Before I begin, I was sent a copy of the game in exchange for an honest review. This is not a paid review. If you would rather watch a video of this review then you can check it out below. Get your own copy here.
One of my games of the year last year was Guild Master from Good Games Publishing, and this summer I was thrilled to be able to play a round of it with the publisher and the designer. After the game ended the publisher asked me to hang out for a few minutes and showed me the next game he had coming to the market. I was immediately intrigued by it. I didn’t fully grasp it at the time, but I knew I had to try it. Luckily for me, he was asking if I was interested in doing a review of it. So here we are.
The game itself is super simple. One player takes on the roll of the land, and the other the sea. The land is trying to make islands across the board, while the sea wants to make small seas all over. If you play with the third player, then things get a little wackier as you score the secondary mechanics like coral in the seas and mountains on the land…however, overall game play is simple. On your turn you lay down a tile, making sure the sides connect to like sides, ie land to land and sea to sea. If doing this completes a sea or an island then you score points. Then you draw another tile, and the next player goes. It is that simple.
There are some additional layers of scoring, which I briefly mentioned. Some of the sea tiles have coral on them, and connecting those will earn you additional points, as will the mountains on the land tiles. In addition you will be creating caravans of ships and wagons that will add to the end game scoring as well. Once all the tiles have been played then then you do any final scoring and the high score wins.
So what do I think?
The game looks awesome on the table. It has an old map look to it, and the closer you look the cooler it gets. I love the way it looks. Additionally, there is a simple joy in placing tiles out on the board, and creating this delightful map.
I also really appreciate the ease of learning the game, even with all the scoring layers turned on, and how quickly it can play. You can learn the game and play it easily in under an hour. Yet, even with this simplicity, there are layers of strategy to it as you find you have tons of options of where to place tiles as they are double sided, and as the game progresses you have tons of places to place your tiles. Then, you add to that the two types of special tiles and the options suddenly feel almost endless.
If you are the type of player who is truly prone to AP, then you might have an issue here. As the game continues you can feel like you have to make the perfect move to make sure that you can close off that large sea or island. For someone like myself, this is not an issue, but could be for others.
The box is actually a bit bigger than it needs to be. I love that the score tracker is included in the box, but there is also a lot of air in there. Hopefully, that will be filled with expansions some day. I will also close this by saying that you could play this game as a spoiler. There is definitely the possibility of simply playing as mean as possible with the intention of just ruining the other players plans. I have not come across this, but the potential is there if you are so inclined.
Bringing it all together
Land vs Sea is a delightfully attractive, quick to learn and play tile laying game. I love the look, and the way the strategy increases as the game progresses and your map expands across the board. The different scoring layers are a blast to work with, and I especially appreciate the three player variant with the addition of an asymmetric player. You might find those with AP issues struggle here, and you might find that some players are quite aggressive in their play style. Yet, all in all, I think Good Games has knocked it out of the park with this game. I really enjoy it.
It’s Land vs Sea, Not Words and Boredom!
* Game looks awesome, great art
* Easy to learn, quick to play
* Scoring layers allow for a more or less complex game
* Utterly delightful tile laying game
* If you are into AP, then you could certainly find it here
* You could make the game a bit aggressive, which might not be your style
* Immediately jumps into my top tier of light games