I’d preface this preview with all sorts of submarine-captainy phrases if I knew any, but really all I could think of was “Dive! Dive! Dive!”
Alley Cat Games’ latest Kickstarter project, Pocket Sub, is the first in a new line of small and quick games. It’s an abstract strategy game where players are trying to outmaneuver their opponents in an attempt to take out their subs. It’s extremely portable, with an incredibly easy rule set and a play time of 10 minutes or less for a 2-player game. I’ve actually been lucky enough to see and play Pocket Sub as it evolved from an initial concept to what’s going up on Kickstarter today.
Pocket Sub consists of hexagonal Ocean Tiles with an open center space and 6 outer spaces, wooden Submarine Meeples, cardboard Mine Tokens, and cardboard Command Center Tokens. The number of Ocean Tiles used will change depending on the number of players in the game.
The basics of Pocket sub are that on a given player’s turn they have 3 movement points to use to move one of their subs. The center Deep Region or open Shallow Regions cost 1 movement point to move through. It costs 2 movement points to move through a Rocky Region or to Deep Dive from one Deep Region to another Deep Region. After moving the player must drop a mine on one of the spaces they moved from, though mines cannot be placed on Deep Regions. If a player moves into a mine, an enemy sub, or an enemy Command Center, their sub is destroyed. Once a player is down to their last sub it becomes a Hero Sub that can safely enter spaces with an enemy sub in there, instantly destroying that sub instead of itself. Mines and Command Centers will still destroy a Hero Sub.
Pocket Sub is quick, light, and highly strategic. I’ve had a blast playing the game through its development and am a huge fan of the team play with 4 players that really opens up a whole new level of strategy in the game as teammates try to coordinate their moves to corner and trap their opponents. The satisfaction of staying alive really comes second to watching another player take a misstep that costs them one of their own subs…or the game.
No matter if you’re playing with 2, 3, or 4 players the game rewards careful thought and planning. There’s a ton of value here for just $15. Fans of abstracts or light fillers would be remiss to pass this one up.