When you get into the submarine and go to places, which sun’s rays can not reach, you have your chance to get to places, noone has ever been to. To visit places, that only fish know about. Find the creatures, that defy known classification of species and discover treasures, that have fallen to the bottom of the ocean hundreds of years ago.
All this and more can players perform, if they sit to cardboard submarines contained in box called Oceanos. This name was created together with its contents by popular designer Antoine Bauza, who entrusted its graphics to Jérémie Fleury and published it in 2016 under auspices of IELLO. The distribution outside of France is taken care of by Esdevium Games.
Already cover of this large box indicates, what the player can experience inside. But even that does not prepare these candidates for huge flood of cardboard components. Great majority of them is formed by parts for submarines. Their creation needs five pieces – head, tail, two central portions and cabin at the top. Pieces are divided according to color for five players and they will also receive them all during setup. But they are allowed to use only the basic ones (single dot in their color) to create their starting vessel and other form supply on the side. To be successful, everyone gets their own divers and token of strange green fuel.
In the middle of the table, among their four submarines, players put three randomly drawn Kraken tokens – one for each size – stacked in a pyramid. Right next to them will be created exploration supply of cards categorized by their back side and corresponding serial number of turn they belong to. Each pile and all treasure tokens with different values are poured into a canvas bag.
Game consists of three rounds, in which players are sinking with their machines always deeper and deeper. And each of these periods is divided into five turns, which always begin with dealing exploration cards. Number received depends on amount of periscopes, which player mounts on his submarine. Among them, he chooses one to keep and gives other cards back. These discoveries are placed in front of players in rows, each line corresponding to one round. At the conclusion of the game, players will have three rows lying on the table.
But in addition, there is also role of captain of the expedition. He deals cards at the beginning of each turn, but only gives them to others and not to himself. Only those, that are returned back, create his own offer and chooses one of them for himself. This role moves clockwise with each turn.
This is actually basis for the entire game. But besides this, all submarine pilots have additional actions available. First option is to use the fuel token, allowing the vessel to last longer under water and keep also second card (and play it face down).
This option depend on level of the player’s engine, which decides, how many fuel tokens he has to spare. And that, as well as other parameters, can be improved as a further step in the turn. But player first has to meet prerequisites of crystals collected on the cards in a row. Only then can he use exploration cards with base and improve any part of his submarine. Last action is opportunity to let divers descend to the actual bottom row, where he will wait for end of the game.
End of each round will give players opportunity to once again improve their machines, if they have money left over (unused crystals) on board. Players can then add up points collected for animals (but they must be trapped in aquarium, which has a limit), which they managed to discover, for boat enging and vice versa lose some points, if they have most kraken red eyes on their cards.
Player then takes back his supply of fuel (tokens) and starts next round. After creating a third line of cards, players are getting near end of the game. Its time for different scoring. Each participant will receive a reward for largest coral reef, a set of contiguous cards with a coral symbol in its upper left corner. Only then will players be able to pull up their divers, who had to wait at the bottom until now. They gradually float towards the surface and can allot one treasure token from bag for each card with chest along the way. The winner is the one, who gathered together the most points (they are entered in the attached notepad).
Oceanos is primarily a beautiful game from underwater environment. When we have the box in front of us, we can hardly talk first about something other, than pleasing color graphics and processing. Even the concept of submarines with interchangeable pieces just builds on that perfect first impression.
Only after you get captivated processing, you start to breathe in the main gameplaying and see, how very simple the game is. And at that moment, players get split into two groups – those, who can appreciate its simplicity and enjoy increasingly solid tactical game and those, who will dislike random and without control progress.
Players have a choice of several cards each round and they are trying to choose the one best suited for their tactics. Many cards have several meanings, representing three sets of images on the exploration cards. But in the beginning, there are only two cards to draw and choose from – one for the periscope and the other as extra security. A choice of two cards is definitely not enough, if you want to keep a consistent tactics. That means, you should improve your submarine as soon as possible. Luck is therefore major part of gameplay and its influence is supported by lottery in drawing treasure.
But fortunately it is not true, that players would not have opportunity to influence the game and collect points consciously. On the contrary, game mixes together several mechanisms and especially the improvement of the submarine is essential and controllable.
Not only due to the cute illustrations, but also thanks to relaxed and fun gameplay, Oceanos becomes a very good candidate for a family hit. Theme is certainly interesting (and despite the fact, that number of subsea gamesd), creatures are nice to lure even children in and entertainment itself is also very well done. It is not, of course, revelatory in any way. Originality is definitely not weapon of this game , that would be something extra sharpened.
However, a separate paragraph deserves match in two. It is one of the best ways to play Oceanos. That’s because players do not discard cards they don’t want, but instead pass them to rivals. The game is therefore more about rivalry and adds a lot contact. Conflict in the classic numbers is represented only by changing role of captain of the expedition. We must also commend experiences with four, where the game still retains an interesting charge, although twenty minutes double. Forty minutes is still not overly long for a family game.
Oceanos is another family game, we’d like to recommend. It is pleasantly simple, but still full of solid options. Coincidence still plays a significant role, but who would mind it, if the whole game looks absolutely beautiful? Oceanos is a game, that will enchants families with its appearance and is also great fun on top of that.
Oceanos will not be included among the absolute top games, but.. It offers a quality fun and entertainment, that will surely get to your table more than once. But this applies only, if you are positively inclined towards simple family games, that do not tend to extend beyond half an hour. The game uses its theme cleverly and well, provides plenty of options and basic requirements include excellent improvement of submarines. Oceanos is a very pleasant family game, that is fun to play from time to time.