We first reviewed Oceans on Board's Eye View back in the spring of 2020. We saw it as an evolution of Evolution, NorthStar's hit game built around the evolution of species. In Oceans, players are evolving their aquatic creatures by adding traits to species so that they are better able to compete for food and less liable to be gobbled up by predatory species. Much moreso than its predecessor Evolution, Oceans reflected the delicate balance of an eco-system where a change in trait of one species could have a knock-on domino effect on all the others.
The core game of Oceans is very much focused on the natural world. With the Oceans: Legends of the Deep expansion, however, designer Dominic Crapuchettes introduces myth & legend into the mix. The expansion comprises an additional deck of cards (24 in the preview prototype shown here on Board's Eye View). The cards are each based on mythology and folktales about the sea. Some, like the Greek god Poseidon and the Ancient Egyptian deity Sobek, may be familiar but the cards draw on mythology from all around the world so there will be some you won't have previously encountered in stories or other board games.
The Legends of the Deep cards are all game changers. Tho' not actually classified as traits, the Legends of the Deep cards act like super-traits, applying to all of the species controlled by the player who activates the card. You have to pay the cost on the card to activate it and each player can only ever have one Legend card in play at any one time.
To incorporate the Legends of the Deep cards, you begin each game of Oceans with a draft. Each player is dealt four Legend cards, they choose one to keep and pass the other cards to the player on their left. This continues until all players have a hand of four Legend cards. These are the cards that will be available to you for the entire game. You play Oceans just as you normally would, except that you can pay to activate one of your Legend cards by paying its cost. You can change Legend cards (ie: switch to one of your other three Legend cards) by paying the difference in cost - tho' there are no refunds if you replace a card with one that has a lower cost.
So the key effect of the Legends of the Deep cards is to shake up play. If you've played Oceans a lot then this modest expansion will give your game a new lease of life as you navigate your way through the diverse effects of the new cards. But the initial draft phase and the way in which you can switch cards during the game introduce whole new tactics and dynamics into game play. You will discover new directions for the evolution of your oceanic species and new synergies between species as you factor in the effects you will be able to add through judicious use of your Legends cards...
Oceans: Legends of the Deep is due to make a splash on Kickstarter on 18 October. Click here to check out the campaign.