By Raymond "DuMeeple" Dumee on May 20, 2021
Floating along on mother nature's currents, going where the wind takes us, surrounded by the sounds of seagulls and sloshing waves. Now, finding oneself on a small sailing boat in beautiful waters sounds awesome, but we should always be aware of Jagged Rocks, Sea Monsters or Sudden Storms while navigating between so many uninhabitable islands, in search for that one suitable island to live the paradise life.
Tranquility is a cooperative card laying game wherein players are on a quest to search for a paradise island on the good ship, which just happens to be the namesake of the game itself, the Tranquility. The game is originally published by the independent publishing company Board Game Hub, while the Dutch publishing and translating duties are taken over by White Goblin Games, who kindly supplied us with a review copy of the game.
The game's small box contains cards only: twenty-five Border cards to outline the playing area, eighty Islands cards numbered from one to eighty, and five Start and five Finish cards. Our box furthermore contained a small expansion of six Stormy Seas cards which can be added to spice things up a little bit. As another added bonus we also received another twelve-piece Promo card pack for even more variations.
The game is setup by creating a six by six grid. You do this by laying out the sea-borders with the Border cards. Shuffle the Finish cards into the pile of Island cards and divide them along all players. Each player will draw five cards from their pile to start with, after which they will shuffle one Starting card into their personal drawing pile.
Now we have come to the best part of the game for someone like me, who works on ships a lot. Namely, to determine the starting player by establishing who has been on a boat most recently. Well played guys, me like very much! So I inevitably start the game every single time. I do this by either playing a card or discarding two cards. Playing a card is done by se-lecting one from my hand and placing it in the grid, taking into account the Island cards must be placed in an ascending numerical order from bottom-left to top-right.
Sounds easy, right? Well, that's what I thought at first, but it turned out to be somewhat more difficult than I suspected. You see, players may not communicate about their island cards and when an Island card is placed next to another, then you must discard as many cards as the difference between the numbers on both Island cards, and you must do so from your hand. Or when the Start card comes into play, all players must discard eight cards to-gether, again without any communication. Players win the game together when they got their sea grid completed and have placed a Start and Finish card. When they do so, they can finally settle down and enjoy the paradise life.
Good things about Tranquility is the simplicity of the rules and the interesting tactics behind not being able to communicate and therefore not knowing what cards are still in play and which aren't. This especially makes Tranquility a really fun game that can be also quite frus-trating at times. I mean, everyone knows that there are five Finish cards in the game and we'll need only one at the end, so who is going to keep it? Would it be safe to discard the one I'm currently holding, or should I really just hold on to it for safety's sake? Decisions, decisions...
The theme itself is fun; to be on the lookout for paradise with your boat the Tranquility. That being said, it has completely nothing to do with the actual gameplay itself. You are not on a search for something, other than to place your cards somewhere along the line and players don't end up with just one Island card, which was supposed to be the promised land. Instead, they end up with a grid of thirty-six of them. On the other hand, the game is fun to play, it delivers nice art on the cards and an excellent way to determine the starting player.
Overall, I really liked playing Tranquility. It really challenges you to think about where to place your cards and which ones to discard as you have to fill up that six by six grid without any communication about the game. So, with all that said and done, the only thing left for me to say is: Anchor up, Bon Voyage and steady as she goes on your trip to paradise!
White Goblin Games (Dutch version) & Board Game Hub
Year of release: 2020
Designer: James Emmerson
Artist: Tristam Rossin
Players: 1 - 5 players, ages 8 & up
Playtime: approx. 15 - 20 minutes