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The Spill is a “reverse tower defense” board game about saving sea-life

One slick looking title.

Prevent an ecological oceanic disaster in a “reverse tower defense” board game with an environmental message called The Spill.

In the upcoming board game, players team up as members of a task force who must work together to contain and control an oil spill before it causes a mass ecological disaster. An oil drilling platform called Deepwell 4 has sprung a leak and is causing an oil slick to spread across the surface of the ocean it’s sitting in, contaminating the waters and harming the marine life that lives there.

A co-op game for one to four players, The Spill has players attempting to manage the oil slick originating from the drilling platform in the middle of the board. The oil, which is represented by a collection of black dice, pours through the platform in the middle of the board - with the resulting roll indicating where the oil die is going to be placed. In a similar fashion to the co-op board game Pandemic, the players must travel to the different parts of the board in order to deal with the most dire threats first.

The Spill board layour

Travelling around the board, the players can use their turn to rescue the sea’s marine life from being contaminated by the oil spill or to push back and even remove the oil from the water completely. Players have three missions they’ll need to complete in order to win the game, which contains a combination of saving sea life and removing oil. However, taking too long will result in too many species of marine life being lost to the oil and the spill eventually covering too much of the board - leading to a fail-state.

The Spill was created by Andy Kim, with this being the designer’s debut title. Artwork for The Spill comes from Kwanchai Moriya, the illustrator behind board games such as Dinosaur Island, dexterity game Flipships and several RPGs including Overlight and Jiangshi: Blood in the Banquet Hall. During an interview with Dicebreaker, Moriya commented that the cover for the game “went through a couple of iterations and it came out really well”.

Smirk & Dagger Games is the publisher behind The Spill, with the studio’s previous releases including the fantasy board game Cutthroat Caverns and Dead Last, a game that has players changing alliances to ensure that they’re the only one surviving at the end.

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The premise of The Spill is inspired by the current real-life climate issue of oil spills contaminating the world’s oceans and waterways. The US Department of Energy has estimated that 1.3 million gallons of oil are spilled each year, with examples such as The Deepwater Horizon spill taking 87 days to seal - resulting in 134 million gallons of oil being poured into the Gulf of Mexico, making it the largest recorded accidental oil spill in history. The Spill looks to educate players on the reality of oil spills and the damage they can do to the Earth’s ecosystems, advising people to visit to find out how they can help.

The Kickstarter for The Spill is live until September 24th, with a pledge of $45 (£33) getting backers a copy of the game that’s due to arrive in April 2022.

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Alex Meehan avatar
Alex Meehan: After writing for Kotaku UK, Waypoint and Official Xbox Magazine, Alex became a member of the Dicebreaker editorial family. Having been producing news, features, previews and opinion pieces for Dicebreaker for the past three years, Alex has had plenty of opportunity to indulge in her love of meaty strategy board games and gothic RPGS. Besides writing, Alex appears in Dicebreaker’s D&D actual play series Storybreakers and haunts the occasional stream on the Dicebreaker YouTube channel.
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