Dive into the lagoon to collect treasures and shells, then turn them into valuable museum exhibits, a vault of unique undersea finds, and maybe even a fun aquarium or two in Wreck Raiders, a fun, family-weight game.
Our family really enjoys games that are easy to learn and easy to get to the table. We also love games that allow us to explore different strategies and score points in a variety of ways. And of course, games with interesting or gorgeous art and components always go over well here. Wreck Raiders is the latest game in our collection to check all of these boxes. The choices you have during your turn in Wreck Raiders appear simple, but before long, you find yourself puzzling over the right path to take, the best items to collect, and the most point-worthy way to utilize your treasures.
Wreck Raiders, a 2019 release from Kids Table Board Gaming, was designed by Tim W.K. Brown & Josh Cappel and illustrated by Apolline Etienne. It accommodates 1-5 players age 10 and up, and plays in about 45 minutes.
In Wreck Raiders, players are treasure hunters who send their team of divers into a lagoon to collect treasures and seashells. Those finds can then be used to put together museum exhibits and aquariums, or stored in the player’s personal vault. The player who best converts sunken treasures to valuable point-scoring products is the winner. But be careful: some of the actions you take in this game will benefit not only you, but your opponents as well. Suddenly, every decision is a little more tricky!
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In Wreck Raiders, a player’s turn consists of two basic actions:
- Choose one of the dice from the Reef Board.
- Move or place a diver according to the die you picked, and collect any applicable rewards.
After these two actions, players may optionally choose to “spend” their rewards on one or more types of point-scoring items. At the beginning of the game, a number of Exhibit Cards and 9 Aquarium Tiles are revealed and available for purchase. These items are refreshed as players claim them.
Choosing One of the Dice
Depending on the number of players, you’ll use anywhere from 4-6 dice during your game. All dice are rolled into the box lid, and then transferred directly to the Reef Board. If dice in the lid land on a zone that has a seashell, they are placed in that seashell zone on the Reef Board. If they land outside the seashell zones, they are placed on the blank zone of the Reef Board. (This is a really fun mechanism, and one we haven’t seen before. We especially like that the rules state that dice must be rolled energetically!)
When a player chooses one of the dice, they’ll collect seashell tokens that match the seashells in the section the die comes from (if applicable).
Placing a diver
Next, the player will move or place one of their divers onto the main board, directly into a space with a number that matches the die they chose from the Reef.
They can either place a diver on the beach, where they will then collect seashells, or on one of four underwater wrecks, where they will then collect a treasure tile matching the wreck they chose.
[Note: If an opponent is already on the spot you want, no worries! Your diver will just bump them either to the beach or back to their player area.]
But wait…there’s more! If a diver is placed in an underwater wreck location, any divers already adjacent to the spot they choose will ALSO collect a treasure — this includes both other divers from the active player AND any opponent divers. It is possible for up to three different players to collect a treasure during one person’s turn.
What to do with these treasures and seashells
While those two basic actions are pretty straightforward, players must now decide what to do with the treasures and/or seashells they’ve collected.
Each player has a personal board with two different sections for treasure tiles.
The left-hand side of the player board has displays. Players will fill these display rows from left to right, with the goal of matching one of their rows with an available point-scoring Exhibit Card. During their turn, a player can turn in a row of treasure tiles for the corresponding Exhibit Card, and then add that card to their play area. They’ll score the points on the card at the end of the game.
The right-hand side of the player board has a vault. Players will fill these spaces from the bottom up. At they end of the game, they will score points for both unique treasures and for completing rows with all of the same color tiles.
Seashells can be used to purchase aquarium tiles during one’s turn — another way to score points! — or to take special actions during the course of the game.
The game ends when a certain number of Exhibit Cards have been collected (depending on player count), and players add up points scored from Exhibits, Vaults, and Aquariums. The player with the most points wins!
Components and Art
Wreck Raiders is colorful and whimsical, with quality components that make us smile. The dice with fish-pips are super cute, and we love the wooden diver meeples. We also get a kick out of assembling our aquariums, as the undersea art on the aquarium tiles is so well-done. And yes, I admit that I’ve struggled with wanting to buy the tile with the sea creature I love instead of the tile that will score me the most points…but only temporarily!
The treasure tiles and seashell tokens are high-quality. And we love the way the inside of the lid serves as both the rolling/sorting area for dice and the scoring track at the end of the game. Oh, and how can I forget — there are adorable crab meeples that players use to track their score at game-end.
The Game Experience
Wreck Raiders hits that sweet spot for us of a game that is easy to learn and fairly light, yet still has interesting decisions. Will I try to collect the right set of five treasure tiles so I can snag that high-point Exhibit Card before another player does? Or will I forget the treasures for now and focus on grabbing seashells and building the most awesome aquarium I can?
Wreck Raiders provides player interaction in a very friendly way that still introduces some tension. Quite often, I found myself wanting to go after a certain treasure, but my dice choices meant that I’d be helping my opponent gain one of those treasures as well. Sometimes that was okay with me…but other times it definitely wasn’t, and I found myself in a quandary.
While rolling the dice means there’s certainly luck involved in Wreck Raiders, there were enough decisions available to us so that we never felt that we were ruled by that luck. We had options and alternate paths to take, no matter what.
Downtime was not much of an issue for us in Wreck Raiders. Even during an opponent’s turn, I felt engaged because there was a possibility that I would benefit. After all, if they placed a diver adjacent to one of my divers at a wreck site, I could collect a treasure. And if my opponent wanted my spot at a wreck, my diver would get bumped back to the beach, where I could collect some shells.
Overall, we have found Wreck Raiders to be a light and fun experience. Repeated plays feel fresh, since we’ve been able to explore different paths to victory. And the length of the game means that — for us — it never overstays its welcome.
[Note: There is a solo play variant for Wreck Raiders, but we have not yet had a chance to try it.]
What We Love MOST About Wreck Raiders
As I referenced earlier, we all love having the variety of ways to score points in Wreck Raiders. That’s a favorite dynamic for us across our most-loved games. We also love the unique way dice are rolled and sorted — something we haven’t seen done in any of our other games.
As the primary game-teacher in our house, I also appreciate the clear rulebook, and the fact that the game boils down to just a few key decisions. It’s easy to teach, even though players quickly find themselves pondering the best move to make.
I also like that Wreck Raiders sits solidly as a “just above gateway” kind of game. For families just getting into the gaming hobby, this game would be a great fit. It introduces mechanisms (such as dice drafting, set collection, and a form of worker placement) that are found in many other games, but are presented here in a very approachable way.
And of course — we love the diver and crab meeples!
If you’re looking for a family game with a great presentation, multiple ways to score points, and some fun player interaction, I encourage you to take a look at Wreck Raiders. We think kids as young as 8 or 9 will be able to easily pick up on the player actions, though older children will be better able to formulate and pursue a point-scoring strategy.
Wreck Raiders is absolutely a kid friendly game, but it’s one that parents and even grandparents are likely to enjoy as well. Truly a game for the entire family!
Wreck Raiders can be found: