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Nexus Ops» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Dudes on a map 101 - A review of Nexus Ops rss

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Scott Sexton
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So yeah, I'm about 10 years late to the party when it comes to Nexus Ops. One must beg the obvious question, why review such a game so long after its release? The biggest reason I can think of is that this is a great game being overlooked in favor of newer games. It is easy to find cheap used copies on the secondary market or though math trades.

What kind of game is Nexus Ops?

I won't bore you with the how the game actually plays (check out any number of the game play videos here on BGG). The quick and dirty version is that Nexus Ops is one of the first (if not the first) dudes on a map style games that transitioned AWAY from area control to VP generation through combat/objectives. This type of mechanism is something we take for granted nowadays (Blood Rage, Kemet, Cyclades, Inis, Cry Havoc, and others). In most respects, Nexus Ops feels mechanically, very similar to games that have been very popular in recent years, except for two distinct items worth mentioning:

1- Dice rolling combat. Yup, Nexus Ops uses a traditional dice combat system (roll X to hit). I'm not particularly offended by this because we've been seeing this sort of thing in co-ops and Ameritrash games for decades. Heck, Time Stories and Mansions of Madness still use basically this same mechanic.

2- The tile art is bad. Please note that I'm referring to the FFG version. This is probably the most glaring barrier folks are going to have when it comes to playing this over something like Kemet or Blood Rage. The "game board" tiles are awful to look at. There is nothing pleasing aesthetically when you look at the game board. The color of the mini's is functional, but not particularly pleasing to behold. Part of the appeal of dudes on a maps games is being able to appreciate the beauty of the action unfolding on the table. When you are "in game" things look nice enough that it isn't a complete distraction, but I wouldn't fault anyone from being turned off from Nexus Ops if they were watching somebody else play.

What does Nexus Ops have going for it?

Well for starters, the game play is pretty streamlined compared to more modern "dudes" games, but it preserves the testosterone pumping joy you get from sending armies out to smash each other. Turns move quickly and you should have no problem with player AP. Game play is driven primarily by players chasing VP either by winning battles or completing objectives. The fun of Nexus Ops is in trying to figure out how to get the 12 VP needed to win the game before everyone else. The tension is solid, but not overwhelming. Players can surprise each other with impressive turns that can completely change how the game plays out. Players can easily come out of nowhere with an exciting win, without anything feeling unfair or broken. That said, there is plenty to be said for luck in your attack rolls. Even a lowly human can take out your 12 point Rubium Dragon with a lucky 1/6 shot.

Should you buy Nexus Ops?

If you enjoy modern dudes on a map style games, you owe it to yourself to give this one a try at the very least. I picked up my copy through a math trade, and I couldn't be happier with it. In my experience, Nexus Ops excels as an introduction to this type of game. It is the perfect game to bring out for kids/relatives/friends who aren't gamers but who would be willing to take the next step up from Risk. I've had a lot of success playing this with my kids. My daughter especially is a big fan of this game and asks to get it out quite frequently. I've asked her what the draw is for her. She emphasizes the simple, streamlined play, the fun of flipping the exploration tiles, and how the game encourages you to get out there and fight (no turtling). So don't be scared away by the ugly tiles and give this gem a shot.
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Riva
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    I'll throw in on your last paragraph in particular -- kids really love this game, and it's in their reach. It's the one game on my shelf that my boys pull down on their own and play, and it comes out often. When I bring it to their gaming club it's on the table the entire day.

    Great game. Loads of fun.

             S.


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Alex Brown
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Recently I tried to get into Cry Havoc as a more complex Nexus Ops and was left disappointed.

Nexus Ops has some features that feel underwhelming - the symmetry, the randomness of the objectives, an even the cursory exploration at the start.

However, its simplicity in getting you to fight rather than hide, to customise your army and the tension as players approach the VP target is still the standard in this genre for me.
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Aaron White
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Bennett from Brawl
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I enjoy Nexus Ops because sometimes it is not about winning battles but not losing them. Many times I pour guys into a battle to stop it from ending, or sneak a single guy in to win an easy VP battle. Nexus Ops is a mainstay in my collection.
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mar hawkman
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Also it's easy to make pnp expansions. Like faction powers. I found those to be a lot of fun. I also tried a variety of map changes, a double map variant, and a variant where each tile only touched 3 other tiles.
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