Prove you’re no landlubber in Hold Your Breath!

Play Time:20 minutes
Recommended Age:6+
5+ (Some reading is involved)
Cost:Both the Game & the Expansion prices will vary.
Expansion Adds:5-6 Player option. 20 cards, 2 Player Tokens, 2 Anchors in White and Green.
Contents:Dive Deck (68 cards), 4 Pirate Tokens, 4 Anchors, Depth game board, Instructions
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Walk the Plank! is the last in a trilogy of fantastically fun pirate games by MayDay Games. This time the not-so-bright pirates finally see land, however one among them boasts that they can dive deeper then the rest. Well you know that isn’t going to go without a challenge! Your goal is to dive the deepest and make it back to the surface….and live through it all of course!

You may remember that these pirates had to Walk the Plank and then when they were in the water they would Get Bit! and now that land is in sight…Hold Your Breath! Pirates test their abilities against each other for…bragging rights? Yeah sounds about right with these pirates.

Not to worry if you haven’t played or even heard of the other two games. The story and fun is what connects them but you actually don’t have to know anything about the other two in order to play this one. It is recommended for ages 6+ but I would say kids who have played games awhile, or seasoned gamers, around age 5 would be ok. There is some reading involved with the cards but it is very minimal. In fact there are just a few words so you could help them with that.

The box is a lift top lid with an insert that really just holds the cards perfect except that the insert has an empty middle so the cards can slide to the side and get mixed up. Not a huge deal since you can either just keep them in a bag or shuffle them anyway.

The Game Board is made out of chipboard and folds in half nicely. It isn’t very large but is well made. There isn’t a lot of artwork on it but that is good. I think it would distract from the game and since you are diving deep into the ocean you wouldn’t really see a lot of things anyway.

The Anchors and Pirates are made out of wood and shaped to resemble an Anchor or Pirate..with a hat. There are even stickers that come with so you can put Pirate stickers on the Pirate Tokens! I love that!

We have 3 female and 3 male Tokens. Remember we have the expansion. Which adds cards and 2 of each Anchor and Pirate Tokens.

The cards are pretty standard size and materials with that texture on the front that makes that fun noise when you scratch it. I can’t NOT make that noise….the box does it too. I love the artwork on the cards. It is so fun and fits with the theme of this game and the other two games as well. Over all Hold Your Breath! is very well made but I have come to expect that from MayDay Games. Now let’s play!


Dive the deepest and make it back to the surface! That’s really it. Be the pirate who dives the deepest and makes it back to the surface in the two rounds to win.


First put the Depth Board where everyone can see and reach it. Shuffle the Dive Deck and give 5 cards to each player then each player picks their Pirate and takes the Anchor that matches the Pirate Color. You can add the stickers if you want, which we did although you don’t need to. It is just a fun extra that MayDay Games included. Put your Pirate on the Surface space on the Depth Board and you are ready to go! The player who went swimming most recently goes first….we don’t count bath tubs….but you might.


The game is played in two Rounds or Phases. The Descent Phase is where you go as far as you can, or dive as deep as you can, on the Depth Board. The Ascent Phase is the second Round and you have to try to make it back to the Surface during this Phase. Let’s go in order shall we? First, however, let’s explain a couple things.

Icons & Effects:

The Air Cards – These have bubbles on them and allow you to have enough air to swim 5 or 10 spaces this turn. It will say on the card.

The Flippers – These are your Swim cards and allow you to swim 5 or 10 spaces this turn but you cannot play a Swim card that is greater than the Air you have played. If you play 5 Air you cannot play 10 Swim.

Panic! – You can play a Panic! card on another player unless they already have one in front of them. When you do have a Panic card in front of you you cannot play Swim cards until you discard the Panic! card.

Calm – These can be played to discard a Panic! card on front of you OR to move the Shark from in front of you to in front of another player.

Shark – You can play the Shark on another Player even if they have a Panic! card in front of them which makes it act like an additional Panic! card. No swimming in Shark infested waters me hearty!

The Kraken – This can be played to discard the Shark from in front of you OR to force all players with exactly 5 cards in their hands to discard one of them. Nasty creature the Kraken.

The Dolphin – The Wild card! You can use this as if it were any other card in the game! Air, Swim, Discard or even the Kraken! ANY CARD in the game! The Diva loves using this as the Kraken.

The Descent Phase:

On your turn you start by playing cards from your hand and resolving them one at a time. Play a card, resolve it and then play another card. You can play as many as you want from your hand BUT you have to play at least one Air card and you can only play Swim cards equal to the Air cards played. You can’t swim if you can’t breath…that is the reasoning the Geeklings came to anyway.

If you cannot play an Air card then you have to take a card from your hand and put it face down in front of you as a Panic card. Once you are done playing the cards from your hand that you want you can then choose to discard any or all remaining cards and draw back up to 5. Draw back up to 5 regardless though. Cards you have played go in the Discard pile. Play moves to the left and once a player draws the last card from the Dive Deck the Descent Phase is over.

The player who drew last gets to finish their turn and then every other player gets to take one final turn. This allows every player to have the same amount of turns. To be fair of course.

Do NOT reshuffle the Dive Deck. Leave it alone and keep any cards you have in your hand along with any Shark or Panic! cards in front of you. Other players as well of course. Now place your Anchor on the space where your Pirate is so you know how far you made it.

The Ascent Phase:

NOW shuffle the Discard Pile and create a new Dive Deck. Deal cards from the top of the new deck until each player has 5 cards again. Whoever is closest to the surface gets to go first. Play continues in the exact same way as before except you are going the other way now.

The Ascent Phase ends in one of two ways. When the last card is drawn from the Dive Deck (the last turn part happens here as well) OR when the Pirate whose Anchor is at the deepest depth reaches the Surface.

If there are multiple Pirates on the Deepest space then whenever one of them reaches the surface the game ends.


Once the game ends the person whose Anchor is the deepest AND whose Pirate has returned to the surface is the winner! Yay! Anyone who failed to return to the surface before the game ends loses no matter how deep they dove. In the event that no Pirate makes it back to the surface before the Dive Deck runs out, which can happen, then the Pirate who swam the deepest and back up wins!

Hold Your Breath! is a fantastic game that is quick and easy to setup, play, put away and always fun! Our whole family loves this game and our favorite Family Game Night game is now a series of three.

Walk the Plank!, Get Bit! and Hold Your Breath! We almost always play them in order but you don’t have to. You can play any one of them at any time and they are great by themselves.

Don’t forget to get the 5-6 Player expansion for even MORE Pirate fun on Game Nights! I love this option as we do have a hard time finding games for 5 or 6 players but like having more options when we have that many people over.

It is a lot of fun to play them all though…and talk like a pirate the whole time as well! Well that part is hard for most of us but we do try. Sometimes we even add a Pirate hat or hook for extra fun! I cannot wait until Talk Like a Pirate day this year!

Show us your best Pirate swimming face! @MyGeeklings #HoldYourBreath @MayDayGames

“Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.”
~ Maya Angelou

Author: sandyz