Title: Deckchairs on the Titanic
Designed By: Tom Holness
Art by: Miles Hesketh
Published By: Silver Birch Games
Released: Coming to Kickstarter July 29, 2021
Player Count: 2-4
Time to Play: 15-30 Minutes
"Love can touch us one time
And last for a lifetime
And never let go 'til we're gone". That is the feeling we got while playing Deckchairs on the Titanic for the first time. We love Deckchairs on the Titanic! For those that are unfamiliar, Deckchairs on the Titanic is an abstract strategy game where you take on the role of a deckchair attendant trying to reserve the best spots on the promenade for your guests. Guests will pay you well if you can get them their favorite location. But beware of the iceberg and the rocking ship, as both of these things may cause your well thought out planning to go overboard.
Setup for Deckchairs on the Titanic is quick and simple. Grab the two boards that match your player count and decide which you will use to play this time, placing it face up between all players. Look at the colors on the board and assign each player to one of the colors and give them the corresponding meeples. The amount of deckchairs used per game depends on the player count. 2 players use 6, 3 players use 4, and 4 players use 3.
Use the board you are not playing with this game to set up the board you are playing on. For each colored square outlined on the unused board, set the matching deckchair to the corresponding place on the board that is being used. It will fill in all of the unmarked spaces that are not on the outside layer of the board.
Place the ice block in the middle space of the board.
Now set up the stern or back of the ship and the bow or front of the ship. Place one of each player's meeples on the scoring track, and one on the remaining actions track. Players hold onto their third and final meeple.
Look through the ship movement deck and pull out the no movement card, placing it on the empty square all the way to the right at the front of the ship. Determine how long you want the game to be and grab the corresponding amount of ship movement cards based on your player count. Shuffle those cards and set them on the left space. Flip one card and place it in the middle, this shows the direction that the ship will rock the following round, so you'll always know how it will rock during the current round and following round. During the first round of the game, the ship will not rock.
Your fully assembled board will look like a cruise ship with the ship movement cards at the front, the main deck with the deckchairs in the middle, and the remaining actions and turn tracker at the back.
You are now ready to play.
How to determine the first player:
Last player to have set sail from Southampton (or random) goes first
How to Play:
The game is played over the number of rounds equal to the cards used in the ship movement deck, plus one (for the first round where you do not rock). During each round players will take either 4 actions (in a 2 player game) or 3 actions (in a 3 or 4 player game). Then players will score. At the end of the final round, the player with the highest score wins.
Beginning with the starting player, each player will take one action at a time before moving their meeple down one space on the action tracker and passing play on to the next person.
Players have a choice of three different actions:
Move one of your deckchairs orthogonally one space into an empty square or a square with your deck chair attendant on it (more on that in a moment).
Place a deckchair attendant on an empty square or a space with one of your deckchairs. However, you cannot place them in the center space of the board. These attendants stop their own chairs from moving if occupying a space taken up by a chair of their color, or prevent other people's chairs from sliding into a specific space.
Push the ice block in any direction, moving any deckchairs that it hits (but not attendants).
If the ice block hits the edge of the board, it stops. If it hits a chair, it knocks that chair one space along the path (if possible) and stops in the space previously occupied by the chair. If multiple chairs are in adjacent spaces on the path, they will each be bumped one space further on the path, if possible. You can hit your own, or your opponent's deckchairs. If it hits an attendant, it stops one space before the attendant and does not move them.
Once everyone has finished all of the available actions, the round ends. During the ending of the round first move all moveable deckchairs in the direction the ship is rocking (remember you will not rock the first round of the game). Next, move the upcoming direction card to the rightmost pile and flip a new card into the middle spot. You can now see what direction you will rock next round and the following round.
Scoring points is up next! You score points based on the final locations of your deckchairs. Get 4 points if you occupy the center square, 2 points for any deckchairs in a space matching your color, and 1 point for being in a space matching an opponent's color. Advance the score tracker meeples accordingly.
Take back any deckchair attendants that were played and return the meeples to the starting place on the action tracker, rotating the starting player to the left. You are now ready for the next round.
Continue playing until the final ship movement card is finished. Whoever has the most points wins!
There are lots of things we enjoyed about Deckchairs on the Titanic but first and foremost, can we just take a moment to appreciate that this is an abstract strategy game with a theme! Let me reiterate that an abstract strategy game, WITH A THEME!!! And it isn't just a pretty image thrown on the board, the theme is fully integrated into the gameplay. You have to pay attention to the ship rocking, the ice block from the iceberg knocks things around, there are actual deckchair meeples, and the whole board is the deck of a cruise ship. It is spectacularly done and we love it! Also, the art is cool, it has a neat perspective thing happening as though you were looking down over the boat from above. It's very eye-catching.
One thing we really liked off the bat about Deckchairs on the Titanic is that the rules are simple to understand and have a lot of pictures that answer almost every question you could have. There is even a full two-page spread with the initial game set up so you can make sure you have everything laid out correctly before diving in. I have read a lot of rulebooks that have left me with more questions than I started with, Deckchairs on the Titanic does a good job of being comprehensive and clear. The back page even has a useful quick reference guide with most of the basic information players will need to know from game to game based on their player counts.
Regarding gameplay, we like how the unused game board is used to set up the other board. It was a cool feature that helps keep the board you are playing on clear and unmarked by setup information. We also liked how the game is set up to help you plan for the future. Being able to see upcoming boat movements is helpful in trying to maximize your few moves most effectively. If you plan carefully enough, you can try to set up the board to score points this round and the next round in a single turn.
We also found the ice block mechanic cool (pun intended). It can be used to help yourself or to stop opponents from scoring. Used wisely, you may even be able to do both in one turn!
It should be known that I really love abstract games, they are easily one of the types of games I play the most, and as far as abstract strategy games go, this is one of my new favorites. I see Deckchairs on the Titanic coming back to the table a lot. It was easy to teach Deckchairs on the Titanic to new gamers, and even my mom enjoyed it. Usually, when my mom likes a game, it means it is great for gateway gamers. Based on her recommendations, Deckchairs on the Titanic is great for players who enjoy games like Azul or Sagrada. However, with a game group used to heavier games, you can totally go all-in on the strategy in this one too!
In conclusion, near, far, or wherever you are if you like abstract strategy games or need a reason to sing the Titanic song (check out our Instagram for a great reel of me singing about the game), you should really back Deckchairs on the Titanic when it comes out on Kickstarter on July 29, 2021. You can check their launch page out here.