Oltréé [Mini]

Base price: $70.
2 – 4 players.
Play time: 1 – 2 hours.
BGG | Board Game Atlas
Buy on Amazon (via What’s Eric Playing?)
Logged plays: 2

Full disclosure: A review copy of Oltréé was provided by Studio H / Hachette Boardgames.

I really do like using this first paragraph to just write about whatever comes to mind. Today, I’m taking a break from all the video games I played on my Steam Deck to just watch the John Wick movies. Would you believe I haven’t seen them before? They’re very good. They’re not ideal to write to, unfortunately, but that’s because I’m paying a lot of attention to the action. I think we’ll probably go see John Wick 4 tomorrow. We will see. The current joke is just everyone takes a shower, we have our dinner, and then we go see it tonight. I haven’t done a movie marathon in a while! Or, at least, since yesterday, when we did three James Bond movies in a row. We also played Legendary: James Bond, which worked really well for that. More on that later. Today, I’m covering Oltréé! Excited to talk more about this one.

In Oltréé, players take on the role of Rangers, protecting the various peoples of the land in the ruins of the Empire. Not that Empire, so it’s mostly fine. Now, the Rangers have various challenges ahead of them, and you’ll need to support them as best you can, should you attempt any of the Chronicles or Assignments ahead of you. Over the course of a story, you’re going to go to different parts of the satrapy to try and solve problems and incidents, in the hopes that you can ultimately build out the Fortress and stop new problems from popping up. There might be dragons? There will probably be some shenanigans, but you’ve probably got it all under control, Ranger. Will you be able to bring peace and order back to the satrapy?


Player Count Differences

You could interpret this a few different ways, I suppose. On one hand, you can pretty functionally play Oltréé two-handed, and just solo it playing as 2 – 4 rangers, yourself. The only difference there is that you lose the benefit of your co-player reading the cards. Between ranger counts, though, the major difference is that you can achieve a bit better coverage across the satrapy with more rangers, but each individual ranger gets to act less. It’s a pretty straightforward trade-off; the game’s a bit harder at the outset, but as you secure locations you can get more players to focus on cleaning up, so the game becomes progressively easier. Plus, you get the benefit of a wider range of abilities and specialties, so you can solve certain problems more effectively. That said, at lower player counts, you get more starting buildings, so you can account for any gaps in your proficiencies pretty effectively. The game’s surprisingly smooth at all player counts, as a result, so I don’t have a strong preference, here. Great solo opportunity for folks who are into that, though.


  • Keep in mind who the best person is for a given task. Different players have different specialties both in terms of their Professions and also their abilities. Make sure you’re sending the right person to do a certain thing. You may not have a lot of options, though, so in lieu of that, make sure you’re sending the person who can act before it’s too late.
  • Similarly, you’ll want to build some buildings in the Fortress to boost everyone’s weak Professions. Don’t forget about the Fortress! Buildings give everyone an extra die on checks that match their symbol, so that can really boost your odds of success, which is nice.
  • Don’t let your Health get too low! Apparently you can’t die or anything like that, which is awesome, but you do lose access to your Ranger’s ability and the ability to spend health for Successes on certain die rolls. Plus, there are events and Chronicle things that occasionally check your health, so if you’re getting wrecked, try and rest a bit.
  • There are a lot of different tracks to manage; try to keep a weather eye on most of them, at least. You don’t really want your Prestige dropping (that’s usually an instant failure) or your Defense (same thing), but there might also be a few tracks depending on your Assignment or Chronicle that you should try to gradually boost or increase. Also keep an eye on the Incidents; you don’t want them getting out of hand.
  • Goal Tokens are, as far as I’m aware, always good. Try to get them. They usually help towards the end of the game. Usually, they can decrease the threshold for victory, so having them is usually pretty good. Plus, the act of getting them usually means you’re building relevant buildings or you’re securing areas, which also helps you during the game. They’re goals for a reason!
  • Similarly, completing challenges within the Chronicle (to get checkmarks) is pretty usually wise. It helps to do those as well! These are almost always critical to success, so make sure you’re doing them while you can. Sometimes they’re just temporary actions that are only valid until the next Chronicle page flips, so it’s a limited-time offer.
  • Constructing Towers lets you secure certain regions, which can block future Incident Cards being placed on them. … Do that. Securing regions rules. No Incident Cards, no more issues, and no lost prestige. Plus, as mentioned, securing regions can often help you get Goal Tokens. It’s pretty much win-win.
  • Don’t forget that the Adversity Marker may not move in a given round (unless it’s on the Chronicle space); you should plan for that, somewhat. One place that player can get clowned infrequently is when the Adversity Marker stays on the Incident space, adding another Incident to a spot that’s already overrun (and causing them to lose Prestige). You should anticipate that that can happen occasionally.

Pros, Mehs, and Cons


  • The art style here is particularly impressive, but given that it’s Vincent Dutrait, that’s hardly a surprise. He’s one of the best artists in the board game space. His color and line work really shine, here. Oltréé is just a fantastic-looking game.
  • I appreciate that there’s a diverse range of characters, especially since this isn’t exactly … common. I keep seeing some version of the argument that Black people haven’t been invented yet in medieval times, which as a Black person is … annoying? Untrue? Historically comical? There’s a lovely and diverse cast of Rangers, here, from gender to race to age, and it’s nice to have a variety of characters to choose from beyond eight copies of the same guy. Kind of wild that we still live in a time where this isn’t the de facto standard for games.
  • Also, the player figures are incredibly pleasantly chunky. They’re just big! Imposing, maybe? Not sure. They have a good weight to them and they are fun to move around the board. Imagine, like, eight Carcassonne meeples all fused together? That’s about the right size. There are photos elsewhere in the review.
  • The internals of the game’s organization are pretty good, too. I appreciate that there are chests for things. For essentially only having four places to put stuff, it’s surprisingly well-organized. Everything fits and I know where everything goes, especially if you’re using little bags to keep everything else contained. I love a well-organized insert.
  • The integration of the Chronicles, the Incidents, and the Assignments are really great. I like that the Assignments tell you which Incidents to use and the Assignments and Chronicles combined determine the game length and difficulty. It allows you to customize a lot of your experience. I particularly like that you need to fulfill Assignments to be successful in the Chronicles (though it’s not, required, per se; it just lowers the chances of failure). There’s a lot of nice interplay in the setup.
  • This feels like a pretty nice introduction to the RPG space, since the storytelling aspect is GM-less and you skill rolls are pretty low-complexity. You could pretty easily migrate from this to a light TTRPG, especially a GM-less one and see how that goes, if you’re looking to experiment with crossing the board game / TTRPG threshold. I’d recommend trying something like this and seeing how players respond; if they want more storytelling you can go the TTRPG route; if they want more gameplay, you can try Forgotten Waters or something.
  • There’s a great variety across the Chronicles; you can definitely replay them with different Assignments for different experiences, even though you already know the plot. I suppose you have some advantage if you already know the flow of the plot, but honestly, just use a more difficult Assignment to compensate. I did get a bonus chronicle that’s all rats, so, excited to dig more into that.
  • Similarly, the Incidents are pretty varied, so you won’t always know what to expect, even if you’re playing the same game twice. Multiple Incidents have the same back, so even if you know them, you’re never 100% sure which one you’re going to get until you flip it over. They’re not always bad, either! Sometimes they’re very helpful or they just depend a lot on what skills you have.
  • The game is pretty solid but doesn’t take too long. I guess, to be fair, this depends a bit on which Chronicle and Assignment combination that you use. The game’s got a decent amount of content to it, but individual turns and the game itself don’t ever feel like they overstay their welcome, even with the longer Chronicles. I’m a fan of that.
  • I do like that there are Full and Partial Victories; there’s not a full binary distinction between success and failure. I’d rather have a Partial Victory than a total defeat, I suppose. Note that not all Chronicles have Partial Victories, but especially for the longer ones, I appreciate that some of them do. It’s just nice to not outright fail.


  • The number of actions you can take on a turn can sometimes be a bit annoying, just because you can get sent back or have entire turns effectively undone by certain events. This hits double since you can’t take the same action more than once per turn (unless you’re the Ranger whose specific ability allows you to do so). You have to spend a whole turn getting somewhere and then you’re immediately sent back to the Fortress? It can be somewhat frustrating. It would be nice to either have more actions available or be able to block a forced move effect in some way, but that’s the game, sometimes.
  • You should try to boost the Profession Die rolls of your various Rangers as quickly as possible. Getting stuck with bad rolls can be equally annoying. You can just get stymied for a while if you don’t have enough proficiencies. Constructing buildings in the Fortress can seem like a waste of time, but it’s also very annoying when you’re missing die rolls all the time. Some of it is a bit of luck, but some of it is really just building up success infrastructure within the game.


  • I think the game’s systems are a bit simple for experienced players, but it would be nice to have a more complex add-on. I wonder what the expansion will hold? It probably says a lot that this is the biggest issue I have with the game is that I want it to be a bit more complex, but here we are. This isn’t a problem for me, per se, but I’d love to see a version of game’s processes and systems that’s got a bit more heft to it. Something like Near and Far to Above and Below, frankly. That said, I think it’s laudable that the game has things like instructions for how to play with players that aren’t strong readers; this is just more firmly in the family-weight complexity tier.

Overall: 8.5 / 10

Overall, I think Oltréé is pretty fantastic. It takes a lot, these days, to get a medieval fantasy game to catch my interest (just not a theme that I’m invested in at all), but a diverse set of characters, quests, and challenges ended up being just what I needed to get fully engaged in the world of Oltréé! I’ll be honest, I still only have a basically functional understanding of what a satrapy is, but that doesn’t seem to be a huge burden. Oltréé succeeds in a way that I now think Above and Below struggled: the storytelling is the funnest part of the game, and the game actively rewards you for doing the quests and challenges. So now, you’re fully invested in the game’s plot, rather than trying to do something else while the gleam of stories and choices hovers just out of your reach. I should replay Above and Below sometime; that’s out of the scope of this review, though. Oltréé boasts more than a fun story, however; it’s got modularity to it, from the Chronicles you choose to do to the Assignments you can choose to determine the length / difficulty of the game to the sets of Incidents you can mix together to give yourself new quests and challenges! Granted, you’ll eventually see a few places where these things overlap, but there’s enough in the core box to keep you busy for a while. And what a core box it is! There’s a beautiful organization to it, with almost treasure chests as the inserts that open up to reveal various things that you’ll need for play. It’s a lot of fun, even if it’s not that well-organized. It seems that Oltréé inherited a few things from the RPG space and turned that into a pretty solid board game / mini-RPG experience. While you don’t get to roleplay in particular as part of the game, you could very easily add on a layer of RPG and character work if you wanted to play the game that way; nothing’s really stopping you. Beyond that, the flow of the game is exceedingly intuitive and not too intense (at least with the Chronicles and Assignments we chose), so I could see a wide variety of players enjoying Oltréé, though it probably skews towards the higher-complexity end of your casual game. Either way, I’m a big fan of Oltréé, and if you’re looking for a fun game with great components, you enjoy choosing how to solve problems and going on adventures, or you just want to figure out where the é is on your keyboard, I’d recommend checking Oltréé out!

If you enjoyed this review and would like to support What’s Eric Playing? in the future, please check out my Patreon. Thanks for reading!

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