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English language edition
List Price: $49.00
Your Price: $39.99
(Worth 3,999 Funagain Points!)
from 8 customer reviews
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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.
Players: 2 - 4
Time: 90 - 120 minutes
Ages: 12 and up
Weight: 1,708 grams
Language Requirements: This is an international edition or domestic edition of an imported item. Game components are printed in English. Manufacturer's rules are printed in English.
- 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
Average Rating: 3.9 in 8 reviews
What a great game this is. At fist I was unsure from some of the reviews but decided to bring it to the table anyway for a game with a our main gaming friends. They like Starfarers of Catan a lot so I figured they should like this one. Well they fell in love with it!!
I won't go back to the game mechanics. That has been covered here before. All I can say is that exept for me (I was far behind but it was because of a stupid, stupid mistake I made) it was a close endgame decided on the last tile discovered... that would have given the game to one player had she have 2 nemos instead of 1 to recover the Atlantis tile in the Abyss. Instead, another player got the tile and it was game.
There is also a big 'screw you' factor in this game. I was personnally frustrated on 2 occasions from placing modules where it would have given me a significant tactical advantage by players placing subs there on purpose. And watch that first player turn order. Someone playing before you can be critical, especially when you need to buy that last research module.
Finally, yes there is luck involved, but ity is part of what makes this game great. The anticipation of what discovery was discovered by you or your fellow players was great.
All in all a great game indeed...This will see numerous plays!
Jules Verne would be proud. Naming this game after his beloved Captain Nemo's underwater ship is perfect. Be forewarned though, playing Nautilus is comparable to reading Jules Verne. Its complex, has attention to detail, but never fails to entertain.
Briefly, two to four players (our first game was four) compete to (1) build labs and submerge them to the bottom of the ocean, (2) occupy them with your research teams, (3) explore the ocean floor w/ one to three subs. The labs represent five different learning areas and as you occupy them with your team, you gain knowledge enabling you to better explore the hidden ocean tiles and lower the costs of exploration. This is extremely important as this is NOT a money making game. You start with a limited budget and have only two ways to pad your meager budget (rent labs space to other players & discover treasure chests). Winning the game involves a balanced growth of research stations using your scientists times the value of your sea discoveries. You must work on building both areas, otherwise your score will suffer. A player with 3 research team points X 8 sea discoveries will probably lose to a player with 5 research team points and 6 sea discoveries (24 to 30). You add to your score what remaining money you have left to obtain your final total.
Our gaming group loved this game. Like any Jules Verne novel, it starts slow and builds to a frantic pace. There are lots of little rule nuances you must work through, but it's worth it. The gameboard is wonderful with lots of little attention to details; flares dimly light the ocean floor & monstrous creatures around the board. The research stations have desks, beds, lab tables in them, your research team looks like an army of Dr. Benton Quests in lab coats, and the subs have a Vernes quality to its appearance. You should go to Boardgame Geek and print out the English reproduction of the 'Overview card' to really simplify life 'under the sea' though, otherwise you deal with the German version. Some observations about the 'luck' factor in finding the best sea discoveries are actually quite moot. As you have up to three subs to work with, sonar to 'look before you buy', and testing stations to give you a free look at one to two hidden tiles, your planning and analysis off-sets any randomness. We at Boargamers of Reno, can hardly wait for our next, voyage to the bottom of the sea!
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!
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Underwater, in the Lagoon, sits the initial module. Beyond, studded with 60 facedown treasures, lie the Slope, the Deep Sea, and the Abyss. Each turn, purchase Residential stations and up to four scientists, or four kinds of Research stations. Attach stations to the module, or reach deeper waters by extending from previous stations; costs depend on the depth they cover. Activate Research stations by moving your scientists to them. Activated Research stations earn income, increase your movement and treasure-hunting powers, and contribute to scoring. Launch submarines from your stations, pay to examine treasures within a certain radius, and collect treasures (some earning money) that your subs move to. Don't forget that you are underwater, and can move submarines over stations!
When play ends, multiply the value of your treasures by your Research score to determine the winner. Go ahead and dive into this thematically convincing challenge.
I commented last time that one of the surprising features of this year's SdJ list was the absence from it of almost all of the headline, Nuremberg releases from the major companies. This is one of the games I had in mind and I am sure that its failure to make a bigger impact than it seems to have done must have come as a disappointment to the publishers, authors and developers. Nor is it just a case of a snub from the Jury; there hasn't been much discussion of the game on the Net either. It is neglect that I find strange, as the game has an attractive, well integrated theme and some interesting mechanics, enough, one would have thought, to get it talked about.
The theme is one of underwater exploration and the game sees the players laying tiles to construct an underwater facility, from which they will send out submarines to explore the surrounding ocean floor. The board, which is quite large, shows the seabed. In the centre of one half is a lagoon - shallow water - and surrounding this are two levels of deeper water. This deeper water continues into the other half, where there is also a deep ocean trench, which the players can not enter until late in the game. The whole board is covered by a squared grid.
The building blocks for the facility are octagonal tiles, of the size and shape you would get by taking a 3 by 3 block of the grid and slicing each of the four corner squares along a diagonal. Each is either a residential or a laboratory unit and there are five different types of the latter. The residential units are the means by which players bring personnel on to the board and the laboratories help shape strategies by both being a source of victory points and enabling you to boost your exploration capabilities in various ways. The tiles will be placed edge to edge so as to create a single, linked unit, but the packing doesn't have to be close or to follow a set pattern. Placing tiles in such a way as to make it easy for your people to get where they want to go, while at the same time making it harder for the opposition to move around and to build where they'd like to build, will form part of the tactics of the game.
At the start there is a single octagonal tile (the base unit) situated in the lagoon and dotted round the board, in the deeper waters, are exploration sites. Each of these has a small, face-down tile on it. These are the discoveries waiting for someone to come along and claim them. They range from sea creatures, through gold and treasure to archaeolgical relics from (inevitably) Atlantis.
Each round is split into three phases. In the first, players have the option of buying a tile and then the option of placing tiles on the board. You do not have to place a tile in the round that you buy it and can accumulate up to four in front of you before transferring them to the board. This sort of delayed building is the usual way to do things, because it reduces the cost, and in a game where money is tight that is important. However, indefinite hoarding of a tile is not an option, because after you do build you can have no tiles left in your personal stock. All that you had either go on to the board or are discarded without compensation. Usually they go on to the board!
If one (or more) of the tiles you place is a residential unit, you have the option of putting people on to it - up to 4 in a 4-player game, up to 3 otherwise. This is the only time that you can bring your workers into the city and so you will invariably do it, even though it does cost you yet more money. People are needed to man the research stations and to crew the submarines. These are the two activities that will bring you points and so you need your people on the board.
In phase two you may move up to two of your men. Initially you have 4 movement points to allocate per round, with each movement point being enough to move one man through a corridor to an adjoining tile. Later you can increase this to 5 and then to 6. This is done by getting people to "work" in the appropriate type of research station, which in this case is the so-called "training station". (In the first of these that you occupy you find the jogging manual and in the second the roller skates.)
In phase three you can launch and move your submarines, of which you are provided with three. To launch a submarine you need to have two workers in a research station which has access to the outside ocean. One of the workers is removed from the board - to act as operator for the submersible - and the sub placed next to the station hatch. The man will reappear on to the board when the vessel docks again.
In the second part of the phase you can move any or all of your subs and, as with the movement of people, there is a basic movement allowance which can be increased by getting people into the appropriate type of research station. The only difference is that this time the movement allowance is something that you have for each of your submarines, rather than something you split between them. To make a seabed discovery you simply move your sub on to one of the face-down tiles, pay the costs of recovery and add the tile to your collection. Sonar can be used to help guide you to the more valuable items and this is the function of the third type of research station. It works rather like the other two in that you start with a basic range which you can then improve. To use the sonar you pay the cost and this entitles you to look at all the tiles within range before you make your move. The fourth and fifth type of research stations are also concerned with exploration, but this time to increase the usefulness/value of certain types of discovery.
The game is scored in a slightly unusual way. Points are acquired in two categories - one for discoveries and one for occupancy of research stations - and the two totals are then multiplied before being added to any cash that you might have left when the game ends. This makes every point a multiplier and worth however many points you have in the other category. Consequently you need to work hard in both if you are to have any chance of winning.
The discovery points work much as you would expect. The Atlantis tiles are dealt with separately on a "who has most" basis, but for the rest it is a matter of every tile being worth between 0 and 2 points, with the zeros giving you other benefits. With the research stations things are different. By the end of the game there will be up to 4 of each type on the board and you will score either 0, 1 or 3 points in each of the 5 categories. It will be 0 if you occupy zero or one, 1 if you occupy two or more and 3 if you hold the bonus tile. The bonus tile in a category is given out as soon as one player occupies two stations in the category. Thereafter it belongs to whoever has the most and to take it from its current owner you need to overtake them. Merely drawing level isn't enough. These bonus tiles are vitally important when it comes to determining the winner and maybe too much so. The game would not be as interesting without the struggle for possession of them, but if you do the sums, bearing in mind that discovery point totals are likely to be in the teens, you will see that it is likely to need a 4 point advantage in the other category to overcome a 2 point one in this. It is possible, but it is tough.
The game has an age rating of 12+, which puts it in with the adult strategy games, where it sits a little oddly. This is not to quarrel with the rating, since I can't imagine that a child younger than 12 would enjoy it, despite the attractiveness of both the theme and the components. It is the reason why they wouldn't enjoy it that is unusual. With games such as Funkenschlag and Puerto Rico - two of the other recent games to be rated at 12+ - players have a choice of strategies and this is what you expect from such games. The interaction between the various plans that players are pursuing gives you lots to think about and forces you to be constantly making adjustments. It gives the games subtlety and depth. Nautilus isn't like this. Here there is an obvious 'best strategy' and the problem is merely that you don't have quite enough money to be able to execute all of it. If you had no financial constraints, you would launch all your subs as quickly as possible, hoover up everything you could reach, use sonar to cut out the guesswork when you have a choice of which site to go for, and hope that you get luckier than your rivals. Meanwhile, in the city you would be trying for a large multiplier. This involves occupying two research stations of each type, so as to get the basic 5 points, and then trying to gain as many of the bonus tiles as you can. And by the end of the first game you would have noticed that, provided the player concerned is not careless, the 3 pointer in each category goes to whoever places the last station of that type and so from then on that would be your aim. Played like this, Nautilus would be yet another exploration game where the atmosphere makes for a pleasant diversion but where the chance element is too great for the game to hold your interest for long. What lifts it to something more interesting is the financial constraints. In his column last issue Mike Clifford observed that all the Captain Nemo stuff is something of a blind and that the game is really about doing the best you can on a very tight budget. Money management, and that is why the 12+ rating is there. Children don't manage money; they just demand it.
Your reaction to Nautilus will depend on whether you enjoy exploration games, with the inevitable large slices of luck that attend who finds what, and also whether you like walking a financial tightrope, one where too much caution and too little prudence are equal faults. My group likes the game and that makes me happy with the purchase, since we shall get enough plays and have enough fun with it to justify the outlay, but whether it will become the sort of favourite that we'll still be playing in twelve months' time I rather doubt. In the final analysis, if I am in the mood for an adult strategy game, I prefer those where the decisions are about choosing which plan to follow rather than about which corner I'll be forced to cut.