Playing as the Captain Nemo of the Nautilus, sure as hell isn’t easy, but it is a ton of fun!
Nemo’s War, is a (mostly) Solo board game, designed by Chris Taylor, and published by Victory Point Games.
While Nemo’s War supports up to 4 players, I’ve only played Nemo’s War as a solo game. Therefore, I will not be including the multiplayer variants, included in the rulebook, as part of this review.
While most of my boardgaming is done with my wife, or with a small group of three, I do play solo games from time to time.
When I first started solo gaming, I played a lot of the Pathfinder Adventure card game. Pathfinder was a great introduction to solo gaming, but I outgrew it quickly after obtaining a copy of of Kingdom Death Monster, and getting invested into that as my main solo go to game.
Next to Kingdom Death, I can say Nemo’s War is currently my favourite solo experience. Kingdom Death is amazing game, but as a father of two small kids, it's a tough commitment for me to find the appropriate amount of time to play a full campaign. Nemo’s War, while not a short game to play, can be fully finished in one session, which is more apt to my current lifestyle.
A full session of Nemo’s War can be played in around 2 hours, in which you will command the Nautilus as Captain Nemo, attempting to fulfill objectives of a year-long campaign of your choosing.
At its essence, Nemo’s War is all about attempting to maintain a difficult situation. It is a game that will throw multiple priorities at you, and forces you to maximize your limited resources to have a chance at success. Even when playing on the easiest difficulty, I’ve found it is hard to just avoid putting the board into a failure state, let alone obtaining enough victory points to ensure a successful campaign. It is a very difficult game indeed.
But… for a primary solo game, I think Nemo’s war difficulty, is an asset.
When I shouted out in happiness at making a risky rewarning roll, at our living room table, while watching TV with my wife, I knew I had found a winner (My wife on the other hand may be thinking otherwise about me…). A solo game that can provide emotional engagement, excitement and disappointment, is a great accomplishment. Nemo’s War provides all of this for me, and with its randomized adventure deck, challenging gameplay, and multiple campaign objectives, it brings longevity too.
Beyond the gameplay, the art of everything is amazing, the game is simply gorgeous to look at. The card art is fantastic, the ship counters are unique and interesting, and the included Nautilus miniature is a nice touch. I found the rulebook to be of excellent quality, easy to understand, and well structured to enable looking up rule questions easily while playing.
To help you keep playing, the game board is full of rule tips, and result tables, that prevent you from having to check the rulebook every 5 minutes to confirm common rules and dice results. You might think that pushing all of this text and lookup tables to the game board would be a visual presentation disaster, but thankfully, the layout of this information on the board flows with the artistic presentation.
So I’ve pretty much gushed over the second edition of Nemo’s War to this point, but unfortunately, it isn’t completely perfect.
While the gameplay is excellent, the same can’t be said about some of the components.
Most problematic, for me personally, is my board doesn’t align properly on the left side when unfolded out. It isn’t distracting during gameplay, but it does bug me that the fit is off. I’ve looked at pictures of other peoples boards online and they don’t seem to have this problem, so maybe this is just a defect with my personal copy of the game.
A small nitpick, is that my attack counter seemed to be misprinted as well. The text isn’t centered well on the ring, and the bullseye was way off centered on the punchout. After punching it out, and using it during gameplay, it has no impact whatsoever.
I have seen reports from others, that the adventure cards have slightly different coloring on their backs. If I look hard, I can see it myself, but don’t pick up on it during gameplay. I think sleeving my cards has helped this be less noticable, but here is a picture of the difference for you to judge yourself.
If the price of the game wasn’t as high as the current MSRP, I’d might be able to look past these complaints, but when you are asking for a premium price point($70 CAD), I expect the components to be perfect.
Well if you are not interested in solo gaming at all, this probably is not a game you will want to add to your collection. While the game does support co-op, the main attraction here is the solo mode.
If you are a solo gamer, then yes, this is a game you will probably want to get, just as long as you're OK with the high price point, and some slight issues with the included components.
If you aren’t a solo gamer, but interested in the concept and theme of Nemo’s war, I’d recommend taking the chance on it. If after playing it, if you find solo gaming, or the game not to your liking, the limited availability of the game, should allow you to make most of the money back on your purchase.
I really love this game, and I hope if you give it a chance, you will enjoy it too.