Reef Encounter

This month’s Game of the Month is Reef Encounter, designed by Richard Breese. It was first published in 2004 and is available in English from Z-Man Games.

15479I’m not sure how to best describe Reef Encounter. It is a strategy game built around the theme of life in the coral reef. The game has a suggested player age of ten and up, but that’s a very smart ten year old if you ask me. The game will accommodate from two to four players and will take anywhere from one to two hours. It retails for $50, at your local game store, but you should be able to find it for $40 or less from an online retailer.

This is not an easy game to explain. The listing for Reef Encounter on BoardGameGeek shows that the game uses the following mechanics:

  • Area Enclosure
  • Commodity Speculation
  • Hand Management
  • Set Collection
  • Tile Placement

What does all that mean? Well, it means that there’s a lot going in this game. This is not the game you want to pull out when Uncle Floyd is visiting. This is a gamer’s game. It will make Uncle Floyd’s head catch on fire. Which is one of the reasons I chose it for Game of the Month. Not to make Uncle Floyd’s head catch on fire, but because it’s a gamer’s game.

I’m not going to attempt to explain how to play. If you don’t already know, then I will direct you to the excellent episode of Board Games with Scott created by Scott Nicholson. Honestly, I don’t know the game well enough to teach it to someone, which is another reason I chose Reef Encounter as GotM. This is one of those heavier games that just doesn’t get played enough anymore, and I would like to have the opportunity to explore it in depth.

Since it is a heavier game, I don’t expect to get too many plays in this month, but between face to face and online play, I hope to play it at least five times. The game can be played online at SpielByWeb.

Disclaimer: I have recieved no review copies of this game. I have included links to, an online retailer that I support by including affiliate links to games. If you purchase something from Funagain, and include my affiliate code, P2RX, then I get a few pennies of store credit so I can buy more games.

7 thoughts on “Reef Encounter”

  1. Sorry I won’t be much help this month – I tried it not once but twice (the 2nd time to see if my first experience was colored by my inept play) – but I just felt like I was manipulating colored wooden cubes.

    I see why it appeals to other folks but it has zero appeal to me.

  2. @Mark: I understand where you are coming from even if I don’t share your opinion. So many of the games we play is just manipulating colored wooden cubes. I don’t see how this was any different.

    I am interested in moving beyond the mechanics so that the overall cycle of the game will shine through a bit more.

  3. ryan sturm’s ‘how to play’ podcast have an epsiode for reef encounter (his latest one). i haven’t listened to it, but the guy is good.

  4. I have listened to Ryan’s podcast on Reef Encounter three times now and I can also recommend it.

    I’m currently being educated online, or maybe “schooled” is a better term for it. Maybe I will actually win a game or two before the month is over!

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