Our children will no longer remember clay, sand or swamps. There is no more land left, not even a last inch of it. Everything was swallowed by water. Unstoppable and constantly rising level of it. First the glaciers melted and then it started raining. Some called it the end of the world, and they stood out as the modern Noah, others saw it as consequences of human actions. But they all had one thing in common – they did not like it. Man, terrestrial creature, must now learn to live in the water!
And that’s not so easy, because gills will not grow overnight. Evolution is a slow creature. And so we had to adapt. We built towers we live in. Huge skyscrapers on the endless surface of one World Ocean. Those with the greatest volumes of lungs became divers. Desired occupation is also your job, once you are playing Otys board game. This responsibility was handed over to us by designer Claude Lucchini, who published his game thanks to Pearl Games and Libellud. Paul Mafayon equipped it with his illustrations and Esdevium Games uses this box to attack the Christmas European market.
On the lid of the box, we see underwater world and all the sunken things, we know from day to day life or from television. And there’s a diver between them all at the bottom, searching for something valuable. He finds many interesting things with us inside the square box. There is one common board, which will be placed in the center of the table and will be filled up with sponsor and rewards tokens, starting raw materials and common contract cards. Then players have to choose their own color and put their pointer on the scale scale on the bottom right corner of the plan.
Individual participants will be given a two-layered game board, that is marked with their chosen color. In the middle is a long free water bar, where all the divers will go. Players divide them in such a way, that everyone has their own set and stack them randomly into a column from bottom to top. In addition to a deep pit, there are tunnels running on every underwater floor from left to right, serving as a control from the surface, unlocked by a key. This is, where players put their five key numbered tokens. On the sides of the board, mechanics and hacker tracks are located. Each player gets one cube of each kind of raw material to start with, as well as a three-credits and one battery. All other unused credit tokens, resource cubes, and batteries are placed nearby.
Players alternate on a turn, in which they always have five divers available currently underwater. Three others are above the surface and resting. An active player may then choose one of the floors in water. He moves the key token within the line from left to right, thereby pushing his diver to the side. He can instantly benefit from sponsor’s line-up effect (money, battery, diving enhancement and more), but most importantly activate ability of his hero with a mask and a bomb on his back. Divers are the only way to find interesting raw materials at the bottom. By activation, a player can add a newly found resource to this depth on his board. The key tile used must be moved from the board below it to the hacker scale.
Every turn then ends with diver surfacing and his board is placed as top tile in the whole column, waiting to get back under water, when his time comes. All his colleagues move one step down thanks to his surfacing. The only way to remain down there or even move across floors under water is by sacrificing battery tokens. So the player can spend one energy token in his turn and get this chance.
With the help of diving, there are more and more cubes of raw materials located on each floor of the player’s board. The goal is to make the right combination and meet the available contract cards. Players have some orders in their hand and others are commonly placed on the table. From their successful completion, they gain victory points and maybe even some one-time effect.
For each victory point, player moves his pointer on the scale. Once one of the participants reaches eighteenth point, it is the last round of that match. No other bonus points are awarded, so the one, who collected the most points through the whole game, becomes the winner of the entire diving contest.
Otys is a game, in which you have to properly manage your resources. But not only some true raw materials, but also their divers, keys and orders, all they have at their disposal. Everything is the means for you to get better profits. It is a good thing to balance upgrading of divers and real hunt for raw materials under water.
Rules belong to less challenging games, but they remain interesting enough in terms of players‘ choices. Match offers more tactical options, than you would expect from our description. This is because the whole game progresses and interconnects nicely. But while the basic rules are not so difficult, as you start planning ahead and try to time your decisions ideally, you must really do your best.
The only thing that is lacking in our opinion is some development. You still have the same divers under your control. Yes, they can be upgraded once, but that simply not enough to give you some feeling of progress. Nothing else changes on your board, so the game feels a bit static. Fortunately, this feeling was not shared across all our testers. Moreover, it was unable to overshadow the otherwise excellent entertainment, that Otys provides.
The central mechanic are the divers, who usually emerge after every search for materials. And because each of them can find only raw materials of some type (maybe they have a detector of some sort?), some collectors may be more important to you and you still have to deal with their need to get up.
It does not matter, if you play in two, three or four opponents. The game is always great, because real competition takes place only remotely. The rivalry is held only on contract cards. However, there are also rules for solo playing on the internet, which is also excellent as we have tried by ourselves. The game time stays roughly around one hour, which is very good in this weight category.
But the main weapon of this game is not a strategy or experience. This all recedes in favor of fantastic processing. At the forefront of course, there is graphics, that is sophisticated in detail, and you will really enjoy it in the first rounds. But the overall functionality and performance of the components is excellent – best component are naturally two-layer game boards.
Game has been accompanied by some technical difficulties with these players board. Our copy comes not with that remarkable problems, but there are players, whose board twist, making the game hard to play. Its all because it’s based on moving tiles on these plans. Fortunately, publisher faces the problem very well and is able to send replacement boards on demand.
Otys is a great and fun game whose only point of existence is to collect points. Some people can perceive this as too few to do, but Everything, that Otys does is doing well. The theme is well chosen. Everything works from the first match and first turn, fun is always present for every tactical player and it all means the only result – Otys is a great fun for all players, but also perfect starting point for beginners!
Otys is one of the surprises among games brought by the Essen 2017 fair and has easily reached our list of favorite games in December. The whole gameplay is pleasantly fresh and interesting, everything revolves around giving orders for diving boards and manipulation with your own divers. It's simple, but really fun. There was a problem with board bending in production, but it can be resolved with the distributor by replacing defective components. It can not therefore be taken into account in evaluation. And so the only complaint is lack of stronger feeling of development in your diving company. The game is not for those, who do not like to just collect victory points and want some unexpected effects in their game. Otys is a place, where everything is needed to think strictly through. Once you're underwater, it's too late to regret. But you do not have to think too much about buying this game, especially if you are looking for a lighter (and therefore a beginner's most appropriate) game. This might be the one.