Recalling a story is hard, especially when booze is involved.
Made for teenagers and adults ages 17 and up, Sunken Sailor from Buffalo Games is a party game of deceit, storytelling, and skillful drawing. Players are tasked with drawing a stand-out moment that took place from a bizarre nautical event the night before. The catch is that one of the players isn’t in on the story, because he or she had a little bit too much to drink the night before and can’t remember—but try to avoid getting caught as the Sunken Sailor.
Up to eight players will take turns drawing an object recounting one of these rowdy adventures, but the Sunken Sailor doesn’t know what is being drawn. The Sunken Sailor instead wants to keep his or her identity hidden from the other sailors, and try to piece together what everyone else is drawing. Sailors win if they can figure out who the Sunken Sailor is, and the Sunken Sailor wins if he or she can go undetected or figure out what is being drawn.
The game comes with 27 envelopes with seven story cards each for repeat play and eight differently-colored crayons so everyone will know who drew what. A Sunken Sailor card is mixed in randomly with the story card assortment, so the Sunken Sailor will be chosen at random each round. Each card hilariously paints a part of the story, and all of the sailors draw the same word that is underlined in each story.
Everyone takes turns starting out the drawing first, and it’s up to sheer luck when it’s the Sunken Sailor’s turn to draw. If you aren’t clued in on the story and have to start out first, good luck and get your poker face on!
It sounds easy to play along drawing some sort of scene, but players must employ some serious strategy and try to mislead people from thinking they are the Sunken Sailor, and vice versa. You want to draw well enough that people will not question you, but not so much to tip off the Sunken Sailor. Some people (I’m calling you out, @Kristen and @Joe) think it’s hilarious to pretend they are the Sunken Sailor to throw everyone off, but I have another word for that.
The round is over once every player completes two turns. The drawing can now be revealed to everyone and the sailors now have a maximum of one minute to analyze the drawings and make accusations to determine who the Sunken Sailor is. Make fun of people’s drawings or challenge each other to see what was written on the story card. I encourage all players to tease and question everyone’s contribution to the final portrait. This part reminds me a bit of icebreaker party games like Mafia and Werewolf, where everyone has a little bit of information and you have to slyly pin the blame on other people, all while looking innocent yourself. The suspense is real.
Once all final accusations are complete, players count to three and point to who they think the Sunken Sailor is all at the same time. This sounds a little dramatic, but is very on brand for me. It’s the perfect ending to a heated conversation. If the real Sunken Sailor does not receive the majority of the votes, then he or she gets two points. However, every sailor who correctly points at the Sunken Sailor gets one point. But, if the majority guesses who the Sunken Sailor is, he or she has one chance to guess what the hidden word is, and gets a point if the word is correct.
I also need to point out how beautiful the game itself is. Aesthetically, the fonts (do I completely sound like a nerd yet?) and illustrations are so clean and fresh that the game is so much easier to play for the first time. The wooden box fits right in with the theme, and the lid even doubles as the clipboard for all of the sailors’ drawings.
Although it seems like the game is harmless, definitely stick to its age recommendation. The cheeky stories often refer to some adult themes (the whole point of the game is that one person drank so much the night before that they can’t remember what happened, for crying out loud) and have some curse words on them, not appropriate for younger kids. Nevertheless, it’s this “out at sea” mentality that makes the game so outrageously fun.
This party game of drawing and deceit will be a welcome addition to game night. Whether you remember playing Sunken Sailor or not—that’s up to you.