Updated: Sep 28, 2021
The DoaLG boys had a fantastic time at this year's UK Games Expo in Birmingham, getting to test out games and chin-wagging with lots of wonderful game designers. One such designer was Silver Birch Games, who sent us a pre-production copy of their new game Deckchairs on the Titanic to test out before it launched on Kickstarter.
Players: 2-4 Ages: 10+ Game Time: 15-30 minutes
It's 1912 and you have the honourable position of a deckchair attendant aboard the Titanic on her maiden voyage. You are eager to please the first-class passengers, and hungry for tips. Equipped with the promenade plan, it's your job to secure your passengers the best spots, and they'll tip you better if you do! You'll be paid especially handsomely if you secure the coveted central spot!
It sounds like a simple job that will pay well, but the waters are choppy, rocking the ocean liner to and fro, and sending the deckchairs sliding all over the place. Not only that, but she appears to have brushed past an iceberg leaving a big chunk of ice on board. Far too heavy to lift, it's sliding about the promenade sending deckchairs flying. Not only that, but there are other deckchair attendants vying for spots and tips, and woe-betide you if you put one of your deckchairs in their way!
Based on the fixed colours per player count, each player takes: The appropriate number of deckchairs for the player count and three meeples (one for scoring, one for counting actions, and one as a deckchair attendant).
Select a start player, the rulebook recommends the last person to have set sail from Southampton, but enjoy coming up with your own process!
Take the two promenade boards corresponding to your player count, one for the playing board, the other for setup . Place the deckchairs on the player board according to where they appear on the set up board, and the ice-block in the white central square.
Place the ship stern (scoreboard) to the left of the player board, and the ship bow to the right for placing the ship movement cards.
Place the no movement card in the empty space at the front; form the deck of movement cards based on player count and game length, placing it face down on the piano space; draw one card and place it face up in the middle box. These cards represent the directions the ship will tilt at the end of each round.
Playing the game:
To win, tactically manoeuvre your deckchairs to secure the best spots for your clients. Each attendant has its own expertise to satisfy the desires of the picky passengers, whether it be sun, shade safety or views, and of course, every passenger wants to be the centre of attention in the coveted middle spot!
Starting with the start player, take it in turns to perform your chosen actions (four per round for a 2-player game, and three for 3/4-player):
Move one of your deckchairs one unoccupied space orthogonally (you can move into a square reserved by your deckchair attendant
Place your deckchair attendant to reserve a space on the promenade, except the centre
Push the ice block in any direction, moving any deckchairs that it hits but not deckchair attendants.
Ending each round
Move all moveable deckchairs one square based on the right most ship movement card
Draw a new ship movement card, moving existing cards one to the right
Score points (tips) for your deckchairs : 4 for the centre , 2 for a matching space, 1 for an opponent's square
Take back any deckchair attendants on the promenade
Return the meeples to the top of the actions remaining counter, rotating the start player.
The game ends when the final ship movement card is discarded and the player with the most tips wins.
My thoughts on gameplay
People who love chess, and planning several moves ahead will thoroughly love this game. It has a great theme, and the gameplay is at the same time simple to learn but wonderfully tactical. It has been thoroughly tested by an A.I. thousands of times to ensure that the board setup is fair. I really enjoyed playing it, even if the hubby (our Resident Rules Lawyer) is likely to beat me more or less every time with his uber spatial awareness and tactical deviousness.
I really like the style of the artwork, that feels so evocative of the era. The boards are sturdy, with everything fitting neatly and securely into the box.
I also love that Silver Birch Games are environmentally conscious, choosing materials from sustainable and ethical sources. The only plastic in Deckchairs on the Titanic is the zip-lock pouches to hold the wooden components and ship movement cards.
They also ensured that the game is colour-blind friendly. For me there was a slight downside of not being able to chose between a all available colours, but I get why they are set by player count due to the boards.
Spatial awareness and forward planning are not something I excel in ... *cough*, unlike our resident Rules Lawyer who had memorised the deckchair placements for setup after about two playthroughs.
However, I thoroughly enjoyed playing Deckchairs on the Titanic because it challenged me and got those little grey cells a-whirring. There's tonnes of replayability with how the ship-movement cards fall and I look forward to playing it with the wider DoaLG team.
A new family-friendly classic in the making perhaps?
Your resident Word-nerd Sueyzanne
Want to know more? Check out the replay below of our interview from the UK Games Expo 2021.