Welcome to one of my most hotly anticipated Brian's Battery solo reviews! This review is for the incredible game#Nemo's War (Second Edition) that just recently has been in the zeitgeist for a new expansion on Kickstarter. I was fortunate to snag a copy of this game from a LGS for a good price.
A little bit about the game before we dig into the actual review portion.
#Nemo's War (Second Edition) was originally a print and play game before it was released as a full on board game. The first edition of the game was basically just a professionally printed version of the PnP files. The game was good but the components were lacking. Along comes the second edition that added real components and massively upgraded art to an already amazing game. This is the edition that most solo gamers know, love, and enjoy.
I mention that this game was originally a PnP game because I think a lot of the design philosophy from that style of game is present in this game. The game is primarily designed to be a solo experience. The game mechanics are relatively simple dice based push your luck paired with difficult decision spaces. And the theme and story of the game form a large portion of what you'll actually be doing in the game.
In the game you play as the titular Captain Nemo and, based on and guided by one of four aspects of Nemo's personality, command the Nautilus, expend crew, search for treasure, sink ships, and go on adventures.
Each round of the game a new story card is drawn. The player and game state both react to the card and then the player takes actions in pursuit of their goal. Action points are determined by a roll of the dice each round. Actions can include moving the Nautilus, searching for treasure, fighting ships, repairing, etc.
Each action costs an action point and then will also require one or more rolls of the dice. Actions will succeed or fail based on the roll. Players can choose to expend special crew members, or risk the hull of the Nautilus, the lives of normal crewmen, or the sanity of Captain Nemo himself to help mitigate the results of the dice.
If you succeed, the risked points are recovered. Fail and the points are lossed, weakening your submarine. Fail too many times and Nemo could go insane or the Nautilus could sink, ending your game.
Much of the game is about making increasingly more tough decisions about how to spend your limited actions and manage your dwindling resources as the world around you becomes more dangerous. Fortunately you are able to earn special rewards from story events and also upgrade the nautilus to help grant innate bonuses to certain die rolls.
Eventually the story deck reaches the conclusion and, assuming you've survived, you are able to tally your points and see what story outcome you've achieved. This is actually quite fun because you read from different pages in the game boom based on your final score.
Now let's sink in to the actual review portion:
The theme of this game is outstanding. I personally am not the biggest fan of the source material but playing this game has made me much more interested in reading the story again. The story cards help to weave a coherent and unique story each time you play. You are quite literally telling the story of Captain Nemo each game. And that's absolutely fantastic.
The rulebook in this game is excellent. It's well arranged, has thoughtful and useful examples, and is clear to read. Often when playing solo you need to read everything and then find the little solo rules and the end of the book and then go back and attempt to apply those solo rules to the rest of the game. Seeing as how#Nemo's War (Second Edition) is actually a solo game, you don't need to do this. The story book is really quite nice too. I can't wait to go back through and try to get all the different endings.
(+) Component Quality
Components in this game are solid. The cards are pleasant and have a good feel to them. The cardboard chits are sturdy and the information is clearly printed on them. I appreciate the wooden markers for score and the colored gems for treasures are a nice touch. The Nautilus miniature is kind of meh though. But overall the components are good.
(++) Setup and Randomized Gameplay
One of the best parts of this game is the story setup. Players build the story deck with randomly selected cards and not all the cards are used each game. The varied deck construction combined with one of the four different aspects of Captain Nemo help to ensure that the same game will never be played twice. Not to mention all the dice that you'll be rolling!
(+) Dice Rolls and Mitigation
Looking over my collection I find that I don't have too many games that feature dice. I need to do some soul searching to see if that's because I don't like dice or just because I haven't acquired too many dice games. Anyway, I do really enjoy the dice mechanics in this game. I love the options you have to mitigate bad dice rolls and how you are still taking risks even if you attempt to mitigate the results. The mechanics force you to make interesting decisions every round, and when combined with the story, help to tell an awesome tale of Captain Nemo.
(+++) Solo Experience
A lot of Solo Games spend a long time trying to emulate a real opponent. Some succeed while others fail miserably. Fortunately, that isn't a problem for this game because it's actually supposed to be a solo experience. You play through the story and travel on a journey. Your successful roles tell a tale, as do your failures. The results at the end of the game give you a conclusion to that story based on how well you played. It's truly an incredible experience.
Lets climb back up to the surface and get my final thoughts on this first impression.#Nemo's War (Second Edition) is quite unlike any other game in my collection. Instead of competing against other opponents you are playing through a unique story and helping to tell that story each round of the game. You somehow manage to squeak out an incredibly lucky roll one round and inexplicably fail an easy one the next. You take those results in stride because the theme and story of the game combine to create a unique and personal story each run through the game. Tough decisions await each round as you assume the role of Captain Nemo. Will you push the Nautilus ever harder in pursuit of your goals? Will you sacrifice your sanity and the lives of your crew? Only time will tell.
I wholeheartedly recommend this game. It's a wonderful solo experience. It's a great way to tell and be a part of a story.
Thanks for reading! Let me know in the comments what you think about this game!