Sunset Over Water – Pencil First Games – Review


This game is a relaxing ‘ahhhh’ moment in between heavier games or a date game with a glass of wine, bread, and cheese.  How romantic!  Hint Hint Hubby!

Heather Swanson


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Theme and What is it?


Do you need a break and a chance to get away from it all?  That is just what you are going to do in the game Sunset Over Water.  You are going to hike out in nature and look for beautiful scenery.  Once you’ve found that perfect spot you start painting.  You can sell them for a commission or keep some for end of game scoring.  Either way, you are going to step out into beautiful places and refresh yourself in the glory of nature.

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Gameplay Mechanics


Nature scenes on cards are set out in a 5 x 5 grid.  Players’ artist tokens begin on the middle picture.  The game is played in 6 rounds consisting of 3 phases each.  These phases are planning, trek, and clean-up.  After the last round there is a final scoring phase.

During the planning phase players draw 3 cards from their personal deck and choose one.  The other two go to the bottom of their personal deck.  This card describes what time they will start their hike, which directions they can travel, how many cards they can move, and how many pictures they can paint. 

Players simultaneous reveal the cards they chose during the planning phase.  The players then take their turns in time orders.  The early birds get the worm, so to speak.  One at a time, players move their designated spaces, paint the designated number of pictures, and sell paintings for commissions. 

These commissions require certain types of scenery be present in the pictures so deciding what to paint has to be thought out.  Commission cards are available in a quantity of one more than the number of players.  As well, one more commission card is made visible on the top of the stack so players can plan for the next round.  New commissions only come out during a new round.

The clean-up phase gets ready for a new round.  New scenery cards are placed where players have taken the cards as paintings, and a new daily goal is revealed.  New commissions are placed out as well.  The daily goals are claimed at the end of each round to the last player who accomplished the goal.

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Initial Impressions


I was so excited to play this game because I love nature and beautiful scenery.  I loved how relaxing and aesthetically pleasing everything looked.  The painting theme was an appealing touch since I’m a bit of an artist myself. 

It was even more appealing when I found out it had a solo mode.  I think it is always a bonus for a game to have different player counts. 

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Game Build Quality


Everything in the game is of good quality.  The cards are all thick enough for heavy use.  My favorite component are the differently shaped meeples.  They look like they are relaxing under a shady tree while they paint or draw.  The quick reference cards are also a welcomed bonus.

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Artistic Direction


This game is beautiful.  It is an art game with beautiful art.  I am not sure if they are actual pictures altered to look like paintings or they are actual art.  Either way it is stellar.

The colors are warm and calming.  The earth tones are subdued and everything goes together nicely.  There are patterns in different colors on the back of different players decks which stand out enough to recognize the difference but are not jarring.

The symbology is all easy to understand and easy to tell apart.  Everything is large enough to see when you are sitting around a table.  I can’t tell you how annoying it is to have to stand up or pick up cards to read or see what things say.  Not so with this game.  Everything is understandable from a distance.

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Fun Factor


Besides the cute meeples and artwork, one of my favorite things about this game is the planning phase.  I enjoy trying to guess whether players will want to paint early or late and adjust my timing as well.  If I’m competitive enough I can keep track of what time other players have already hiked to predict what cards they have left.

That’s a good point to mention.  This game can be done casually and in a relaxed manner.  For the uber competitive they can keep track of what other players have left in their planning decks or track their points.

I think we all have moods where we just want a relaxing game and other times when we want to tear up our opponents.  This is a game you can play either way.  There isn’t any take-that action but you can watch what your opponent is going for and try to stop them by painting the pictures they want or blocking them.

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Age Range & Weight


The game is listed for ages 8 and up.  I’d say that is about right.  Any younger than that and they would miss out on some of the strategy.

It is an easy to learn game that doesn’t take long.  It can be taught relatively quickly and the player aid cards keep new players on track.  Even though it is easy to learn there is still some strategy involved.  Drawing cards from you own deck means there is some luck in the game.  I would say it is a nice balance between luck and strategy.

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You are going to enjoy kicking back with a glass of lemonade or iced tea and letting your mind destress with Sunset Over Water.  This game is a relaxing ‘ahhhh’ moment in between heavier games or a date game with a glass of wine, bread, and cheese.  How romantic!  Hint Hint Hubby!

I really enjoy playing Sunset Over Water and would recommend it as a casual game.  It is relaxing, beautiful, and doesn’t require brain strain to play.