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present another boardgame from prolific designer Dirk Henn

HIGH TIDE is a 3-6 player boardgame that takes around 30 minutes to play. The rules are long and seem complicated, when you are listening to someone else reading them out aloud, for a game that is neither long nor complicated. Therefore when getting ready for a session give yourself enough time to familiarise yourselves with the rules and the setup so that after your first (basic) game you will not require the booklet, at least until you start introducing the 4 mini expansions that you will find in the box. 

HIGH TIDE, the basic game, has a clever race mechanism which utilises 18 x D6 dice in 6 colours (3 of each colour) a series of large and small waves coming in towards the Beach and the humourous player components of Deckchairs and Towels. The idea is to move your deckchairs towards the sea line but not to actually touch the water - once a deckchair is hit by a wave the Round ends and all Deckchairs (except the one/s in the water) score points for their owners. It has a minor resemblance and is in the same genre as the old Noris Spiel game of 'Titanic' where the water tiles are added to fill the ship, or the great family game from Waddingtons 'Lost Valley of the Dinosaurs' where the Lava flows down from the mountain and over the land. I like games with this type of erratic timing mechanisms.

Six beach houses on the edge of the sand each have their own private beach in front of them. These have been clearly marked as territories so that only Deckchairs from the owning Beach Hut can be placed on each Hut's sand. There are also lines across the sand that are marked 5, 10 and 15 with gridlines inbetween. Everyone, on their first game, thinks that these are score lines but they are only there to distinguish which Deckchairs are closer to the water - the numbers being guides for quick counting definitely not scores. When a scoring takes place the players whose Deckchair is closest but not in the water gain 4 points, the next get 2 points (that's all the scoring for a 3 player game) there is 1 point for the player in third position only in 4 and 5 player games. Deckchairs left in the Beach Huts score their owners 1 point. If there are Players in tied positions for the points the Deckchair to the furthest Right of the board wins the tie. So there is some luck but it is tempered with a modicum of choice - do you keep what is in front of you or roll again? Dice used whether from the track or just rolled are placed in the paddling pool.

Players draw 2 dice from the sack where all dice have been placed (in 3 & 4 player games one die of each colour is not placed in the bag and is kept out of the game) and then roll them. The player can accept the result and move their Deckchairs along the track or tracks represented by the colour of the dice or they can place the dice on the topmost unoccupied step of the dice track and take 2 more dice from the bag, roll them and accept the result regardless. That player then moves their Towel onto the first free space of the dice track - Towels determine which player's turn it is.

If there dice on the board already then the next player can use those, rolling one or both depending on their position on the track, or roll 2 more dice from the bag. Wave tiles are added at the end of each round, the size and position determined by the roll of 2 dice, the highest gets the largest wave in its track, the lower value gets the smaller wave - obviously both waves go to the same track if both dice rolled are the same colour. Dice, and Beach Huts are colour matched.

HIGH TIDE is a very simple basic game which although a few minutes of fun isn't one with a lot of play-longevity. It has all the hallmarks of a QUEEN GAMES production, high quality pieces, excellent illustrations, colour rules sections and plenty of examples, but it hasn't, in its basic form, the 'special something' that sets QUEEN GAMES aside from ordinary games.


There are 4 expansions with the basic boxed game: COINS; SHARK ALERT; SURFER and BAYWATCH. These aren't truly expansions they are different versions of play that in most games are known as 'Advanced' rules. Expansions usually come in separate boxes or bags, have different pieces and separate rules books and sheets. There are separate specific pieces for each of the 'expansions' but there are no separate rules sheets, instead there are two pages within the rules book, quartered so that the rules for two advancements are on each page - colour coded for ease of legibility.

Each of these adds a small something to the game but on their own not enough to make the game special. Each addition changes the rules slightly;
COINS: 48 coins available; are collected from the beach and may be worth VPs (they score similarly to the Private Beaches and Deckchairs);
SHARK ALERT: 7 Shark Tiles and 6 Alert Tiles are added to the game. Both small stacks are shuffled and placed face down next to the board. When these are flipped over each Round they determine the number of spaces one Deckchair is moved backwards.
SURFER: 6 Surfer tiles (one of each Beach colour - note the rulesbook erroneously says 8 of each colour) Basically each player is dealt a random one of these tiles and if at the end of the Round their Deckchair is in the water of their coloured Surfer Tile then they score additional points.
BAYWATCH: 9 Baywatch tiles. This Advanced rule expansion is the most complicated and complex of the 4. These tiles are won by the players ('won' determined by die roll and choice) and have one shot use, returned to the game box after use - out of the game. If you own more than one tile you may use more than one in your turn but they are still one-shot.

This is, at least to me, a different style of Dirk Henn/QUEEN GAME, my experience being that there are usually only one set of rules and using them allows the game to flow nicely from start to finish. HIGH TIDE suggests that you have 5 games in one box whereas what you have is one decent game with sectioned rules. My personal opinion therefore is to use all 4 enhancements at the same time, but think of them not as expansions or additions but as just a continuation of the rules in a similar way that other games have 'Movement', ' Combat', 'Spell Casting' sections etc. I don't like talking value for money as some games cost more to produce than others even though they may not always have the same amount of components, but I do believe for High Tide that using the 4 expansions simply as just parts of the play is the only way to get a full, interesting, fun, £45.00's worth of game. For that retail price the basic 'HIGH TIDE' game is too light and unsatisfactory. However, apart from the BAYWATCH addition, it is easy to add the 4 expansions to make it a much more acceptable cost-effective game. They all add new pieces/tiles that are introduced at the start of the game. Only 'Baywatch' ruffles the basic rules by slightly changing how the dice rolled by the players on their turn affect or can affect the game play.

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015