GTM #265 - The SPILL
by Smirk & Dagger



Contain the Oil. Save the Sea Life.

One need only look at titles like SHOBU and The Night Cage to see that Smirk & Dagger Games knows how to set a table. The SPILL, S&D’s upcoming co-op strategy game, is no exception. The game’s traffic stopping table presence, gripping tension and intuitive game play is sure to connect with a very broad audience. It garnered pre-launch buzz at PAX Unplugged 2021 where it was honored as one of the 3 Best Games of the Show by Dicebreaker.

At the center of this suspenseful cooperative game for 1 to 4 players is a unique, 4-way dice tower standing 9” tall. The molded plastic tower represents offshore rig, DeepWell•4, which has ruptured and is spilling crude oil into the ocean at an alarming rate! Your joint task force must work together as a team to avert an ecological disaster... one which threatens to contaminate marine life and devastate the ecosystem.

Over the course of the game, up to 60 oil dice will spill out of the tower onto the four quadrants of the game board, constantly creating new threats. In this way, it plays like a ‘reverse castle-defense’ game, where players sail the perimeter to contain the spill, remove what oil they can from the water and save the sea life. It is one of those games that you win by not LOSING every single turn. And “not losing” is no small task.

But you are not without tools. The game features 8 asymmetric specialists with unique abilities, including a Marine Vet who is adept at rescuing contaminated animals, a Hazmat specialist who can remove oil from the water more efficiently, and a Sea Captain who can pilot to the emerging trouble spots quickly. Communal Resource cards are chosen by the players before the game begins, allowing players to strategize against their own talents and fill in the gaps. By saving sets of marine life and removing sets of oil dice, players earn activation cubes to power the Resource cards. All of this leads to important discussions amongst players, debating which Resource is more timely and whether to activate a quick fix or invest more cubes in a bigger effect.

It takes coordination and teamwork to win, as new oil dice are dropped at the beginning of every turn and the number of oil dice dropped increases over the course of the game. Weather dice complicate matters adding new challenges that restrict movement, suddenly spill more oil dice or increase the cost of operations.

For added variety game to game, The SPILL comes with 9 Win Condition cards, of three difficulty levels. A card from one of the levels is chosen at random for a given game. If the team can accomplish all three WIN Condition objectives printed on the card and remedy any potential losing conditions on the board by the end of a given turn - they win. Otherwise the game will end when the 60 dice from the bag are exhausted or they are unable to correct one of the three losing conditions.

With a theme and game play ‘vibes’ that will put one in mind of other great games like Pandemic, The SPILL delivers edge-of-your-seat excitement right up to the final play. It is a complex challenge with a rule set that won’t overwhelm more casual gamers, and so intuitive because you can physically see the danger mounting on the board. The difficulty can be adjusted for more a more hard-core challenge or softened for a more family audience.

With the breathtaking illustrations by Kwanchai Moriya, the kinetic energy of tumbling dice at the demo table and exciting game play, The SPILL is poised to really clean up. Don’t miss the boat on this one.

Curt Covert is the owner of Smirk & Dagger Games. An 18-year veteran in the industry and the inventor of Cutthroat Caverns, Hex Hex, and Nevermore, just to name a few. The Smirk & Laughter line has expanded their reach to a broader audience than ever with games intended to connect with players on an emotional level.