A short review from the non-miniature side of gaming! SOS Titanic is a game that ended up in my house on Christmas. It’s a more-or-less patience (or solitaire in the US) based card game with a few twists and – obviously – a Titanic-theme to it.
The game was the product of a (tiny, by wargaming-standards) Kickstarter last year, yet seems to have made a splash since its release. Still, it’s probably not the kind of game I would’ve bought myself. I generally don’t play patience, not even on Windows, and have no major interest in the Titanic (though yes … I did see the movie at some point).
Nevertheless, I’ve been playing SOS Titanic one a few times with people. It’s incredibly well produced, a lot of fun to play and surprisingly tense.
#1 – SOS Titanic Unboxed
The game comes in a small box (it’s a card game after all), which includes the spiral-bound SOS Titanic game booklet, a total of 90 cards and the rules.
The cards are the first thing that sold me on this game. The cards are split into 60 passenger cards, including purple “1st Class passengers” and yellow “2nd Class passengers” (the people you need to rescue), 20 action cards (little “cheats” that help you along the way) and 10 crew member cards (1 crew member assigned to each player per game, which do different things and thus make sure each game plays different).
The artwork is perfect for what the game wants to be. Especially the “Boarding Pass” backside of the passenger cards. They are slimmer and longer than normal poker cards, making it easy to line them up for a patience-style game.
Most of all, they are made from some truly miraculous material with a strange, grid-like surface, which seems to make the cards nearly indestructible in normal game play.
#2 – SOS Titanic Gameplay
As noted, the game-play is based on Patience, though it adds a few twists with
- action cards, which are specific one-off tricks, such as picking a card of your choice from the pile of discarded cards, and
- crew-members, which give each player a different ability for each game.
The base game is the same however. Players (it is a co-operative game) need to form lines of either 1st class or 2nd class passengers (who will never mix) along the different ship rails, drawn new cards, play action cards, etc… . The lowest card in each suit is the life-boat, which allows you to move cards out of the game (e.g. “save the passengers” in numerical order).
Failed actions (e.g. being unable to place any card drawn from the deck) usually mean a page is turned in the play-book (with each new page showing the Titanic sinking further) and the rails to the left are slowly lost.
The last page of that booklet (one I’ve seen too many times) displays a classic “game over”!
A single game usually lasts for about 20 to 30 minutes.
#3 – Why SOS Titanic is a Fun Game
I admit, I was skeptical of the game, and writing it down, I struggle to convey what exactly makes this game fun. However, it is.. lots of fun. The three reasons I enjoy it are…
- It’s a tough co-op game: It actually is quite hard to get all passengers off the boat. I only ever played it with 2 or 3 players, but without some serious cooperation, it’s very hard to beat. As said, I’ve seen the “game over” page a good many times. On the other hand, it is possible to beat it, if you put your mind to it.
- Time-Pressure: The play-booklet with the sinking Titanic works very well in conveying a sense of urgency in the game; without an hourglass or something silly like that. The “feeling” of fighting against time is always there, even though it’s not really a “real-time” game, and makes for a surprisingly tense game.
- High Production Value: As said, the contents of the box are exquisitely made. The cards in particular are very impressive and very durable.
SOS Titanic Card Game by Ludonaute: 4.5 / 5 stars