Adult gamers know: kids are HORRIBLE with games. Children should never be allowed to play board games without adult supervision. They lose pieces. They sit on the box. They don’t read the rules and even if they do read the rules they are likely to change them. Mid game. They always want to play something else, and worst of all, they mix games together.
Fortunately, Gamewright shoved aside the inner curmudgeon that rises up on such occasions and embraced the creative mixing and matching of eight-year-old Emily Ehlers. In the course of her family’s travels, Emily brought the world the card game Mermaid Beach.
When you play Mermaid Beach (and you will want to play it a lot when you learn it) you will recognize some classics: Go Fish! and Old Maid and Crazy Eights. But Mermaid Beach is greater than the sum of these parts. There is a great mix of strategy and chance in this game, as if the best parts of each were grafted together. Much like the merfolk themselves: part human, part fish, part magic, and all so delicious in a light butter sauce—er, I mean wondrous and whimsical.
The game consists of two decks of cards: 51 Beach Cards and 26 Shell Cards. The deck of Beach Cards is comprised of beach gear, merfolk (men and women), seaweed, waves, and one sea monster. In short: players are dealt 5 Beach Cards and try to gather the Shell Cards for points. When a player matches two beach items (sun, umbrella, sailboat, etc…) that player can turn in the pair for a Shell Card. Merfolk allow players to draw cards from the Shell Deck, take an extra turn, or (in the case of the Mean Mermaids) steal shells from other players. Waves wash away your opponent’s shells and seaweed forces them to draw an extra card from the Beach Deck.
A player can also “fish” for a match by asking an opponent for a type of Beach Card. If the opponent has the card, it must be passed over. If not, the opponent says “Go to the Beach” (or some other similar, fishing related phrase) and the player must draw from the Beach Deck.
There are other special cards and everyone tries to get rid of the sea monster. For all the different kinds of cards, the game moves quickly from the moment you deal out the cards to the moment you turn in your shells for a score. My daughters and their friends (aged 6 – 12) grasped the game almost entirely from looking at the cards and intuiting the game mechanics. There is a lot of luck but there are strategic choices to be made and it all happens so quickly and smoothly that I found myself eager for another round.
The Major was funner when the game had begunner, under the sea!!
The artwork is fantastic. The mermaids and merdudes shimmer and strike engaging poses. Especially the Mean Mermaids—they took center stage at my house. You can tell you have something special when you have one of the merfolk in hand.
Mermaid Beach is a fun game, Major Fun, and a great reaffirmation of the creative process. There might not be anything new under the sun (or the sea) but the combinations are multitudinous and magnificent. I’m glad that Emily mashed all these games together.
2 – 5 Players. Ages 6+.
Mermaid Beach was designed by Emily Ehlers (aged eight) and is © 2011 by Gamewright.