i get exactly one birthday wish a year, and this year, i spent it on Underwater Cities and its expansion, Underwater Cities: New Discoveries. Watch me fish through the box looking for non-existent connections to Tiger Sharks, Street Sharks, and Terraforming Mars.

(click to view transcript)

Hi! It’s Ryan from Nights Around a Table and… uh… oh, God! why is my audio not synced with my lips? Well… i had a bit of a problem with… uh… the capture card that i use to capture the Ryan shots in these videos. There’s some kind of windows 10 bug with the Elgato CamLink 4k… you don’t want to hear it. Doesn’t matter. The deal is, i had… i lost the audio for this video, and i still really wanted to post it, so i went back and i painstakingly overdubbed everything that i said, so it’s gonna be a little bit weird, but if you are patient with me, uh… we’ll get through it together. …won’t we? Does that look like i’m saying that…? Do i look like i’m saying “won’t we”? i look kind of concerned, right? Look: my eyebrows are down. Anyway, whatever. Here we go. We’ll start from the beginning, and uh… and… let’s try this out. Hi! It’s Ryan from Nights Around a Table, and i had a birthday recently. It’s something i like to do about once a year, and you may be wondering “Hey: i wonder what uh… Ryan, who has board games coming out the wazoo…” (in fact i’ve been to the hospital to treat that… there wasn’t much they could do for me) “What does he really, really want? Like, when Ryan goes and buys games, what does he pick?” So i was in that situation about a month back. It was a few weeks before my birthday, and my wife Cheryl and i were in the big city, in the Big Smoke, at uh… one of my favourite FLGS’s – friendly local game stores – 401 Games, and a couple weeks to go till my birthday, and my wife Cheryl said “We should probably get your birthday gift right now, because we don’t know when stores are going to be shut down,” and indeed, it was a very good call, because just a couple of weeks later, all the non-essential stores in Toronto were shut down… and i don’t know why board games are considered non-essential, but that’s a… that’s a whole other thing. So we were there, and she said, you know, “Pick out your birthday present!” So i kind of had carte blanche to pick out whatever i wanted in the entire store. What did i pick? Don’t look over here if you don’t want to be spoiled! Uh… it came down to Underwater Cities versus, uh… Teotihua… uh… Teotihuacan, and i didn’t… i could have got Teotihuacan and all of the expansions that they had, uh… but i thought – you know – for a game that’s about a pyramid, about a ziggurat, it’s a pretty flat looking board. i think i’ve been spoiled by games that have uh… ridiculous vertical table presence, like the tree in Everdell, and there are a bunch of others that just like – you know – pop right off the table. So if a board game… board… definition: board. Flat. BOARD game… doesn’t do that anymore, i’m kind of like “Nyeah…” You know. “Nyeah.” Does it have seven inches of height? No. Just a few weeks after that, uh i got Tekhenu: Obelisk of the Sun, which DOES have about six inches of height, so look at that: i’m a total board game… size queen. Here we are! i picked up Underwater Cities…. uh… and, uh… and yes, i grabbed the expansion as well, uh because i’m a… i’m a sick individual. But uh… i buy games for the dumbest reasons. And this might annoy you. Uh…. i actually asked Rio Grande Games if they could send copies of these along, and they said… uh… “No.” So i went out and got them myself. They were very good to me, though, in that they sent Roll for the Galaxy: Rivalry, which was on my list for a long time, and it’s taken… takING a long time – a really long time – to get that onto the channel, because it’s like two different game modes, and you can combine the game modes, and we have to play a whole bunch of times – you know – to sort of get the gist of it. But i’m working on that! If you’re excited about Roll for the Galaxy: Rivalry, and Ambition.. uh, the first two expansions for that game, it’s coming! Keep your eyes… don’t wait up, but it’s coming! These games… i buy games for the dumbest reasons, which is the point that i was on. i did not buy Underwater Cities, but the very first time i saw it, it was the very first time i went to my friend Doc’s house, and he was having a get-together with the guys, and he was running, like, a three-ring circus where he’s got games set up on all kinds of tables… he had this set up, so i got to see what it looked like. It’s very beautiful looking, as you will find out shortly, if you’ve never seen it… uh… if you haven’t seen it, i’m amazed you’re still watching… but… uh, he had it set up, and i i opted… actually, i said to some of the other fellas, i said “i… i’ve never heard so much about Terraforming Mars. i’ve never played it. Do you want to play that?” So we did, and in the time it took us to get through a full… i think it was 4-player game of Terraforing Mars, they were still playing Underwater Cities! So it’s… doesn’t seem like a short game by any means, but nobody knew it, and they… Doc had to teach them. i think everybody had played Terraforming Mars but me. Um… interesting, though. But it’s… it’s… what’s interesting to me – maybe not you – but what’s interesting to ME is that the connection between Terraforming Mars and Underwater Cities is that Terraforming Mars had frequent complaints about the fact that you’re putting cubes on a flat board that isn’t recessed – you know – it doesn’t have those little divots to hold the cubes in, and if you are in an earthquake zone, or you have pets, or kids, or if you – you know – if you have tremors or whatever is going on, uh… you could shake the board, and if those cubes dislodge from the spots they’re marking, it kind of messes up the game if you don’t remember how to put them back. It’s a pretty big, um, upset… uh… so it’s… some people were saying it’s not a big deal, and some people are saying it’s a huge deal, and i thought to myself “As good as game as i’ve heard Terraforming Mars is, i’m going to wait until recessed boards are available before i make a purchase, because that seems like a pretty, uh… decent complaint about the game.” Enter Underwater Cities, which i… i had no idea what was up with the boards or anything, but i picked up, uh, the expansion when i was in the board game store, and one of the things it said… gee whiz, i hope says this on this on this box… “New metropolises… treasures… bottom of the sea…” There it is. Actually, i’ll see if i can put it under the close-up cam so you can see it a little bit better. It’s this part: “3-layered and extra player boards. Layered player boards hold all components securely in place.” Da da da da DA! WHICH, using my power of deduction, i figured out that the base game must NOT have layered player boards. That MUST be an issue, if they made that a component of the expansion. Now – nah! Call me “Shorlock.” So i thought “Well, if i made that rule for Terraforming Mars – as soon as they got recessed player boards, i will bite – uh, then – you know – it’s the same thing with Underwater Cities.” So that was half of the dumb reason i really wanted Underwater Cities. The other half of the dumb reason… this is way worse than that first thing… is that on the back, it shows some cards, and it shows this shark-lookin’ thing here, and i swear when i saw it in the store it was a GUY with a SHARK HEAD. i SWEAR that’s what i saw when i looked at the card. And then, when i got these games home for – you know – my birthday, uh… i looked, and it’s just… it’s just a shark. Uh and i thought… when i thought it was a guy, it hearkened back to, like… do you… i… have you ever heard of that show Tiger Sharks? It was like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle ripoff? Here’s the dumb thing: i never watched Tiger Sharks, but i was filled with nostalgia, and i thought “Oh – that’s cool! i didn’t know there were, like, anthropomorphic sea creatures in Underwater Cities! i didn’t know there was kind of, like, a fantastical element to it!” Uh… and no, i don’t think there is. There are no shark shark men at ALL in the game! Uh…. but i… i went and… blew my birthday wish on it anyway. So i hope that the favourable things i’ve heard about the game… bear out. So here’s the even dumber thing that i’m just noticing as i’m editing the video: obviously, Tiger Sharks isn’t a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ripoff. It’s a Thundercats ripoff. i’m thinking Street Sharks. So i… i didn’t even get the name of the show correct. Oh, just forget about it. i’m going to get my money’s worth out of this, so i’m going to turn this into two different videos. In this one, we’ll crack this thing open, and in this one, uh… and in another video, i’ll crack this open, and then, i’m going to do a THIRD Underwater Cities video, because Laserox, which is a company that produces these laser-cut wood inserts, has sent me the… their Underwater Cities reorganizer. So i’m going to shoot a re-boxing video with that product, and i’ll time-lapse it and i’ll show you how all this stuff goes back together. i think they pitch that it goes back together in the same box with their insert(?) i’ll believe it when i see it! So if you’re interested in Underwater Cities and what i have to say about it, and the amazing discoveries i make and the childish banter that i yammer on about when i’m opening them, watch this, one watch this one, and then definitely watch the re-boxing. Here we go! We’ll put this away for now. Da-de-daaa, da-de-daaa. So the… the little bit of verticality that this one does have, which you’ll see shortly, is that there are cool little, uh… domes that… sort of uh… mimic, or or or… what is what i’m trying to say…? They… they signify the domed underwater… titular underwater cities, you know, to make them protected? Because you can’t have all that water… in your house. Here we are! Box Fart-O-Meter: zero. Are we surprised? i don’t think so. If any of you are watching these videos from your, uh, comped suites in Vegas, and you’re thinking about putting money on the Box Fart-O-Meter, the smart money is on zero. Uh… just know how to hold out a lot… so right off the bat, these are the, uh… the domes i was talking about. i’m gonna put them under the close-up cam for you to get a closer gander at. Here they are! Da da doot-duh-doo! You can play a little Three-card Monte shell game with them. Nice. Yes. Lovely. And they’re slightly… i’m surprised to find that they’re ever so slightly textured. Look at that little kind of pock marked effect going on in the domed… in the dome! And then there’s a whole… bag of them. Light ones, red ones, and green ones, which i’m sure have some sort of game significance. Never played it. i dunno. Have you played? maybe you have? Maybe you would like to tell me all about it in the comments? Whether you enjoyed it, didn’t enjoy it… whether it took you longer than a game of Terraforming Mars, because… Terraforming Mars… that ain’ a short game! That can go on for quite a while. Uh… over here, some… i’m assuming player markers, because it looks like there are just enough to be three in each colour… get back here, orange… so there’s black, orange, purple, and blue, and a special white one that might be, since it’s the odd one out, the start player marker. Not a super interesting start player marker, but there they are. Discs! And what else do we have? Cards. i’m going to put these away. It’s interesting that some companies put their cards… they’re bound and wrapped and with the rip strip and everything – or not – um, but very rarely will i see cards put in a bag like this, so i think this means that somebody actually had to, like, sort cards and human… human hands have handled this bag. That fascinates me. i’m not sure why. Little message written here: “Help! i am trapped in the factory!” No – just kidding! Just kidding, Rio Grande. Uh… then there are these… Ah! So Rio Grande is becoming known to me for reusing components. So there’s nothing wrong with that. i like to have unique components – a FEW unique components in every game that i own. These are just more plastic discs. And i’m trying to remember the recent Rio Grande Game i played that had these little plastic discs in them that looked good enough to eat in three colours: green, yellow, and white. Get out of there, craft knife… i find they’ve thrown a whole bunch of baggies in here to put everything back. i appreciate that. But one thing that Rio Grande, as a publisher, doesn’t do that well, is… “well” ….uh, is inserts. Uh… so that companies like Laserox can come in, and… and sort of, uh jump in on… capitalize on that. So usually what they have is what i call “the well,” which is just, like, two pieces of cardboard that cut in like this, and then BOOOSH – down, and you just got a pit, and i think that’s meant to help it so that you can store it vertically or horizontally, and your pieces won’t slosh around too much. i think – it seems like there’s enough pieces in this game that they didn’t even… they don’t even have room for the well, which i think bodes well for the um… the insert that we’re gonna put together in another video. Um… so here: wow! These aren’t the… are these the player mats? Oh my Lord… these are like cheap and flimsy! These feel like keno tickets! Like, these are really bad! Really, really bad! i’m not… at ALL impressed with the component quality on those! i think this is the very first time that i’ve called out components for feeling so flimsy and cheap! These are… this is like if you go and get prints done at Staples, this is the kind of stock that they’re on. That’s pretty brutal. So i hope that the expansion has… maybe that’s the recessed boards? They’re thicker, and they’re they’re nicer? That’s… that’s pretty poor. Um… i don’t think i realized that Vladimir S… uh… i can’t pronounce his last name. i haven’t looked it up, sorry. Sooky? Soochy? Uh… Vlad S, um… who’s one of the two Vlads who usually designs games for Czech Games Edition… i didn’t realize that he was the designer on this! That makes me more excited to play, because i quite like his stuff! He did Last Will, he did Pulsar 2849, and a few others that escape me, but i’ll maybe put some images of them on the screen, of vlad games that i’ve played. Uh… let’s get into it. i noticed that themes tend to… there’s… there’s like a theme zeitgeist. So 2020 was the year of, uh… our loved ones dying of a deadly virus. And also, uh… the pirate themes. There were tons of Kickstarter pirate games through 2020, and if you saw, i did do How to Play videos for at least two of them. It’s all a blur now. i can barely remember. But i also noticed, like 2019… maybe early 2020… there were a ton of underwater games. Days of Wonder had one, and… there was another one called… i’m gonna forget all the titles, but again, i’ll flash the pictures there. One is called… maybe Sunken Treasures? Somethin’ the… Deep Blue? S-something… the Treasure Hunter? Water Octopus? i don’t know. You see the picture there. Thank god for post-me editing. Um, and they – you know – this is part and parcel of that whole zeitgeisty theme frenzy. This is the rulebook. Plenty of pictures. Plenty of text lots of, uh, pictorial examples. It’s about half and half, maybe, pictures and text. Looks lovely. Kind of a captivating theme. It’s neat. i mean, i think people who go for the underwater theme… oh, i should give you a page count. Do you want to know? It’s 20 pages. That’s not insubstantial. People who, i think, go for the underwater theme are people who go for space themes, too, because there’s a lot of parallels between underwater and space, right? They’re both inhospitable environments that you have to have special equipment to traverse. i’m going to pop one of each of these here and i’m going to guess at their meaning. Whoa! Big pile of stuff. Don’t go anywhere, cards – we’re going to need you in a second. Here we are. So something representing, presumably, plants or biology? Chemistry, maybe? C….communism? i don’t know what that is. W-wounds? Pssh. It’s probably a good thing, because the other ones seem like good things. This is going to be eggs. A nice half dozen eggs. And money. Money. Looks like credits. Hmm. Uh… and what else is in here? Hexes! Woh… lots of cardboard left in the box. Ung… there’s a sheet, there’s a sheet… THESE look interesting, though. Look at this: little… little strippy-strips of… something-or-other. i’m not too sure. What is that, do you think? Is that, like, a health bar, or oxygen gauge? i would be surprised if there’s no sort of oxygen gauge in this game, or… or… requirement to worry about the amount of oxygen that is in your underwater city. B’iiii… you know what? i’m gonna go out on a limb and say i will probably never build an underwater city in real life, and if i did, a very high priority: being able to breathe. Uh… hexes. i said i’d pop them out. This kind of… this one kind of looks like a… circus tent, but i think it’s meant to depict white or red dome, or both, on your city. i’ll throw a few more on there. Of course, i’ve never played, so i can’t interpret those symbols for you, and thank god that you haven’t sent me into pyramids to tell you what the Egyptians used to be saying, because i’d be similarly up a creek. People’d be like “Why did we fundraise for this guy? Send… send somebody else. Somebody else who’s more qualified.” Great! Um… mostly the same pieces in the other sheets. More of these what i’m presuming to be oxygen gauges. A couple of these tiles that look kind of like… that? Hm! (shruggy “i dunno” noise) Um… looks like markers. Uh… sorry. Markers. If you have more resources than you actually have physical resources, you can put one on there and say “i have 10 of them now!” You’ve seen that in other games before if you’ve played games! Hmm-hmm-HMM! Aaand… oh, i think maybe… are THESE the player boards? Hmm. i wonder if these are the player boards that they were talking about being recessed in the expansion? So there are one, two, three, four… of them, leading me to believe it’s a four player game! That is where you’re going to be building your underwater city. This is where you’re going to be placing your underwater city domes, and routes that connect them… tunnels and such… and things. Thank goodness there is no danger from shark men. But we haven’t looked at the cards yet. i’m still i’m holding… there’s a vague hope that i’m holding out for the existence of shark men in this… or shark women. i’m not… i’m equal opportunity… shark creature. Here we are. There’s the board. Looks like a bunch of different cards that we can buy go on these spaces, and presumably two different sides depending on player count. 3-4 players up here, with a cute little scuba mask so it’s nice and thematic. i like thematic games cards get placed here and here and here, and you buy them, and you do things… score tracker… that’s all i got. Cool! Let’s dig into those cards. i’ll put this away. The board is kind of not… lying flat, i’ve noticed. It’s not really… it’s kind of bubbling up. Have you ever ever had that problem? What do you do about that? Do you just put heavy stuff on it for days and days and days, or is there a way… like, you don’t want to, uhhhh… crack the spine in the opposite direction, in case you – you know – rip the paper on one side. If you have a way to overcome a bouncy flouncy board, let me know! So pack one of roughly 50, 000 cards… the backs – let’s scooch all the stuff on the overhead camera over here – the backs look like… there’s a back, there’s a back… aaaand there’s a back… i don’t think the backs are going to be the more interesting element of these cards. But very bold, striking graphic design on these. Let’s flip them and see what we got. Hoh! It’s THIS guy! What’s this guy all about? Woo! His name is “Personal Assistant.” Huh. That’s strange. Some… it’s kind of like a very prescient of his parents. “Here we go: let’s name him ‘Personal Assistant.'” And that’s probably what he turned out to be in life. Uh so his name is Personal Assistant, and he says in the bottom of the card, uh… “Ready to fly! Uh… i mean dive! Huh! i’m always doing that! Bleuh!” And we have… i’m such a jerk… i’m a jerk to Personal Assistant for no reason! He didn’t do anything to me! i’m sure he’s a lovely person. Uh… this is uh… some sort of… island. We can tell because it says so. And there’s also a picture of an island. Always thinking. And some symbols. Why do i do these videos? i’m not sure, and you’re probably not sure either. Let’s just carry on together. Uh… the flag one has a lady on the back, and the lady is saying… she’s saying “Are you… are you happy with your car insurance?” i don’t know what she’s even doing. i amuse myself. That wasn’t very amusing. But she looks vaguely Greek or Atlantean. Those little… like, sort of like Wonder Woman bracelets? So there’s some sort of classical theming to her garb. HE doesn’t have that. He looks like a flippin’ X-Wing fighter pilot. Kind of an interesting dichotomy. Um… i’m so dumb, but i know words like “dichotomy.” Uh… it’s kind of a dichotomy. Uh and then, again, the circus tent symbol, and something about a green dome, and i am not able to read that text, but maybe you can, because my monitor is too far away and my eyes are too old. Uh… right. Cards. Um… i don’t know if we’re gonna find anything else super fascinating or interesting. i’ll splay some others on the close-up cam. Lots of deep dark stuff. i wonder if these are depth-rated cards? These guys… are these guys underwater? i don’t know if i’d wear a itchy suit underwater. i don’t know that’s the best choice. Uh… oh! Those look like tunnels. So maybe i was wrong? Maybe those aren’t oxygen gauges? Maybe those represent tunnels or construction t… whoa! look at the hair on that one! What is… what is happening? Oh my God! i just woke up like this, i swear! The… like… oh, you get down there and your hair just, like, naturally does that, and you have, like, no shower to sort of tamp it down, and like… water, water everywhere, but nary a drop to… make me not look like a… doofus! What is happening? i guess it’s the future? i THINK that’s what’s happening? It’s the future, and everybody’s got wacky hair. Nyeah… maybe a couple more. Maybe i can make fun of somebody who’s not a person of colour? Please show me a white dork in this deck, so that i don’t get angry… oh-here’s one. THIS guy. (laughs) There’s a white dork. Ask, and ye shall receive! White dork! White dork! Sigh. i don’t even know. i don’t know. i think it’s more of the same. i’m gonna save you… my casual racism. Oh – there’s some… there’s a bunch of repeat cards, actually. Uh… there’s… she’s in… whoa-ho-ho… she’s in there again, and i saw our dork again… whoa! Look at this! The people on these cards look like… kind of nerdy! i just gotta say! Oh, look: she’s… she’s back. So a lot of repeated artwork in the cards, so i can’t say to you that all of the cards in Underwater Cities are unique, but they certainly are… “unique.” Um… i think… did we do it all? That’s it! i think we did it all! We saw the cards, we saw the boards, we saw the domes. Uh… that’s what you get in Underwater Cities. As far as gameplay experience goes, you’re gonna have to tell ME! leave a comment down below… uh, not “down below” like in an underwater city. That’s crazy talk! That’s the future! No – in the present, comment below the video. And join us on the Discord server, and you can comment in real time to our virtual faces. And when i say “our,” i mean “we”: the crew! The people who are supporting me on Patreon, and the people who aren’t, who regularly get kick/banned because i’m angry at them. No – not really! You don’t have to be a patron supporter… uh, Patreon supporter, to join Discord saver, and i’d love to see you there and chat with games about you. Uh. …that’s, uh… take two. i would love to see you there, and chat ABOUT games WITH you. J-join us, and we’ll see you in the very next video. (stage whisper) Watch it. i’m not sure why you would. (Gottle o’ geer, gottle o’ geer, gottle o’ geer, gottle o’ geer.) Did you just watch that whole thing? Oh – hey! To 100% this video, click the badge to subscribe, then click the bell to get notifications when i’ve got new stuff! [Music – Board Game Boogie by Ryan Henson Creighton]

Get Your Own Copy of Underwater Cities

i’ve played the game since shooting the unboxing, and it interested me how the repetitive artwork takes a backseat to the great gameplay. (Those chincy, thin player guides are still pretty garbz though.) If you’d like to add Underwater Cities to your own board game collection, click the Amazon link below to buy your own copy of the game. Your price will remain the same, and i’ll receive a small commission!