Rescue Polar Bears – Mayday Games – Review


Rescue Polar Bears - Mayday Games - Review 1

Publisher: Mayday Games

Game Type: Cooperative Game

Designer: Jog Kung, Huang Yi Ming

Initial Year of Release: 2018

Artist: Lauren Hsiu, Collin Wang

Theme and What is it?

The world temperatures are rising. The seas are warming. Animals all over the planet are in trouble. You and your team specialize in polar bear research. It is now your duty to seek out endangered polar bears that are in deathly peril due to the melting ice caps. Can you work together to navigate the dangerous waters to rescue the polar bears?

Rescue Polar Bears is a cooperative adventure game where players use their individual ships to collect the necessary scientific data to stop the polar ice caps from melting and killing of the last of the polar bears. Along the way you must rescue polar bears who fall in the ocean.

Rescue Polar Bears - Mayday Games - Review 2

Gameplay Mechanics

Rescue Polar Bears is a cooperative adventure game. In Rescue Polar Bears each player is assigned their own ship. Each ship has its own attributes such as speed and cargo size. They also can unlock new attributes or attribute upgrades as the game progresses. Polar bears are placed around the board on ice blocks that are randomly set up before the game begins. Polar bears can be male, female or cubs. At the end of each turn the polar bears reproduce and only so many can fit on a block of ice before they start to fall in the ocean and drown. Players must travel around icebergs and rescue drowning polar bears and collect scientific data to help stop the rising temperatures of the ocean.

Rescue Polar Bears - Mayday Games - Review 3

Initial Impressions

The rulebook was a beast to get through. It is not a long rulebook, there is just more going on in this game than I was expecting. The game was much more complex than I thought it would be. After struggling through a few rounds, we hopped back into the book and restarted the game to fix a number of our mistakes. Although we had a better idea of what we were doing, we still spent time discussing aspects of the game. We learned very quickly that Rescue Polar Bears is a very tough co-op game. Especially for a game that kids are naturally going to be attracted to. I have been beaten by the board every game I have played. Sometimes it happens so fast that I spent more time setting up than I did playing. I don’t mind tough games that make me lose more than I win. But my kids don’t feel the same way. They were so excited for this game and after losing a few times they lost interest. I have asked them to play since then and they always ask for a different game. I want them to enjoy the game because I enjoy it and it is a really great experience.

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Game Build Quality

Just about everything in Rescue Polar Bears is top of the line. The cards, tiles and tokens are all built to last. The one exception to that statement is the game board itself. It does not have the quality that I would like to see. It feels flimsy but should hold up because most of the action uses all the other pieces of the game. That was a little disappointing because everything else is amazing. My favorite components are the bears themselves. They are the stars of the show and are the stand out pieces in a game mostly full of high-quality parts.

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Artistic Direction

The art for Rescue Polar Bears is really fantastic. It helps the players get drawn into the game and become engaged in process of working together. The game board looks great. The ships all have their own character. The polar bears are cute. There is so much to love about this game when it comes to the art direction.

Rescue Polar Bears - Mayday Games - Review 6

Fun Factor

Like I mentioned earlier, Rescue Polar Bears is very challenging. For me, that makes the game even more fun. For my kids, who I got the game to play with, it really turned them off quickly. They both felt like it was impossible to keep up with rescuing the bears and collecting the required data to win the game. Where I thrive on tough challenges, they still want to run from them. This may be a great teaching opportunity for them. Even though it is tough and we usually lose, we need to keep trying and see if we can get better. Cooperative games are a great way to build relationships and Rescue Polar Bears can help strengthen communication and co-op-based strategy skills. Don’t let the toughness get in the way of trying this game out. I really like what it has to offer and, like I said earlier, the components are some of the best I have ever seen.

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Age Range & Weight

Rescue Polar Bears is rated 10+. My kids are 6 and 9. They both picked up the basic mechanics right away, but they struggled with the over goal of the game. This is not our first co-op we have played together, and I thought that they would move into this game without much of a problem. That was not the case. Maybe it was because of the number of options that can be taken each turn and the upgrading of vessels. Maybe there was too much going on while feeling like we were never really catching up that made them feel overwhelmed. Because of their reaction to the game, I would say that 10+ is a solid evaluation.

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Do you have what it takes to lead your team and stop the melting ice caps that threaten the polar bears? That sounds like a tall order, right? Well Rescue Polar Bears captures the intense struggle that really exists. It might be a little bit easier to rescue the bears in the game, but only slightly. This game is way more challenging than I expected it to be. That came as a surprise, but not a negative one. Although, my kids have really struggled with it, it creates some great teaching opportunities. The challenge of the game makes them want to stay away, but the amazing components draw them back in. They may not know why it is just as important to lose as it is to win, but Rescue Polar Bears will hopefully help them learn that. If you are a fan of cooperative games that you will lose more than you will win, and if you love great quality in the physical parts of a game then you will want to give Polar Bear Rescue a try. It is not a hit with everyone in my house, but I hope that one day it will be and that life lessons are learned along the way.


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