Mysterious loch still yields its mystery. And so, like every weekend, Dusan is sitting with his camera Dusan on its shore, waiting. He watches the bay, which he already knows completely by his heart. Every tree and stone has its exact location. He knows, how fast the grass grows and how high are the water splashes in the wind. If, even for a moment, a body part of mysterious water creature would emerge from water, he will be ready with his finger on the trigger.
Many people have left, stop believing in the creature. Scientists came here with sonars and wandered around a large lake. They finally said, that there is no such creature here. But they were not smart enough for this cunning creature, who knows when and where to hide. It lives here so many years, that is it almost impossible to find it, when you are looking. You must stop and wait. And Dusan did stop. He believes in Nessie, since his grandfather told him, how a giant fin flashed in front of his boat.
The barely audible splash came from the place in the rocks. Dušan swished his viewfinder in that direction with finger ready on the trigger. The water there was a little stormier than usual. Then suddenly scales came out of water and something begin to emerge. But just in the same time, running children came to the lake and overshadowed the photographers view. He managed to get only one picture and on it was the shirt of his youngest son. Oh, what a shame. But never mind, next time he would definitely succeed. The creature is here and he will be here as well… waiting.
The role of the hunter is now on you, as it the task to catch this sensation. All this is allowed by a board game from Polish company Granna, called Loch Ness. This game is another addition to their large series of children’s games, from which we have recently reviewed interesting game Crabs (review). This time, we will look along the shore of lake Ness, where the monster Nessie resides. At least that is what they say. The author is Walter Obert and game illustrations came from the brush of Piotr Socha.
The box is again quite large, but that is habit for these advanced games from Granna, just like the Superfarmer or penguins in Hey! That’s my fish!. And inside, there is waiting a lot of components for you and all of them are worth looking at.
The view is initially covered by elongated game board, folded in half. Once you put it aside, your view will be once again interfered witch sheet of 36 photos of Nessie. Some are more successful and some not good – for example blurred, containing a tree trunk and so on. Photographers just have no luck, when the monster appears. You will need to change that.
But the most important parts are hidden at the bottom of the box. You will find special twelvesided (d12) cube, a canvas bag, and also the playing miniatures. Twelve figures of photographers gathered at the lake, to organize a hunt for Nessie. You will found also this creature here, but its form is divided into three parts – head, body and tail. The creature itself is so big, that it does not fit in one spot on the board and must be separated into three.
At the beginning of the game players prepare together game plan in the middle of the table and choose the color of their photographers. In two players game, you will only have two colors to choose from, because you need three photographers. They are only available in red and yellow. Whenever more players joins the game, all players can choose also from blue, black and green. Every player since three players game controls only two photographers.
You put all pieces with photos in a bag. From here you will draw lots of them during the game, but you are starting without photos. You will find a large dark blue circles on the water on the board – these are the routes, through which will be Nessie travelling during the game. At the beginning of the game, you can put this monster anywhere on the game plan. But you have to always keep order: head, trunk and tail. Of course these must always put on adjacent positions on the map.
Around the tracks, where the monster sails, you can find viewing areas on the map. Here are better and worse viewing areas of the lake surface and this is where the players will be lurking on Nessie. These are always labeled with a color – yellow, red or blue, but it has no relation to the photographers color. It marks circles of Nessie movement with small color copies of observation points – this at a overview, where you can see, what is the photographers view from his current spot.
Now players must deploy all their photographers for the beginning of the game. The alternate in placing one of their miniatures on an empty viewing area. Of course it pays off to try to follow the movement of Nessie and try to be in route, which the big dipper will take.
The game begins with the player, who is the best photographer. If you were unable to agree on the starting player, draw a piece from a bag. Whoever manages to pull the most valuable piece will start the game. Player has two choices on his turn – he can move Nessie by throwing dice, or may move one of his photographers to another viewing area.
The cube has twelve sides, and while you will find numbers on most of them, sometimes there appears also a water symbol. Both have the same purpose in the end – shifting the monster – but there is a difference in choice. If you get the number, you can swim with Nessie forwards for given number of boxes. If you encounter crossroads along the way, you can decide yourself, which direction the big dipper should swim. This way, you can navigate creature directly in front of the lens of your photographer, if you are clever and lucky enough.
Even better things for you happen, when you roll water on the dice. In this situation, you can take all three pieces that make up Nessie and place them anywhere on the board. Of course you still need to keep their order, so the head goes first and tail last, so the next player is able to figure our its next swimming direction.
At the end of the movement, all photographers on the board can try to take their shot. However, they must be close enough to Nessie or at least least one of the three pieces, on which it is located. That is the purpose of viewing areas and moving photographers.
For each of the photographer, who sees at least on of creatures tiles from his viewing area (note that the pieces that they see are easily distinguished by icons on the field perimeter), you can draw photos from the bag. The number of tiles possible to draw is determined by number of Nessie tiles, that the current photographer sees. You can keep only one tile highest value and return the remaining ones.These tiles determine, how good your photo is and how many victory points (stars) did you manage to get.
All photographers, who have a view of at least one field, where Nessie is located, can try to take a picture. The only difference is the number of pieces from which you can choose. Of course there is the strong influence of chance, but if you have good tactics and try to always choose from several pieces, you can lower the chance influence.
The game ends, when players draw the last tile from the bag. Then each of the rivals adds up earned points (stars) depicted on the photographs and the player with the highest sum is the winner of the lot. His photographic hunting was most successful.
Loch Ness is again primarily a family game and we will keep that in mind for the rest of the evaluation. Most of you may not like the lack of control over the results of your own turns. Everything depends on the opponents decisions to throw the dice or move their miniatures. The sum of these random elements spoils complex strategies, but in turn it increases the fun for younger ones. They have big chance to beat adults and win in this game.
But even if you do not have much control over the game, it is still fun. It is mostly the great design, that will catch your eyes – that is great photographers miniatures, the beautiful pieces of big dipper to a variety of funny Nessie photos on tiles. The whole game board is very nicely illustrated, and you can feel, that only an experienced hand could accomplish this.
There is a great number of observation points and the route has only a few intersections. Often you players will not want to give up their chances and let the creature circle around only one island a few times. But this is only and solely their decision. Regardless of which way Nessie goes, you always know, thanks to clear graphics, where you need to put a photographer to have it in your view.
Deciding between the photographer and Nessie movement is difficult. You can facilitate your opponents, if you choose wrong. And when they can take valuable photo after your move, you know, that you played it wrong. The most precious it the water symbol on the cube, which means sinking. When you have you men at the right spots, you can get a lot of points then.
Number of players is very important for the gameplay. With fewer players, you can predict their movement and send photographers to right locations. But when there are more, you must spread your photographers wisely, because before you turn comes again, big dipper is suddenly on completely different side of the map. And if you move only a photographer during your turn, for him to have better position, than before the game returns to you, monster swims again in completely different direction. It is certainly not easy to read other players minds, but you need to do that here.
If you would like to include a litte more decision making in the game, booklet offer several additional rules for you. Gradual pulling cards from the bag is what we liked the most. You still have option to draw that many tiles, as your man sees parts of Nessie body. But this time you draw one by one and you have to decide immediately, whether you want this tile or you will continue to try your luck in the next draw. When you come to to the last card, you have to take it and there is no option to return to the previous ones. These adjustments make the game more fun, because the players may push their luck.
Board game Loch Ness left us in no doubt, that it is a game designed primarily for children. You can be reminded here of the already mentioned Superfarmer, when it comes to the target audience. Although you will not find any multiplication and numbers here, but coincidence plays a big role here. All is governed by luck. But the game with a lake monster figure and photographers captures the attention of each child. So do not expect any strategy from it, just a great family fun and laughter. These two things will come to you every time you play at lake Ness.
+ beautiful miniatures of Nessie and photographers
+ drawing tiles with option to keep only the last one
+ nicely illustrated game board
+ simple game system
+ ideal game for little children
+ great family game
+ several levels according to players skills
- with more players, you cannot plan ahead