Review of Nemo’s War — Part I. The Unboxing and First Impressions

IMG_3298

Nemo’s War (Second Edition) was a Kickstarter back in about January of 2016.  The purpose was to reprint Nemo’s War in a second edition.  It was promised in November of 2016, but just delivered to me yesterday (Friday, June 23rd, 2017).    So, it’s about 7 months late.  Typical for a Kickstarter, but still slightly annoying.

You’ll notice (from my unboxing above) that I got some cool swag: a canvas bag for the ships and a canvas bag for the treasures (polus a neato little Nemo’s War pin).  The bags are Kickstarter exclusive content (I think the button is too?)

Solo Game and Cooperative Game

So, this game is a solo game.  Out of the box, all the rules refer to a solo game that you set-up and play.  I loved Friday by Friedemann Friese, so this solo game looked fun and enticing.  What sold me to back this Kickstarter: At the $63K funding mark, they added a cooperative variant for 2-4 players.  I was intrigued: I like solo games, I like the underwater Jules Verne: 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea theme, and I love cooperative games.  So,  I backed it.  (There is a semi-cooperative variant, but I suspect I will never play it).

What’s Inside

IMG_3300

Here’s what’s inside: lots and lots of token to undo: (220 or so, according to the rulebook), some dice, some cards, and a really nice 6-panel fold-out board.

IMG_3301

The components are very nice.  Most of the token are (fairly think stock) cardboard.  The cards seem to be linen-finished.  The rulebook is shiny and on nice paper.  Overall, the components are good.  The art is good (not great, but I do really like the picture on the box).  In general, good stuff.  Nothing great.

The Rulebook

I am very happy with this rulebook overall.  My only gripe was that there was no glossary at the end (for terms you didn’t know).  A lot of the nomenclature is introduced in the first few pages, so I think that “counts” as the glossary.  Still, it would have been nice to have.

Having said that, this was a rulebook better than most!  As the rulebook explained some rules in each section, there were sidebars which showed examples and pictures of the rules under description.  The text was fairly clear.  I can’t remember being confused at any point, especially after looking at the sidebar examples.  This rulebook was a little on the long side, but it did a good job of explaining all the concepts.

Set-Up

The set-up took a long time.  After I got the game on Friday, I tried to learn it Friday night.  Nope, I had to start into it and leave it halfway for the next day.  Be warned: it’s going to take some time to get through the rulebook and set-up the game the very first time.   Two to three hours?  Now, mind you, I am one of those people who wants to understand what each piece is as I set it up.  As one of my bosses at work (Bob Weyker) says:

“If you don’t know what something is now, it will come back to bite you later!”

The point is that I make sure I understand each piece as I play it.  So, someone who just wants to jump in will probably be able to set it up much faster.  But I claim that’s a false savings: the time saved setting up the game will be spent when you have to look up rules when you are playing.

Anyways, I got it all set-up.  Whew!

IMG_3302

First Play

My first play took about 2 hours.  That’s in line with the playing time (60-120 minutes from BoardGameGeek).

There was a lot of maintenance per turn placing ships and following the “placing ship” algorithm: as the game gets in later stages, there are more and more ships placed, which cause the algorithm to get more and more complicated.  Well, it’s not that bad, but it was starting to get annoying.

I am concerned about the randomness a little.  The number of actions you get per turn is based on the difference of two dice. So, some turns you get 0 actions (17% of the time), 1 action (28% of the time), 2 actions (22% of the time), 3 actions (17% of the time), 4 actions (11% of the time) and finally 5 actions (5% of the time).  They actually have the percentages on the board, which I really like.  But, I am reminded of a recent Top 10 list from the Dice Tower:  Top 10 Things Designers Need to Stop Doing!   One of Sam’s gripes:  (At Number 1!) : “Stop Rolling for Actions/Movement”.   And that’s exactly what this game does.

Sam’s point: sometimes you have 0 actions, sometimes you have 5 actions!  A turn with 5 movement is sooo much funner than a turn where you do nothing.  And what if you get 3 to 4 turns in a row where do nothing?  It’s so frustrating.

There are mechanisms to mitigate this random number of actions.  For example,  there are one-time-use characters which grant “extra actions” (and I think there are some events).  Over time. “statistically”, you will get 2-3 actions per turn over the course of the game.  But those particular turns where you get 0 or 1 action are just not fun.  And it’s hard to be strategic: you tend to react (based on the number of actions) rather than plan (knowing you can execute a plan).

Impressions and Next Steps

The components are great.  The rulebook is very very good.  The theme seems to come through pretty well. I am concerned, however, about two problems: the maintenance and the randomness.

The amount of work per turn to “keep the game going” is a bit much, but I believe this will be okay once I know the game a little better.  I think this will get better in future plays, but we’ll have to see.

I am more concerned about the randomness.  I lost spectacularly on my first play: which I expect!  I’ve never played before, so of course I did horribly.  I just hope I can do better and “take into account” the randomness on my next play.  That’s my main question: Can I leverage the randomness to come up with a strategy, or am I just going to be reacting every turn?  We’ll see with future plays.

This sounds more negative than I want: That’s not my purpose.  I am excited to play this in the cooperative mode.   And, I will give this a number of plays to get a feel of what the strategy is.

Nemo’s War is a fairly complicated solo game with good components.  I was pretty overwhelmed on my first play (and lost horribly).  I look forward to future plays to see what the longevity of this game is.

 

 

 

Advertisements

More Cooperative Games “Off The Beaten Path”

I was surprised how much traffic I got from this original Top 10 Cooperative Board and Card Games “Off the Beaten Path”.   Here are a few more: most of these are ones I’ve reviewed over the past year.   But I haven’t really seen a lot of buzz about any of these games.

1. Mousquetaires du Roy (2010) pic1286586_md

This game is, by default, an “All vs One” cooperative game.  I have never played it that way!  There are rules for a solo and fully cooperative play included, so I learned those first.  Unfortunately, the solo/cooperative rules aren’t expressed very well—I guess that makes sense, since it’s not the normal way they want you to play.  I was able to play solo a number of times to figure out the game, and I really enjoyed it.  I brought it to some friends and we played and it worked well as a coop.

The game is all about getting through four “adventures” (and a final confrontation) straight from the  book. Oh Yes!  This is The Three Muskeeteers board game! (Strictly speaking, it translates to “The Royal Musketeers” in case you didn’t speak French). It’s a card game mostly, with the board serving as a holding area.

This game was really fun and I would recommend it.

 

2. The Red Dragon Inn: Battle for Greyport (2016)

img_2696

A fun cooperative deckbuilder in the universe of the Red Dragon Inn where each player plays a fantasy character helping to protect the town.  Great art, great fun.  See the full review here!

3. Zephyr: Winds of Change (2017)

IMG_3072

This game is all about building a flying airship in a steampunk universe.  It has a lot of dice-chucking, but it was fun!  See the full review here (Part I) and here (Part II).

IMG_3174(1)

This is my favorite game of 2017!  (The AEG version came out this year, the original kickstarter came out in 2014).  It’s now my goto cooperative game for 5 players!  Every single time I’ve played this alone or in a group, it’s gone so well.  I love this game!  See my review here (Part I), here (Part II), and here (Part II).

 


I haven’t seen much buzz about any of these games, but they are all fun!  Check them out!

 

 

Review of The Captain Is Dead—Part III: Final Thoughts

IMG_3170

This game is really fun.  I’ve played it solo mode many times and had a ball.  Just this last Sunday, I had an amazing game where I just barely stopped a Red Alert then was able to Warp out for a out an win.  So satisfying!  I have also played with a group and everyone had the same reaction:  That was fun and I’d play it again.

A Few Negatives

There’s just a few very minor negatives.  First,  I’m already a little worried about the cards: I’ve been playing a lot and they are showing just a touch of wear and tear.  My friend Charlie says “That’s a Great Problem to Have!   You play some much the game starts to show!”  True enough, but if the cards were linen-coated, I think the game would last longer.

In general, the game has tremendous replayability: there’s 18? different roles, and every role does something very different.  The cards come out differently, which means you have to decide what to handle and what to attack based on what cards you have and what Alerts have come out.  So, there seems to be a great deal of replayability there.  My only complaint is that there seem to be two things I do every game, and I have to because they make all the difference!  Get the torch and put out the upgrade that reduces shield damage by 10%.  Every single game, it’s been clear that I had to do both of those things or I would have lost.  The other tools aren’t quite as useful, and the same with the other upgrades.  So, that cuts into replayability a little.

Sometimes the blocky art on the standees is hard to distinguish, especially in a game with more players.  I like the art of the aliens, but they also seem to blend together.  I wish the characters were easier to distinguish on the board.  But you know, the clear standees is very thematic and cool.  I do like it overall.

Final Thoughts

In spite of the few negatives, this is probably my favorite game of the year.  I like the theme (Yes, we all know it’s Star Trek), it’s a fun co-op with a good amount of replayability, the game is good solo (esp. if you use my rules from Part II), and everyone I have played with likes it as a group game (it even played well as a 5-player co-op!).  The components are pretty good: I do like the look of the aliens and the standees feel very thematic.  I wish the cards were linen-coated.

And there is a lot of strategy here.  You don’t always do the same thing on your turn.  You have to decide as a group how to proceed.

A game that plays well solo and a co-op, especially 5 players is a win.  This game gets an 8/10 for me on BoardGameGeek.  It may still go higher!  I really like this game.

After thought: Expansions

There are some expansions available for the GamesCrafter version of the game, but they are not yet available for the AEG version.  Just be careful, if you get an expansion (there are 3? for the GamesCrafter version, none yet for the AEG version) to get the right one.

 

 

 

 

Review of The Captain Is Dead—Part II. Solo Rules

In Part I of my review of The Captain is Dead, I was frustrated with the solo player rules that came with the game.  As you recall, the rules that come with the game ask the solo player to operate 3-4 characters in the game.  I am sure, once you know this game, this might be a fine solo mode, but first time players or novices will be intimidated by that.

I have been playing the game pretty much non-stop since I got it (yes, it’s fun), but playing with my own variant of the solo rules.  I think I have a fairly robust set of rules for a solo player operating only 1 character.

IMG_3173

The Janitor Fights Alone!

Solo Player Rules For Operating One Character: Choose a Character

First, you probably want to limit which characters you play.  Six characters don’t give ANY advantage to play, as their skills involve other players (or rules which you ignore):

Telepath, Science Officer , Diplomat, Cyborg, Ensign, Hologram: Don’t Play These in a SOLO Game!

The Cyborg looks great, but he can get stuck too easily.  All of the other characters special powers involve working with other characters.


These characters are okay, but not real great: playing them doesn’t give a lot of advantages:

Counselor, Medical Officer, Crewman:  Probably don’t want to play any of these characters, but you can if you want a challenge.


The four characters are pretty good to play: they do just enough to allow you to do a few interesting things, but aren’t great:

Weapons Officer, Tactical Officer, Soldier, Teleporter Chief: Pretty Good to Play, Not Great


Finally, these 5 characters work really well solo:

First Officer, Chief Engineer, Admiral, Janitor, Scholar: Great for Solo play!

I strongly recommend playing one of the last 5: they are fun to play, you use their abilities all the time, and they each offer a different “way” to play.  If this is your first time playing, play the Janitor: he can make up for cards he doesn’t have by spending an action.

Solo Player Rules For Operating One Character: Set-Up

  1. Up your hand limit by 2.   You won’t be able to get anything done otherwise.
  2. Instead of each character adding a Skill card to the Cargo Bay, just randomly choose 3 skill cards from the main deck and put them there.  Thus, your single character starts with 5 skills.
  3. Do set-up normal otherwise.

Solo Player Rules For Operating One Character: Play

The game plays normally, except: Whenever you draw Anomalies, follow the rules as if it were a 2-Player game.

And that’s it!

Summary

It really is easy: Pick one of the proper characters, up your hand-limit by 2, fill the cargo bay with 3 random skills, and follow the 2-player rules for anomalies. That’s it!

I have been playing this way for the past few days and really enjoying the game.  It’s not hard to play this game with a single character.  I hope this set of rules improves your experience with the game!  It certainly has mine: I have had a lot of fun playing as a solo player.

I have a bunch of people coming over tomorrow night to play in full cooperative mode with lots of players.  We’ll see how the game goes!