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Brian and Keisha Pihl
United States
St Louis Park
Minnesota
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Nauticus Review

Nauticus is a middle weight euro that is currently only available in German. Players are acting as ship builder but also the purchaser and transporter of goods. English rules are on BGG and Rahdo’s run through will help you learn how to play the game.

Goal

Winner is person with the most victory points which is acquired mainly by building ships and delivering goods.

Overview

The two main mechanics of Nauticus are role selection and set collection. The role selection is similar to Puerto Rico in which the selector gets a bonus but all players perform the “role”. The set collection comes into play two ways 1) matching ship parts (hulls, masts and sails) to complete a ship and 2) delivering goods of a same type to maximize victory points. Note that the key element of Puerto Rico is timing the “roles” but in Nauticus that element is less critical to winning. The complexity of Nauticus comes from having to build the ships with matching parts. One interesting difference in the role selection from Puerto Rico is that the bonus given does not stay constant with that specific role.

The game is 4 rounds for 2 players and 5 rounds for 3-4 players. In each round 7 of the 8 actions will be selected. Players will have their own play area that contains a warehouse with limited spaces, workers, money (talers) and an open space for building ships. The warehouse is needed because anytime you receive something for free (like the bonus) it needs to be placed in the warehouse. Note that this is a rule that can easily be forgotten. (One other rule we missed on the first play is that you need build a mast on an existing hull and a sail on an existing mast)

There are eight potential actions shown on a wheel that also lists the bonus and the temporary workers that come for free with the action. Each “delivery” needs a worker so any excess workers needed are paid from the players stock. For instance, buying 3 ship parts requires 3 workers but some of them could be free with the action and others could be paid with a players stock.

Blue actions cost talers (as well as workers) to perform the action. The first item costs 0-3 depending on where they sit on the wheel and the second of the same item always costs 4 talers. (You can buy all you want if you have the money and workers)

1. Buying Hull parts (front, back, middle and a complete mini boat)
2. Buying Mast parts (one of four types)
3. Buying Sails (one of four types)
4. Buying goods (4 types)

If you happen to buy all 4 different types of ships, masts, etc. then you get a free part without needing a worker (part goes in warehouse and can’t be a crown)

Tan actions are free but will require workers.
5. Transport ship partd and goods from warehouse to shipyard
6. Earn money
7. Deliver goods from completed ships
8. Earn victory points based on crowns shown in your area

Once per game players can use 1 extra action tile that comes with 2 free workers. This is most often used the last turn of the game. You can also pass on an action which will flip a negative victory point tile onto a crown side. Crowns will give more points during action 8 above. The first pass in a round removes a -3 tile, second pass removes -2 tile, third pass removes -1 tile.

Ships can be 1,2,3 or 4 parts. A larger ship will earn more victory points at end game but will take a while to build and be able to use it to deliver goods. Once you complete a ship the game is interrupted and you earn a special bonus (ship parts, victory points, cash, workers or goods). This bonus is the only way you can get a crown mast or sail. Crown masts and sails are jokers which can match any of the 4 types of ship parts.

The end of a round will cause things to reset. The bonus and free workers that come with actions will randomly change. Near end game players will forgo buying items and rush to ship goods or capitalize on victory points. Any unfinished ships, goods and money will count towards some victory points then the final scoring occurs.

Component Quality

Components are really great and the color scheme makes everything look real nice. Having your own player board and creating the ships gives players a sense of ownership. The boards and wheel help to facilitate intuitive gameplay.

Theme

This is a euro and the shipping theme has been done to death but at least the theme makes sense. Everything works the way you think it would. I happen to like the theme but understand that others will not.

Rules

The English copy of the rules on BGG from wamboyil is excellent, not very long and easy to understand from reading it once. I don’t think I had to look up anything again (except starting money) before playing the first time which may be because they are very well written or just that intuitive.

Gameplay

The gameplay really reminds me of Puerto Rico in that there are compelling decisions to make each turn but not an overwhelming number that a new person is lost. There is a little downtime as the start player has multiple choices and really needs to maximize the choice. Hopefully other players are planning their move during that downtime.

Final Thoughts

I think Nauticus is a great game that I am looking forward to playing many more times. It is similar to Puerto Rico but has some fresh pieces that I really like. I love games that you can learn in 20 minutes but provide deep enough strategy to play 200 times. The two possible negative arguments are low player interaction and the difficulty of matching ship parts. I wish Kosmos would print in English just so more people would be aware of the game. With a few more plays I could see it being in my top ten games.
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Nick L
United States
Eagan
MN
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Good to see another person in MN with a copy. I love this game!
 
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