“Nightfall: Marshal Law” is the second installment by AEG in the Nightfall deck building game series. This game expands upon the concepts set up by the original game, but still maintains the overall flavor. Some of the most notable additions in this game is additonal wound effects, a “feed” mechanic, and the utilization of character types.
The wounds present in the original Nightfall all had a single ability: Discard the wound and draw two cards. This is not the case any longer. Now we have a secondary wound card ability that gives a big advantage in combat. You can now discard wound cards in combat to increase the strength of a minion. This is huge, and can cause a badly hurt player to do some massive damage to their opponent. But this new rule brings with it a dilemma for players. You can only perform a single wound effect on your turn, which has always been the case, but up until now there was only one wound effect in the game, making this a meaningless rule. Now that we have two different wound effects this becomes a big deal. Do you pummel your opponent? Or do you save those wounds and draw yourself some more cards? Decisions, decisions, decisions.
The new “feed” effect is rampant in Marshal Law, allowing players big bonuses, if they have big hands. Feed is very similar to the old “Magic: The Gathering” ability of paying one “mana” in order to do some action. In this case, instead of mana, you simply discard a card from your hand. Given that those cards can directly equate to influence (the mana equivalent in Nightfall), this ability is almost identical to that found in M:TG. But that isn’t to say the ability isn’t nifty. It’s actually really nice to be able to do something with those potential influence other then to simply buy more cards, because some times that just floods your deck, which is a hindrance rather then a help.
The last major change of note is that we are now seeing character types being utilized. The original set has “Vampires”, “Humans”, etc but they never meant anything. None of the cards referred to this at all, but it was a clear sign that AEG was thinking ahead to an expansion that would. Marshal Law singles out cards by their type, in some cases this makes it very useful to only buy cards of a certain type, and in other ways this becomes very very dangerous, allowing your opponents to target you more easily because you only have a single monster type.
In addition to these new effects the set comes with a wide variety of new cards that utilize them. All of these new cards help make the game more robust and keeps it fresh for veteran players. However, there was one small disappointment for me, this game comes with the same old starter cards. It would have been great to see some new starter cards with new abilities. Because of this short fall, the first few rounds feel exactly like the original Nightfall.
I really love the Nightfall franchise. It really is a great game and I have a blast playing it. There is nothing warm and fuzzy about it, which has turned off some players in the past, but I really enjoy the vicious all out attacks mixed with the skillful deck building mechanics. This wonderfully dark follow up is certainly worth picking up.
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