In searching through quick-to-teach games from different companies, I noticed that Aquarius
from Looney Labs didn't have a lot of reviews online, so I emailed them and they were kind enough to send me a review copy of the game that I could check out.
What stood out to me first (and inspired me to seek out more info from them in the first place) were the cards. I mean look at them: As far as cards go, they're as bright and colorful as they come. I realize that "art" isn't a game-mechanic, but it's the art that really makes this game fun to play [what would Carcasonne be without its theme for example]. I believe it was Karen who said "I like it because it's pretty"
At the start of the game, everyone gets a secret goal that shows one of five elements on it and the object of the game is to link 7 panels of that element together. A majority of the cards show different grouping of elements, and there are other cards thrown into the mix that allow you to move cards.
The game is for two to five players. Karen and I played it together a number of times and had fun doing so, but you can tell that the game is really designed for more people, so yesterday Brian, Demoree, and Ciara were kind enough to playtest the game with me.
The two player game is fun, sure, but the game best shows its stuff with more players. In a four player game, we spent the first part of the game watching what kind of connections people were making to see what other people had and the rest of it trying to manipulate the game-state to reach our goal. The way the game is balanced, everything feels neck and neck to the end. Sure, Brian may have 6 meadow cards together, but by the time it's his turn, someone may play a card that moves one of those meadow cards to the other side of the board. Or, better still, someone may play the card that allows them switch goals with Brian, meaning now they
are 1 card away from winning. But of course they have to keep that meadow goal until next turn and
be able to put another meadow in their chain to pull off the win. Aquarius is one of those games where, no matter what's happening, you still could be just one card away from coming back into the lead, so it makes for an interesting finish since you can't be assured victory until that seventh element hits the table.
On to another topic: look at the photo below. How incredibly satisfying is it these rainbows can link together, building a chain across the board? Very. That's my biggest complaint with the game: I would have loved if the other items had art that was able to link up as well so that you got to craft this giant chain across the board. But oh well, I guess that's something for the next printing of the game.
I asked people what they thought of it and everyone liked it. If you yourself are intersted in it, you can buy it and get more info on the Looney Labs site
In the mean time, I'm working on a Moses variant for the 2 player game in which you play cards that allow you to split the board in two halves to add some extra drama to the 2 player game.