Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Tuesday 26 December 2017

We devotin' full time to floatin' under the sea!:- Otys

Game: Otys

Publisher: Libellud and Pearl Games

Designer: Claude Lucchini

Year: 2017

Otys is a 2-4 player game in which you play as a group of divers scavenging the resources from the long-drowned ruins of the world. During the game you will send divers down to differing depths to collect resources that you can trade in for rewards, but you will also be having to carefully watch the ever-changing whims of your sponsors if you want to be the most successful.

In Otys each player gets their own player board, these are made out of two individually cut pieces of card which were later glued together. This allows the board to have indents, both in the top and bottom layer, which are used to full effect as placement areas for your divers, as well as your hacker, mechanic and key tokens. This works very well for the divers and key tokens, but unfortunately the process of making these boards leaves them with a very slight bend, which does mean the boards tend to rotate at the slightest knock. When this happens the hacker and mechanic are often left behind, so I hope you remember where on the track they were.

Otys set up ready for a two player game, each player gets the same divers and resources to start with, but the order is randomized.

On your turn you will choose one of your 5 key tokens, each representing a depth underwater, slide this across in it's indent until it comes into contact with the diver at that depth. At this point you would get the rewards that are currently available from the sponsor at that depth. Once you have gained the reward you push the key token further, pushing the diver out of place in the row and activating the diver's unique ability. After her ability is triggered she will swim back up to the surface for air and therefore join the top of your diver column, pushing the column down to fill the space she left behind. Your key token is then placed down beneath your board where you hacker waits, when there are enough tokens that the hacker and the key tokens meet you will restore all of your key tokens to the board, but until then those numbers aren't usable. If you desperately need to use a number that you havn't got a key token for then you can use your X token as a wild card, this also has the effect off making all the sponsors shift places, giving everyone a different ability for that depth.

Each diver has a unique ability, several are as simple as creating a cube of their colour on the depth you activate them at, but others are more complex, such as the spy who lets you use one of your opponents divers instead, but you must pay that player a bribe. Every diver can be upgraded, this either reduces their cost of activation, or gives an additional benefit when you do so. In addition you can upgrade your two non-diver employees: the hacker and the mechanic, which allows you to reclaim key tokens and move divers around faster respectively. Otys is a race to 18 points, points are largely gained by fulfilling contracts, which demand that you gather a certain number of resources at one depth to trade for them. There are a few other ways to get points, such as selling cubes at the store or claiming reward tokens, but these will usually be in the minority.

The diver in slot 4 has just been activated in order to create the second green cube at that depth and complete the contract.

Otys came as a very pleasant surprise to me, the gameplay is unique, providing a good contrast between upgrading for thew future versus going straight for points in the now. The are is lovely, though it does have the noticeable flaw that most of the time you will be covering it up, you put so many different tokens all over the board that I honestly feel a little sorry for Paul Mafoyon! The way that tokens get slid across to activate them is a very tactile way to do what is essentially activating a worker, but this can also feel a little over-engineered. Sure it's nice that every single piece has it's own slot, but did they all need them? One of the few pieces which doesn't have a specific slot are the resource cubes, which do tend to move about due to the aforementioned curved boards.

It probably says something that my main complain about the game is that they were, perhaps trying a bit too hard. Other than that, and perhaps the risk of setting off a few AP players, Otys is a very solid game with a great theme, excellent strategic depth and, with the option of advanced sponsor tiles, enough replayability to keep you coming back for more!


Otys was a review copy provided by Esdevium Games Ltd. It is available for an RRP of £35.99 at your friendly local game store or can be picked up at http://www.365games.co.uk/.

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