Add new comment | Casual Game Revolution

Add new comment

Mini DiverCity

Dive into the ocean and work together to save manta rays, sea turtles, and eels from oil spills and dynamite fishers.

Played in 15-20 minutes, and listed as playable for 1-7 players, Mini DiverCity is a cooperative card game published by Sphere Games.

Gameplay

The species scale track is set out on the table with species tokens placed on it. You will use this throughout the game to track whether each species is in the red zone (near extinction), in the blue zone (in the middle), or in the green zone (near to being saved). There are twelve species in the game. Each player is dealt a diver card that comes with a unique ability they can use once per game. Each player is also dealt three cards from the species deck. You do not look at your hand, but hold it so that the other players can see it.

On your turn you draw a card from the corporations deck. There are three types of corporation events. One will force you to discard one of your species cards. You then look at the species on it and slide its token one space on the tracker towards extinction. If it is in the green it goes to blue, if it is in blue it goes to red. If it is in red, it slides off the track and becomes extinct. Once a species becomes extinct, its token cannot be moved again. You then draw a new card for your hand. The second possible corporation event acts in the same way, only instead of discarding one of your cards, you draw one from the species deck. The third possible corporation event opens two hotels. There are six hotel cards of different colors, and the corporation card will tell you which two colors to flip over to their open side. If a hotel color is already open, you leave it flipped to open. Some corporation cards will trigger two events.

After resolving the corporation phase, you then choose one of three actions. The first action you may choose allows you to play one of your species cards. You then slide the species token that matches the card you played one space to the right on the species track (towards saved). If it moves from green to off the track, the species is saved and can no longer be moved during the game. After moving the token, you draw a card. The second possible action is to inform one other player what each card in his hand is. The third possible action is to discard one of your species cards, and flip one hotel card over to the closed side. You then draw a new card. You may also use your diver card ability once per game, on your turn. This does not account as an action. Card abilities include looking at your hand of cards or allowing another player to play a card, for instance.

Once you have performed your action, your turn is over and it is the next player’s turn. Players may not discuss what is in each other’s hands outside of taking the specific action on their turn, nor discuss strategy. You can announce, however, what you believe your own cards to be, to give other players an idea of what you’re thinking.

Players win the game if they save a certain number of species based on the difficulty level they selected at the start of the game. They lose if a certain number become extent, if all six hotels are ever flipped face-up at the same time, or if the species deck runs out and a player cannot take any actions.

Mini DiverCity Components

Mini DiverCity (photo provided by the publisher)

Review

Mini DiverCity is a challenging cooperative game. You often feel on the back foot, and even on the easier difficulties the game can be hard to win. That does mean it’s quite satisfying when you do pull off a victory, and developing strategies over a series of games is enjoyable, as well.

There are always tough choices to make on your turn: do you tell someone their hand? Try to save a species? Shut down those hotels? The game tells you outright which hotel groups cannot be opened by the same corporation card, which you can use to your advantage. Similarly, holding on to species cards for tokens that have already been saved or are extinct can be useful for corporation events. The diver abilities are also quite useful, so choosing when to deploy them is important.

The game is quite challenging but there are a number of ways to tweak difficulty. Not only do you choose your difficulty level at the start of the game, but there are a couple of variants suggested to make the game easier, as well.

While the game states that up to seven players are supported, you can only play with the maximum number if someone takes over as the corporations in a one-vs.-many variant. In general, the game is also just better with a smaller group of players, as you feel like you have more control.

The names of the species aren’t on the cards, so when telling another player their hand, especially when you’re just starting out the game, you both end up having to check in the rulebook for the various names. This can also make remembering your hand more challenging. Some sort of player aid cards would have helped a lot here. However, the game’s artwork is quite nice and the species scale is a solid component for tracking the state of each animal at a glance.

If you enjoy cooperate teasers and like games such as Hanabi, Mini DiverCity is a fun addition to your collection. It also has the advantage of being quite portable, fitting inside a small box. The diving theme is pretty unique, and the game plays quite quickly.

Pros: Artwork and theme, tough choices, variants included to adjust difficulty beyond the standard difficulty settings

Cons: The fish names are hard to remember, better at smaller player counts

Disclosure: we received a complimentary review copy of this game.