Nauticus - General game info
2-4 players, 90 minutes, 12 years and older
AuthorsMichael Kiesling
Wolfgang Kramer
IllustratorAlexander Jung
Published byKosmos
Online since 2014-01-03
Developed byKai Aust (kai96)
Boardgamegeek144415 owns a license for the online version of this game. A big "thank you" to the copyright owners (publisher and/or author and illustrator) who make it possible to have this game for free online here!
Nauticus - Rules

Thematic Overview

The players take on the roles of business people who are engaged in the fields of shipbuilding, trade and transport. Players are dockyard owner, merchant and shipowner in one. As dockyard operators, the players build ships of various sizes. As merchants, they purchase goods, which need to be transported on completed ships. As shipowners, players score victory points for completed ships and for goods shipped. At the end of the game, the player who has most successfully navigated the buisnesses of shipbuilding and trade, and hence has the most victory points, is the winner.


game material


Put the game board onto the table.

game board

The following material is placed on the board

  • The wheel is placed in the middle of the board. At the beginning of the game, align the section with the anchor on the wheel with the three workers bonus field on the board.
  • The round marker is placed on space 1 of the round track.
  • Each player puts their victory point marker on space 10 of the score track.

The remaining game components are sorted as follows

  • The workers are placed next to the board, forming the general supply.
  • The ship tiles are sorted by type and placed in stacks next to the board. There are 4 types of hull tiles: fore, aft, middle, and 1-ship. There are 5 types of mast and 5 types of sail, each distiguished by the pictured crest. The masts and sails that have a crown symbol are special and should be grouped separately from the others.
  • The good tiles are also sorted by type and placed in 4 open stacks next to the board.
  • The coins (taler) are placed in a general supply next to the board.
  • The 8 action tiles are shuffled face-down and placed onto the 8 action spaces surrounding the wheel. The action tiles are then turned face-up.
  • The anchor tile is put aside for now.
  • The circular overview tile "Victory points at game end" denotes how many points finished ships are worth at the end of the game. This should be placed in view of all players to use as a reminder throughout the game.

Each player receives

  • 1 storage board, which he puts on the table in front of him.
  • 4 workers from the general supply, which he sets besides his storage in his personal supply.
  • 15 taler in any denominations, which are placed in as his personal supply.
  • 1 “Extra Action” tile.
  • 1 set of “Pass tiles”. A set consists of three tiles showing -3, -2, and -1 victory point, these are placed with the number sides up next to his storage board.

Note on using the play materials

The number and type of everything in a player's possession is public information. This includes workers and coins in a player's personal supply, tiles on storage boards, delivered goods, the status of pass tiles, the possession of the "extra action" tile, and all tiles in a player's dockyard. These components must be kept visible on the table, and the exact number must be communicated to the other players on demand.
Workers and coins in the general supply are not meant to be limiting. In the unlikely event that there are insufficient amounts of coins or workers, replacements should be used.
The ship tiles and goods are limited in number. If the stack of a certain type is depleted, players can no longer obtain them. Players are allowed to count how many tiles are available in each stack.

The most inexperienced player is the starting player and receives the starting player token.
The player in position 2 receives 1 additional taler. In three player game, player three receives 2 additional taler and 1 additional worker. In a four player game, the third player receives 1 additional taler and 1 additional worker. The player at position 4 receives 2 additional taler and 2 additional workers.

Note: After completion of each action phase, the start player marker moves to the next player clockwise. Don't move the start player marker after the end of a round additionally.

Gameplay (Overview)

The main focus in NAUTICUS is on ships. Finished ships earn victory points at the end of the game and are essential to earning additional victory points through the shipment of goods. Four different ship sizes can be built (1, 2, 3 or 4 tiles). Large ships gain significantly more victory points but are harder to build and therefore take longer until they can be used to deliver goods, since each vessel must be finished before it can be used to ship goods.
NAUTICUS is played over 5 rounds (4 rounds in the two-player game). Each round consists of exactly 7 action phases. The players decide what the action phases are and in which order they are executed. At the beginning of an action phase, the start player chooses an action. This action is performed by him, then by the other players in clockwise order, keeping all players constantly involved in the game. Once all players have either performed the current action or passed, the role of start player moves to the next player in clockwise order. The new start player then selects the next action.
At the end of the round, a short intermediate phase takes place in which the action wheel for the next round is built and negative points for any remaining pass tiles are assigned. Then the next round begins, and so on, until the required number of rounds have been completed. End game points are awarded for finished ships and delivered goods and a winner is declared.

The Golden Rule

In NAUTICUS the following rule is applied without exception:
Whenever a player receives a free tile (a ship part or a good), he must put this tile in his storage (if there is no room in the player's storage, the tile is forfeit). Free means that it was acquired without spending any taler.

Preparation of a New Round

  • The round marker is advanced one position on the round track. (Not applicable to game start)
  • The wheel is rotated so that the anchor on the wheel aligns with the action marked by the anchor tile, which was placed on the first action of the previous round. (Not applicable to game start.)
  • Once the wheel is realigned, the anchor tile is set aside. The eight action tiles are collected by the current start player, randomly shuffled, and dealt face up on the 8 action fields of the board, starting with the field that displays the anchor on the wheel. The tiles are placed such that the bonus fields are visible!

Sequence of Play

A round consists of 7 action phases. The start player begins the first action phase by selecting one of the 8 action tiles and performing the corresponding action. Alternatively, he can pass instead of performing the selected action. Then the next player in clockwise order chooses whether he performs the same action or passes; this continues until all players have had the opportunity to either perform the action or pass. The action phase ends by flipping over the action tile, which is now unavailable for the rest of the current round.
After the first action phase of a round, the anchor tile is placed on the flipped over action tile. The start player marker is passed to the next player in clockwise order. Now this player becomes start player and selects from the remaining action tiles and decides whether he wants to perform the action or pass. Once all the players have performed the action or passed, the action tile is flipped over and the starting player marker is passed to the next player in clockwise order. This is repeated until seven of the eight action tiles have been selected and resolved. After the seventh action phase is complete, the round ends. The remaining eighth action is not performed in this round.

Performing an action

1. Bonus

The player who selects an action (i. e. the current start player) gets the bonus printed on the wheel that is associated with the selected action. The player gets this bonus regardless of whether he performs the action selected or passes. When the player gets the bonus, he slides the action tile towards the wheel so that the bonus is covered. Then he decides whether he performs the action (e.g. "buy hull parts" below) or passes.
Important: Only the player that chooses the action receives the bonus. All other players perform only the selected action or pass.

These are the bonuses (in the order in which they are printed on the board):

  • 3 workers (beige clothing): The start player receives 3 workers from the general supply and places them in his personal supply.
  • Mast: The start player receives 1 free "regular" mast (not a crown mast) of his choice and places it in his storage. (Do you remember the Golden Rule?)
  • Sail: The start player receives 1 free "regular" sail (not a crown sail) of his choice and places it in his storage.
  • 2 victory points: The start player receives 2 victory points, moving his marker on the score track accordingly.
  • 2 workers (beige clothing): The start player receives 2 workers from the general supply and places them in his personal supply.
  • 1 worker (beige clothing) + 1 good:The start player receives 1 worker from the general supply and places it in his personal supply. Furthermore, he receives 1 free good of his choice and places it in his storage.
  • 1 worker (beige clothing) + 1 victory point: The start player receives 1 worker from the general supply and places it in his personal supply. He also receives 1 victory point, moving his marker on the score track accordingly.
  • 4 taler: The start player receives 4 taler from the general supply and places them in his personal supply.

2. Blue Workers on the wheel

Workers with blue clothes appear on the wheel. Each field, except for the anchor field, shows 1, 2 or 3 workers. When an action is chosen, these workers are assigned to the selected action and all players who perform this action gain the indicated number of blue workers that can only be used for the selected action. Important: Unlike beige workers, players will not get blue workers in the form of cubes from the general supply. These 0, 1, 2 or 3 blue workers are only available for performing the selected action. If a player does not use all the blue workers, he forfeits the remainder.

3. The Actions

3.1 General rules for actions

When an action is selected, the start player resolves it, then in clockwise order the remaining players resolve the selected action. Performing an action is not mandatory. Instead of resolving the selected action, a player can pass (even the start player may choose an action and then pass). When a player passes, he flips one of his 3 pass tiles to the crown side. The first time a player passes he flips the -3 tile, the second time he flips the -2 tile and finally the -1 tile. The reverse side of each of the pass tiles shows a crown whose meaning is explained in " Score crowns". A player can still pass even if he has flipped all three of his pass tiles.
Each of the 8 actions can be used multiple times by the players in an action phase. However, 1 worker is needed for each use of the action. A player can use an action more times than there are available blue workers, for each additional use he must spend a beige worker from his personal supply (these workers are returned to the general supply).
There are 4 action tiles with blue backgrounds, the other 4 have bright backgrounds. The numbers 0-3, which are printed on the board next to the storage areas for action tiles, only matter for the blue action tiles. With the blue actions, you buy ship parts or products. This costs not only workers, but also taler. The price of a particular ship part / product depends on the number that is shown next to the relevant part of the ship / the goods. For bright actions, there are no coins costs, therefore the numbers for these actions are meaningless.
The listed prices are for the first copy of each of the various tiles.
To buy more than one identical tile, the additional tiles cost 4 taler (and 1 worker), regardless of the listed price of this tile.
If a player buys all 4 different ship parts / goods available in the action, he shall receive one additional tile of the type available on the action tile (without the use of a worker).
Reminder: All tiles obtained free of charge must be placed in storage. Workers are not considered as costs. A tile that you can buy for 0 coins is "free" even when you use a worker to buy it. It follows that you can immediately use, without going through the warehouse, all tiles for which one has paid Taler. (Also see the explanation of each action.)

Example Example: The first player chooses the action "buy hull parts". He receives a bonus 2 victory points and pushes the action tile down and covers the bonus box. Then he performs the action "buy hull parts". He buys all 4 hull parts, has to pay 6 taler and employ 4 workers. 2 blue workers are available to him from the wheel, so he still needs 2 workers from his personal supply to use and puts them back to the general stock. Because he bought all the parts, he gets a free hull part of his choice, which he puts into his storage.
Then the next player's turn. He buys a bow and a stern and pays 1 + 3 = 4 taler for it. As it uses the 2 available Blue workers, he need employ no workers from his store. The third player "buys" the free 1-tile-ship and puts it into his warehouse. He does not have to pay taler and does not use workers from his store, because 2 blue workers are available for the action but it requires only one worker. The unused worker expires.

3.2 The individual actions

3.2.1 Chargeable actions (blue action tiles)

The printed numbers 0-3 next to the action tiles matters only for the paid actions. The numbers are the prices for the corresponding tiles shown below them. "Paid" means that every action performed costs 0-4 taler in addition to the standard 1 worker. Buy hull parts

Action 1 The body parts are the basis of all ships. Without them, masts, sails and goods cannot be used effectively. In NAUTICUS, 4 different sizes of ships can be built. For the small 1-tile ships there is a separate, full-body tile. The larger vessels consist of a front tile, a rear tile, and 0, 1 or 2 middle tiles.

1er Schiff 2er Schiff 2er Schiff 3er Schiff 3er Schiff 3er Schiff 4er Schiff 4er Schiff 4er Schiff 4er Schiff
1-tile-ship 2-tiles-ship 3-tiles-ship 4-tiles-ship

When hull tiles are purchased, any free tiles must be placed in the storage (Golden Rule), and the remaining tiles may be placed directly in front of you in your "dockyard". Once you have put together the bow and stern to start a 2 tile ship, it is not possible to then insert another midsection. 3 and 4 tile ships can be built from one side only, or may be started in the middle. So you cannot leave a gap between the bow and stern with 1 or 2 parts in order to later make it a 3 or 4 tile ship. If you put a bow and a stern separately from each other in the yard, you have two ships "under construction". It is not possible to combine these into a single vessel later.
Note: The hull of a ship need not be finished in one action. It is possible (and for large ships, often the case) that there are several "Buy hull parts" actions needed to complete a hull. Buy Mast

Action 2 There are 5 types of masts, distinguished by the emblems on the flags. Only 4 of these mast types can be bought using this action. The crown masts cannot be bought; they can only be received as a reward for completed ships ("4 Rewards for Completed Ships"). Purchased (paid) masts can be built immediately on previously purchased ship hulls.

It does not matter if the hull has been completed or not. However, a ship can only contain one type of mast (mixing different mast types is not allowed). (Exception: Masts with the crown joker can be combined with any other mast.) Purchased masts that cannot be put directly on hulls must be placed in the storage, along with any free masts and any masts that the player chooses not to place. Buy Sails

Action 3 There are 5 types of sails, distinguished by the crest on the sails. Only 4 of these types of sails can be purchased via this action. The crown sail cannot be bought; it can only be received as a reward for completed ships ("4 Rewards for Completed Ships"). Purchased (paid) sails can be immediately placed on masts with the same emblem as the sail.

(Exception: Crowns are jokers and the crown sails can be placed on masts of any kind, and any sail can be placed on a crown mast.) Purchased sails that cannot be put directly on masts must be placed in the storage, along with any free sails and any sails that the player chooses not to place. Buy Goods

Action 4 The purchase of goods works the same as the purchase of ship parts. Purchased (paid) Goods can be placed on the hull parts in the yard, including unfinished ships. Each body part has space for exactly one commodity, the commodity is placed directly under the body part. The goods loaded on a ship do not have to match.

Goods that have been loaded onto a ship cannot be transferred to other ships; they can be shipped only with the Action "deliver goods" (" Deliver Goods").

3.2.2 Free Actions (bright action tiles)

In the 4 free actions, the printed numbers 0-3 next to the surfaces of the action tile are not important. "Free" means that these actions require no taler to be paid, but they continue to require one worker for each action taken. Transport (from storage to dockyard)

Action 5 In their storage, players collect all ship parts and goods they have received for free, or otherwise not directly added to a ship under construction. Each hull part, sail and good takes exactly 1 storage box to store. Masts take 2 boxes to store.

You can rearrange the storage as you want (if you want, for example, to store a mast, but no two places are next to each other). But if the warehouse is full, no more ship parts or products can be stored.
With the "transport", one moves ship parts and goods to the dockyard. You can carry any number of tiles to the dockyard, but one worker is needed for each transported tile. The tiles can be added to existing ships or used to create new ones. Withdraw money

Action 6 With this action, obtain new money from the general supply. For each worker a player uses, he receives 2 taler from the general supply. Deliver Goods

Action 7 This action can only be performed by players who have at least 1 fully finished ship (hull + mast(s) + sail(s)) which is fully loaded with goods - i.e. there is a goods tile under each hull section. If one chooses to deliver goods, he can deliver any number of fully loaded ships. But he must always deliver the entire cargo of a ship.

For each undelivered good, 1 worker is required. Partial deliveries are not possible. If the player cannot deliver all the goods of a large ship because he does not have enough workers available, he may not deliver any goods of this ship. Delivered goods are collected on the right side next to the warehouse. These products bring the player victory points at game end: the more goods of one kind, the more points (see "Playing"). Once a ship has been discharged, it may again be loaded with goods to deliver again. Scoring the Crowns

Action 8 With this action, you can obtain victory points. How many victory points a player can get is dependent on the number of workers employed and the number of currently visible crowns. A player using this action counts all his visible crowns. Crowns are on the crown masts and crown sails, and it is not important whether the crown sail or the crown mast is in storage or is already part of a ship. What matters is possession.

Also, there are crowns on the back of the pass tiles. The sum of crowns on masts, sails and already inverted pass tiles results in the number of victory points the player receives per employed worker and advances his marker on the Victory Point track.
Important: A player can receive a maximum of 15 points per round using this action. (Exception: if the extra action (see "5 Extra - Action") is used, one can perform the entire action once again this round, so it is theoretically possible to get up to 15 victory points twice in one round, once per game.)

Example: Player B has 1 crown mast on a sailing ship and one crown in the warehouse. In addition, he has flipped 1 pass tile. He uses the 2 blue workers who are currently assigned to this action and one worker from his store. He receives 3 x 3 = 9 victory points and moves his marker on the scoring track. If he had used 2 other workers, he would have received the maximum amount of 15 victory points.

3.3 Passing

A player may choose not to perform an action, but pass. But this is not necessarily a bad thing, because every time a player passes, he may flip one of his pass tiles over to reveal the crown. At the end of the round, everyone loses victory points according to the pass tiles which have not been flipped. A player who does not pass in a round, loses a total of 6 victory points. By passing once, you have already reduced this loss to 3 victory points. So, it is often useful to pass at least once per round. Also, flipping a pass tile reveals 1 additional crown that can bring additional victory points for the action "Evaluation of the Crowns" for the rest of the round. Reminder: If the start player for the action passes, he still gets the bonus for the selection of the action.

4. Rewards for completed ships

Each time a player completes a ship, he interrupts his turn and immediately receives one or more rewards. A ship is finished when all the ship parts are placed. A 1-ship with hull + 1 mast + 1 sail is complete. A 4-hull boat with 4 hulls (bow + 2 middle parts + stern ) + 4 (matching) masts + 4 (matching) sails. Goods have nothing to do with the completion of ships. For each mast in a built ship, the player receives one reward.

There are 6 rewards to choose from:

crown mast 1 crown mast:
The player receives one crown mast and puts it into his storage.
crown sail 1 crown sail:
The player receives one crown sail and puts it into his storage.
victory points 3 victory points:
The player receives 3 victory points and moves his marker accordingly.
taler 7 taler:
The player takes 7 taler from the general supply.
worker 3 workers:
The player takes 3 workers from the general supply.
goods 2 goods:
The player receives 2 different goods and puts them into his storage.

Each reward can be taken a maximum of two times per completed ship. If you complete a 4- ship, you can take 2 crown masts and 2 crown sails for example. Or 4 different rewards. The distribution of rewards is entirely up to the player, as long as he chooses no reward more than 2 times.

Important: If a ship is completed, the current turn is interrupted and the reward(s) given. If this happens during the "transport" action, and the player takes as a reward (for example) a crown sail, which then goes into the storage, he can immediately apply the "transport" on those parts and move them to a ship, possibly finishing another ship for more rewards. Coins or workers gained as rewards can also be immediately used for further actions.

5. Extra Action

Each player begins the game with one "extra action" tile. This can be used once in the game during a player’s turn, to perform an additional action with slightly modified rules before or after the current action. First, the player receives 2 workers from the general supply. Then he selects one of the 8 known actions and executes them according to the following rules: for a paid action, each tile has a purchase price of 2 taler. All other rules remain unchanged: Any use of the chosen action costs 1 worker. If you buy tiles, you can continue to buy one of every kind for the price of 2 taler each. If you want to buy more tiles of a kind, the price increases to 4 taler as before. If you buy all 4 tiles, you get 1 extra free tile. Once this extra action has been performed, the extra action tile is placed back in the box.
Important: The action tiles on the board have nothing to do with the extra action. The extra action does not cause the tile for the corresponding action to be flipped and it can also activate an action where the action tile is already flipped!
Note: It is usually wise to keep the extra action for the last round, so you can react to an adverse order in the selection of actions.

6. End of Action Phase

Once all the players have completed the action selected by the first player, an action phase is completed. The first player flips the action tile over on its back, making the action no longer available in this round (except as an extra action). At the end of the first phase of actions each round, the anchor tile is placed on the newly flipped over tile (see "End of Round"). There it will stay until the end of the round. The first player gives the starting player marker to the player on his right. If two or more action counters are still face up, the next action phase begins and the new start player chooses an action. After 7 Action phases, only 1 action tile is left and the round is over.

End of Round

Once 7 action phases have been carried out and only 1 action tile remains, the round ends. The remaining action is not performed in this round.
Then the pass tiles of the players are evaluated. Each player loses victory points, corresponding to the non-inverted pass tiles, moving back accordingly on the scoring track. (In the unlikely event that a player slips below 0 victory points, the points can also go into the negative.) All Pass tiles are flipped back over to the side indicating the negative points. Thus, each player starts with a potential 6 penalty points and no crowns for the next round.
The round marker is advanced on the round track. If there are still more rounds to play, the wheel is reoriented in such a way that the anchor on the wheel on the action field lines up with the location containing the anchor tile. Once the hub is realigned, the first player puts the anchor tile next to the board, takes all eight action tiles, shuffles them and places them randomly on the open fields of action, starting with the box next to the anchor on the wheel.
The start player begins the new round, in which he selects one of the eight actions.
Note: There is no steady income of Taler or workers. The player must make do with the starting capital and what they receive from the actions, rewards and bonuses.

End of Game

The game ends after the 5th round, or after the 4th round in the game for two. Now, all players win points for their finished ships and delivered goods. But remaining coins, workers not employed, ship parts in the dockyard and storage, as well as undelivered goods are also still worth something.

Victory points for delivered goods

The delivered goods are grouped into sets according to their type.
For each set of identical goods, the player gets the following victory points:
Set of 1 good: 2 victory points
Set of 2 goods: 5 victory points
Set of 3 goods: 9 victory points
Set of 4 goods: 14 victory points
Set of 5 goods: 20 victory points
For each further tile of a set, the player receives 5 additional victory points.

Victory points for completed ships

Each player receives victory points for each completed ship, depending on the size of the ship:
1-tile ship: 2 victory points
2-tiles ship: 8 victory points
3-tiles ship: 20 victory points
4-tiles ship: 35 victory points

Victory points for residual material

Remaining workers, ship parts in shipyards and warehouses, and undelivered goods are exchanged for 1 Taler each. For every 3 coins that the player now has, he gains 1 victory point. The coins are retained by the players as possible tie-breakers.

Whoever has the most victory points wins this game. In the case of a tie, the player with the most money that could not be converted to points (0, 1 or 2 Taler) is the winner. If there is still a tie, the player with the most coins including coins for which he has already received victory points wins. If there is still a tie, the players involved share the appropriate placement.

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