We played a game of Nautilus recently as a 3-person game and I thought I’d write a little bit about the experience.

Like it sometimes happens, we’ve had this game on the shelf for a few months now and had never completed a play on it. When it was first purchased we got it out, and were impressed right away with the theme and the neat colors (lots of shades of blue, and pieces in purple, red, yellow and orange), and the overall quality of the box, board and components. It was also too late in the day when we last started this game and ended up calling it a “night” before we completed more than a few turns – after reading through the rules.

But this weekend we set out to play it through. We ended up really enjoying this. Nautilus is for 2 to 4 players, so we can play it as a family as well as just between my wife and I. So that’s good. The quality and theme are very good, as mentioned. It takes a little while to get through the first few rounds of the game as we flush out the rules and sense out a strategy. Game time seemed to be around 2 hours if we ignore stopping for lunch and rules questions.

Nautilus was fun; as soon as we finished we decided we wanted to play it again. I’m certain that’s both related to the fact that it was entertaining as well as our individual need to try out other playing strategies.

The game reminds me of Starfarers of Catan, and Power Grid. Each player is competing for “victory points” as they explore the ocean floor. Players share a common underwater city, with habitation modules as well as research modules. Each player adds to the underwater city as they see fit (there are incentives to develop), and they operate up to 3 submarines. Here’s a close-up picture of the submarines and some “researchers”.

As the city gets expanded and underwater discoveries are made each player gains victory points. You need to manage your money smartly too. Both adults ran out of “Nemo” (the money) a few turns before the game ended and it made the last few turns/rounds difficult. You have to spend Nemo to pick up the really deep water discoveries. We ran out and had to resort to shallower water exploring near the end of the game.

Here’s a photograph of the game board showing the tiles players have placed as the underwater city expanded. Those bright colored spots on the board, out in the deep blue areas, are the places where underwater discoveries are found by the submarines.

The way the game ended the final score was not close. I won with a score of 32. The others were very close to each other but way behind with scores of 8 and 9. I think a lot of that had to do with each of us learning how to score well a the game progressed, since this was our first real playing.

The game was fun and we’ll surely be playing this one a few more times in the coming days. The only downside is that it takes a while to setup all the pieces at the beginning. It’s not as difficult to setup as Arkham Horror (another game we like), but it’s up there.

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