Wednesday nights are always fun because I’m usually at my friends (Carl & Jaysen) house playing a board game. As life has become increasingly more hectic, it’s been a few weeks since we were really able to play a game and this past week we finally broke out of our board game drought. Sit back and get ready to feel the rush because the game on the card is Tidal Blades!
Tidal Blades Game Information
Tidal Blades is a worker placement game where 2-4 players compete to become “Tidal Blades Champion.” As the game progresses, players visit one of four islands to collect resources, complete challenges, battle monsters, or advance your token down the victory track. As with many worker placement games that I’ve experienced, you never really how you’re doing until you tally the victory points up at the end. Tidal Blades is a game of strategy, competition, and a bit of luck 🍀 and definitely one you should keep on your radar!
How to Play Tidal Blades: Heroes of the Reef
At the start of the game, each player receives:
- A Player Board
- Player card
- (3) Starting Challenge Cards
- A Secret Objective
- (2) Novice Dice
- Player Token w/ Action Discs
- Starting Resources (Sea Shells & Oranges/Fruit)
Each round will consist of 2, 3, or 4 turns per player, in which you move your token and perform the following actions:
- Collect Resources – Each island will have bonuses that are granted if you land there. For example, Droksa Ring has 3 action spaces that allow you to collect fruit 🍊and change out the market, collect 2 shells, and refresh your dice according to your Resilience trait.
- Collect Island Bonus – Specific Islands will have a bonus reward that players receive, in addition to the resources/advantages gained from landing on the corresponding space. The Island bonuses are:
- Citadel of Time – Collect 2 Challenge Cards,
- Chronosseum – Draw a Stunt Card
- Lamara Stadium – Advance the Island’s Boat and Collect Rewards
- Droska Ring – Buy a Card From The Market or Gain a Fruit
- Complete Challenges – Once per round the tidal blades participant can elect to attempt a challenge. Challenge cards will show the island that they can be completed on and the traits needed to successfully complete the challenge.
- This is where the game gets interesting. Remember those 2 novice dice that were distributed at the beginning? Now is your chance to put them to use. Players will roll a number of novice dice along with the diamond 8-sided danger dice to try and match symbols on the challenge card. If you roll an “x” on the damage die, you either permanently lose one of your dice or you can use a shell to block the damage and fill up a ‘Shell Shield” card. You can keep rerolling as long as you have enough dice and shells to make it worth it. At the end of the rolls, if you have completed the challenge, you will increase the traits on your tracker, by the number of successfully rolled symbols (you perform this step even if you fail the challenge) and place the completed challenge card underneath your player board in the designated section. Notice in the bottom right is victory points that you will count towards your score at the end. If you fail the challenge, you still add the traits that you did roll to your trait board, however, you do not place the challenge card underneath your board (which scores victory points at the end of the game).
- The last thing to note about challenges is that a judge will be circling the map. Each round he moves to the next island in a clockwise formation. If you complete a challenge while you are on the same island as the judge, you can move your champion’s token up the Champion Track. Doing so will gain you victory points at the end of the game.
At the end of each round, which consists of multiple players’ turns, all players refresh their dice pool (using the Resilience Trait number) and upgrade any dice to the next level. Let’s talk a bit about Dice Upgrades!
During the course of play, each Tidal Blades participant has a chance to acquire, use, upgrade, and refresh their dice. With our first playthrough out of the way, my friends and I quickly discovered that having enough dice is a key element of the game. Let’s take a look at the dice upgrades and how they strengthen your play.
- Novice Dice (White) – Each contains the 4 trait symbols, a ? (wild) symbol, and a blank side.
- Initiate Dice (Solid Red or Solid Blue) – Each contains 2 traits, a wild symbol, and a blank side.
- Elite Dice (Black w/ Blue Background or Black w/ Red Background) – Each contains wilds, no blank sides, and sides that can act as either of the 2 specified traits.
- Guild Dice (Black) – 1 trait (you can choose between the 2 specialized ones), a side with 2 of that trait, no blank spaces, and 2 wild sides.
As you can see. The more you upgrade your dice, the better they become in specific traits. Upgrading dice gives you better odds of completing challenges and increases your challenge success rate.
One of the activities your character can perform is fighting monsters. Over the course of the rounds, monsters will be revealed and moved down their own separate track. If a monster escapes, there is a penalty for the players. If you have not attacked a monster, you will lose a die going into the next round.
Funny enough, I didn’t view the monsters as being super important until the final round. Because of my unwillingness to fight them, I lost 3 dice that I had collected over time, consequently making it more difficult to complete challenges.
End of The Game
After all of the rounds have been played players add victory points from the champion board, challenge cards, and secret mission. The player with the most victory points wins the game!
My first play-through of Tidal Blades was so much. After the first round, you get a sense of the various rules and the rest is up to strategy and luck. While I didn’t place value on some areas, my main focus was my secret mission and challenge cards. This strategy paid off for me as I was able to win 🥇, even though it looked as if I initially was behind the other two players.
I love the competition and strategic dynamic the games have and would play again (I’m thinking of adding the game to my collection). I give Tidal Blades a 4.5 / 5.
What games are you currently playing? Have you played any worker placement games? If so what is your favorite? Check out other board game reviews here!