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Why the Diver is the Best Character in Sub Terra

Okay, so I’m going to say it straight. If you are a fan of co-op board games and you are also a fan of the survival genre, then you should probably play Sub Terra. 

Set in a cave network, Sub Terra is a tile placement and exploration game, in which players take it turns exploring aspects of the cave and trying to find the exit. It is intense, and the caves do everything they can to stop you. There are tremors, gas leaks, floods, cave ins, horrors, and more that make it a living nightmare (in a good way) and a really intense game.

Sub Terra can be brutal, and we probably only beat the game 30% of the time, but it is really fun at the same time. It’s one of those games where it isn’t the winning, but the journey that matters.


Early in a Sub Terra game.

Sub Terra is, in many ways, an asymmetrical game. Although everyone has the same goal – to get out as a team – everyone contributes in their own way. Each player is different and has a different role, whether that is the Bodyguard, Leader, Scout, Engineer, Medic, Climber, Geologist, or, of course, the Diver.

The Diver is one of my favourite characters to play in Sub Terra for a few reason that I thought I would share with you today. This only going to be a brief article because I want to do a full Sub Terra character comparison in the not too distant future. Instead, today, we are going to look at four key reasons the Diver is one of the best characters to play.

First though – let’s look at what the Diver is good at – this is the active ability.

Dive (Two Actions) – if you are on a water tile, remove your caver piece from the cave. On your next turn, instead of performing any actions, place your caver piece on any revealed water tile.

And so far as the Diver’s second ability is concerned –

Amphibious (Passive) – You don’t lose any health from Floods, and you may use Move actions to enter tiles with flood icons.

Now, let’s look at those four reasons as to why the Diver is awesome.

The Diver is one of the most manoeuvrable characters

The Diver is, without a doubt, one of the most manoeuvrable characters in the entirety of Sub Terra and this is a theme that will pop up a few times throughout this article. The Diver can move all around the board, using the Dive ability to move across the entire map in two turns.

What this means, first and foremost, is that the Diver is a great support unit. If the party gets split (and, who are we kidding? It will definitely get split) the Diver can get around the board healing and digging players out when needed.

One off the key points about Sub Terra is that the characters are incredibly mortal. They can’t take a lot, and so it becomes possible for the game to be lost purely because a couple of characters got separated from the group and died. The Diver, as a team player, can help circumvent that risk to help keep everyone alive. This is done by simply travelling through water tiles to where the support is needed.


The start of a game.

The Diver can be removed from the board to avoid bad stuff happening to them

One of the really neat abilities of the Diver is that when they are diving they get removed from the board. This symbolises them being in the underground lakes and rivers underneath the caves. It is somewhat thematic.

That being said, it doesn’t end there. Whilst the Diver is off the board they are can’t be affected by gas or horrors or cave ins or the other troubles of the game.

Yes, you read that correctly. Whilst off the board, the Diver cannot be touched by cave ins, gas attacks, horrors, or anything else that may do them damage. This gives the diver breathing room and, one again, that is incredibly valuable. It makes it less likely the Diver will be killed.


Okay, so this didn’t go well.

The Diver can be used to remove horrors

Okay, so we managed to get this far without actually talking about direct strategy; however, it is possible to use the Diver to lure horrors away due to the nature of the horrors movement.

Horrors are brutal in Sub Terra. They spawn and work their way towards the nearest player each and every turn. If they catch a player then they instantly incapacitate them. The Bodyguard and Scout are exceptions as the Scout never attracts horrors and the Bodyguard can push them back.

That being said, the Diver is in the unique position of leading them away. One of the benefits with the horrors (if benefits is the right term) is that they disappear when more than seven spaces away from the nearest player. This means it is technically possible to lead them away with the Diver, lead them so they are more than seven spaces away from the next nearest player, and then Dive. The Diver leaves the board and the horrors disappear.

Neat, eh?


Splitting the Party

It is hard to leave the Diver behind

And so, we come to the final point as to why the Diver is awesome – and that is that it is hard to leave them behind.

Ultimately, Sub Terra is a game about escaping. You and your friends need to find the exit and get as many cavers out alive. There is a grading system in the rules depending on how many you get out and this is where the Diver comes in.

If the Diver is the one to discover the exit, then it is all fine and dandy for you. If you are alone then you may end up losing anyway due to losing the other players, but the Diver will get out.

If, however, another player finds the exit (which is the most likely scenario) then the Diver can use the Dive ability to quickly teleport to the water tile closest to the Exit. This could end up moving the Diver really close to the exit and get them out easily.

Alternatively, the nearest water tile may actually be further away in which case you don’t use it. You just escape.

The point is that the Diver has the option to take a shortcut.

Now, the Diver isn’t the only character to be able to take a short cut. The Engineer can blow holes in the wall in order to escape, potentially triggering a cave in, however, the Diver has the neatest way of doing do. The Engineer needs to get in a fortuitous position to be able to blow through to the exit, and also potentially causes a negative in-game effect for everyone else. The Diver, however, just drops out the game at a water tile and pops back in.

And that is ultimately why the Diver is awesome. They can move the easiest out of any character in the game and that is just amazing.

So, this has been a fairly quick article today – but I am interested in your thoughts. What do you think of Sub Terra? Have you played it? If not then would you like to or would you rather keep it at arms length? If you have played it, what is your favourite character. Let me know in the comments below.

1 Comment »

  1. I absolutely love this game. I honestly enjoy all the characters; there seems to be “better” characters at first but once you play a few games a realize what aspects of the game truly become bothersome you realize some of the “lesser” characters are quite awesome as well. The design team did an amazing job making each character (in the base game) feel useful and unique. It reminds me a little of the way Special Abilities in The Voyages of Marco Polo seem so powerful thatupi always want another player’s power. Anyway, thank you for the article and it’s nice to see someone else tht enjoys Sub Terra so much!


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