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Subject: Gaming Bits: Oceanos Review rss

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Jonathan Nelson
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Oceanos is a game by Antoine Bauza, published by IELLO. It is for 2-5 players. In this game, players take on the role of Expedition Captain as they dive deep into the depths of the ocean aboard their trusty submarine. They will be trying to collect sunken treasure and new species of underwater creatures, as well as finding large chains of coral reef. Of course they'll have to watch out for the deadly Kraken which could scuttle their mission. Players will also need to upgrade their submarine if they plan to make the most of their undersea adventure. In the end, the player that can explore the best beneath the waves will be declared the winner.

To begin, each player chooses a color and is given all the matching submarine pieces, as well as the scuba diver and fuel tokens. Players should then put their submarine together with all of the single pink bubble pieces. The remaining pieces of their submarine is set aside for now. Players should then place a scuba diver and fuel token on their submarine it their respective places. The remaining tokens are set aside with their extra sub pieces. The Kraken tokens are separated by size and then shuffled. One of each size is then randomly drawn and placed in the center of the table with the smallest on top and the largest on the bottom. The remaining tokens are returned to the box. The Exploration cards are separated by round number. Each deck is then shuffled and placed face down in the center of the play area. The treasure tokens are placed inside the bag. The first player or Expedition Captain is chosen and play now begins.

The game is played over 3 rounds. Each round consists of 5 turns. Each turn follows 5 phases. First off the Expedition Captain deals out the Exploration cards. To do this, he/she will take the cards for the current round and deal them out to each player except himself/herself. Players will receive an Exploration card for each periscope on their submarine plus 1 card. Secondly, the player chooses an Exploration card from their hand. The player places the chosen card face down in front of themself. The remaining Exploration cards are given to the Expedition Captain. In the next phase, the players reveal their Exploration cards simultaneously placing them in front of themselves. Cards are placed from left to right and can not be changed during the game. It should be noted that each round begins a new row of cards. The first round cards go on the top with the 2nd round beneath it and the 3rd round on the bottom. For the next phase, the Expedition Captain now chooses an Exploration card from the ones that the other players gave him/her. If by some chance they didn't receive enough cards to complete their hand, based on the number of periscopes on their submarine they will draw cards from the deck to complete their hand. The Captain then places their chosen card in the same way as mentioned above. Finally, the next player in turn order then becomes the Expedition Captain for the next turn.

During each turn a player has additional actions that they may perform. The player may use a fuel token to keep an additional card from their hand in front of themself face down during the 2nd phase. When the cards are revealed during the 3rd phase, the player places the fuel token on the extra card that was played. The player can also choose to play a scuba diver token. These can only be played on an Exploration card that has a treasure chest on it and it must be when it's played. These tokens will allow the player to collect treasure at the end of the game. I'll explain how that works in just a bit. The player may also choose to upgrade their submarine. This may be done when a player plays an Exploration card that has a base on it, as long as there is a card that was previously played in that row that has one or more crystals on it. This can also mean that the player gains new tokens based on what part the player chooses to upgrade. It should be noted that the level of upgrade that can be done is determined by the crystals that were played before the base. If there is only 1 color, either green or yellow, a level 1 piece can be upgraded to a level 2. If there are two different colored crystals, both a green and a yellow, then a level 2 piece can be upgraded to a level 3. If a player has no level 2 pieces, a level 1 can be upgraded to level 2 instead. Each base only allows 1 upgrade, regardless of how many crystals were played before the base. Also, crystals not used during an upgrade are lost and can not be used for the next base.

There are 5 different pieces that can be upgraded the propeller, motor, cockpit, aquarium and airlock. The propeller gives 2 victory points at 2nd level and 5 points at 3rd. The motor provides a fuel token per round for 1st level, 2 fuel tokens for 2nd level and 3 tokens for 3rd. The cockpit has a periscope for each level. This provides more Exploration card to be dealt during the first step of each turn. The aquarium can hold different animals. It holds 3 for 1st level, 5 for 2nd and 8 for 3rd level. The airlock holds scuba diver tokens. It holds 1 for 1st level, 2 for 2nd and 3 for 3rd.

At the end of each round, 3 steps are followed. First players place their player aid at the end of that round's row of Exploration cards. If the player has any unused crystals, the base on the player aid allows them to perform an upgrade. Next players count the victory points won during the round based on animals collected and propeller of their submarine. The player with most Kraken eyes is forced to take the top Kraken token which will subtract points from their victory point total. Finally, when scoring is completed, players take back all their used fuel tokens and place them back onto their submarine. Scuba divers remain in play until the end of the game. A new round then begins.

The game continues until the end of the third round. Once the end of round steps have been completed, as noted above, final scoring occurs. Players now score points for their biggest coral reef, gaining a number of points for their biggest run of Exploration cards that have coral reef on them. The cards must be vertically and horizontally aligned together to count. Players also score points for treasures collected by their scuba divers. Beginning with the Expedition Captain and in turn order, players will draw a treasure token from the bag for each chest collected by their scuba diver. Scuba divers move from the card they were placed on towards the surface. For every card that has a treasure chest on it, the player will draw a token from the bag. These points are added to the players total. Players add up all their points and the player with the most victory points is the winner.


COMPONENTS
This game has a lot of really gorgeous looking pieces. First off there are submarines that have 3 levels of pieces. These are thick cardboard and fit together like a jigsaw puzzle. The artwork is really great and has lots of cool looking characters. The fuel tokens, kraken tokens, scuba diver tokens and treasure tokens are all thick cardboard as well. These fit well with the subs and look nice as well. I especially like the kraken tokens. The player aids are also cardboard and there are enough for each player. The game also comes with cards for each of the 3 rounds of play. The artwork is light and fun on each. The backgrounds on them change as each round is played. The 1st round cards show a close to the surface background, while the 3rd round ones show the ocean floor. I really love this attention to detail and how it was incorporated into the cards. The game also comes with a nice blue bag to put the treasure tokens into, as well as a scorebook to keep up with each player's points. About the only thing missing for this game is a functioning insert. I usually am impressed with the inserts for IELLO's games, however this one didn't come with one. I'm assuming because there were so many sheets of cardboard that had to be punched out, an insert wouldn't have fit properly. In any case, I still wish that this had of been addressed in some way. Still, everything fits inside the box. It just tends to rattle around a bit instead of laying still. Overall though, I'm happy with the contents and like what all is included with the game.
9 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game looks great. The artwork is beautiful and there is plenty of it throughout the book. There's plenty of great pictures and examples on every page. Everything is laid out really well with nothing too difficult to read or understand. Also included in the rules are a couple of variants, one for playing with only 2 players and one called the Troubled Waters variant. This last one is for more experienced players and for mainly 5 players. These are nice additions and add a little bit of something else to the game. On the back of the book is a nice reference for the different symbols that you'll discover on the cards. Everything is explained really well so that there's no problems. Overall the book looks great and covers every step of the rules superbly. I'm very happy with the rules for this one.
9 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
First off let me say that I'm a big fan of Antoine Bauza. I've not played a single game of his that wasn't an absolute joy to play. This one is no exception. It is a really beautiful game that's a lot of fun as well. I really love the underwater theme as well as the ability to upgrade and customize my submarine. The card drafting mechanic is implemented in a slightly new way. I found it interesting that the player that deals out the cards ends up with whatever is left over from the other player's hands. I also really like that each sub can suit your play style and you can upgrade the things that you want to upgrade so that you get the most out of your specific sub. The game is really simple and easy. It's one that my daughter and I really enjoyed. She really loves all the different animals that you can collect as well as the different submarine captains. This is a game that she had very little difficulty understanding and she loved laying out each of the different cards to explore her underwater world. Of course she kept asking me where the mermaids were. No mermaids in this one unfortunately. Still, she loved the artwork and the ease of play. I too enjoyed the simplicity of the game as well as the varied ways to score points. This is a really great introductory card drafting game that looks really great and is sure to gain the attention of non gamers as well as regular gamers. Fans of games like Sushi Go or Sea of Clouds should really enjoy this one. I highly recommend this one. It's a lot of fun.
9 out of 10

OVERALL
Oceanos is a light weight card drafting game of oceanic exploration. The game doesn't take very long to play. Most game sessions last around 30 minutes. The artwork is really beautiful and fun. My daughter especially loved all the cute animals and laying out the different cards as she explored the underwater world. I really enjoy the card drafting mechanic as well as the ability to customize your sub to your own play style. I really enjoyed the game as did my daughter. Fans of card drafting games like Sushi Go and Sea of Clouds should really enjoy this one as well. This is a great introductory game into the card drafting mechanic. I highly recommend this one. It's a great game for younger players as well as older gamers as well. It's a lot of fun that the whole family can enjoy. I look forward to many more trips under the waves with this one. Jacques Cousteau move over for Antoine Bauza's Underwater World.
9 out of 10

For more information about this and other great games, please check out IELLO Games at their site.

www.iellogames.com

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