Scuffle on the High Seas with Uk'otoa
Updated: Sep 8, 2021
Vie to be the last sailor standing against the consuming wrath of Uk'otoa the Great.
3–5 Players | 30–45 Min |Age: 12+ | Designer: Jeb Havens, Gabriel Hicks
| Artist: Hannah Friederichs | Publisher: Darrington Press
If you are a D&D enthusiast, you probably have listened to the nerdy ass voice actors that play Dungeons&Dragons that are Critical Role. If you have not- quick go over to YouTube and catch up. We currently have three campaigns running weekly at Nerdz Garage and listen to Critical Role. A lot. How do we have time for our jobs, board games, designing our first game? Coffee.
Board games are what I nerd out about, and when I heard Critical Role was creating board games…… where is my wallet? The next level of their journey in game publishing is named Darrington Press. The first game (three games a year) is Uk'otoa, a semi-cooperative, decreasing map, card drafting game on the raging seas trying to escape a legendary creature that starts and ends with combat. The game board changes each game as players take turns placing ship pieces to create the design of play. The artwork is beguiling and befitting the rich lore that guides the story. The mini levitation is a classic D&D monster and is a blank canvas to be painted to match your fancy. We got a few games played before Uk'otoa was on the paint table.
Each player takes a turn placing a Ship tile and starting with the ship's wheel. The consecutive tiles can be placed on any side with the arrow point towards the previous tile. This creates the map that Uk'otoa will travel as it consumes the ship tile by tile as it moves towards the center ship's wheel. Uk'otoa is placed on the last out Ship tile.
Shuffle the Action cards and deal each player two cards and place the remainder of the cards next to ship as a draw pile.
Players gather Sailor pawns, one color each, and then take turns placing them on the ship.
Here is the clever game mechanic- randomly draw a Faction tile and place it face up in front of each player. These are your Sailors. The Faction to the players left, and right are considered that players Controlled colors or allies. The board is set, and time to unleash the leviathan
Advance Uk'otoa (Optional)- At the beginning of the turn, you may advance Uk'otoa one space around the ship. Any sailor on that tile eliminated and can swim to shore (discarded to original Faction.) This action can really accelerate the game and annoy some players. (In a good way)
Draw Two cards- Reshuffle the discard pile if the deck is depleted. (happened quite a bit)
Play cards- The action phase. Cards can be played in three different ways. Play a single card; the action occurs, then discard. Play a duplicate of cards (two the same), the action occurs once, but you may play another card. This is an excellent chance to clear your hand and get fresh cards. We found it fruitful to utilize this action to move twice and flush through the deck when you search for a particular card. Mainly at the end when you want to Run or Push sailors. Lastly, Discard and duplicates or three cards of any kind. Players then draw one new card.
Discard hand to five- A player's hand is capped at five and must discard as many cards as possible to get their hand to five.
Advance Uk'otoa (1,2 or 3 spaces) Move Uk'otoa towards the ship's center following the arrows the amount indicated on the card. You can not move less than what the card states. Any sailors on the tiles are eliminated.
Bonus Rule: Whenever moving Uk'otoa onto a space with a sailor, the player must whisper Uk'otoa; or discard a card at random.
Unleash the Tentacle (1,2 or 3 spaces) - Uk'otoa deadly tentacles lash out and eat anyone close enough. This action must be taken in a straight line, and the movement must match the number on the card. If more than one sailor is attacked, they are eliminated.
Run! – Choose one sailor to move up to three connected empty spaces. They do not require to be in a straight line.
Push! - Choose a sailor you control and move then up to two spaces. Any sailors in the way are pushed to an empty space. Players can not push sailors into Uk'otoa because that is not cool and not allowed.
Take Them Instead! - Choose any sailor a player controls and switch places with an adjacent sailor the player does not control. By far my favorite card, and I will hold on to that card forever because I know it is a game-changer in the last few rounds.
To win, be that last Sailor standing or if the two Sailors remain are controlled by the same player.
Mechanics that Worked for Us
Plan, plan, plan, ahead. The game is swift and dexterous, and it is wise to work with allies.
The team coop makes it lively, but in the end, we are competitive and would throw a sailor off the ship for a win.
The Run! And Take Them Instead! cards are rare, and we would hold on them till the end rounds.
Ship Tiles (25 Ship tiles and one ship's wheel)
60 Action cards
25 Sailor Pawns
5 Faction tiles
Factions- The Myriad, The Revelry, The Clovis Concord, The Darrington Brigade, and Ank'Harel.
The Last Word
You do not need to be a fan of Critical Role to enjoy Uk'otoa. The depth of the lore in the rulebook and the bewitching art transport you to this mythical world and may even sing a sea shanty.
The game launches at set up and is steeped in circumvent and strategy. The unique action selection is just delicious.
The wealth of combinations bolsters the replayability with the random placement of ship tiles and sailors.
The rules are simple. The complexity arises through the interactions and combinations of cards.
The Nerdz Garage wholeheartedly recommends Uk'otoa!
Designer: Jeb Havens, Gabriel Hicks
Artist: Hannah Friederichs
Publisher: Darrington Press