One of the most common complaints from the deck building genre of games is that there isn’t enough interplay between the players. Those who feel that way won’t after they try Nightfall.
AEG has made its second venture into this genre an innovative one. The theme is horror as the gamer will send minions of humans, werewolves, vampires and other ghouls to wound his foes. In fact, wounding foes is the only way to win at Nightfall.
So while games such as Dominion and Thunderstone have races toward victory points without being able to do much to actually damage an opponent or keep him from winning, Nightfall specifically pits one player against another.
The wounds are tallied by wound cards. These cards are shuffled into a player’s deck after he receives them and then they actually have benefits to drawing them into his hand. That makes coming back from an early disadvantage more possible.
But there’s more innovation in this offering than interaction.
Nightfall also has a drafting mechanism that will seem familiar to people who play collectible card games. The game has several stacks of cards that are available to be included in the game. Those are determined randomly through a unique system. Each player is given a small group of cards that could be included in the game. Each player takes one of those cards that will be available only to him and passes the rest to the player seated to the left. Then players pick another card available only to them. The cards are passed again and each player picks a card that won’t be allowed in the game at all. Then a common area is established in the center of the table where eight stacks will be randomly picked from which all players may choose.
Those cards may be purchased by the players and put into their decks. Discarding cards from their hands is the way players may pay for new cards.
Action is furious and always changing as the minions only last one turn before being discarded and new ones brought into play. Bringing cards into play is another innovation of Nightfall. Each card has one large moon and two smaller moons in the upper left hand corner of the card. They are of various colors. When the first card is played from a player’s hand, another card may be chained to that one but only if that card’s large moon color matches one of the small moon colors on the previously played card. Once the player whose turn it is has chained every card he can or wants to, the opportunity to play cards moves to the next player on the left. When every player is finished chaining cards, they all resolve, starting with the card played last and working backwards.
There is also a kicker bonus on most cards that comes into play if a chained card’s kicker color matches the big moon of the card played right before it. Explaining the process is much more complicated than the execution of it during the game.
Nightfall can be played in a short period of time. A game lasts until a predetermined number of wounds cards have been handed out. That number changes with the number of players. It is rare that a game will last an hour.
The only shortcoming of Nightfall is the limited number of different cards available to bring into play. That problem will be solved later this month when the game’s first addition, Martial Law, is released. Martial Law will bring another full set of cards to the mix, including new wound cards. Martial Law can be played as a separate entity or can be mixed with Nightfall.
Watch this space for a full review of Martial Law after it is released.
Find out more about Nightfall by going to this site: http://www.nightfallgame.com/
Nightfall gets high marks for playability, theme and certainly for taking the deck building genre in an entirely new direction. Once Martial Law releases, the game will make an even bigger leap up my list of favorite games.