Nautilus Industries--A Double-Take Preview

In 1800, Robert Fulton built the first practical submarine--named the Nautilus. Since then, the name Nautilus has been used for numerous ships in fact and fiction. The deep-sea tradition continues with Nautilus Industries--a new game coming to Kickstarter from Lamp Light Games. 

You're in control of a series of submersibles, which you'll use to mine the bottom of the ocean. Who will get the most treasure? Who will exploit the ocean the best? And what do we think of it? Let's find out!



Title - Nautilus Industries

Designer - Leif Steiestol

Publisher - Lamp Light Games

Number of players - 2-6 (We don't recommend playing with 6. Maybe not even 5.)

Ages - 8 and up (This seems a little low. You could probably play with kids that young, but they'll probably need quite a bit of help with the subtleties and strategies.)

Play time - 60 Minutes (This will expand with more players.)

Category/Genre - Economic/Stock

Review copy from Lamp Light Games.

Pros:

  • Easy to teach.
  • Terrific and evocative art style.
  • Fun angsty decisions.

Cons:

  • More players doesn't add anything but time.
  • Very, very fiddly as you're constantly shifting all of the gems in two places.

Good for...

  • Family? Yes! But probably older kids. Also, there's some confrontation as you manipulate things to keep them away from so-and-so.

  • Youth Group? No! Doesn't really feel like a game you'd break out with teenagers.

  • Gamers? Yes! It's a solid economic game--not too heavy and not too light.

  • Nongamers? Maybe! Iffy. It might be a good next-level, but there are better games to break out with nongamers. Unless your nongamers are stock brokers.

Rating:

* Firestone: 8

I liked this game. Solid economic game, without being bogged down in tons of math and details.

* Jeremiah: 8

Boatloads of decisions, along with great player interaction and strategy, make Nautilus Industries one of the best games to hit Kickstarter this year!


The Contents

First, what we received were well-made prototype games. And and all of the components may change before this game is brought to market. 

6 Ocean Floor Mining Zone tiles

1 Market chart

18 Submarine tokens (three in each of the six colors)

6 player boards in the 6 player colors

6 dice

100 good gems (20 each of five different colors)

1 cloth bag

 30 stock certificates (numbered 1-6 for five different companies)

coins

1 first player marker


The Setup

Each player takes the player board, subs, and a die--and sets the die to 1, which is his current warehouse capacity. Choose a first player. Put out one Mining Zone tile for each player, one above the next in a line. Randomly draw five gems for each board, and place them on the corresponding spaces. 

Place one gem of each color on the initial space of the stock chart section of the market chart. 

Total the number of gems of each color that are out on the Mining Zone tiles. Place a gem of whatever color has the fewest numbers of gems on the 6 space of the commodity value track. The color with the next fewest goes on 5, and so on. If there's a tie, they both go on the highest space. 


The Gameplay

Each round of the game has three phases:

Action Phase: Where each person takes turns completing one of three actions. You cannot pass--you must take an action.

Market Phase: Where players mine the zones, and then have the option to sell them--which can affect the market. 

Upkeep Phase: Where you refill zones and change the new player marker. 

Action Phase

Each person performs one of three actions. This goes around until each person has performed their three actions. You can choose to do the same action more than once in a round. 

The action choices are:

  • Place Sub
  • Upgrade warehouse capacity
  • Switch two gems
  • Switch the order of the Mining tiles
  • Purchase company Stocks

Place Sub: The player places one of his subs on a Mining Zone, next to a spot with one or more gems. Each spot on a Mining tile can only have one sub on it. When you place the tile, you can pay 5$ to upgrade the sub. You take a gem and place it on top of the sub. When the sub harvests gems, it can additionally harvest one gem of the chosen color, as long as there's one of those gems still on the tile. The upgrade goes away at the end of your turn when you gather back your sub. 

Upgrade warehouse capacity: You start with the ability to hold one jewel from round to round. You can spend an action to increase your capacity by one--by turning the die to the next number. As such, you have a maximum capacity of six.

Switch two gems: Take a gem from one Mining Zone tile, and swap it with a gem from another. This can be done even if someone's sub is at a spot.

Switch the order of the Mining tiles: Switch the position of two Mining Zone tiles, which will affect the order in which they're resolved. Once two tiles have been swapped in a round, neither of those tiles can be moved again this round. 

Purchase company Stocks: You can purchase any one available stock certificate. 

Market Phase

In this phase, each of the Mining Zone tiles is resolved completely. Starting with the first tile, and starting with the Gold resource, each space on the board is harvested, if there's a sub there. The sub can take two gems from the spot; if there aren't enough gems, you take what's available. 

An upgraded sub takes of gem of the chosen color if one is still available on the tile. 

Now each player in turn order has the option to sell gems at the current price on the Market Chart. You keep the sold gems off to the side, as you'll need them momentarily. You can keep gems for later, but only as many as you can hold, based on your warehouse capacity. 

Now you adjust the Stock and Commodity values. You decrease the value of each gem by one for each gem sold, and you increase it by one if no one sold that color gem. 

Then you adjust the Stock value up by one for each gem of a color that was sold. This value never decreases; it only goes up. 

Place the gems back in the bag, and then resolve the next Mining Zone tile. You harvest and adjust for each tile. 

Upkeep Phase

Draw and place five more gems for each board. Move the start player marker to the next person.

 

The game ends when one of the gem colors reaches the 24 space on the Stock Chart. Finish adjusting the chart for that tile. If there are any unresolved Mining Zone tiles, you harvest them as normal, but there are no more adjustments on the Market Chart--everything is now locked in. Finally, players sell all gems for the current market value. 

Players add their money to their Stock value--which is the number of shares times the multiplier the Stock is currently on. The player with the highest total wins. 

 

The Verdict

Firestone--I liked it! There's a whole lot to think about on your turn, but not so much that it's overwhelming. You really have to pay attention to turn order, and decide when to make your move on the various actions. There's a lot of manipulating going on: boards, gems, stocks, values. You have to pay attention to everyone and everything. It's my kind of game. 

Jeremiah-- I too liked it!! We got about halfway through our first turn and knew right away this was going to be a lot of fun--and it was! It's been a long time since I've played a game with this much strategy and this many decisions--but that seems to click along so well. It doesn't inflict analysis paralysis at all! 

Firestone--The art style is really great. I love the details, and the way everything feels authentic--right down to the writing on the shares. I don't know what might change with the final, but even the prototype version was way cool. 

Jeremiah--Taking a look at the Kickstarter page, the one thing that will get better is you can actually pledge to have your signature as one of the ones on a particular stock certificate, that's pretty cool. And I agree, the artwork is fantastic. Even the mining boards have individual layouts--they didn't just copy and paste the same design to six boards. Super nice touch.

Firestone--There are two things I didn't like. One is that I don't see any reason to play this with 6. Some games, due to the mechanics of the game, are better with a higher number (Princes of Florence, for instance, is a 5-player-only game, IMO). But because you're scaling the number of Mining tiles to the number of players, more players only really add time to the game, and that's not a good trade-off. Our first game was with six players, and it was just too long, with no mechanical payoff. 

The other problem I have is that it's fiddlier than a bluegrass festival. After every single board you're manipulating every single color--twice! This was especially noticeable in the 6-player game (another reason to avoid that number). 

Jeremiah--I'm not sure "fiddlier" is a word... But if it is, then it's accurate. But I don't see any way around it.. It's completely necessary. With fewer players it isn't quite so burdensome. The fact that having to fiddle with it that much doesn't ruin or break the game at all really says something about how good this game is! 

I didn't play with six; we kept our numbers smaller and the game really flies by. Three to four players is definitely the sweet spot for this one, but it's nice to bring in 5-6 players if it means everyone can play and not be excluded.

Jeremiah's Final Verdict--I was very surprised by the fast learning curve of the game. I love that you can learn the game in about 10-15 minutes and jump in and stare down some juicy decision-making and strategic moments. There are elements of bluffing, resource control, economics, and a hefty amount of player interaction. This isn't one of those game in which you're playing against the game, and hoping you're doing a better job than your opponents *cough cough* just about every deck builder out there *cough*. Every move you make needs to be weighed against your opponents' current position and strategies. Nautilus Industries is a top-notch, fun and engaging game! Seriously snatch this one up! 

Firestone's Final Verdict--I really enjoy Nautilus Industries. I like the choices I have to make. I liked how you were manipulating practically everything on the board. I like how the whole game is spent hoping your opponents won't do that awesome thing you want to do. And I like how you have to figure out what to do now that your opponent has done that awesome thing you were going to do. It's a solid game. 

Nautilus Industries is up on Kickstarter right now. Check it out!

Theology of Game would like to thank Lamp Light Games for providing a review copy of Nautilus Industries. This in no way affected our opinions of the game.