And that's what you do! A Sargasso Sea of Space is competitively-cooperative game of describing the indescribable and then staking your space-life on the hope that the description was good.
Each player draws a handful of WHAT I NEED cards which are blue prints for the items they need to build their escape ship. These cards are kept secret! Then, in turn, each player draws a WHAT I FOUND card and describes it using just language–no gestures allowed!
And that, friends, is the delight challenge part of the game.
Through the highly scientific application of semiotics we combined syntagmatic co-occurences with collocational pixel structures to draw a set of one-hundred different pieces of space junk that are, I am pleased to tell you, gosh-darned hard to verbally describe.
Not only does the junk have that "I have no clear word for it" aura of nonsense, a lot of the junk also sounds the same when described by words! They are difficult to differentiate! What a good trick. Like, look at those top left cards in the above image or the bottom middle cards–if you were to use words to describe 'em you'd mix them up easy.
And that makes things fun.
After two players have enough matches to build their space ships the game shifts gears. Players decide which spaceship they trust the most and get inside. Cards are flipped during a dramatic countdown and, maybe, you escape THE SARGASSO SEA OF SPACE.
What's this Christmas delivery thing?
I had five hundred copies of the game expressed from China. They are here!
If you pay extra for an Xmas copy it means you are getting one of the first batch of games to arrive. If you order them the day before Christmas they won't show up on time, so common-sense yourself around this Xmas-offering. And these Xmas orders are still subject to the vagaries of the post office.
Oh, and not-Canada international orders are just right out. Almost no chance of those getting anywhere by Christmas. Canada orders might not make it either.
So, in short, don't get mad if the Christmas delivery doesn't work out due to your location or late orders.
What am I actually getting?
You're getting one handsome box that contains two-hundred cards and an adorable little rule book.
Who worked on this game?
My name is Tim Hutchings and I thunk up the game in... 2017? I paid Kat Sutton to make the cards and she did the best job ever. The game sat for years until I had Madison Hocker do a design pass on the rule book. I'd warned Madison that I wanted her to do a design pass just so I could get irrationally angry and, hopefully, break my layout funk. And it worked! Madison is so nice and a very good layout artist. Then Ezra Claverie and Liz Wolfson did the the editing/proofreading.
How replayable is this game?
Surprisingly so! I made the darned game and I still find cards that I'd swear I'd never seen before. For casual play this game will hold up for a long while but it probably isn't a daily driver.
There are a LOT of cards. Is there a way to organize a simpler, faster session?
Yeah! If you look at the cards there are astronaut mittens on the What I Found cards and little alien asterisks on the What I Need cards. You can break the decks up into smaller decks by just using, let's say, the 'left mitten and left asterisk' cards. Makes it faster and easier for kids and you can dramatically increase the number of matches you'll get.
You can have a hundred pairs, or fifty pairs, or twenty-six pairs or twenty-four different pairs.
Are there going to be expansions?
I really doubt it. There is a LOT of play in this game and you really don't want more cards. I swear it.
If this game becomes super popular and you monsters start demanding more stuff then, sure, I'll probably succumb to greed and start making... I dunno. The "Marvel Super Heroes vs Street Fighter" licensed gimmick deck or whatever. The Pillsbury Doughboy recipe deck. The exotic candy matching game. Fill a bathtub with dosh and I'll dance to get it.
You're Tim Hutchings, right? You have a reputation for making games that are full of sad, or of tricks, or of sad tricks. Are there sad tricks? Are there metatextual meditations on self, death, and/or eternity?
None of this is in here, I swear! The closest the game gets to metatextuality is that little self-portrait of my head in a glass jar that you can see on the graphic at the top of this page. Honest.
What if we like the sad tricks?
Well don't buy this game. Go buy something else off this website and you'll have your woe-seeking sated.
To be clear about this: Is it a happy game?
Yes. It is not overwhelmingly joyful but it is a game that is playful and fun.
Why did it take so long to print the game?
I have a bad habit: I get something finished enough that I can play it with friends and then I never release it. Who'd care?, I'd ask. I am proud of the game, I bring it to cons, I show it off, but it is maybe like an art show or a live music event rather than a book release. You play this with me, now, and we share that experience. It's a little party I can share.
But it is a good game!, I am told. Give me a deck!, people cry.
It also took a long time to release the game because I am lazy and there is something wrong with my brains (see my note involving Madison Hocker above).
What's with the graphics in the rule book?
Ah, you've seen the rule book. Half of it is garish, over-designed infographics that are technically true but impossible to follow. Don't worry, the rules are also there in plain text. I guess that was the closest I got to 'sad prank' in this game.
Oh hey, if you want to look at the rule book you can download the PDF here.
Also: I'm super happy with the cute little Mountain Dew can-like can things that are floating around space. Like, so so happy.
Any, uh, errors of anything we should know about?
Omg yes. One. So far. How can a game this simple have mistakes? Don't answer that.
(thank you Jeff S.)