It’s a lot of fun.
I’m glad I backed it, but it took a couple of plays of the game to be sure. What’s clear from the unboxing is how popular the whale on the trike is. The happy chappy is everyone’s favourite despite being the weakest whale you can have in your army.
I imagine he’s only worth 1 point because sometimes when he falls off the trike, he does some damage to the evil humans below.
It does not take many whales to make an army. In most cases, you need six. Specifically, in Whales Destroying the World, you need two red whales, two white whales and two blue whales.
Once someone, anyone, has a whole army (navy?) of whales the game finishes and the whales have won. The player with the entire army may not be the victor, though, as you need to tally the points. Whoever has the most is the winner.
If you’ve got any super spy cards on the table, then they cancel out the value of your smaller whales, on a 1 for 1 basis, and this can easily cost you victory.
The other way the game ends is if the pesky human superhero foils the whales. That happens if any player, superhero or not, has three spy cards in play.
My first game of Whales Destroying the World didn’t take the 15 minutes Timeslug estimates it would. It took at least three times that. It seemed like a never-ending challenge, as people would frequently end up with three whales of the same colour, which means they would lose that entire army and steal a whale from someone else. It’s pretty hard to build up your whale empire when they’re as fickle as that.
It turns out that the first game was either a fluke or a bunch of newbies playing cautiously. It won us around, and we played another hand. Boom! The super spy struck within turns, cleverly finding the opportunity to ensure that one player or another would end up with three spies in the army, no matter what.
We played a third game, introducing dolphins and it was just as fun. Dolphins tinker with the rules. The red dolphin you can see here, underneath the whale on the trike in the bottom left, means you would need three red whales in your army to finish the game. Harder to do but worth more points.
The absolute heart of Whales Destroying the World is the bluffing game. On every turn, you pick two cards and discard one. You have to offer the remaining card, face down, to another player. You might want them to take it. You might not.
In our games, we had honest urging, “If you believe I’ll ever tell you the truth, you have to believe me know because you need this card to rescue the game!” Or words to that effect, I wasn’t taking notes. But he wasn’t trusted, the card refused and then revealed to be a level 10 white whale, a Godzilla-esq beast that would have stopped the secret superhero from pouncing.
Betrayal, though, is common among whale commanders. At the start of the game, you will have no idea who the superhero spy is and every reason to suspect the worst from everybody. Victory is often only a card away or ruined by a card, and so there’s no incentive to accept a bad card if you draw one – you’ve got to trick someone into taking it from you.
Whales Destroying the World house rules
Whales Destroying the World doesn’t say what to do if you go through the deck. This only happened in our first, massive, game, and we resolved it by turning the discard pile into the new deck, and that seemed to work.
There are some high point value unstealable dolphins in the expansion. Normally you’re only allowed to steal the lowest value card in any army (red, white or blue) so what happens if a player has an unstealable dolphin and is lucky enough to have an even higher value whale too? Our impromptu (and never tested) house rule was that any card above the dolphin was also protected by it.
In the end, we played four games on our first night with Whales Destroying the World, and the same player was the secret superhero in each match. The role is assigned by shuffling cards and handing them out at random. Given the number of players we had, there was a 1 in 250 chance of this happening. In hindsight, at the start of the game, it might have been nice to say that if you’re dealt the superspy more than twice in a row, you can speak up (if you want to) and ask for a reshuffle.
I really enjoyed my subsequent games of Whales Destroying the World, after discovering my first game was a fluke. The bluffing is fun, gameplay easy and victory (usually) fast.
Whales Destroying the World: Rivals – two player game
As a last minute surprise bonus Timeslug Studio released a two player rules variant.