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


English language edition

List Price: $49.00
Your Price: $39.99
(18% savings!)
(Worth 3,999 Funagain Points!)

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Product Awards:  

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

Designer(s): Brigitte Ditt, Wolfgang Ditt

Manufacturer(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

  • Designer(s): Brigitte Ditt, Wolfgang Ditt

  • Manufacturer(s): Mayfair Games, Kosmos

  • Artist(s): Franz Vohwinkel

  • Year: 2002

  • 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

Product Reviews


Average Rating: 3.9 in 8 reviews

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I just fell in love...
June 21, 2003

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!

'We all live in a yellow submarine...'
October 20, 2002

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!

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!

Go on! Get wet!
February 05, 2003

Nautilus is a beautifully packaged exploration game, with clear rules, first-class components, and outstanding player aids. Its designers have been playtesters for Teuber's Settlers of Catan products, and one can see some aspects of Settlers-type scoring in this game. There is certainly some luck, as one must expect in an exploration game, but not an unreasonable amount.

I've struggled with whether to give Nautilus 3 or 4 stars. On the one hand, unlike Settlers of Catan, there is very little player interaction in the game. Players develop their exploration teams and gear and hunt for gold, treasure, ruins of Atlantis, and stuff, but there's not much they can do to affect the strategies/tactics of opponents (unlike an exploration game like Tikal).

On the other hand, it is a game of tight resource management; a player has to manage his/her money well, and seldom has enough to do everything desired in a turn. There are numerous factors to consider each turn: where to invest/upgrade your capabilities, where to explore, what modules to build next, and one must keep an eye on what opponents are doing. And our group seems to have a lot of fun playing it; I would say it's more popular in our group than Knizia's exploration game Africa. Considering the fun aspect of it -- which is why most of us play game -- I decided to give it 4-stars.

Puerto Rico it's not, but it makes for an excellent family game, and a reasonably entertaining strategy game for more serious gamers.

Watch Out Jacques Cousteau
July 31, 2002

Nautilus has a great theme (especially for those of us old enough to remember the Coustea specials) for a family game. It involves building undersea labs and sending out sumarines to explore and find underwater creatures, treasures and bits of Atlantis!

You must manage your money very carefully in this game. Like real life everything has a price. You must pay for to build labs and the to submerge them. The cost to submerge them depends on the depth of the sea bed. There are 5 different kind of labs, each of which give advantage to your crew or subs (such as sonar or increasing crew speed). You have to pay other players to use their labs. Labs also contribute to your final score.

The other part of your score depends on the number and kinds of discoveries you make. Of course every discovery has a price as well! Some discoveries are treasures and you may refill your checkbook a little.

A good game with a great theme.

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.

undersea exploration, great feeling if luck is on your side
November 04, 2002

Manual: 5/5, extensive expanation, helped by lots of illustrations

Material: 5/5 nice, unusual color choice of the playing pieces

Enjoyment factor: 3/5, the game is a slow starter, and we didn't get the feeling of a really great game (like Catan, Puerto Rico or Tikal)

Luck factor: 4/5, one player of our playing group went headless from treasure to treasure without further investigation, and he just won

Total: 3/5 , a nice diversion from other games (see above) to play once in a while, but this is not a '' big one''

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