Today we have another game review for you, the last in the bundle we were sent by Gibsons at the start of the summer holidays. The game is based around a rock pool theme, which is perfect for summer.
Disclosure: We were sent a free copy of Rockpool for review. All opinions are our own.
What’s in the Box?
Rockpool is essentially a card game, though the cards are played around a board. In the box, you will find:
- 1 rock pool board
- 36 team cards
- 124 stone cards
The stone cards are further divided in to:
- 65 shell cards
- 15 creature cards
- 10 starfish cards
- 14 dog toy cards
- 12 rubbish cards
- 8 wave cards
Setting up the Game
Each player picks a team and places their team cards face up in front of them. There are six teams in total, each with a different colour and name. A team consists of 5 child cards and one dog card.
Next, separate the wave cards from the rest of the stone cards. Shuffle the remaining stone cards and divide them in to seven equal piles, face down. Shuffle one wave card in to each pile, and place the eighth wave card at random at the bottom of one of the piles. Now place the seven piles at random around the edge of the rock pool board. Once you have set everything up, your game should look something like this:
Aim of the Game
The player who has the most team members (i.e. team cards) ‘paddling’ in the rock pool at the end of the game is the winner. Whether or not your cards end up in the pool, depends on the points you score during the game.So essentially, your aim is to score as many points for each individual member of your team as possible.
How to Play
When it is your turn, you take one of the top most stone cards, turn it over, and place it face up in the rock pool. Players take it in turn to place cards in the pool until either someone turns over a wave card, or a player decides to empty the pool.
If you turn over a wave card, the wave card gets placed face up next to the relevant pile, and all the cards already in the rock pool get discarded. However, at any point in the game, any player can empty the pool by shouting ‘Rockpool’, ‘Starfish’, ‘Rubbish’ or ‘Fetch’, depending on what kind of card is topmost in the pool. Each time you empty the pool, you need to turn over one of your team cards – if the topmost card in the pool is a shell or a creature, you need to turn over the team card with the corresponding shell. If the topmost card in the pool is a dog toy card, you need to turn over your dog card. And if the topmost card in the pool is a starfish card or a rubbish card, you can turn over any team card of your choice.
All the collected cards from the pool are then distributed to the relevant team cards. You can only use each team card once to empty the pool, but you can still assign collected cards to them. There are a couple of other things to note, but I won’t go in to the minute details of the rules here.
As you can only empty the pool up to six times, the challenge is to decide when the right time is – some of the cards add points, but some of the cards subtract points, so you need to keep an eye on how many points are in the pool and which team card is necessary to empty the pool at any given time. So there is a bit of strategic thinking involved.
End of the Game and Scoring
The game ends when the eighth wave card has been turned over OR all team cards have been used and there is no player left who can empty the pool.
For the child cards, all players add up all the plus and minus points for each card. For each shell type, the player with the highest score gets to put their child card in to the rock pool. In the scoring example below, the green player scores 4 points, the red player scores 3 points, and the purple player score 5 points, so the purple player has the highest score for the clams.
For the dog cards, any minus points cancel out dog toy or starfish cards. Any dog cards with at least one toy or starfish remaining get to go in the pool. Finally, the player with the most varied collection of dog toy cards and the the player with the most rubbish points collected can add an additional child card of their choice to the pool. The player with the most team cards in the pool wins the game.
Rockpool is a fun game that I would say is one part luck and two parts strategy. The rules may seem a little confusing at first, with all the different types of cards and what to shout when, and the scoring system at the end may also feel a little complicated. But once you have played it a couple of times it gets easier to remember everything, so it really is worth sticking with it. You can also simplify the game a little whilst you get to grips with the rules, e.g. there are meant to be penalties for shouting the wrong thing or turning over the wrong team cards, but we left out the penalties at first and introduced them later once we had played a few times. The other thing I would recommend is to keep a fairly brisk pace going, otherwise the game can drag on a bit. Yes, you do need to give yourself the thinking space to consider your strategy, but don’t overthink every move and take forever to decide which card to turn over like my kids were doing.
Overall, while is does take a little effort to learn the rules of this game and it doesn’t give the same kind of instant gratification that some other games which you can play ‘straight out of the box’, once you get to grip with the rules it is an enjoyable game suitable for the whole family. It says it is aimed at age 6+ but my 5 year old managed to join in no problem. Another plus point is that it can be played with up to six people, so is great for bigger families. And it’s definitely something a little bit different, if you are looking for an alternative to the usual card game suspects. The cards themselves are bright, colourful and engaging, and the eco-friendly theme of the game gets kids thinking about the seaside environment. Finally, at only £12.99 RRP, it’s also very affordable too. Rockpool is available from Amazon (affiliate link).
Check out our other games reviews for more family fun.
Disclosure: We were sent a free copy of Rockpool in exchange for an honest review. All views and opinions in this review are our own. The Amazon link in this post is an affiliate link. This means if you buy anything via this link, I received a small percentage at no extra cost to you, which helps to keep this blog running. Thank you.