Nemo’s War (Second Edition) is a game by Christopher Taylor and Alan Emrich, published by Victory Point Games. It is a solo game for 1 player, but can also be played with up to 4 players. In this game, the player will take on the role of Jules Verne’s Captain Nemo as he commands his ship the Nautilus through the oceans of 1870. Through the game, the player will combat all kinds of hazards and creatures as well as fighting vessels of all nations. The player will search for hidden treasures while chronicling all the amazing undersea wonders in their quest for knowledge. In the end, will the hazards be too great leaving the player to waste away beneath the oceans waves or will he be triumphant and master the seas to be declared the winner.
In this review, I will only be covering the solo rules using the normal officer mode of play. For more information on how to play the game with 2 or more players or with higher or lower difficulties, please check the rule book.
To begin, the board should be placed in the middle of the table, leaving room beneath it for the player’s tableau. The player should then choose a Nemo motive tile, placing it face up in the Motives area of the board. It is recommended for first time players to use the Explore motive. The Draw pile and the Adventure deck should be prepared next using Finale cards, event cards, intermission cards and the prologue card. I won’t go into the lengthy detail of how to set this up. For more information, check the rulebook. Once these decks are completed, the Draw pile should be placed in the Draw Pile box on the top left of the board and the Adventure deck should be placed to the right of the Notoriety track with a Treasure Available gemstone placed on top of it. The player should then fine the Upgrade card that corresponds with Nemo’s motive which may be purchased if the player so desires using a number of ship resources, placing it into their tableau. If they chose not to purchase it at this time, it’s placed face up in one of the available upgrade slots on the board. The rest of the upgrade cards are shuffled together. A number of cards are then dealt face up to fill up 4 upgrade slots. The remaining cards are set aside for now. The ship tokens are sorted by background color. The white and light yellow tokens are placed in a cup as the initial ship draw pool. The black, dark yellow, orange and red tokens are placed face up on their corresponding spaces on the board above the Tonnage track. The blue and green tokens are placed on their boxes of the Notoriety track. The Nautilus miniature should be set aside for the moment. A Hidden Ship marker is placed in each designated outlined starting space on the map portion of the board for a total of 12 on the board. The remaining markers are set aside in a pool. The Treasure tokens are placed in a cup as the treasure draw pool. The Notoriety marker is placed on the 0 box of the Notoriety track. A Treasure Available gemstone is placed in each Major Ocean, while the remaining gemstones are set aside in a pool. The Nemo, Crew and Hull ship resource markers are placed on the leftmost space of the corresponding tracks. Don’t forget to pay the cost if the starting upgrade card was purchased. The Character Resource tiles should be placed in the player’s tableau with the character side face up. The Action Points marker is placed on th 1 space of the Action Point track. The Cannonball, Arabian Tunnel, Torpedo and Treasure Fleet markers are set aside. One white die, one black die and the 2 silver Uprising cubes should also be set aside for the time being. The Attack marker should be kept close by. The wooden Uprising cubes should be placed in their corresponding box on the board. A black die should be placed on space 44 of the Notoriety track. Two white dice should be kept close by. Once all this has been done, the top card of the Adventure Deck is revealed and the player should follow the instructions of the Prologue. Play now begins.
On the player’s turn, they will follow 3 phases; Event phase, Placement phase and Action phase. The first phase is the Event phase. This phase begins by turning over the top card of the draw pile and following any events, tests or other instructions listed on the card. Play event cards and Test cards must be resolved immediately. Other event cards may be placed in the player’s tableau to be used later. Act cards will show the player what dice they will need to use during the Action phase. Once resolved, the Act card is placed face up in it’s own discard pile as a reminder of which dice to be used. The next card is then drawn and resolved following an Act card. Play event cards once resolved will instruct the player where to discard them to, either the Pass or Fail pile where it’s placed face up. Keep event cards can be used once the requirements to play them have been met. Again, once resolved they are placed in the corresponding Pass or Fail pile. Test event cards require the player to perform a test by rolling 2 six sided dice and adding the results together, applying any appropriate modifiers. The result is then compared to the test value. If the player’s result equaled or was greater than the test value, the pass instructions are followed. If not, then the fail instructions are followed instead. The player is allowed to exert certain ship resources to provide more favorable dice roll modifiers. Each test card will indicate which resources may be exerted. If the player passes the test, they may reclaim the exerted ship resource. However if they fail, they lose an amount of each ship resource type that was wagered, in addition to any failed test penalties. If at any time one of the ship resources moves to the final rightmost space on the track, the player immediately loses.
The next phase is the Placement phase. This phase begins by rolling the dice indicated by the current Act card. After rolling the dice, the player compares the results of the 2 white dice, or chooses 2 dice if more than 2 were rolled. The difference between the 2 dice will determine how many Action points the player receives for that turn. If both dice are the same, the player has a Lull Turn. This means that they must place a ship token for each white die rolled and then a series of Lull Turn activities will be applied that turn. For more information on a Lull Turn, please check the rulebook. Finally once all this has been completed, the player must then conduct ship placement for each dice rolled, including all white and black dice. When the player must perform multiple placements, they must be done in order from lowest to highest. Each placement consists of the player taking one of the Hidden Ship makers and placing it in an available ocean space that corresponds with the dice’s result. If there are no open Ocean spaces left in that Major Ocean, then the player must resolve the first possible action from a list of 4. They can place a ship in an adjacent ocean. They can replace a Hidden Ship marker with a revealed ship. They can flip over a white non warship to it’s gray warship side. They can also draw a ship token from the ship pool and place it on the appropriate side as directed by the rules.
The last phase is the Action phase. In this phase the player is able to spend their action points to take actions. If their turn is a Lull Turn, they won’t be able to take any actions unless they saved an action point during their previous turn. In this case, all actions cost only 1 point even those that normally would cost 2. The player may only have a total of 5 action points. Any in excess of this are lost. There are 8 different actions that a player can take; adventure, attack, incite, move, rest, repair, refit and search. Adventure cost 2 points and allows the player to draw the top card from the Adventure deck. Attack costs 1 point and the player chooses the type of attack to make, either bold or stalk attack. They then will perform the combat sequence. I’ll explain this in just a bit. For more information on the different types of attacks, please check the rulebook. Incite costs 1 point and allows the player to perform an Incite test to place an Uprising cube if there are any Uprising cubes in the holding box. Move costs 1 point and allows the player to move the Nautilus marker to and adjacent connected ocean. Rest costs 2 points and allows the player to perform a Rest test in an effort to gain Crew resource. Repair costs 2 points and allows the player to perform a Repair test in an effort to gain Hull resource. Refit costs 2 points and allows the player to perform a Refit test in an effort to gain an available Nautilus Upgrade card. Search costs 1 point and allows the player to perform a Search test in an effort to gain a Treasure token.
A moment ago, I mentioned attacking and how that it uses the combat sequence. This sequence only has 2 steps. If the ship token is a warship, it attacks the Nautilus first. If it’s a non warship or after the warship attacks, then the Nautilus attacks. Warships attack by rolling 2 dice and comparing the modified result against the attack strength of the warship. If the result is less than the attack strength, the Nautilus takes a number of hits equal to the lowest die result. If the result is greater than or equal to the attack strength, then nothing happens. A roll of 2 is a disaster and inflicts a six sided die roll of damage. Once this is all resolved, it’s the Nautilus’ turn. Two six sided dice are rolled and compared to the ship token’s defense strength along with any modifiers. If the attack is greater than or equal to it’s defense, the ship is sunk. If it’s less than the defense strength, the ship is unaffected and the player gains a Notoriety. They also lose a ship resource of the type exerted. In the case of a roll of 2, again it’s a disaster. The ship is unaffected and the player gains 2 Notoriety and loses 2 ship resources. Sunken ships can either be used to gain victory points as tonnage or they can be taken as salvage to be used for upgrading the Nautilus. It should be noted that Character tiles may be sacrificed in order to provide emergency help. Each character provides a different resource. Some will provide action points, while characters like the Conseil will allow the player to reroll both of their dice, such as after a bad roll in combat.
The game continues until one of the following things occur. If the Nemo, Crew or Hull reach the last space on their corresponding track, the game ends. If the player’s Notoriety reaches the threshold shown on the Notoriety track as noted by Nemo’s Final Motive, then the game ends. If every Ocean is completely full of ships and a warship needs to be placed, then the game ends. If the Finale card has been completed, then the game ends. In every case, apart from the last one, the Defeat paragraph in the Epilogue book must be read. Otherwise, the player checks their score to determine how they did. The player adds up their victory points and compares it to the level of victory table in the rulebook. The player then consults the Epilogue book and reads the conclusion of their story.
Before I start let me just say, there’s a lot of stuff inside this box. If you’ve played Robinson Crusoe before, you’ll get struck with that feeling you had when you first opened the box to it. It’s a sense of awe and wonder. There’s the game board that makes you feel as if Nemo just took a picture of his desk with all the different papers and charts on it. It feels very thematic. Next there are the cards that are beautiful to look at. There’s more thematic goodness on these as they give you more story on each one. I’m guessing that there is some text from Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea on these. The artwork on them looks like illustrations from the book. I love, love, love the rich thematic elements of them all. Then you have all the different cardboard tokens and markers, as well as the character resource tiles and Nemo Motive tiles. Included in those tokens are the ship markers as well. It’s noted in the rulebook that the images of the different ships were taken from the real life counterparts whenever possible and illustrated to resemble them. Again, more rich and thematic elements that simply pull you straight into the game. Then there are the plastic gemstones and Nautlius token. While a cube or cardboard token could have been used for these, instead they went more thematic and made the game look amazing. Finally there are the dice and wooden uprising cubes. Nothing out of the way extraordinary about these, just simple dice and cubes. Needless to say, if you can’t already tell. The game looks fantastic. Each piece lends itself beautifully to the look and feel of the game. This is one of the best looking games that I’ve played in awhile. It’s just great in every way.
9 out of 10
The rulebook for this game is actually quite thick. It’s 31 pages and full of information. So much so, that I didn’t have the room to be able to cover everything. There are so many pictures and examples throughout the book. Everything is explained beautifully and in such a way that there should be no problems understanding how to play the game. There’s even variants included in the book for playing with 2 to 4 players as well. There’s rules for cooperative, as well as semi-cooperative. That’s not all. The game comes with an Epilogue book as well. This book is story driven and gives you different story endings that are very thematic. This book has pictures as well. Overall, these 2 books are amazing and are very good. There’s nothing I can think of that I’d change for either one.
9 out of 10
I remember when I was growing up, my dad would read me bedtime stories of adventure and fantasy from Richard Chase’s Jack Tales to Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth and 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. It was those stories that fueled my imagination and thrilled me with excitement. In a lot of ways, this game reminds me of that childhood excitement and wonder that I had. It has a lot of aspects of adventure and excitement rolled in to a strategic solo game. In some ways it makes me think of Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island. The level of complexity is somewhere along those lines. It’s not a difficult game to learn how to play, but mastering it will take some time. There’s a fine balancing act that you’ll have to work out as you be shooting down those ships, upgrading your ship and searching for treasure. You’ll find that there’s more that you’ll want to do than what you’ll be able to do. Of course you’ll have to be careful as many of those warship pack a punch which can seriously sink your ship and the adventure. You will have to find lots of ways to gain victory points as it’ll take at least 250 points to be successful. Even on the easier difficulty, that’s a pretty challenging task. I really like how that Nemo’s motives will change how you play the game. I also like that the story comes to life in a rich and fully detailed world as you read off the different cards that come into play. Combat isn’t a difficult chore that you might expect but is pretty well streamlined and simple to figure out. I think that fans of strategy or war games might enjoy this game pretty well, especially if they’re looking for a game that can be played solo. Fans of Robinson Crusoe should enjoy the stories that the game provide in this one as well. Overall, this is a great game that I thoroughly enjoy. I would highly recommend it.
9 out of 10
Nemo’s War (Second Edition) is a solo game of adventure and excitement set in the world of Jule’s Verne’s “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”. It’s a fairly long game with most game sessions lasting around 2 hours. Even with a long play time, it’s still in keeping with other games of this same style. The components for the game are quite amazing. It’s very strong thematically. You really feel what it’s like to be Nemo. I especially love the different cards with flavor text ripped from the novel itself, along with images that fit the story perfectly. The rulebook does a great job of explaining the game and how to play it. It even gives ways to make this a co-op game for more than just solo play. The game itself is fully emersive and will plunge you deep into Nemo’s world. In a lot of ways the game reminded me of the adventures I had while playing Robinson Crusoe: Adventures on the Cursed Island. I think fans of that game will truly love this one as well. Solo gamers and those that enjoy a good strategic game should enjoy this one too. Overall the game is full of lots of different challenges and obstacles that weave into an amazing story. You’ll find yourself wanting to come back to this one again and again. I enjoy it a lot and I highly recommend it. It’s an amazing adventure.
9 out of 10
For more information about this and other great games, please check out Victory Point Games at their site.