Kulkmann's G@mebox - www.boardgame.de



Gianluca Santopietro


No. of Players:
3 - 6



Gamebox author Doug Adams writes about the game:

Reviewer's note: my family has a remote, distant connection with the Titanic. My father's maternal grandparents, and children, were booked on the Titanic. My grandmother was one of the children. She was 5 years old at the time, and her family were emigrating from Kircaldy, Scotland, to Canada. They changed their mind and came to Australia instead. How much truth there is to this story, I cannot say, although my father certainly believes it. This has made me a bit of a Titanic buff, and have read several books on the subject. This game instantly interested me.

Collapsible D: The Final Minutes of the Titanic is an Italian game released in 2012, limited to 1000 numbered copies. The theme of the game is the sinking of the Titanic, on April 15th, 1912. This game was released to coincide with the 100 year anniversary of the sinking. The title, Collapsible D, refers to one of the last lifeboats to be launched from the Titanic, just before it foundered.

Players in Collapsible D control three or four passengers on the Titanic. The object of the game is to move these passengers around the ship, and try to get them into a lifeboat. Passengers who enter a lifeboat will score victory points at the end of the game.

The game is for three to six players, and takes about 60 minutes. There are rules for two players available for download on the publisher's website. The game also plays well as a solo game, simply playing for the experience.

This game is published by an Italian company, SIR CHESTER COBBLEPOT. I don't know much about them, but their website claims them to be a publisher of "Fine high quality boardgames". I ordered a copy of Collapsible D directly from them, and copy #243 was delivered very quickly. It was securely packaged and suffered no damage in the journey to Australia.


Out of the box, the game makes an excellent first impression. Unusually, the game box has a sleeve, or slipcase, featuring very nice cover art. Removing the sleeve reveals a very elegant white game box, with black printing. It is unusual in the world of colourful game boxes, and the effect is pleasing. Things only get better inside the box.

The standout component is the game board. It depicts the Titanic as viewed from off the starboard side of the ship. The dimensions of the board are impressive, over a metre long, and about 30 cm high. The illustration of the ship is simply stunning, with the ship broken down into approximately two hundred rectangular movement spaces, further colour coded into blue (first class), green (second class), red (third class), white (common area), black (crew areas), and so on. There are stairways depicted that allow access between deck levels. On the top deck are the spaces that allow access to the ten lifeboats. Down in the lower deck areas of the ship are the watertight bulkheads, extending up several deck levels from the base of the ship. Other areas of the game board are used to store various game components, such as the Lifeboat Order counters, equipment items, and so on.


The other impressive thing about the game board is the detail present in the illustration. The amateur Titanic buff will have a great time with a magnifying glass poring over this game board. You can spot several automobiles in the cargo decks, coal, dining areas, stairways, the gymnasium, boilers, and most likely dozens of little nuggets I can't identify. I certainly intend to spend more time with the game board.


The rulebook in Collapsible D is in full colour, and is twenty pages in length. However, the game is not complex, and the rules are explained very clearly, with plenty of examples and illustrations. Five pages of the rules are dedicated to historical notes, explaining what occured with each lifeboat, notes on the passengers included in the game, game variants, etc. A large double page spread gives a very detailed example of the flooding mechanics, covering the entire game. Three pages of the rules describe the game components and game set up. The game rules themselves are about eight pages long. I cannot think of any problems I had teaching myself this game, apart from one error in the game setup illustration depicting the placement of the bonus tokens.

The other components include a sheet of cardboard game pieces to punch out, several decks of cards, four dice, and some very nice wooden player pieces. These pieces are in the six player colours, and have different shapes representing passengers from First, Second and Third class, as well as crew members. A rather interesting feature is each playing piece has a large groove cut in the top of their head - talk about a splitting headache!


Each player takes a set of pieces in their colour, and are dealt three passenger cards - one from First class, Third class, and a crew member. If playing with three players, each player also receives a Second class passenger. A small cardboard counter, with the illustration of a clock, is inserted into the groove in the head of each passenger, indicating the passengers are currently "unaware". When this counter is removed, passengers become "alert" and remain that way until the end of the game.

Each passenger card contains several important pieces of information. Firstly, it indicates the space on the game board where they begin the game. The game board is large, the spaces are small, thus locating the tiny number that matches the setup space for the passengers is a rather frustrating exercise. This becomes easier with more plays, and you become familar with the ship. Secondly, the passenger card indicates the time during the game at which that passenger becomes "alert", for example "00:20" (meaning 12:20am, April 15th, 1912). Alert passengers are much easier to move around the ship than unaware passengers. Finally, each passenger also has a victory point value, which are awarded to the player if you can get them into a lifeboat, and to safety.


A game of Collapsible D lasts sixteen turns. Each turn represents 10 minutes of time, starting with the collision with the iceberg at 11:40pm, and finishing with the launch of the final lifeboat, just prior to the ship foundering at 2:20am. During a turn, players first check to see if any of their passengers become alert at this time. If so, they remove the cardboard token from their associated pawn. This passenger is suddenly aware they are in serious trouble, and become much easier to move about the ship.

Next, players will take turns moving their passengers around the ship. The rules for moving are interesting, and quite frustrating, as they are dice driven. The four dice supplied with the game feature coloured spots on the faces - red, green, blue, white, yellow and black. When they move, players will roll the four dice, and assign the results to the passengers. In order to move to an adjacent space, the passenger needs to receive a die result of the colour of the space the passenger is entering. However, if the passenger is "unaware", they require two dice of that colour! The game tries to help out here, with white die results being wild, and black results allowing you to clone another die result. Further help is provided with some passenger cards having the ability to "withhold" a die - that die is not rolled, but assigned as a fixed colour to that passenger. Still, at the beginning of the game, with unaware passengers, it is very difficult, and rather frustrating, to do anything constructive with passenger movement. As passengers become aware, movement becomes much easier.

To move between deck levels (and generally you want to move up!), you need reach a stairway space. These depict yellow or black stairways, and you need die results of the matching colour to use them. Movement is further complicated by the crowd counters, representing masses of people moving as a group around the ship. Players can use unassigned dice to move a crowd counter to an adjacent space, to hinder their opponents, as moving through a crowd requires an additional die.

The goal of the game is to move your passengers up onto the boat deck. These are white coloured spaces, and accept any die colour to move into. Once up on the boat deck, players try to move to a lifeboat entry space, and move into the "queue" to enter that lifeboat. At this point, players have to wait patiently until the game events order that lifeboat to launch.


During movement, players also have the chance to acquire some equipment. Equipment is represented by face down tokens randomly assigned to specific locations on the ship. If a passenger ends their movement on a space containing equipment, they may take it and use it later in the game. There are nine different pieces of equipment that can be found, from keys, to handguns, to a lost child (allowing you to ignore lifeboat restrictions).

After all players have had the opportunity to move, the turn track is checked to see if any game events occur. Game events involve placing one of six crowd counters on the ship, or the officers giving the orders to lower a lifeboat. Lowering a lifeboat involves flipping a counter from a stack to reveal which lifeboat will be lauched at this time. The lifeboat card in the indicated position is flipped over, and any passengers in that lifeboat's queue have the opportunity to leave the ship. However, there is a semi-random wrinkle - each lifeboat may refuse entry to a particular type of passenger - for example, no men on this lifeboat, or no Third class passengers, and so on. So you may have moved your passenger into a queue, only to find the officer in charge of loading this boat won't let you on!


The priority system of lifeboat loading is going to annoy some players. If you don't get on, you have to move off to another lifeboat and take your place in that queue. Lifeboats have a capacity as well - some will take the first 2, 3, 4 or 6 passengers. Passengers who get there earlier receive bonus victory points if they get on board, and other lifeboats receive bonus points for passengers based the lifeboat position on the ship.

The final part of the turn is to draw a flooding card. There are 32 of these cards in the deck, but only 16 are used in any one game. They are divided into A, B, C and D decks, and neatly control the rate of flooding that the ship suffers. The cards feature a number, that rises as you work through the decks, and it indicates the number of spaces you bump the water level marker in the bow-most watertight compartment. If the marker rises above its bulkhead, the next aft-most marker begins to rise as the water spills over into the next compartment. This is a rather accurate, and quite chilling, reenactment of the fate of the ship, as the spillover escalated the rate of flooding, and accelerated the sinking of the ship. Needless to say, any passengers caught by the rising water levels during this part of the turn are removed from the game.

The game ends after sixteen turns, and players score victory points for saved passengers. The game contains some special rules for scoring the Collapsible B boat. Historically, this boat flipped over as it was launched, and passengers scrabbled on top of the upturned boat. In the game, this boat accepts all passenger types, but they earn half their victory point score.

Collapsible D is a very interesting game. The theme of the the game is ambitious, and certainly not for everybody. Several of the passenger cards depict young children, which may cause some players some anguish. My wife took one look at the game set up, and was troubled by it. I think the main problem here is the game succeeds too well in bring in the events of April 1912 to the game table - watching the water level counters rapidly rise, on a brilliantly illustrated game board, certainly puts you "there".

The game puts you "there" in other ways too. The restriction on just how little you can do on each of your sixteen turns does make you jumpy. It is a struggle to get a passenger off this ship, especially as your opponents are trying to do the same thing. It's amazing how the crowd counters on the board materialise right in your path, causing you to burn precious movement dice to keep making progress. In many ways, this game is not so much a game, but an experience ... a ride if you like, where events outside of your control are impacting you, and you must struggle on regardless. It can be brutal, possibly nasty, and totally out of your hands if you don't get the right dice. Not a game for everyone.

However, as a game, as a piece of design, and as a very amateur Titanic buff, I do like this one. The components are very good, and the game board is just glorious. I like some of the nice touches in this game, such as passengers who begin down in the bow end of the ship (where the flooding impacts earliest) become alert earlier in the game. They are down the end where the trouble is, so they get the chance to get moving first. Passengers who begin several deck levels down are worth more victory points. The flooding rules are very clever, and very realistic at the same time.

So who would enjoy this game? Players who appreciate a thematic experience, over a typical Eurogame. The game reminds me a little of Talisman, as you roll dice and move in a restricted fashion from space to space, having seemingly chance encounters. Players who enjoy tight control over their resources and options should stay well away from this one. Collapsible D would make a very good family game, as long as the theme is acceptable.

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Copyright © 2012 Frank Schulte-Kulkmann, Essen, Germany