It’s the Mid-22nd century, rising water levels have engulfed the land and you’re fighting for survival in a settlement trying to stay above sea level. You live on the Otys Colony and your job is to dive to retrieve the debris of the past to ensure you can have a future. Help is at hand as your team of divers are all specially trained with unique abilities that will aid you in your quest to complete contracts and gain prestige.
When setting up for our first game of Otys – which I’m still unsure how to pronounce, we were admittedly a little confused. The rule book seemed a little vague in places, like how to acquire ‘neutral X key tokens’. But I think it was just the order in which things were written and the lack of a note to check specific pages for more detailed descriptions. There was also a random mention of purple and I think it was referring to a resource, but there are no purple resources… Once we got our heads around how to play, what we found was a competitive resource gathering game with a surprising amount of tactical play and depth… see what I did there.
In Otys each player has eight divers which you place on your nicely detailed and chunky player board. There are five different depths on the player board which are marked with numbered key tokens that you also place on the board; this means you will have three divers above the surface that won’t be able to take a turn until they’re under water. The five that are underwater are the ones that can be used during your turn.
To do this you slide the chosen key token across so it’s touching your diver, this indicates that they’re in play. You will then be able to make use of that diver’s ability which could be gaining a specific resource, upgrading your hacker or mechanic (more on them later), taking contract cards, gaining credits and more.
There is also a colony board that will sit in the middle of the table and on this colony board is a section for sponsors that are also numbered 1-5, each level will have a bonus next to it, and when you activate your diver you can also make use of the sponsor bonus; things like, taking your turn twice, allowing you to upgrade your diver – each diver has an upgraded side to their card, gaining additional batteries etc…
Once you’ve taken your turn you flip your numbered key token over and place it along the bottom of the player board in the leftmost space in the hacker track. Your hacker starts on the far right and as you upgrade him you can move him to the left. Once your key tokens and hacker meet along the hacker track you can reset your key tokens and put them back on their respective depth levels. So the more upgraded your hacker is, the quicker you get to reset you tokens. The more you progress and start to layout your plans the more of an asset this will become.
If you have no token on the level you want to play then you can’t take a turn at that depth unless you use an X key tokens, these essentially act as a free move wherever you’d like and each player gets one as standard, but you can earn more as you play. When an X token has been played, you then have to shift the sponsor bonuses around – trust me, this is a real pain if you have a grand plan and another player does this.
Once you’ve taken your turn your diver has to surface so you move them to the top of your divers and shift the rest down.
As you gather resources to complete contracts you have to keep them at the same depth as when you got them, so if one diver was played on level 3 and got a blue resource it would have to be placed in the level 3 resource pool and you can’t move it. To complete contracts you’ll have to collect certain resource combinations indicated on the contract cards and those resources will need to be in the same place i.e. the same level. The more resources needed the more points you’ll get.
It’s now that you start to build your strategies as you see a contract that requires a white resources but your diver who gives you white resources is above sea and 3 levels away from where you want him. You therefore need to start planning your moves ahead. But the great thing about Otys is that everything is very visual, you can easily see your moves planned out ahead of you, you don’t need to remember who to play and when because they all start moving around and falling in to place. But this also means that others can see your moves too and may try to thwart you.
One other thing that can help you is batteries, batteries extend your oxygen supplies meaning you don’t necessarily have to surface, and using one lets you move any diver to any level provided you can move that far and it’s the mechanic that dictates how far you can move using mechanic track on the right side of the player board. So upgrading him lets your divers move more spaces when using a battery.
There is more to it, but that’s a general overview. Once you hit 18 prestige points everyone gets a chance to finish the round and the player with the most points wins.
When we were stating with this game I was honestly unsure of it, but the more we got in to it and the more we got the hang of the rules the better it got and I actually ended up really liking it. As I mentioned there is a surprising level of tactical play to the game that I really wasn’t expecting. We were all trying to layout master plans only to have them foiled right before you could score that big contract. It was tense as you’d know that you’d only need two turns to score big and you’d have to hope that no one else spotted your plan as they could easily ruin it for you.
Our first game was a nail biter and was decided on our remaining resources rather than overall prestige score after being tied on 18 points.
I really liked the theme of the game and felt like the art style fit extremely well, everything on the player board seemed well thought out and well arranged. Being able to actually slot in the divers and key tokens was a nice touch and certainly added to the feel of taking your turn and actually engaging the key token to your diver.
Otys surprised me; I wasn’t expecting the level of depth, the detail in the design and the nuances in setting up big moves over the course of your turns.
I’m trying to think of negatives for the game, but I am actually struggling, the only thing I can really think of is that I felt some of the rule book could’ve been a bit clearer in places and that the hacker and mechanic placement on the player board feels odd. Everything else is contained on the board itself and then they’re placed half under… it’s not really an issue, just a bit odd when you have such a nice looking board that’s actually pretty sizable. The design of the components is good, everything feels good quality and like it’s made out of decent card, the storage is also great – you even get given a load of baggies, something that a lot of games lack.
Personally, I would really recommend Otys if you’re looking for something that’s not too difficult to set up and is relatively quick to play, with the one hour time mentioned being pretty much bang on for 3 players. The box isn’t overly big or heavy either, which makes it a fairly good option for travel.