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< 30 Min

2 - 8 Players

Ages 6+



Ahoy traveler! Welcome aboard the Shadow of Endurance, a replica ship based off Ernest Shackleton's pioneering vessel. Are you ready for an adventure ripe with ocean exploration and deduction? Creatures await your clever gaze and will award those who can spot them quickest.



The game has 90 playing cards. We recommend looking through the deck before playing. Or click to see this itemized list of all the cards. They breakdown as follows:

32 Whale cards. 9 species, 2-4 cards of each, are represented by a different color. It's important to recognize that whales have both a left (L) and right (R) tail. When placed side by side, a full whale is formed.​​

28 Non-Whale cards. 7 species, 4 cards of each, are represented by different colors. Each non-whale species shares a color with a whale species. The Blue and Bowhead whales are special and do not have a color pair.

2 Orca cards. While these are also non-whales, they serve a specific purpose as an endgame condition.

26 Action cards. 7 types, 3-5 cards each, are identified by their black and white style, and control the flow of play.

2 Reference cards. These should be shared between players to help remember game rules and objectives.


















Before dealing cards, sort through the deck to remove both reference cards and 5 Fluke cards. Shuffle the deck thoroughly and deal each player 4 cards, then shuffle the Fluke cards back into the remaining deck. Place the deck face down in the center of play. 

In addition to the deck and space for a discard pile, there should also be enough room for all players to place cards in front of them for scoring. You are now ready to play!



Be the player with the most points when the game ends. See scoring for details. There are two endgame scenarios: 

1 Orca is exposed during play. It could happen early, late, or not at all. These creatures are very sneaky.

All 5 Flukes are played. Eventually, this condition will happen, but the Orca may surface (see what we did there?) first.



As an adventurer at sea, identifying creatures at the right time will make you a popular travel companion! Starting with the person left of the dealer, each player takes turns drawing 1 card from the top of the deck and placing it in their hand. If the card is a FLUKE, it must be announced and played immediately. All players may score cards sharing any one color (i.e. Sei Whales and Sharks are both orange) from their hand. See scoring for details.


Otherwise, before the next player draws, the other players consider a simple question:




Non-drawing players have 2 choices:

  • Say nothing, and the next player draws a card. 

  • Say (or yell) "BREACH!" to force the drawer to expose the card to the group. This is when things get interesting. A player's reputation is on the line -- they think they spotted a whale!

There are 4 possible outcomes when someone breaches a card:


  • First, if the exposed card is an Orca, the game immediately ends. Other animals scatter when this prolific hunter is nearby! Players total their scored points. See Scoring for details. 

  • Second, if the exposed card is an Action Card, it is immediately played. Depending on the scenario, this may result in a series of card transactions, scoring, or endgames. Each Action card has a short phrase indicating what to do, and some clarifying descriptions are listed below. Play continues afterward unless an Orca is exposed through an Action.

STEAL. Player may take (and expose) any one card from another player's hand or scoring area, as long as that card isn't part of a set (any complete whale or 3 of the same species).

SCAVENGE. Player may look through and take any one card from the discard pile. If this card is an Action Card, it is immediately played. A Species Card goes into the player's hand.

NET. Player may call out one species to be eliminated from play. All matching cards in hands and scoring areas are placed in the discard pile, with the exception of sets (any complete whale or 3 of the same species).

CURRENT. Player may request 1 card from each opponent's hand. The player has no power over what cards they get, unless an opponent only has one card. These cards are delivered in secret.

STUDY. Player may look at and reorder the top 3 cards in the draw pile. There is nothing against verbally sharing how the cards are reordered, but the player may not physically show others.

BLOCK. Player may negate the effect of any one Action Card. A Block used against a Block would reactivate the original action played, unless a third Block was played.

  • Third, if the exposed card is a whale (Gray, Sperm, Minke, Humpback, Fin, Right, Sei, Blue, Bowhead), the player who said "BREACH" first gets it. Fellow shipmates reward successful sightings -- they want this to be the best trip possible! Play continues clockwise with the next card drawer.

  • Finally, if the breached card is a remaining non-whale species (Bird, Crab, Krill, Penguin, Seal, Shark, Squid), then the player who said "BREACH" loses a card. Fellow shipmates penalize unsuccessful sightings -- too many false alarms make for a dreadful experience. This player must fan out their hand, and the card drawer blindly takes one. If this card is an Orca, the game ends. Otherwise, play continues with the next card drawer.


As the game progresses, there are 3 other scenarios worth noting:

  • A player may never begin any turn (when the next card drawer is about to pick) with more than 10 cards. If this happens, they must discard until they have 10 cards.

  • A player must always have at least 1 card in their hand. If a player runs out of cards, they immediately draw 3 to replenish their hand.

  • Any player may play an Action Card from their hand, regardless if it's their turn. Action Cards are followed in the order they are played. The next card drawer cannot go until all actions have been resolved.






Whenever a FLUKE is exposed, all players have an opportunity to score all species in their hand that share the same color. Action Cards and Orcas cannot be scored. If players are curious or have a hard time distinguishing colors, there is a small symbol at the top of Whale Cards that match Non-Whale Cards. All non-whale species have a matching color whale, but not all whales have matching non-whale species -- the Blue and Bowhead whales are unique.

ALLOWED -- Colors and symbols match

NOT ALLOWED -- Colors and symbols different

As shown above, whales require two cards -- a left (L) and right (R) tail -- to form a set and score any points. They do not need to be played on the same FLUKE. When eventually joined together, a two-digit number is formed. Depending on the species, Whales score between 10 and 55 points. The trickiest whale is the Bowhead. This species, when completed, takes on the highest scoring left and right whale cards in all players' scoring areas. The whales do not have to match colors. However, if no full whale can be made, the Bowhead scores 0 points. 




If a player has scored 3 cards of the same whale, they may choose what combination makes the best set value. The leftover whale card is not a part of that set.


For non-whale species, each card in the scoring area is worth 5 points, regardless of how many are played. If a player scores 3 cards of the same species, they have made a set and earned an additional 10 points. For example, Player 3 would score 25 points (5 x 3, plus 10) above if they collect another crab.

PLAYER 1 WINS WITH 75 POINTS: Bowhead (50) + Seal (10) + Bird (10) + Shark (5) + Sei (0, not complete)

PLAYER 2 HAS 70 POINTS: Penguin (15, plus bonus 10) + Humpback (20) + Minke (15) + Krill (10) + Gray (0, not complete)

When the game ends (5 FLUKES played or 1 Orca exposed), players total their scoring areas to determine a winner. In the case of a tie, any player holding an Orca wins. If no one is holding an Orca, then any player with the highest scoring species wins. 



STANDARD. The rules above share a traditional version of the Whale Game. As players become more familiar with how to play, we suggest a handful of alternative game dynamics below to spice things up. We also encourage players to add or change rules as they see fit! Please share them with us at info@gamegenius.org.

FEWER SPECIES. To shorten the game, players can remove species from the deck. This should happen before the deal. We suggest removing Whale and Non-Whale color pairs together (i.e. Minke Whale and Krill cards, which are both pink). 

LIMITED ACTION. To reduce the number of transactions during the game, players can remove Action Cards at their discretion. This should also be done before the deal. We suggest trying different setups to find the most fun gameplay. A good rule of thumb about Action Cards is that they should represent roughly one-third of the cards in the deck. With that said, the type of Action Cards removed also matters. Fewer FLUKES and Scavenges will result in lower scores, while fewer Nets and Steals will often lead to higher scores.

MISSING ORCA. By removing Orcas from the game, players can avoid the threat of sudden moments. Only playing all 5 FLUKES would end the game in this version. A lack of Orcas often leads to more Breaching and risk taking because the game timeline is more predictable. It's also possible to remove just one of the two Orcas to keep the threat, but make it less common.

KINGMAKER. Instead of weakening the Orca, make it stronger! Players holding Orcas when the game ends may "consume" another player's species by eliminating it from their scoring area. Nothing is off limits EXCEPT when a player holds all of one species (i.e. Blue Whale, 2 Minke Whales, 4 Penguins) or the attacked player is holding a Block card. Narwhals are always looking out for ways to protect their sea friends.

WILD BOWHEAD. Want to really open up the game's scoring? Declare Bowheads as wildcards that automatically match with any other Whale Card. The only specification is that pairs must still match a left (L) and right (R) tail. It's also worth noting that, like the standard version, Bowheads score 0 points if no other whales have been scored. The "?" must mirror an existing number. Strategies get increasingly complicated if these different game variations are layered together.

MONOPOLY: Getting 3 of a Non-Whale species (Bird, Crab, Krill, Penguin, Seal, Shark, Squid) to make a set is challenging, but collecting all 4 is even tougher. As an incentive, reward players who accomplish this feat by doubling points for that species' color. For example, if a player scored all the Sharks and had a 30 point Sei Whale (both Orange), they would get 120 points! 4 Sharks are 5 points each, plus a 10 point set bonus equals 30. Add that to the Sei Whale and double the entire color to score. 60 x 2 = 120. That's definitely worth the effort!