Terra Aqua

Terra Aqua

A boardgame prototype

I had a simple assignment on my first year at LAB Unversity of Applied Sciences, to create a boardgame with the same gameplay principle as in a popular Finnish board game “Afrikan tähti” (trans. Star of Africa).

I started brainstorming by going through my favourite games and just some aesthetics and world builds I found interesting. The original game is set on land and it got me thinking what would happen if the whole game was set underwater instead.

The story

Inspiration for the story was drawn from all the post-apocalyptic films and games I had been consuming at the time. Some hints of my past hobby as a scuba diver can also be found. Here it goes:

In far future, humanity escapes underwater under the crisis of climate change and radiation rising to unbearable levels. To maintain peace around the territories, the people decide to unify all the different underwater communities into one big nation, Terra Aqua.

The nation of Terra Aqua used to spread around the whole Atlantic, but over time due to erosion and shortage of supplies, it started to gravitate towards the two biggest cities, Poseton and Neptopolis. 

After being underwater for so long, the people of Terra Aqua are suffering of a serious shortage of oxygen. The nation’s leaders decide to send convicted criminals to explore the uninhabited areas in search of an electrolyser, a mysterious device invented by a long dead scientist. It is said that this device can separate oxygen from the water, a technique long forgotten by the nation.

In return, Terra Aqua offers the criminals release of all charges, but only for the one, who will find the electrolyser and bring it to the nation’s leaders. There is a trick to the mission, though. Whoever finds the device first, can be beat by someone else bringing an endangered plant species to the nation’s leaders instead. Little do the criminals know, that this is only a coy to lure all of them back to be faced by law once the mission is over again.

  • Who will win?
Image of the game board, details mentioned in text.
Illustration of a pressure gauge.

Gameplay

The goal of the game is to find an electrolyser, which is hidden under 30 hatches spread around the gameboard. The player will win if they manage to take it back to either Poseton or Neptopolis.

After the electrolyser has been found, the other players can still win the game if they manage to find an endangered plant species and bring it back to one of the capitols before the device.

Originally in star of Africa, there is money as currency. However, in this game, the players use air instead. The air is kept in compressed air tanks, which the criminals carry. the tanks are used in situations, where the oxygen level in the air is too low, or extra air is needed for certain tasks.

Each player is given a pressure gauge to keep track of the air they have left. The players will start the journey with only 50 bar of air inside the tanks.

The hatches

The main task in the game is to find an Electrolyser. It is hidden under one of the 30 hatches spread around the board. The player, who finds this gem will win once they have returned it back to either Poseton or Neptopolis.

The other players, however, can still win the game if they happen to find an endangered plant after the electrolyser has been found, and bring it back to one of the capitols before the other players.

While opening hatches, the players might be able to find abandoned breathing gadgets, refill tanks or even old air compressors, that will boost up their air supply.

The players might also encounter a big leak under the hatches and lose almost all of their air supply while escaping the flood.

Illustration of different hatches that can be found in the game, details mentioned in text.
Illustration of the three means of transport illustrated on the game board, details mentioned in text.

Moving

In Terra Aqua there are three means of transport, by walking in the tunnels, scuba diving, and by using automated submarines. The principle of the means of transport are the same as in the original game.

Walking around is slow. The player will roll the dice and move according to the number it shows.

Diving offers a shortcut but will cost the player 100 bars of air to enter the diving route. Once on the diving route, the player may move forward by rolling the dice as well.

Submarines are the fastest but will use the air supply by 200 bars per trip.