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Meltwater - A Five Second Board Game Review

M Updated December 02, 2019
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Meltwater: A Game of Tactical Startvation
There Will Be Games

Meltwater is a neat two player wargame about tactically trying to starve your opponent in the middle of the now nuclear wasteland of Antarctica

Meltwater is a fascinating idea.  After a bitter world war, only the Soviets and the US are left. They are stranded on a decaying Antarctic continent, but instead of trying to live together, they try to destroy each other entirely.  It’s pretty grim and the mechanics take this a step further by having your primary means of combatting the enemy being to starve them out.  

The game manifests itself as a somewhat low luck 2-player wargame where all of the combat and moves are deterministic and only the way the island deteriorates is random.  This makes every turn an absolute puzzle with a lot of interesting possibilities, but also a lot of analysis paralysis.  It doesn’t really play like anything else I’ve played in this space. Unfortunately, it is also fairly clunky and unintuitive in spots.  Although I personally had a decent amount of fun in my plays and would like to explore the system further, I would only recommend Meltwater to two-player game aficionados who are comfortable with both its nihilistic subject matter and puzzle-like game play.

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Mason Sokol
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Mason plays games and has opinions.

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Vysetron's Avatar
Vysetron replied the topic: #297591 24 May 2019 09:39
I don't think Meltwater is the best game mechanically, but I love what it tries to do. A staunchly anti-war wargame where conflict is only driven by hating the other guy? Bleak!

That's a neat thing about this game. At the start, there's enough resources for every unit on the board. You could just coexist. But you can't, because they're red and you're blue, and goddammit that just won't stand. There wouldn't be a war otherwise, and there must be a war.

I hope we see more from Escobedo. Meltwater's not perfect, but I like it for that.