Saturday, March 5, 2016

Systems Saturday - AquaSphere (2014)

Recently, we got the chance to break out AquaSphere (2014) once again.  In fact, we played it twice in a row.  I find this game both challenging and fun.  There is much going on, a good amount of resource juggling, and there are many paths to victory.  I've warmed to this game since first playing.  Although setup is a bit of a pain, I now feel it is worth the effort.  This time, we played with four players and fixed a few things we were getting wrong on previous attempts.

From the description on Board Game Geek:
News from the depths! The AquaSphere is a research facility stationed deep below the ocean's surface, and your skilled team — consisting of an engineer, a scientist, reprogrammable bots and exploratory submarines — is trying to gather as much data as possible.
The game board in AquaSphere has two main areas: A research station comprised of six sectors in which your scientist conducts experiments and a headquarters where your engineer supervises preparation of the bots. During each of the four game rounds, you take several turns, and on each turn you either:
Use your engineer in the headquarters to program a bot; each round you can choose from three of the seven actions.  Have your scientist bring a bot to a sector to perform an action.
Through actions such as improving your lab, sending out submarines, collecting crystals, and examining octopuses, you expand the abilities of your team or gather knowledge points, which are necessary to win. Additional challenges result from the limited size of your lab, which is your personal stock; you can increase the size of your lab, which makes life easier, but this costs valuable time.
AquaSphere is a challenging game of strategy and tactics with different paths to victory that requires planning in advance as well as skillful use of short-term opportunities.

The four of us who took to the game this time often play other games together and are fairly evenly matched in most games, so this one was put through its paces.  Rather than trying too many strategies at once, this time I made sure to snag a couple of Crystals early to avoid the risk of getting stopped short in Knowledge Point advancement.  I didn't bother worrying about Submarines and thus wasn't too concerned if my bots were out or coming back.  I mainly focuses on Lab Expansions in both games and grabbed up a couple or three Research Cards each time but only if I saw that they'd truly help me sooner rather than later and mostly if they would ensure giving me additional Time Markers.  In both games, although not victorious, I was close.  Completing the Lab Expansions and having A thru F represented in them seems to make being in the running.  Now, I think, I just need to figure out some additional sub-strategy that will easily parallel this to put me over the top.

A look under the hood of various Games, Rules and Systems.
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