The empire is gone, the dark ages have come to replace peace. Fortunately, the patrol corps continues to carry out its mission, in Oltreeour board game of the week.
Even though the sorcerer king has been defeated, the empire emerges in ruins from this merciless war. However, there is a handful of men and women, the patrol boats, who continue, despite everything, to fulfill their mission: to protect the inhabitants, explore the wilderness, fight monsters. And those patrol boats are you!
Oltree is a cooperative game, in which two to four players each embody a patrol boat or a patrol boat, trying, in some way, to fulfill their duty. Before starting to play, you must choose one of the six chronicles offered in the box. They punctuate the games, offer a common thread, a story, which will ultimately lead to a victory or a defeat.
The game board represents a small fort in the center, the headquarters of the patrollers. And, all around, eight regions, whose inhabitants can come to your aid, but which must above all be protected.
A game turn is very simple. We start by rolling a die that determines which tile falls on us this turn, represented by different types of cards, all with a small narrative text of the situation. It can be an event whose effect lasts until the next (a heat wave for example). Or a problem encountered by a nearby village (being attacked by a giant). Or an event that patrollers will have to deal with. Or simply the story of the news that advances, turning a map like the page of a book.
So the player whose turn it is has two different actions. He can move to an adjacent area. Solicit the inhabitants of the region where he is, for example to receive resources, as long as they are not faced with a problem. Attempt to handle this problem. Construct a building using these resources to upgrade the fort. Live an adventure, without knowing in advance what to expect. Build a tower to protect an area. Rest, to recover life points and provisions. Etc.
The various tests are resolved with the dice, according to one of the four skills: combat, craftsmanship, learning and exploration. The fort grants each patrol one die for each of them. Some buildings add even more. Each patrol boat also specializes in one of them. The success or failure of a test is determined by the number of successes obtained. Finally, every policeman has his own abilities, which he can use as long as he hasn’t suffered too many injuries.
Two other important elements need to be considered. The prestige of your patrol company and the defense of the fort. Both start at three at the beginning of the game and can increase or decrease depending on your actions and the different events that occur. But if one of them drops to zero, it’s an immediate defeat.
The game also ends when we get to the last page of the chronicle, either for a victory, if the players manage to pass the last test or meet all the necessary conditions, or for a defeat in the opposite case.
Why play Oltree?
What is surprising in the first place when you open the boxOltree is the quality of the material and illustrations. A nice board, nice wooden figures, resource tokens of corresponding shape, thick tiles, many well illustrated cards, etc. Either way, the game is good, but is it good too?
Yes, a big yes.
Provided you enjoy cooperative games, of course. No comparison here, but mutual help within the patrol corps, to overcome the different adventures. Because if the rules are simple, the game is not necessarily taken for granted. Especially since a large part is left to chance, if only by the many tests solved with the dice. But not in excess, just enough not to generate frustrations that would ruin the pleasure of the game, even in case of defeat. Oltree recalls two other titles by the same author, a little older, more complicated and less narrative (Ghost storiesand its reprint Last Bastion).
There is also replayability, and you can retry a lost game, on the one hand by modulating the difficulty of the missions (easy, moderate or difficult), and on the other without reliving exactly the same adventure. Obviously, the overall history of the news is already known, and the element of surprise no longer manifests itself. But the randomness of the draw of the different events, problems and adventures makes each game different. Let’s face it, we still prefer to win to move on to the next column.
Even if the rules are simple, the booklet still has about fifteen pages, leaving an important place for the detailed description of the material. However, you risk getting a little lost in the early rounds of your first game and getting some terms confused. But very quickly, everything becomes fluid and clear. And the turns are connected: we roll a die to find out what falls on us, perform two actions and it’s up to the next player. Simple.
The game is not without flaws. First of all, we tell ourselves that the patrol boats have embarked on a rotten job anyway. Between the mood swings of the weather (you go from heat wave to freezing cold from one turn to the next), and the inhabitants who accumulate problems, in the world ofOltree. And you can hear it while playing: as soon as we have solved a problem (or not for the rest), there is already another one, or even several. If you don’t like playing under pressure, go ahead.
But the most annoying thing is the total lack of follow-up between the different parties. Let’s start from scratch with each. Forget the built buildings. Forgotten the help given to the villager. Forget the monsters killed. Forgotten the resources collected. Given the strong narrative aspect of the game, it would have been expected that our actions and decisions would have an impact on the sequel. But that’s nothing. The games are no less fun, but this little mistake is a little frustrating.
Oltree is an excellent cooperative game. It combines flawless material, simple rules, smooth turns, and an in-depth narrative aspect. We live a true adventure in each game, and we easily imagine the richness of the world of the eponymous RPG from which it is inspired. While we regret the lack of impact of our actions in the news, we are eager to discover the new adventures that await our patrol boats in the next part. And if you have reached the end, there is already an extension, Dead alive… We’re not done drooling!
- Oltree is a play by Antoine Bauza and John Grümph
- Illustrated by Vicent Dutrait
- Published by Studio H
- For 2 to 4 players from 10 years old
- For games of about 60 minutes
- Priced at € 59.90 at Philibert
We liked it
We live an adventure with every game
Very simple rules
Very nice illustrations
We liked it less
No connection between the chronicles
The surprise effect ends when you start a news story again
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