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Store:  Strategy Games
Edition:  Nautilus
Theme:  Nautical/Aquatic
Format:  Board Games


English language edition

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Product Awards:  

Ages Play Time Players
12+ 90-120 minutes 2-4

Designer(s): Brigitte Ditt, Wolfgang Ditt

Publisher(s): Mayfair Games, Kosmos

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Product Description

Within the dark cold depths of the sea lies a world that could have risen from the works of Jules Verne. Here beneath the silt and sand of the sea floor resides the resting place of an ancient civilization once the marvel of the world. Swallowed by the sea, it sank to the depths to be remembered in legend.

Now, groups of researchers have come together to build a fantastic underwater city, made from the many components sunk on the ocean floor. Scientific stations are created to support the efforts of these brave heroes as they scour the bottom of the sea in ingenious mini-submarines.

Their quest? To search for lost treasures, scientific sensations, and of course glory! But, most of all they seek the remains of the lost civilization. Each searcher follows his own passions, seeking his own goals and judging his own success.

Can you aggressively explore the depths of the ocean, while efficiently guiding the construction and development of the underwater city? You must balance both goals if you wish to win fame and glory in Nautilus!

Players try to recover as many underwater discoveries as possible, and multiplying the value of these discoveries through the construction and activation of the underwater modules that will form the base for an underwater city. Additional victory points are earned by uncovering the ruins of Atlantis and conserving your resources.

Product Awards

Games Magazine Awards
Family Strategy Game Nominee, 2005
Deutscher Spiele Preis
6th place, 2002

Product Information


  • 1 Gameboard
  • 12 Mini Submarines
  • 60 Researchers
  • 80 Module Markers
  • 41 Underwater City Modules
  • 60 Discovery Tiles
  • 30 Victory Point Markers
  • 4 Player Overview Mats
  • 80 Nemo Certificates
  • 1 Ruins of Atlantis Display
  • 4 Special Orders
  • 1 Start Token
  • Game Rules

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 3.9 in 8 reviews

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A Financial Tightrope Beneath the Waves
April 03, 2006

Both bits and board make for one of the most visually appealing games that I have played in a long, long time. The theme is extraordinarily convincing (this, in spite of the fact that, as I understand it, the Ditts originally intended this game to be set in outer space): you really feel like you're an aquanaut exploring the mysterious dark depths of the ocean abyss!

The challenge in Nautilus (as it should be in all exploration games) is one of resource management, specifically financial management. You start off with what looks like gobs of money, and it isn't long before you realize that your financial level is, in reality, plummeting faster than your submarines. Trying to balance your expenditures on scientific stations with that of your deep sea discoveries is NEVER easy. As well, a tricky opponent can always make things more difficult with a clever placement of a module to impede the placement of your researchers at the base, which can cost you both time and money. I'm new to the game, but it seems to me that there will be a slow learning curve before one can figure out the best way to plan financially for your oceanographers.

Never assume, as the game is drawing to a close, that you have won hands down, or that you've lost abysmally (pun intended). It ain't over 'til the giant squid sings, and victory is determined not by adding the value of your discoveries to your activated scientific modules, but by multiplying the two. This can lead to some surprising results.

Do I have any complaints about Nautilus? Yes! The English rule book is oftentimes a confusing translation from the German. Thankfully, however, there is a very good rules summary available at BoardGameGeek, which makes the rules much easier to grasp. Dive! Dive!

Great Concept, But Doesn't Jell into a Great Game.
February 29, 2004

Nautilus is an okay game that feels like it was designed by a first time game designer. As it turns out, this is a game by first time designers. I predict this husband and wife team to produce more and better games in the future. Nautilus is a good start, sort of an infield double instead of a homerun.

The submarine/exploration aspect of the game is well done and up to par with similar games. The exploration is straight forward, finds are random, which won't appeal to quite a few gamers, but those gamers don't like any game with randomness as is inherent in exploration/discovery games. The other aspect of the game, that of building and occupying the underwater city complex just doesn't work for me. Scientists are brought into the underwater city with habitation modules. These scientists are moved to occupy a multitude of different research modules. Movement rules just don't seem rational, occupation rules are similarly unnatural. The building rules are thought out and well done, but the whole way the scientists score points needs to be rethought.

The way the final score is calculated is quite good. Each player multiplies his exploration score with their research/building score. This forces players to spend limited resources in different areas. Resources are tight, spending must be well planned. A high exploration score won't win the game for you, it needs to be coupled with a big multiplier from research points, or vice versa.

Bottom line, I'll keep it and play it occasionally. Nautilus has a good theme and play is simple enough that it may come in handy to play with non-gamers to entice them into gaming.

Rating based on one playing, will probably go down.
September 26, 2003

I am reviewing this title after playing it once. From this one playing, I have a few major problems with this game:

1. The money in the game is so tight, you don't want to wast it on sonar

2. I see only one strategy in the game: Make the submarines go as fast as they can and launch them searching for treasure as soon as possible.

3. After you build the undersea lab, the 2nd half of the game involves moving your subs toward the treasures. I think this will get boring after a while. I agree with an earlier review that the game is good if you feel 'lucky'.

Very impressive initially from the idea and all of the options. But it doesn't 'gel' together and you only need to use some options to 'get going'. I think if I played it more, I would give it a one or 2 star rating.

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Other Resources for Nautilus:

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