Board Game Session Report for July 24, 2002: Button Men, Nautilus


Private session. 2-player Button Men, 2-player Nautilus.

Button Men

Players were Nancy and myself. Nancy played for the first time.

Nancy enjoys Chez Dork, so I picked up a pair of Dork Tower Button Men at Unity Games IV. Nancy plays Carson in Chez Dork, so she took him, and I took Bill. After a quick into to the game, we were off.

Bill is at a disadvantage once he starts losing, having only three d20's, and twin d10 (as my choice for the twin "V" dice.) With Carson's small dice and one speed "V" die for which Nancy used a d12, even if I captured most of Carson's dice, I could still lose. That's the way it actually happened in the first game, Playing best three of five. (Unlike last time I played in which I played one round at a time.) This set lasted about 25 minutes.

The final end-game

The second game, I switched to twin d6's in hopes of minimizing Nancy's score, though it didn't help enough, even though I captured all Nancy's dice every time. This set lasted about 20 minutes.

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Players were Nancy and myself. Both of us played for the first time.

This game, for two to four players, is about creating a deep sea station, exploring the deep sea and making discoveries. This is done in three phases: adding pods to the station, moving explorers, moving submarines. Without going into too much detail, you want to add pods to the station and populate them with researchers to give you a boost in abilities and in score and to send off submarines to make valuable discoveries.

Scoring is a rather involved description, but is actually pretty simple. The person who has the most points in making Atlantis discoveries gets the higher-scoring Atlantis token; second-highest gets the second higher token, and so on. This token is added to all the discovery points. The discovery tokens that correspond to your secret mission card, give an extra point for each token if you spend a Nemo for each point taken. Separately, add the pod scores together. The score from the discovery tokens is then multiplied to the pod score. Then add the number of Nemos left.

I was very excited to get this game. From its description, it's much like the kind of game I was hoping to play when I first got into this hobby -- a strategic exploration game. Playing the game didn't disappoint me. Even Nancy, who was on the verge of petering out so late at night, found the game engaging enough to push herself to play longer.

The end-game, and all the space it took

This game takes a lot of space (much like Star Wars The Queen's Gambit does.) The board itself took three-quarters of my card table, and I had to spill over to extra space to hold the scorecards.

This game has a nice design and nice plastic bits in the form of researchers, submarines, and pod markers.

Nancy pursued sea discoveries aggressively, while I pursued expanding the station and exploring the crevice for more lucrative Atlantis discoveries.

We cut the game short after two and a half hours, including the time to go over the involved rules. I think we were close to the end of the game. Because of the way scoring works, if Nancy just occupied more of the same type of stations, she'd have done better, but I ended up with the majority in all but one units. That offset my low discovery score. Also, I had more Nemos. Once we got into the rythym of playing the phases of each turn, the game moved fairly quickly. I'm sure a second playing of the game would take closer to the documented 100 minutes.

A closer look at the end-game.

Even though we didn't reach the end-game condition, here's the score when we quit. (research pods x sea discoveries + Nemos) [Score adjusted since Unity Games SR posting to take into account proper scoring of Atlantis tokens.]

Looking at session reports on BoardGameGeek, I see we played incorrectly. We only payed once to occupy each other's research pods [but, it turns out, paying once is the proper way to play], and we didn't pay at all to pick up discoveries. We didn't move researchers with the extra two movements on finding Atlantis discoveries.

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