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Reel in nightmares from the depths in Dredge-inspired horror-fishing card game Deep Regrets

You’ll be hooked.

Image credit: Judson Cowan/Tettix Games

Dredge was one of last year’s standout indie video games, hooking players with its mixture of atmospheric Lovecraftian cosmic horror and satisfying fishing simulation. Now, it’s inspired an upcoming card game that looks to offer a similar compelling combo of eldritch dread and maritime discovery.

Designer-artist Judson Cowan openly credits Dredge as one of Deep Regrets’ key touchstones, alongside classic Cthulhu story The Shadow Over Innsmouth, the Hellboy comics, Scooby-Doo cartoons and the 17th-century theory of a hollow Earth - within which another mysterious world exists - posited by comet namesake Edmund Halley.

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The card game uses Halley’s concept as a leaping-off point for an alt-history 20th century beset by strange natural occurrences. Those otherworldly happenings include the emergence of eldritch sea creatures based on European and Scottish folktales, including shapeshifting selkies, mermaids - in a more monstrous form than their typical depiction - and sea bishops, said to be named after a legendary sea creature that made the sign of the cross at Polish bishops.

It’s these strange beings that two to five players may hook on their line as they attempt to catch the most valuable fish they can. Players’ anglers position their boat on the Briny Deep board to find the best spot to cast their line - judging whether their potential catch might be fair or foul against the depth of the water and the shadow they can see on the surface - before drawing from decks representing different shoals to reveal the fish on offer.

Image credit: Judson Cowan/Tettix Games

Fish may activate different effects, making it harder for the players to reel them in. To do so, they’ll have to spend dice equal to the card’s difficulty to gain the strength needed to finally land it - but catching cards can come with its own side effects.

Those effects include suffering regrets - from nagging regrets to, yes, deep regrets - that represent that classic eldritch risk of your mind being overwhelmed by otherworldly experiences. Amassing regrets can have its upside in allowing you to land tougher catches and increase the value of more monstrous hauls, but with the risk of losing grip on your psychological state. The player with the most regrets when it comes to comparing your catch will lose their most valuable mounted fish, adding to the need to manage your fisher’s grasp on reality.

Image credit: Judson Cowan/Tettix Games

Adding to the dark horror is the ability to eat things caught from the sea to aid your angling ability - if you can stomach munching on a dismembered foot, tumorous fish or mass of eyes, that is.

Returning to port gives you a chance to recover yourself, stock back up on supplies and equipment, and sell fish, utilising the black market for riskier rewards. Your most impressive catches can be mounted as trophies, upping their value at the end of the 90-minute to two-hour game.

The enticing risk-reward gameplay and unsettling eldritch backdrop is completed by Cowan’s striking artwork for more than 100 unique fish cards and dozen of equipment cards, from rods and reels to supplies and ‘dinks’ received on a failed catch attempt - reeling in messages in bottles, severed fingers, old boots, lost rings and lockets, and more besides.

Image credit: Judson Cowan/Tettix Games

Having previously published two editions of monster-building tile-laying game Hideous Abomination under label Tettix Games, Cowan plans to crowdfund Deep Regrets with a Kickstarter campaign this June. The creator is also working on a solo mode framed as an ocean survey in the vein of Jacques Cousteau, where the player must attempt to document every fish in the sea.

Between its weird and wonderful fishing, stunning artwork and the tension of balancing your delving into the depths of the sea and the depths of human comprehension, Deep Regrets seems like it’ll have plenty to leave you hooked - I certainly am.

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