Our friends from Alderac sent a new game for review. It’s called Nightfall and it reminds me of nothing so much as a board game in compact size. The story premise is that the sun is gone and permanent night has fallen on earth. The world has become a playground for the dark creatures of our imaginations. Ghouls, vampires and werewolves battle each other and the human hunters who stalk them. Secrecy is not needed — these menacing creatures walk openly through the streets. As with everything Alderac does, the art and design are magnificent.
You start gameplay with a handful of minions. Good guys and bad guys share space in your hand — and maybe I should say “good” guys and “bad” guys. Are the werewolves bad? Maybe the hunters are bad? It certainly feels like an every creature for himself scenario, so good and bad might be old fashioned notions in the world of Nightfall. There are common actions and additional minions to draw from, using the archive function.
There are Wound cards to illustrate what damage a player takes, as opposed to damage inflicted on minions during gameplay. The stack of Wound cards ultimately controls the length of the game. You set aside 10 Wound cards for every player in the game. In other words — four players would have 40 Wound cards.
Games will average 45 minutes and the game ends when the last Wound card has been given to a player. Players finish any unresolved cards on the table and then count up the wounds. The player with the fewest wounds wins the game.
You begin with some cheap creatures that have zero cost to play. This allows the players to get on the board right away, eliminating one of the annoying things about games like Magic the Gathering, where depending on the luck of the draw, you may have to wait three or four rounds before getting a creature on the table. Play can be fast and deadly for your creatures.
You put minions into play and you also can play Order cards and create a chain of cards, much like a chain of events. The cards use a unique mechanic for this. Each card has a large colored moon and two lesser moons in the upper left corner. The cards in the chain have to have matching colors. Play a red moon card on top of a card with a lesser red moon, for example.
In addition, other people can add to the chain. Sometimes they might be helping you against a common enemy (in multiplayer games) or hindering your actions in some way. I think I will like this mechanic. It adds an interesting twist to the game. It seems like 3 or 4 players in a game is the perfect balance. Lots of personalities on the table and cards are flying left and right.
As with L5R, they put a lot of thought into the game’s world. Flavor text abounds in the rule book. The minions in the decks feel like they have rich back stories just waiting to be explored. Hunters and werewolves, ghouls and vampires — each is a unique personality whose presence or absence affects the game.
It is a fun game that takes just a few minutes to understand and I think it will provide hours and hours of great gaming. Nightfall has a little bit of everything — competition, combat, cooperation, betrayal and bloodshed. If you are looking for a new game, consider entering the world of perpetual night.
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