Nautilus Review

One game that I should review while it is still fresh in my mind is Nautilus.

In Nautilus, the players each lead a team of of deep sea explorers and researchers. In order to be successful in the game, the player must both explore the sea and out research his opponents - because at the end of the game, each player's final score is determined by multiplying his research score with his exploration score, to encourage players to be balanced, which I thought was refreshing (just as a note, if you like this kind of balance, you may check out Tigris & Euphrates because it also forces players to balance).

Nautilus' game system works pretty well. Each player buys new research modules, builds them on the ocean floor, moves researchers, launches subs, explores new areas of the ocean, etc. Each of these has an important purpose, and it also challenges each player to prioritize when to do each action, because if another player maxes out their research in one area before you, they have an advantage when scoring that can't be removed.

Unfortunately, Nautilus has some problems. First of all, the instructions were unnecessarily complicated. The game itself plays pretty smoothly, but while reading the instructions for the first time, most of us (seasoned gamers) were fairly confused. Secondly, Nautilus just wasn't all that much fun. I don't really know how to describe this, but as we were going through the game, we all looked around the table and noticed that we weren't really enjoying it. I think that part of the problem is that everyone feels like they are doing the exact same thing, with little that they can do about what anybody else is doing. Also, each of the players' turns don't seem to vary by much, and so it feels like you are just repeating the same actions over and over while not really advancing to a new stage of the game.

Overall, because of the negative aspects of this game, I wind up rating it at a 5.0/10. It is playable, and the game system functions, but there are lots of games that I would recommend before this one, including several by the same company (Mayfair Games). If someone gives you a copy, you might try it out, but I definitely wouldn't recommend paying full sticker price here.

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