It is the middle of the 22nd century. The last of the landmass is being engulfed by the ever-rising water. Survivors have settled above sea level in colonies that continue to grow higher and higher in an attempt to escape the water. Fighting for your lives you live in the Otys colony. As a survivor you send your team of divers in to the deep, dark water to recover previously discarded technology, debris and resources. Oxygen supplies are limited and once your diver has performed their task they must return to the surface. The colony will also provide bonuses to your divers for their help in the way of sponsorship.
Otys is a 2-4 player action programming, set collection game from designer Claude Lucchini. Each player has their own team of divers which are stacked in a column on their player board in an underwater elevator. Players will activate divers to gather resources, perform upgrades, sell resources and complete contracts. Contracts give players prestige points and the winner is the player with the most prestige points at the end of the game.
Players take a player board and a set of key tokens numbered 1-5 representing the five different diver levels. These are placed in the corresponding space on the board in numerical order along with the X key. Players take two technician tokens (hacker and mechanic) and place them under the player board in the corresponding location. Eight different diver tiles are randomly placed on the different diver spaces on the board. Three of these will be above the water level and the other five will correspond to the location of the five key tokens already placed. One resource of each type is placed randomly on the player board, on one of the spaces corresponding to the five levels (except level one). Players finally take one battery and three credits.
The colony board is placed in the middle of the play area along with the credits, batteries, neutral X keys and resources to form the supply. All the reward tokens are placed in the bag, two at a time are drawn and placed immediate effect side up in the corresponding spaces. The five colony sponsor tiles are placed randomly in the recessed area of the board. Various resources are placed on the market space, the contract cards are shuffled and a set number drawn depending on player count. These contracts are available for all to see and acquire. Each player finally places a marker of their colour on the zero prestige space.
Playing the Game
Otys is played over several rounds with players performing several steps on their turn:
- Players select an available key token corresponding to a diver level (1-5) and move the key to the right. They then immediately activate the effect of the sponsor tile on the colony board corresponding to the level that they have activated. Sponsor tiles allow players to gain credits, activate a diver twice, return a key or X key, upgrade a diver and gain battery tokens.
- Players then continue to slide the key to the right to activate the diver and immediately use the diver's abilities. Diver abilities include gathering a resource, buying/selling resources, upgrading your mechanic/hacker and gathering reward tokens to mention a few.
- Players then remove the key token from the board and place it face-down on the left most space of the hacker track. The diver activated must then resurface. The diver is removed from its level and placed at the topmost level of the elevator and all the other divers are moved down to make space for the new diver.
If placing a key token would cause it to reach or overlap the hacker tile all the key tokens are returned to their corresponding place on the player board. Any neutral X keys are returned to the supply. The players X key, if used, is returned to the corresponding space on the player board.
Instead of activating an available diver using 1 of the available keys, players can choose to use their X key. Players can place and use this token in an empty space or where there is an existing key token. When using a X key the sponsors on the colony board are shifted before any actions are carried out. The sponsor tile at level five is moved to level one and the other sponsor tiles are shifted down to compensate. Players can now use the effect of the new sponsor tile as per normal with steps two and three above.
Batteries are acquired during the game from either activating divers, sponsor tiles or completing contracts. These can be used at various stages in the round to perform actions. In step one players can spend one battery to activate a diver's propeller. A diver can then be moved up or down a space equal to the position of the mechanic tile. In step three players can spend one battery to activate a diver’s reserve oxygen tank meaning that they don’t need to resurface and can stay on their current level.
When a player gathers the required resources, shown on either their private contracts or the public contracts, on a single level they can complete a contract. The player discards the resources to the supply and gains the shown prestige points and any other bonus (such as batteries or credits).
Deep Sea Diving - Final Thoughts on Otys
First things first, we need to talk about the player boards. The production quality on the player boards is amazing. They are double layered, with recessed areas for the divers and keys. There are also slots for the mechanic and hacker tiles to sit under. The production value is impressive, and the artwork is great.
Otys is like a puzzle. You are constantly trying to figure out how best to optimise your moves to move the resources around, which divers to activate and when, when to use your X key to shake up the order of the sponsor tiles and when to spend batteries. You must plan a few moves ahead to optimise your chances of winning. All your planning is then destroyed when your opponent uses their X key and moves the sponsors around, thwarting your plans intentionally or not.
The theme is there to some degree, diving in to the depths of long-lost civilisations to recover resources to fulfil contracts does feel thematic. I do feel they have missed an opportunity with the contract cards as they are just nameless items. It would have added so much to the theme if they had put a description on the contracts. But this is a minor niggle for what is a great game. It is a thinky game, it is a puzzly game and I enjoy the challenge of how to optimise my turns to better than my opponent.
The added replay value of the double-sided sponsor tiles and double-sided diver tiles is great. It means that each time you play it you will get a different experience. The random nature that the diver’s tiles are set-up also adds to this.
I really like Otys and it doesn’t get enough buzz. I hardly ever see people playing or talking about this game, which is a shame as it is great game. It is underrated as a game, but is one that I highly recommend.