Title: Sunset Over Water
Designed By: Eduardo Baraf, Steve Finn, Keith Matejka
Art By: Benjamin Shulman, Beth Sobel, and Helen Zhu
Published By: Pencil First Games, LLC
Player Count: 1-4
Time to Play: 20 Minutes
Sunset Over Water is the third Pencil First Game that we have had the pleasure to review. Just like Herbaceous and Floriferous, Sunset Over Water was a great time. The gameplay is clean, easy to understand, and fun. Oh, and the art is divine. Sunset Over Water 110% earns our Awesome Art badge.
In Sunset Over Water, players will take on the role of landscape painters who hike through lovely locations looking for inspiration to create paintings that they can sell to gain renown. Complete daily goals and commissions in hopes of being the most famous landscape artist by the end of the game.
If you are looking for a game where you can explore the beautiful wilderness from the comfort of your own game table, Sunset Over Water is for you.
Shuffle the landscape cards and lay them out in a 5x5 grid (this is called The Wildnerness). Place the remaining landscape cards nearby.
Shuffle the commission cards and place them facedown next to the wilderness. Draw commission cards equal to the number of players plus one and put these face up where all players can see them. Flip over the top card of the commission deck and place that face up on top of the deck.
Shuffle the daily goals and place one of them face up near the daily goal deck
Give each player an artist token, reference card, and their 8 planning cards that match their artist token.
Have players set their artist token in the center card of the wilderness
Players shuffle their planning cards and place them facedown in front of themselves.
You are now ready to begin!
How to Play:
Sunset Over Water is played over six days (or rounds), each consisting of three phases.
The first phase is called the planning phase and is a simultaneous phase, meaning that all players participate at the same time during this first part. In the planning phase, players will draw the top three cards from their planning decks. These cards have information regarding your wake-up time, hiking instructions, and painting abilities. Wake-up time will determine your turn order in the second phase. The hiking instructions show which direction you will be able to move in during the second phase. Lastly, the painting will show how many landscapes you can create in the second phase. Players will select one of their three cards and simultaneously reveal their choices. Players then move on to phase two, trekking.
Turn order for this phase is determined based on wake-up time. All of phase two is completed by one player at a time. The earlier you wake up, the sooner you go. This phase has three parts, hiking, painting, and selling. First up is the hike. During the hike, players move their artist token through the wilderness, moving in a single direction from the choices available on their card. There are several rules for movement. Players can pass through a space occupied by another player but cannot land on an already occupied space. Players cannot move through vacant spaces or change directions while moving.
After a player has finished hiking. They move on to painting. Their card will show how many paintings they can create. You can select up to that number of available paintings from the spaces you walked through, taking only paintings that are not occupied by another player. Place any acquired paintings in front of the player who drafted them.
Last up for phase two is the sell portion. Players attempt to acquire commission cards by selling collected landscapes. Players must match the required features on the commission card with those on their paintings in order to sell their works of art and gain renown.
The active player then checks if they have accomplished the daily goal. If they have they take the card. There is only a single daily goal per round, meaning that players can steal the daily goal from other players if they go later in the round.
After the first player finishes the trekking phase, the next person goes, until all players have taken their turns. At this point, phase 3 begins. Phase three is the clean-up phase. Here the wilderness, daily goals, and commissions are replenished and a new day is ready to begin.
Once the 6th day ends or if during the cleanup phase there are not enough commission cards to refill the commission row, scoring begins. Players total their renown (points) from their commission cards, daily goals, and unsold landscape features (1 renown per two features rounded down). Whoever has the most points wins.
Sunset Over Water is a brilliant, stunning game that packs a lot of fun into a little box. As with the other Pencil First Games games that we reviewed, Sunset Over Water is very relaxing to play, despite being a competitive game.
There was a lot that we enjoyed about Sunset Over Water, but one of our favorite parts is how you strategize what time to wake up. As each time card can only be used once, you know if you pick a really early time, you will probably get to go first this round, but then that card cannot be used again in the future. Picking a middle time could mean you go first if others chose to sleep in, but it could also mean you are stuck at the end if others woke with the sun. Balancing your cards to maximize your chances of going early was a lot of fun.
It was also interesting making sure that the time that you picked actually allowed you to move and paint the landscapes you were aiming for. Sometimes the time you wanted to wake up, wouldn't allow for optimal movement or limited the number of paintings you could create in a way that is less than helpful.
These three factors made the game feel super well balanced and provided us with a variety of things to consider each turn. The simultaneous action selection in phase one was also interesting because it means that you never have to actually pick a first player. Every round, players get to strategically work to try and be that first player so no player automatically gets an advantage for going first.
For those that enjoy games that look great on the table, there are so many unique landscape painting cards that transport you to some of the nicest places in nature. The 5x5 grid that you create the wilderness out of, is really a sight to behold. Plus the painter meeples are cute. We appreciate the little touches, like that all four meeples have different hats.
For players that enjoy set collection games, Sunset Over Water provides a unique mechanic where players are all working toward the same goal cards (commissions) each round, but no one's hand is a secret. As all cards are played face-up, players can see what commissions their opponents may be trying to collect and strategize either around that (if their opponent goes first) or potentially hinder their competition by taking a certain card first.
Last but not least, Sunset Over Water contains a solo mode so even solo gamers can enjoy this masterpiece of a game.
If you are interested in learning more about Sunset Over Water check out Pencil First Games Website. Pudgy Cat Games makes no profit off reviews. Should you wish to purchase Herbaceous, you can help support us by purchasing the game through our Amazon Affiliate Link below. It will cost you nothing extra, but will help support our site!