SNAP Review – Tranquility
Make your way home – and avoid the sea monsters and rocks!
Tranquility is a cooperative card laying game for 1-5 players, designed by James Emmerson and published in the US by Lucky Duck Games.
Great art by Tristam Rossin. Each decade of cards has its own image and definitely sets the tone for sailing across the sea.
I love looking at the table when it’s over, when the game is over and all the cars are laid out, it’s just super, super gorgeous. It is. And the few cards that don’t have numbers on them really, really stand out from the rest, which is good graphic design.
How do you play it? Well, it’s a cooperative sequencing game. Every player has their own deck of cards. You’re collaborating (without actually sharing your cards) to create a sequence containing numbers between 1-80.
Start by setting up the game and creating the grid. Put the 24 border cards out to form the edges. Then you’ll need to separate out the start and finish cards depending on player count and put a certain number in the deck. Shuffle it up and divide it evenly amongst the players. Every player draws five cards.
So on your turn, you want to play a card into this grid. You can put that card literally anywhere, as long as it follows the sequence, but there’s a twist. So the twist in this game is that when you play a card next to another card, you have to discard a number of cards equal to the difference in the card (numbers).
So for example, if you play an 11 next to a 13, you need to discard two cards. It also means since you only have a hand of five, that normally you can’t play numbers that are more than four apart! So you always take the difference that’s the lowest. (And that’s one of the strategies to this game.)
You don’t need to start the game with a Start card (which requires the group to discard cards when it’s played) but you’ll need to play one during the game. You finish with a Finish card as the very last card played after your entire grid is complete.
There is a couple of other kinds of cards in the box that introduce variants. Sea Monsters have to be played before the game can end. When you play one, select a card and take it back out of the grid.
The rocks and some of the other cards make rows unusable. So with the Jagged Rocks in play, you can’t place a card into that row for that round. These are all temporary difficulties that just keep the game a little bit more interesting – you can’t play a card everywhere you want.
This adds some interesting strategic depth and a little bit more difficulty to the game. (A little bit? A lot more difficulty!)
That’s a very oddly shaped box. And then all the cards are very square, which is a little unusual. Literally nothing but a giant stack of square cards and instructions inside this box.
We knew it was going to be a cooperative card game, with minimal communication. That’s a super popular thing right now. I feel like there’s a ton of games that are coming out with this whole, “You need to do something together, but you’re not allowed to talk to each other.”
I expected some kind of organic tile laying game because there is no board in the box. And that’s not the case here. And actually that is one of the things that we struggled with with Tranquility, especially because we’re family game reviewers.
Cooperative card laying with minimal communication. This mechanic is super popular in board games right now.
My biggest surprise with Tranquility was how much space it took up, based on the size of the box. You’re going to lay out a six by six grid of cards on the table, plus a border of cards all the way around. So it’s, it’s almost a eight by eight, which is huge.
The cards are the only thing you’re laying out. And it’s really important that they stay in order. This is where the problems come in.
It’s really hard for kids to not fiddle around with the cards on the edges, that don’t seem like they’re part of the action yet. Your cards are going to slide a little bit on the table, and then you’re going to be going, “oh, was there a space between these two cards, or not? I don’t remember anymore.”
This is a case where a playmat, or a board would have actually helped a lot. The set up would have been a lot more simple, but it’s a nice tiny box and you’re not putting a board in there.
The other surprise was the way the difficulty ramps up.
The basic version helps you learn the rules, but it’s not terribly difficult and it’s not terribly interesting. The “mini expansions” of the Jagged Rocks and the Sea Monsters and the Storm cards, they do make the game a lot more challenging, but sometimes it’s almost frustrating (again, as family game reviewers) to play it that way.
It might be too challenging; it’s a big jump even adding one of these from the basic version.
Our feelings are mixed. As a family game, this one doesn’t really work for us. I don’t think that’s unique to our family.
So who does this work for?
I think this would be great for a group of friends to play and connect with each other. It’s the kind of game you can play that has nothing to do with the conversations around the table, but gives you something to do with your hands and with your brains. If you’re looking for a game that’s beautiful on the table that you can play while being social with your friends, that’s really Tranquility‘s sweet spot.
We rate Tranquility 3 beautiful islands out of 5.
You can get it on Amazon with our affiliate link,
The Family Gamers received a copy of Tranquility from Lucky Duck Games for this review.
This post contains affiliate links, which do not change your price, but help support The Family Gamers.
Number of Players: 1-5
Age Range: 8+
Playtime: 20 minutes