I ran across a new game coming out that looked really interesting. It was a deck building game with Vampires, Werewolves, Ghouls, and Humans. Reading the description left me both excited and apprehensive. My hopes had just been burned badly with the purchase of “Resident Evil the Deck Building Game“. I didn’t want to repeat that disappointing experience.
I wrote the company for a review copy, and was happy to promptly receive a reply and a tracking number for the games’ arrival at my door step. I must say that AEG, the company publishing the game, was very professional. If you ever have need to deal with them, I hope you have the same positive experience that I did.
Friday evening came and so did my copy of Nightfall. I was originally surprised by the box size, but found that the copy I received was the preview copy and while it contained all the cards, it came in a smaller box without the card dividers. I can’t speak to how this will look in the final copy, but some positive things about this set that I hope will stay in the final draft? The components are quality. The box is a thick heavy cardboard that isn’t going to crush easily. The cards are a comfortable thickness as well. Thick enough that you can shuffle them happily without bending them, but not so stiff that shuffling them is a pain.
But enough about the components and the company, what about the game play?
The general premise of the game is that the world has been plunged forever into darkness, and you are trying to gain control over this new world via slaughtering your enemies. You accomplish this by mortally wounding your opponents, but you’ll have to get through their minions to manage this. Each turn has battles and blood as you compete for the right to call yourself master over this new realm.
This game really is the marriage of Dominion and Magic The Gathering into a beautifully dark, cut throat, non-customizable card game that we have loved playing. Now stop and think about all the things you loved and hated both about ‘Magic the Gathering’. This game has kept the good and seemed to have gotten rid of the bad. Now do the same mental lists for Dominion, with the same set of outcomes.
Remember getting “Mana Screwed” in Magic the Gathering? When you just couldn’t draw any mana for many many turns and thus were not able to do a darn thing? This game fixes that through the use of “chaining”. On your turn, in your ‘Chain’ phase, you can play any number of creatures or spells, as long as they chain. You do this with a cards color and its possible chaining colors. In the top left of each card is a big moon of a given color. This is the cards color. Under that are one or two little moons of different colors. These are the card colors that may be played after this card. If you have one of those colored cards, and would like to play it, great! If not, the chain stops there. This insures that you can do something every single turn, and sometimes you can do quite a lot in that turn.
How about, “My opponent just brought out [Insert Beefy Hard To Kill Creature Here], now I can’t do anything!”? Nightfall fixes that too. Each round all of your monsters are forced to attack. So you are going to get smacked once by the big baddy, that’s true. However, as soon as the onslaught is over, all minions (with a few rare exceptions) are removed from play and they are placed in their discard pile. Sure, this is a deck building game, like Dominion, and they will shuffle and redraw that critter, but you will have at least a round or two of peace to do something about it.
“I like Dominion, but it isn’t very interactive”. Another thing that Nightfall fixed, and in a big big way. Nightfall, unlike Dominion, is all about tearing your opponents to bits. Gone are the simple days where you could quietly sit in your little corner of the world, happily racking up points with minimal interference from anyone else. Nightfall, like Magic, is all about dealing damage to your opponents while holding their mayhem at bay.
You are forced to be mean in order to survive.
Turns work as follows:
2.) Chain cards
Ok, so it doesn’t have the nice abc’s like Dominion (Action, Buy, Cleanup, Draw), but that’s a small price to pay.
The attack phase is really straight forward. Every minion you have in play must attack. You can attack multiple players, or a single player, no limitations there. For all the Magic players: Blocking works the same, and all attacking critters have trample. For the rest of the world: you can block with as many minions as you want, but each minion can only block one attacker. Once your minion has taken as much damage as it can, any remaining damage rolls through and hits the player. When a player takes damage they get a wound card for every point. Wound cards go into their discard pile.
Chaining. I mentioned what it was earlier, but there are some finer points to note. Once you have chained out all the cards you want, your opponents get a chance to chain as well. They start building their chain where you left off, so what card colors you leave available can be an important thing to keep in mind. The other really neat thing? These cards resolve in a “last in, first out” way. All of your opponents’ card(s) effects will occur before yours do. Tricky, eh? This makes for really interesting game play that you just have to try.
Buying is accomplished through “influence” rather then coins. Ever have a bad hand in Dominion and end up with no money to buy anything? Not going to happen here. Each round you automatically have two points of influence to buy cards with. You can play cards into your chain that boosts your influence, or you can simply discard cards from your hand at one point of influence per card. Just like Dominion, all the cards you buy go into your discard pile.
Cleanup is a touch more complicated then Dominion. You don’t remove all of your cards from play, your minions stay in play until they die or until after your next attack phase. You also do not discard your hand, cards can be held over from turn to turn. However, this is the time to remove any straggling non-minion order cards that you may have played from the board and make sure they get into your discard pile. You also draw back up to a hand five cards at this point. Remember those “wound cards” I mentioned earlier? If you have any of those in your hand after the draw, you discard them and draw two additional cards per wound. This helps give people who are a little behind a leg up.
The game ends when you run out of a predetermined number of wound cards. You start the game with 10x the number of players. So if you are playing a four person game, there will be 40 wounds to hand out.
I’ve had this game for less than a week, and we have already played it in excess of a dozen times. Ya know what? I’m not sick of it. In fact I’m itching to play it some more, which to me is the ultimate sign that a game is good.
If you want to play this game, you might have to wait just a bit. Nightfall is scheduled to release sometime in March of 2011, so depending on when your reading this you may have at least a couple of weeks to wait, maybe a little more. When it is released, I highly suggest you pick up a new copy. I really think this might be a game that leaves the Dominion and Magic The Gathering empires shaking in their boots.
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