Another Day in the Satrapy: Finding the Oltréé Dragon
Venture out into the lands around a crumbling fortress to solve problems and progress through chronicles in Oltréé.
Onward! After I finished both of the available short chronicles for Oltréé, it was time to take a look at the more common sort of chronicle. No surprises here: Just a long chronicle! I was excited to try out something with more chapters. My random assignment choice at the start also had me exploring the hardest difficulty level… Ride on, rangers!
Game Name: Oltréé
Publication Year: 2021
Designers: Antoine Bauza and John Grümph
Artist: Vincent Dutrait
Publisher: Studio H
Solo Mode: Included in the Base Game (Cooperative)
The 8 regions surrounding the fortress provide unique community abilities, but are often plagued by incidents and problems. Rangers must carefully plan how to manage these issues, all while working towards assignments. And don’t forget the ongoing chronicle! Lots of activity.
September 3, 2022
September 11, 2022
38" x 30"
Finding the Dragon
I’m keeping these posts mainly spoiler-free in regards to the chronicles. I chose one that mentions a dragon… So is it a spoiler if I say it actually includes a dragon? Ha!
Technically, anything shown below is quite obvious when unboxing the game for the first time. Plus… That title!
All of the long chronicles can be played in any order. This was on the top of the stack, and I couldn’t turn down the chance to see a dragon. I had everything all set to go.
Note that the short chronicles are much shorter and act as introductory scenarios. The long ones? Much trickier!
One element that has worked so nicely is the random progression through each chapter. A special die is rolled at the start of a ranger’s turn to move the adversity marker.
It follows a set path, and the roll is almost always to move ahead just a single space. Yet there are times when it will move twice, or even remain on the same space.
In this way, a chapter can feature a minimum of 1 turn, and possibly even 4 or more. But 3 is the typical amount.
Why does this work? Each space corresponds to a card draw. Planning ahead is possible but not a perfect science.
Conrad, Move! Move!
I will note that I’ve now taken to making the meeples gallop around the board in a truly childlike fashion. Ha! They clip-clop all over when I’m making moves.
Berenice was on an important mission to get herself to the west. I had a little laugh when she ended up behind Conrad, in a scene that looked like he stopped her short!
As usual, I had 4 characters, and each played a role. Conrad was paramount for clearing the northern regions.
Berenice was outside the fortress a lot, but her special ability helped construct a lot of buildings later on.
Not surprisingly, I came across a chapter when the dragon entered the picture. Quite literally… I love this artwork!
As I played through the long chronicle, I realized how the game wasn’t so tied into the story. It definitely created exciting moments, yet it wasn’t necessarily the core.
The assignment goals were actually the main element, while managing all of the regional issues was next.
I really enjoyed this! The chronicle wasn’t just tacked on, either: It was an overarching highlight. But gameplay was mainly centered on all of the everyday issues.
Understanding the Reusability of Chronicles
In a lot of campaign-style or story-based games, the surprises and twists often disappear after the first play or so. I like to lean into my penchant for playing a lot of games and forgetting the details of earlier ones! Definitely helpful in giving more life to each supposedly “single-use” solo game. But it still comes down to the question: Why play again?
I know all the secrets behind this long chronicle. They won’t be as surprising in the future. Ah, but I can safely say that I’ve already managed to forget some of the specific details. Maybe I’ll be at a slight advantage, yet it all comes down to what I was talking about just above. Chronicles add a sweeping storyline, but aren’t the sole focus.
The moving parts around the regional incidents, events, and problems form the true challenge. This isn’t a game about looking at a chapter, doing A and B, then moving on to repeat it all. Something new arises each turn, often slowing down the completion of a goal or otherwise leading to fluid situations. Practically anything can happen!
So while I imagine the chronicle element might be the most predictable, it’s only a piece of the puzzle. There are also branching storylines in the long chronicles, which can lead to more surprises. I won’t say that the chronicles will remain novel forever, but the entire game experience can lead to a lot of different outcomes.
Dealing with a Dragon
Again, not really a spoiler… The included dragon standee was used for this long chronicle featuring… A dragon!
But I won’t go into any details about what happened. I’ll simply note that there were some twists I didn’t expect.
This wasn’t a recycled dragon story, either. Nor was the dragon the only problem for the satrapy. There was a hostage situation unrelated to the flying menace. Oh, no!
I don’t think this qualifies as a tower defense game, but it has a few related elements. Regions need to be carefully managed. One become perilous, as seen in the upper left…
Both reputation and defense had their own respective tracks. I was a master of defensive strategies, but a few events put the satrapy’s reputation into question.
I continued to find the buildings even more intriguing! Resources were scarce enough. Many were useful for problems, or even completing an assignment goal.
Yet buildings provided extra dice for various rolls. Some even had special, ongoing abilities that were very helpful.
Towards the end, I still only managed to add a handful of the available buildings. Lots and lots of options there!
Play Number: 4
Solo Mode: Included in the Base Game (Cooperative)
Play Details: In the Shadow of the Dragon with Neighbors
As I learned from my first few plays, completing the listed assignment goals was imperative. I had almost reached the final one near the end, too! It was still very close. Ernest did a thing that ended up being amazing. A few extra rolls made a big difference, and some luck was most appreciated! This was a victory, and made me appreciate the fully-fledged long chronicles a lot. Onto another!
Price & Value
Challenges & Mechanics
Design & Theme
Components & Rules
Achievement & Enjoyment
Distinctness & Randomness
+ Pros (Positives)
- Each chronicle has its own surprises with the first outing, yet gameplay revolves around many other elements.
- Rangers provide abilities and specialized professions to add plenty of variety to the character choices.
- There is a real sense that the satrapy is in constant peril and requires aid to protect the various regions.
- Buildings provide another fun aspect to use resources and gain additional dice or other bonuses.
- Only 2 actions are taken each turn, which makes for many agonizing choices over the best available options.
- Chapters advance at a mostly steady pace, but just enough unpredictability adds to the fun of the experience.
– Cons (Negatives)
- Some rules are worded a little unclearly, while several typos or errors make some text stand out as incorrect.
- It can take a lot of effort to reach some of the far incident cards with the enormous size of the board.
- Bad luck can spoil some of the fun, particularly with unfortunate dice rolls after a lot of careful planning.
- Incidents make up the majority of gameplay actions, but even mixing sets can result in some clear repetition.
Successfully Complete the Chronicle
- Overall Goal Progress 100% 100%
Goals and Milestones
Complete Damsel Not in Distress.
Complete In the Shadow of the Dragon.
Complete Open Doors.
Complete Rats, Rats, Rats.
Complete Underground Threat.
Continue the Conversation
What are your thoughts about Oltréé? I’ve enjoyed the experience of understanding how variable it is with some awesome components! Do you have a favorite chronicle? There are still several more to play through, and I’m looking forward to finding out more about the dangers of this land. Can’t wait for those meeples to keep on clip-clopping!
I’m enjoying these multi post reviews. It’s an interesting way to engage with the reviewing process.
Oltree is looking great. I just started Sleeping Gods and it looks similar holistically, if not mechanically. Very narrative based with some mechanics to denote success and failure.
Oltree also has spectacular art. That dragon picture is tempting me to order it right now. I’m just not sure I need another narrative driven solo game at present.
Thanks, Oli! I’ve always labeled these as sessions, but some have said I should classify them as mini-reviews because that’s really what they are. Rarely do I post in-depth reviews since a few session reports usually does the same thing, and with more detail!
My husband insisted on getting everything for Sleeping Gods, so that will be here eventually. Looking forward to checking it out!
Vincent Dutrait is excellent with his artwork. Full disclosure: I’ve worked with him on a few projects for the publisher I’ve worked with, but I tend to gravitate towards a lot of his games. Even picked up a really old one with poor reviews purely for the fantastic art and to at least give it a whirl!
I’m terrible at inducing more purchases, but if nothing else, hopefully you’ll be able to live vicariously through these posts! I should have either 1 or 2 more before I pack this up for the time being. But there’s an expansion on the horizon I know I’ll have to check out. Happy to answer any questions to (possibly) save your wallet!