pages and feel a little lengthy since there’s a bit of flipping around.
- Consistent low rolls with the dice can spell disaster and lead to poor outcomes purely based on luck.
- Some of the shapes can be a little hard to find at a glance, although the full-ink version solves this issue.
- Final scoring can take a little bit of time with the way every full dive needs to be checked for multiple elements.
Score 90+ Points
- Overall Goal Progress 50% 50%
Goals and Milestones
Score at least 90 points on map 01.
Score at least 100 points on map 01.
Continue the Conversation
Have you played Aquamarine? What other recently released print-and-play solo games are you enjoying? I’m not one to print out sheets that often, which is why I typically use sheet protectors and wet-erase markers. But this was a lot of fun to color and explore the ocean with! Definitely a pleasant surprise for a seemingly simple game. It’s… DEEP. Ha ha!