Game review: Aquarium: Gather fish and build your own impressive collection
In the card game Aquarium, two to four players try to collect sets of fish to add to their aquariums. But each player has a specific hand of action cards that change the rules when players try to collect fish. It’s a zany game for competitive anglers.
To begin, each player is given the same set of nine action cards and 15 coins in currency to spend to purchase fish. A market playing board is placed in the middle of the table to show the available fish that can be purchased.
On a player’s turn, he or she first reveals a new card (fish or plant) and adds it to the market board. He or she must decide whether to purchase all the cards on the market board or to pass. Passing causes play to pass to the next player who then draws a card and adds it to the market.
If a player wants to purchase the cards on the market, each opponent gets to play two action cards. The first card can manipulate the fish available in the market and the second can affect the price. Even though a player wants to buy the available market cards, the cards available after opponents play action cards might be very different.
It’s important to note that fish come in four varieties and in three different sizes. Points are scored for the number of stars on the regular fish, then bonuses are given for collecting all colored fish of the same size, all three sizes of fish of the same color and different varieties of plants.
Several “feeding time” cards are placed in the market deck and come up randomly throughout the game. As soon as one is drawn, it’s feeding time! All players must feed the fish they have purchased or lose them. This is where plant cards come in. Each plant reduces the food cost by one. Additional food is purchased by paying with currency. Action cards are also reset at feeding time. Be sure not to overspend when buying fish or this step will wipe out your collection.
After the final feeding card is drawn and fulfilled, the game ends. Players count the stars on non-paired fish. Then bonuses are given for each collection of colored fish of the same size. Points are also given for collecting all three sizes of fish of the same color and different varieties of plants. The player with the most points is declared the winner.
The artwork in the game is well done. Each fish has a cartoonish look to it and is pleasing to look at. The colors and graphics are exciting and have a unique style. Also, the game box is sturdy and protects the contents well.
Aquarium combines an interesting set of mechanisms with collecting fish but allowing opponents to use set action cards to manipulate the fish market. To be honest, the game is just average. It’s not dull but it’s not particularly fun to play either. The theme feels pasted on to the mechanisms. Be sure to check this one out before purchasing.