Nautilion is a beautiful game that can be played solo or as a cooperative game for two players. It’s ages 10 and up and takes about 30 minutes to play. This is the first solo game I’ve wrote about and it’s a great one to start with.
Before you even play the game, take in the artwork. I love the look and style of the game. The concept is you are the Captain of the Nautilion and you must make it to the Darkhouse before the Phantom Submarine makes it Happy Isles. You must not only be faster than the phantom submarine, you also have to have a full crew to do it.
To set up the base game, shuffle the 36 crew tokens face down. Create a path for them to follow any way you’d like. Once you are ready, turn each token face up. Place the Abyss token at one end and the Happy Isles token at the other end. Since we are playing the base game, take game board A and place it in front of you. Take the corresponding Nautillion submarine and place it on the Happy Isles space. Place the Phantom Submarine on the Abyss space. Place the reserve tokens and the Grimoire cards in front of you. Place the Darkhouse figure on the Darkhouse card off to the side. For the first time, start your game with 5 or 6 reserve tokens or if you want more of a challenge, start with 3 tokens. Lastly you will need the three dice. Now you are good to go.
Time to play. To take a turn roll the 3 dice. After you’ve rolled the dice, you can cast a spell from the Grimoire to effect the path or change the dice. These spells aren’t free, they are paid by discarding you tokens. These can be bought with tokens received at the beginning of the game and with tokens you acquire throughout.
The Three Spells
- Repetitive Whirlwind: you can pay to reroll the dice
- Artificial Tide: you can pay to change one dice to the number you want
- Aquatic Translation: you can pay to swap two tokens on the path. They can be any tokens from any where on the path
After spells are played, it’s time to play the dice. Give one dice to the darkhouse. If the dice is a 3 or 5, you also have to give up one of your tokens. Next give a dice to the Phantom. Then move the Phantom that number towards the Happy Isles on the path and discard the token it lands on. If it lands on the same space as the Nautilion, it will skip that space and go to the next token. The last dice goes to the Nautilion. Move the Nautilion the amount of spaces on the die. When moving on the path the Nautilion skips the space the Phantom is on. The token it lands on can be placed face down and used as one of the reserve tokens or used on your Nautilion Board.
To get a full crew you must fill the Nautilion Board. This comes from tokens you took from the path. The token must match it’s corresponding number on the board and it must have a visible connection to a token that was already taken.
If you don’t have a full crew when you reach the Abyss you lose. If the Phantom reaches the Happy Isles you will also lose the game. If the Nautilion has a full crew and reaches the Abyss you win the game. If the Nautilion has a full crew and reaches the Abyss you win the game.
There’s a lot of luck that goes into this game since you are always at the mercy of what you roll. You have to be prepared for a bad roll, so you are constantly thinking about your strategy and the worst case scenario. It makes the game interesting and a bit unpredictable. For days where you are stuck inside this is a great option to kill time. Since the tokens are always placed randomly and the dice rolls determine you options, there a lot of replay value as well. At first I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about playing a solo game, but I really enjoyed this and it was nice to get away from screens for a while. This game not only looks great, but it plays great and has opened the door to me to try more solo games.