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Whale to Look

Whale to Look is a recent entry in Oink's range of small box games. In this game, the 2-5 players are tour operators running whale-watching boat trips. Each player has three boats, carrying one, two and three tourists, and you score at the end of each round for tourists who are in the spot where either a whale or orca appear.

The game is played on a modular board made up of six cards as the locations that your tourist boats can move to plus 12 surrounding sea areas. The sea areas show the number of fish on their reverse: it's nor clear why (indeed, we might've expected the reverse to be the case) but the whale will appear at the boat location that has the highest number of fish in the surrounding four sea cards, and the orca will appear at the location surrounded by the fewest fish.

Turns are super easy. You have five discovery tokens and you can place out a token to investigate a sea area (peek at the reverse of the card to see how many fish are there). You must then move one of your tourist boats (either initially placing it out on the board or, if already in play, moving it to an adjacent location). Players also each have a single use radar token that they can play to flip a sea card, revealing its fish value but of course sharing that information with all the other players. In addition, you each have an anchor: an anchored boat cannot be moved but if it's in a winning location it scores bonus points.

Whale to Look isn't merely set in the ocean deep: tho' the rules are simple and Whale to Look is easy to play, designers Jun Sasaki and Bruno Faidutti have put together a game that has hidden depth. Your own discovery efforts can yield you only imperfect information so your choices of final locations for your tourist boats must rely either on a gamble or on deductions based on other players' positioning. And where there's deduction there's also scope for bluffing and misdirection... There's tactics too over the timing of your movement: each location can take a maximum of three tourist boats...

The game is played over two rounds, and the second round adds in a 'Trending Card' variant that alters scoring so that even if you scored no points in the first round and another player netted the maximum possible score in that round, you will still be in with a chance of winning because the second round will have more points up for grabs.

With just two players you're likely to have to rely on more guesswork. For us, Whale to Look is at its best with more players, offering much more opportunity for deduction and deception. More players also means the ocean is more crowded and so greatly increased competition for space - too much so tho' if you're playing with five; making three and four players the sweet spot. We've had a whale of a time playing this game!

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