Thursday, December 16, 2010

Product Review: Greenpeace's "Deepsea Desperation"

^Yeah, that dude has a bad case of oil diarrhea^

Today, Greenpeace released a tiny "print & play" game named "Deepsea Desperation". It's a free (and CC-licensed!) 2-page PDF document designed by Terrorbull Games. The concept is simple - one player plays the valiant environmentalist defenders attempting to stop the other player (as the evil, cute sea creature-killing oil company *wink,wink*) from destroying the local environment (and getting rich in the bargain).

The gameboard is a simple 6x6 grid of squares, representing a small lake or sea, as if envisioned by Jules Feiffer (if you ever read The Phantom Tollbooth as a kid, you'll catch my drift). Each player starts on an opposite corner with their relevant counter - an oil tanker for the 'Oil Company' or a Cocaine-smuggling Earth-saving Fastboat for Greenpeace.

Coins (representing the filthy lucre, I guess, although Greenpeace seems to partake of these riches as well....) are placed over the oil reserves. Several crying animal counters are placed according to the coordinates rolled on 2D6 (although the "Sad Panda" seems somewhat out-of-place with the other aquatic animals...). The Oil company then starts first.

Each player turn, that player may perform one of three actions. Each player can move, while each player has 2 unique actions. Greenpeace may 'occupy' the oil tanker or form a 'marine reserve' around its ship, protecting surrounding animals & that area from drilling. The Oil Co. can lobby to remove reserves (an interesting real-world analogy) or drill for oil.

Drilling (obviously) can lead to oil spills by rolling doubles on a 2D6 and the Oil Co. player must pay a penalty from his or her pot, as well as killing any animals in the area. The game ends (and both players lose) if all the animals are killed - a nice little mechanic that seemed the least heavy-handed of the lessons being promoted here.

The Oil Co. player wins once he drills enough oil to collect 12 coins, while the Greenpeace player wins by either bankrupting the Oil Co. or by making all the deepwater squares into reserves. The former seems to be relatively moderate to accomplish, while the latter is nearly impossible when the Oil Co. can remove most (if not all) of the reserves Greenpeace puts down simply by moving to the right square and performing a Lobby action.

Overall though, this is a nicely-designed, quick game, especially for children. Well-intentioned propaganda is still propaganda, but that doesn't mean it can't be FUN!

The game is available as a free PDF here.

-A quick (~15-20mins.) game suitable for children of all ages
-Nicely designed
-"Hurray for environmental responsibility!" message
-You get to re-enact the smarmy 90s cartoon "Captain Planet"

-Pretty easy for Oil Co. player to demolish Greenpeace marine reserves
-Maybe a little heavy-handed with the "big, evil oil company" message
-Sad Panda!


Andrew said...

Hey, it's Andrew from TBG here. Thanks for the review. I just felt compelled to defend the panda! To be fair to Greenpeace, they also weren't sure, but we convinced them that a panda, alone, in the middle of the ocean was *absolutely hilarious*. But it appears now we might have been wrong. Sorry.

Ancientsociety said...


No need to apologize. While I do stand by the review and the panda being out of place, I mostly just don't enjoy seeing cute pandas cry. Otherwise, great work on a "free" game!