The goal of The Reef is to mate five pairs of fish to produce specific colored offspring. The game board is comprised of 32 cards representing open water, male and female fish, pearls, coral reefs, and sharks. The currency of the game is colored worm tokens which are used to buy fishing boats (yes, the theme falls apart here) and the rest of the cards.
On your turn, you roll the two dice and take worm tokens matching the colors rolled. The other player takes one worm of either color. You may then buy cards from any column in which you have a fishing boat. To buy fish, you must first have a coral reef card where your fish will live. Once you have a coral reef with two fish, male and female, matching one of four face up "offspring" cards, you're one pair closer to victory. Pearls are used as wild worms while sharks remove cards from the board or your own coral reef. You may buy additional boats, expanding your fishing grounds, for three worms.
One interesting aspect of the game is that as cards are removed from the board, the remaining cards "flow" from left to right to fill in the gaps, which means you can see which fish are coming turns ahead and plan accordingly.
I gathered my five coral reefs and expanded my network of boats early to quickly rack up three offspring, leaving Carol behind. At that point, I stalled with an unneeded green fish on one of my coral reefs. Carol gathered a host of pearls and suddenly was able to catch up to me. We both bred our fourth offspring at about the same time and I was pretty sure her large number of pearls would give her an advantage in getting the last pair of fish.
As the fish Carol needed to win appeared on the board and was ready to move into a column with one of her boats, I had one final turn, needing a particular colored female fish to acquire my last offspring card. I chose to play a worm to turn up one of the face down cards in the middle row and got incredibly lucky, turning up exactly the fish I needed. I purchased that fish and made my last offspring the turn before Carol would have.
Coming up: The series turns to fantasy as we engage in a wizard battle over an imprisoned dragon in Dragonheart.