I was doing my usual brainstorming on new game designs and not really getting anywhere today, when a couple of mechanics finally gelled together and I had an a-ha moment for a game. The theme behind the game is not necessarily new by any means (there are other treasure hunting related games out there - Key Largo for example, not to mention all of the pirate-themed games), however, I think the mechanics I am looking at for this game seem fairly unique (it is kind of a cross between Lifeboats and a pirate-themed game, Plunder).
The idea behind the game is that new technology has been developed to search for treasure in very deep waters, and (four?) countries have developed it at the same time and are rushing to explore the Pacific Ocean before each other. Players will hire crew members to pilot these ships in their search for riches. Each ship can have up to two different player's crew members on it. This will lead to a unique partnership effort that I have been trying to design a game around. One player will take the role of the captain and decide the search/gun actions for the ship and one player will take the role of the navigator and decide where to move it. Ships will have various attributes (search depth, speed, size, search actions, guns). The ship's size determines the size of the crew (2-5). Smaller ships can depart quicker and are faster, but are also weaker (no guns) and lack the better technology of the bigger ships. It will cost more to pilot the better ships. You could also hire speciality crew that will cost more but offer certain bonuses.
Once players fill a ship, it departs a port and out to look for treasure. The ocean will be a 6x6 grid with cards 5 deep on each pile. The navigator will move the ship, but the captain will decide when and where to search. When searching, a ship uses actions to flip cards until a shipwreck is found. Once found, a ship will need the appropriate search depth and then may spend actions to excavate the treasure. Ships with more search actions can also excavate quicker.
After a ship has a treasure it still must make it back to a port for one of the (four?) countries. If a ship carrying a treasure is gunned down by another ship it will become a shipwreck itself... Once reaching a port, the treasure is divided among the crew members (the more crew members you have on the ship, the greater your share).
Ship battle will be a simple system where it is easier to hit the closer you are with more weaponry giving a player more rolls. Each ship will also have a certain amount of damage it can take before sinking.
That's about as far as I got. There is still alot to decide before I even start on a prototype. How will the game end be triggered? How are scores calculated (most money)? How does a player get more money to hire more crew members?