By Rick Teverbaugh
The Herald Bulletin
— Designer Donald X. Vaccarino as a mad scientist, brewing up outstanding tabletop games isn’t a stretch at all.
Now gamers can become the mad scientist in Vaccarino’s new offering, Nefarious, from Ascora Games.
Nefarious is very easy to learn, quick to play and has a small footprint for table space. But it does carry the Vaccarino trademark of strong replayability. The game is for 2-6 players and can be completed in 20 to 40 minutes. The box indicates it is for players 13 and up but younger players than that could certainly enjoy the game.
Nefarious is played with a single deck of cards, which represent blueprints for the inventions your mad scientist will create. Each card has two pieces of information – what it costs in bags of money to build the device and how many points it is worth toward winning the game. The game ends when one or more players reach 20 or more invention points. The player with the most points wins.
Each turn a player selects an action card from four that are always in hand. The actions are: Speculate, Invent, Research and Work. That choice is revealed simultaneously by all players.
Each player has his Lair Board where he will keep his bags of money (start the game with 10) and the five minions he can use to Speculate what his opponents will do. After the actions have been revealed, any minions who correctly predicted what action an opponent would choose produce a bag of money for the player.
Then the actions are preformed in numerical order, starting with Speculate, then Invent, Research and Work. Invent allows the gamer to pay for and create an invention. Some inventions have effects that do things to the inventor and/or his foes. Research gets two bags of money plus a blueprint card off the top of the deck. Work claims four bags of money.
This turn order continues until one or more players have 20 or more invention points.
What causes this game have such replayability are the Twist cards. There are 36 of them and two are used in every game. The cards will change some of the basic rules for how the game is played and/or scored. The Twists used for each game can greatly impact the strategy for playing the game. My first game had a Twist that made all of the inventions cost just half what was printed on the card. That meant that bags of money were less critical, but keeping blueprints in hand and creating them often were vital.
Nefarious is a game that will find its way to my table regularly, sometimes as one of the main games played and sometimes as a warmup for other games and other times a cool down after a longer, more complex challenge.
Find out more about Nefarious at: http://www.ascoragames.com/