SNAP Review – Sunset Over Water: Pocket Edition
Artists call the hour right after sunrise and the hour right before sunset the “golden hour”. Those two times of day, you get beautiful light that makes everything in the landscape pretty.
Even better if your landscape includes features like water or flowers… because then you can have a sunset, but it’s over water!
This is a SNAP review for Sunset Over Water: Pocket Edition.
Sunset Over Water: Pocket Edition (and Sunset Over Water) is a game of landscape painting for 1-4 players that takes less than 30 minutes. It was designed by Steve Finn, Beth Sobel, and Eduardo Baraf, and it’s published by Pencil First Games.
With names like that, let’s talk about that art!
The largest component of this game are the landscape cards, depicting a variety of beautiful paintings by Beth Sobel. Each landscape card has icons in its upper left corner to remind you what natural features it showcases. The iconography all over this game is incredibly clear, even though the cards are really small.
Even the painter meeples have been thoughtfully designed, with subtle differences between them and a palette that makes them friendly to most color-blind players.
[Anitra] My only quibble with the art is that all of the card backs have symmetrical designs on them, but all of the cards have a single correct orientation. I wish I could tell which way was “up” before I flip a card over!
[Andrew] I’d go one further and say I love the design aesthetic of this game, but I just think they went too far with the card backs. It’s hard to undertand which one they are. And when you have the game on the table, you can’t see the card backs anyway!
Let’s talk about the mechanics of Sunset Over Water, and how to play the game.
Start by laying out Landscape cards in a 5×5 grid, along with a row of Commission cards and a Daily Goal.
Every player selects a painter meeple and their corresponding Planning cards.
Each round starts with PLANNING: every player simultaneously draws the top three cards of their planning deck and chooses one to govern their day. Planning cards have a TIME (when you wake up and get out there to paint), a HIKE (how far your artist can move and in which directions they can go), and a PAINTING (how many landscapes you can collect on that day).
Once everyone has chosen their Planning card, they return their unchosen cards to the bottom of their deck and reveal their choice. The player with the earliest TIME goes first in the next phase of the game.
In the TREK phase, you move your artist token around within the Landscape grid. You may pass through other artists, but you cannot end your movement in the same space as one. You may not pass through an empty space.
[Editor’s note: Our video has an error here. Your artist meeple must move in a straight line and may not change direction.]
Once your movement is complete, you choose some landscapes to PAINT. You may take any that you’ve passed through, as long as another artist hasn’t claimed them (by sitting on them!). Take up to the number allowed by your chosen planning card.
Then at the end of your turn, you may SELL paintings, turning them in to fulfill Commission cards. This is the largest source of points in the game.
You might also be able to claim the Daily Goal – but since all of the goals are for the LAST person to do something, you’d better hope no one else takes it after you!
Landscape cards and Commission cards are not re-stocked until everyone has completed their turn for this round – so going first always gives you the most choices.
After 6 rounds, the game is over. Add up points from Commission cards and Daily Goals. And add a few points for symbols left on the landscape paintings you still have, and that’s your final score.
What did we expect from this game?
This is a Beth Sobel-illustrated game. We knew it was going to be gorgeous.
“Pocket Edition” promised to take Sunset Over Water and shrink it down to a portable size. I wondered if it would make any significant changes to the gameplay.
But as far as we can tell, it’s an exact copy… just pocket-sized.
I knew the original Sunset over Water was beautiful and peaceful, and I expected the same here. And that’s what I got.
[Anitra] I did not expect this game to go so quickly. It seemed pretty complex the first time we set it up. (There’s the whole grid and everything.) But the mechanics were all familiar, and the rhythm of the game just makes sense to me: plan, travel, paint, sell. Done.
I can see how the regular version of this game would be a table hog. But the pocket edition fits nicely even on a small table – it really is portable!
I’ve played games with this kind of tension in them before. Filler, which is a game we like from Green Couch Games, has this same kind of mechanic where you choose which card you want to play, and the order of execution is balanced by the time on the card, which determines the player order. It is a great mechanic that leads to some really tough decisions for which card to play.
Both the regular and the pocket edition, are really nice games for a peaceful play and still competitive play experience. There’s a little bit of player versus player when you’re considering what cards to take, because you might be denying players the cards they want (or the ones you think they want).
[Andrew] We liked playing this game, and for me the theme here definitely works better for me than that other game I mentioned – Filler.
So we’re going to give Sunset over Water: Pocket Edition the same rating we gave Filler – four and a half sunsets, in this case, out of five.
And that’s Sunset over Water Pocket Edition, in a SNAP!
The Family Gamers received a copy of Sunset Over Water: Pocket Edition from Pencil First Games for this review.
This post contains affiliate links, which do not change your price, but help support The Family Gamers.
SNAP review music is Avalanche, provided courtesy of You Bred Raptors?
Sunset Over Water: Pocket Edition
Age Range: 14+ (we say 10+)
Number of Players: 1-4
Playtime: 30 minutes