Nemesis was the first game we’ve supported on Kickstarter. KS campaign with all its great content hyped us so much we’ve hadn’t any second thoughts about becoming backers. We are sci-fi fans and the game that takes us to a spaceship attacked by aliens is something we couldn’t let go. Let’s be honest from the very beginning – this game is awesome and below we gonna tell you why. Check our review of the core game.
The game starts when the crew members wake up from hibernation. Their sleep is interrupted by the ship’s safety system. In the hibernation room, the crew finds some body torn to pieces. The ship looks as if it’s broken down and no one on the crew knows where it’s heading to. On top of that, some strange sounds can be heard in the pipes and corridors of the ship… Yes, the world of the game is the faithful copy of Sigourney Weaver adventures and it’s of onf the greatest strenghts of this game.
As we mentioned in introduction, Nemesis looks really beautiful. Inside the amazing, big box you will find two trays with figurines, piles of cards, chips, plastic markers and a few more treats… It all looks crazy. You can see that every element was designed by the real artists who did not take any shourtcuts. When you look at Nemesis spread out on the table, you can see that this is a complete, designed consistently from A to Z game.
Apart from the miniatures, in the box we will get a lot of plastic markers, unique only for this game. Of course, there is no shortage of traditional cardboard tokens. These, of course, could be exchanged for plastic ones, buying the appropriate add-on. We forgave ourselves the purchase of it, the game was hellishly expensive 😉
What else? Cards, cards, cards, cards. Action cards for heroes, cards of objects, cards of events, attacks, wounds… There is plenty of it, little to dark, but all beautifully designed, thoughtful and giving the atmosphere of the game.
Unfortunately, the graphic element is one thing and the material is another. Characters’ cards quickly start to tear at the edges, and the main game board delaminates when bent. It’s a pity that the creators didn’t try to protect their product with a better quality finish. What’s more, the main board with of ship started to delaminate and tear at one of the bends… A little suprise as for a game at such a price. Conclusion? You’d better use sleeves for the cards, at least the action cards that are most heavily used. What to do with the main board? No idea.
With regard to the main game board – one more minus. You can barely see anything there, it’s so dark and colors are so close in tone with each other it’s hard to read the board.
Nemesis is full of mechanics. Some are brilliant, others seem superfluous. All in all, it’s a plus, but probably it could have been done better….
The basic mechanics of the game is to manage the deck cards of your character. The player can perform basic actions: moving, lifting objects, interacting with the visited room, etc. The problem is that in order to perform any action it is necessary to sacrifice one card from the hand (sometimes two) and reject it on a pile of discarded cards. What is on the cards? Well, most of them are the same actions for every character plus few more advanced and specific for each of the crew members. Players have to manage their hand wisely, discard those cards that they don’t think they need at the moment.
Unfortunately, it is not the end of the consequences. Main and the basic activity – movement causes a negative effect in the form of noises. That’s right. We walk along the ship’s corridors so we have to make at least a little noise at the same time. The problem is that the noise is heard by aliens, who are willing to jump out of the ventilation shaft at our hero.
Therefore, with every standard move, players throw a dice that indicates in which corridor the noise appears. If there is a second noise marker in one corridor, an alien is attacking us. Do you think that this is the end of the consequences and you are safe? Well, no. Because every time an opponent falls on you, his threat level is compared to the number of cards on his hand. If you have fewer cards (you can imagine that you are more exhausted, tired) than required, the opponent will attack immediately. Fortunately, we have a sneaking action, thanks to which we can decide where to place the noise marker and avoid unwanted fighting (but it costs two cards from the hand instead of one).
And one more thing. There are two tracks, first is jumping into hyper-speed/warp-speed with 15 turns counter. During this time you have to either escape from the ship or hibernate again, or die. And the ship’s self-destruct track, if it starts, you have 6 turns to turn it off, escape or you will all die.
You’re probably wondering how to win this?! Well, it’s hard 😉 Because not counting the aliens willing to gut us, we still have our fellow players, who may have the same goal as ours, but they also don’t have to. What’s more, maybe someone’s goal will be to kill you?
Another key element of the game is the fight, which is one of the weakest element of the game. How does it work? You give back one of your weapon markers (they end quickly) and throw the dice. If you manage to hit it, you will deal some damage. And how much life does an alien have? You don’t know! Each time we pull a card from the appropriate stack and check how many lives our opponent has this time… If more than we have dealt him damage, the alien stays, the card is rejected and we can try our luck furing next attack. Maybe there will be a smaller number on the next card, maybe a bigger one… You can judge for yourself whether this is a system that suits you. The worst thing if you draw a personal goal is to kill the Alien Queen. Good luck! 😉
Next great mechanism is the contamination cards. Due to the fact that aliens are aliens, they can inoculate their “embryos” in us. Every time game tells you to get the contamination card you are putting it on the discard pile, which means after few turns (or even one) it will come back at your hand blocking one of the five card’s spaces – more contamination cards less things you can do during your turn. And those nasty cards blocks your hand as long as you don’t use the rest action (every crew member has one card with such an action in his deck). Resting is the momemt when you gonna reach for a scanner, one of the coolest gadets in board games. We insert the contamination cards into it and check whether we are infected or not. If not, we simply reject the card. If cards you are the host for an alien… well… the only rescue is a emergency room, where you can perform a surgery to remove an unwanted passenger in our body. And I advise you to hurry. At any moment he can leave your belly and leave your dead body on the deck of the ship.
In the game we have a few other mechanics:
- Crafting, which seems to be completely useless. There is simply no time for that and it requires a lot of effort and luck.
- Searching within rooms for new helpful items.
- Using rooms’ functions – while traversing the ship we will come across different rooms: a generator in which we will start self-destruction or a room with a security system thanks to which we will lock another player in one room with an alien. For using the room function you gonna pay, by default, two cards from your hand., We have also a canteen where we will eat, we have a warehouse, showers, alien socket and much, much more options buidling great atmosphere of this game. Don’t count on you to use all of them rooms n one game. Again – lack of time 😉
- The weakest element of the game is, in my opinion, the dice used in the fight. These aliens are hellishly difficult to kill, and on our dice, exceptionally often, rolls really bad. It can make you angry.
Flow of the game
At the beginning, player draw their characters (between Captain, Mechanic, Scientist, Scout, Soldier, or Medic). Then everyone gets their own secret goals, which must be achieved during the game. They can be very different, from bringing the Nemesis ship to Earth to killing one of your companions (and some of them are quite unbalanced).
The game is divided into two phases:
- Player phase: during which two actions are performed by each player.
- Events phase: where the indicator on the hyper-speed jump track progresses, opponents attack, global event card is drawn and so on.
Players have to fulfill their goals within fifteen rounds and survive by escaping from the ship or going into hibernation state. Most interestingly, even if we reach our goal and run away/hibernate, the game continues. Our opponent can change the conditions on the board at the last minute (e.g. by breaking the engine or starting a self-destruct of the ship), and our victory will be lost. This means that we can never fully trust anyone.
So how to win? Collaborate. At least at the beginning…
Interaction between players
The game is almost entirely based on interaction between players. Both above the table, when we try to get along with our friends, and on the board, where we influence the rest of the crew with the help of the actions of different rooms or cards effect. The lack of certainty as to who has what intentions makes the game constantly tense, and the only thing that adds fuel to the fire is the aliens lurking in the dark.
Players in their repertoire have actions on cards that allow them to influence other players (e.g. the captain has a command ability that forces another player in the same room to go to the adjacent room). In addition to the skills on the cards, there are, of course, the functions of each room you visit. We can find a room that controls all doors on the ship and if we want it we can lock another player in the cabin with alien.
The game provides a lot of negative interaction, but it can also be a real coop (as long as your goals are the same ;)).
Replayability and randomness
During the game setup we draw rooms tiles and place them randomly on the board. We place random tokens of events on each room. Thanks to them, while discovering a room we learn what is happening in it (e.g. it is on fire, damaged, the door closes after entering it etc.) and we learn how many times we can perform a search action in a given location (i.e. how many items are available in a given place).
The game also uses event decks and monster attack deck. Also we have dice deciding whether we hit the opponent during the fight and how much noise we make while moving around the ship.
In addition, the players draw their goals (two each) and the game can begin. As you can see, there are a lot of elements that randomize the game and make each session completely different.
Nemesis is an unusual game. The climate that serves us from the first moments is unique and very soon you will want to come back on board. It seems to me to be a sufficient argument to say that the game has a very high replayability 🙂
As I mentioned before, the immersion of the game is one of the strongest features. Amazing claustrophobic atmosphere of the ship, terrifying aliens lurking in the darkness and companions who cannot be trusted. The game takes you from the table and transports you aboard the Nemesis. In our growing collection of board games, we have probably only three titles, which equally strongly, take us to their world, this is the Mansions of Madness second edition, Star Wars: Rebellion and Arkham Horror LCG.
Fun from the game
I don’t want to repeat myself over and over again, I’ll just say that you’ll be looking forward to the next game. 😉
We backed Nemesis on Kickstarter. The only thing we regret is that we didn’t buy all the add-ons. The game is expensive, let’s not fool ourselves. Unfortunately, the quality of the cards and the main game board is average, but the emotions that this game offers are priceless. I think it is a fair price, even with those few flaws regarding quality of elements. BUT game in retail is even more expensive…
- Amazing atmosphere. Fear, tension, and lack of trust are your companions. You will feel like the passengers of Nostromo, only that it is not Nostromo – there are so many similarities and references to the trilogy of Alien, that it’s a wonder that it didn’t end in the court;-)
- Game mechanics provide many twists and turns, semi-coop mode is an endless adrenaline and an attempt to adapt to changing conditions on the ship.
- Great alien minis – in various poses, very detailed, with high quality, and each fight with them is literally a struggle for survival.
- Visually pampered game components – everything fits together, there is no place for ugly or sloppy elements.
- Different classes of characters, each of them has its own unique skills, so that each crew member is irreplaceable in his or her own way.
- Multiple gameplay modes: semi-coop, coop, singles, aliens, etc.
- Many mechanics, which build the atmosphere of the game, are not abstract and detached from the context of the world in which the game is played.
- Basic semi-coop mode fully reflects all the strengths of the game, it’s where Nemesis shines the most.
- A comic book with a mini campaign that provides additional cinematic excitement.
- An insert that literally organizes all the elements.
- Contamination cards and scanner – it’s a gadget but well reasoned and it suits the game perfectly!
- Useless crafting – simply there is always not enough time for it.
- Some elements are too dark (ship’s board) and/or too illegible (sometimes it is completely unknown what are the graphics in the comic book).
- The instruction could have been written more clearly, and certainly more legibly – black background, specific layout and formatting of the text – manul supposed to be as climatic as the rest of tge game element, but it lacks of basic function – being clear.
- Not all goals in semi-coop mode are properly balanced.
- The main board and the cards could be of better quality (several games and the board starts to rip on bends and the cards are specifically dealt)
- The game loses much of its charm if you do not play in semi-coop mode, full cooperation could not exist (even some cards on your hand lose their sense in this mode).
- With each of your attacks the alien may have a different level of life, in one moment 3, and in the second shot 5 – this way the fight is burdened with a lot of randomness and pays off only in the extreme moments at the end of the game.
Must have in every collection. If you’re a fan of the Alien, I’m surprised you haven’t got it yet. Advice? Sleeve your cards and be really careful with the main board 😉