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Subject: The Pub Players Drink Ruby Ale while Fighting for Rubium rss

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Eli Smith
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Hello and welcome to another Pub Player's review. Today I'm looking at Nexus Ops published by Avalon Hill/Wizards of the Coast/Hasbro (I think that covers all the logos on the box).

Overview:
Nexus ops is a light and fast (playing in just over an hour or so) strategy game where players take on the role of mercenary companies fighting over the resources (called Rubium) of a distant, alien planet. TO acheve these objectives you must use the powers of the indigenous life forms and your numerous human troops to achieve a myriad of objectives in order to obtain Victory Points. The first player to amass twelve victory points is the winner.

The board is made up of Hex shapes spaces that are arranged randomly, each hex has a different type of terrain. The center of the board is the Monolith space, a cardboard tower. The players home bases are then laid out against the board in a configuration unique to the number of participating players. A random, face-down exploration tile is then placed

Players begin with a supply of Rubium (8-17 depending on thier position in the play order) and a home base area. A player's turn is made up of the following steps.

1.) Purchase units (Deploy); Each unit in the game has a different level of power and gains certain advantages on "matching" terrain, in addition three of your units are also "workers" who can harvest resources from the mines on the board, a variety of units will be needed to achieve victory. Units cost from 2 (for a lowly human troop) to 12 (for the fearsome Rubium Dragon unit) each, and come into play on your base (the three spaces which mines color-coded to match your pieces color).

2.) Move; You may move all your units on the board one space (or more depending on the unit and terrain combinations, for example, Rock striders can move two spaces if moving through or to a rock space).

3.) Explore; If you have units in a space with a face-down explore tile that tile is revealed. These tiles will tell you whether the space contains a mine, or a unit that can be added to your forces, units uncovered come into play in the space they were revealed.

4.) Fight; Any space which contains your units and an opponents units will have a round of battle, this is achieved by rolling dice (one for each unit) according to the order of battle. The most powerful units fight first working your way down to the least powerful. Units on both sides fight simultaneously and casualties are removed before the next unit in the order of battle rolls their dice. Only one round is fought per player turn (unless a special Energize card is played to force another round). The attacker can then play any secret mission cards whose conditions have been met. If the defender lost all his units on the space then they get to draw an energize card which can give them an advantage in a future battle. Only the player whose turn it is can play mission cards, and you only gain an energize card if you lose a battle when it is not your turn. If you win a battle and have no appropriate red secret mission cards you may take one of the blue "Win a battle" 1 victory point cards.

5.) Income; Gain rubium for each mine you control in an amount equal to the number on the mine. The mine space must be uncontested (only your units on the space) and must contain a Human, Fungoid or Crystalline unit.

6.) Draw Cards; You must draw one secret mission card, and if you have control of the monolith you draw two energize cards.

Components: 6/10
The brightly colored plastic units in Nexus Ops are perfect for pub play, they're bright, easy to spot, and if your pub just happens to have a blacklight you're in for a really attractive looking game experience. The game board, cards and player reference sheets are all made of fairly thin cardboard and could easily find themselves ruined should a pint of Guinness make it's way out of the glass. The cards can sometimes be a bit hard to read in low light, and the black dice included with my copy could be hard to spot in dim lighting should one roll into a corner.

Rules & Gameplay: 8/10
The rules are fairly simple and straight forward but there are some things that can be forgotten about.. even though they're right there on the reference sheet.. namely unit's special powers when on certain terrain.

Sobriety Edge: 6/10
There's some strategy and it's easy to forget that "Oh yeah I've got a secret mission card to kill a Fungoid", and alcohol just exacerbates that problem. It's also easy to forget that you can only play a mission card on your own turn but once that sinks in it's not too bad. The secret mission cards do act as a handy reminder of what you're trying to accomplish.

Wotcha' Doin'?: 9/10
Let me just say that Nexus Ops Looks Cool, if you’ve got a nearby blacklight this is only enhanced. The Science Fiction Theme and handfuls of dice can easily be interpreted as "nerd-ville", but overall the reception was positive, a lot of non-gamers try to draw the risk comparison, although it's hard to hold that one up under even a modicum of observation.

Sociability: 7/10
Nexus Ops supports up to four players, but also plays well with just two. It takes up a bit of room on the table, but it's not all that bad for a strategy game. War type games encourage a lot of smack-talk and friendly banter.

Summation:
I have to say I like Nexus Ops a lot, it's light enough to handle the consumption of beer and still be enjoyable while having enough strategy that your designated driver isn't left thinking, "why is this fun?". I like the focus on the Secret Mission cards for scoring points, one can be down on units and income and still pull off a victory by using what's left to really hone in on the secret missions. The energize cards granted to those losing battles works well as a small "catch-up" mechanism and keep people in the game. At the going rates you can find this game for right now you don't have to worry too much about a copy being ruined by an errant spill, I'm thinking of picking up an extra. Should this game become unavailable (or should the price go back up) I may hesitate hefting it down to the pub.

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Robert Martin
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Good review, but a 6 for components? Come on!
 
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Eli Smith
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Sorry but the board and cards are going to take a beating on sticky tables and a spilled beer is going to pretty much ruin your purchase.

Remember these are Pub playing contextual reviews. The only games that have had perfect component scores so far are Zertz and the Bakelite version of Hive.
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Robert Martin
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Sounds like somebody needs to get a laminator! I enjoy the review series, by the way.
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Eli Smith
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Yeah, I've got a colelction of card sleeves, no laminator, but I try to review the game "out of the box". Not really a review if I've munged up all the components.

These reviews are coming slower now that I'm a father, I've also got a game in heavy development right now, so I spend most of my game playing time testing that monstrosity.
 
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Denise Lavely
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Quote:
and the black dice included with my cop


OK, I can figure 'cop' was supposed to be 'copy', but what about the black dice? Bad for pub play, or do they have white pips that look great under pub light, or what? How can I sleep at night if I don't find out?

(Enjoying the review series, BTW, good fun! Thanks for your work!)
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Eli Smith
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Fixed! Thanks!
 
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Ken
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Portland
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May I pass along my congratulations for your great interdimensional breakthrough. I am sure, in the miserable annals of the Earth, you will be duly enshrined. -- Lord John Whorfin
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Which McMenamins are you playing your pub games at (if you're drinking Ruby, I assume you're at one of them)?

If you're ever going to be over by the Kennedy School - let me know. Microbrew and boardgames. Ahh.
 
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Eli Smith
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I usually end up at the Blue Moon or one of the "strip mall" locations out in the suburbs, occassionaly I get up to the one in St. John's (forget the name now).

I've also played at the Tugboat Brewery downtown.
 
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Philipp Kleinherne
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Great review series, thank you!

But as mentioned before a six out of ten for the components?
Come one! Think about all those beers you don not have to buy because the smell of the components lets you feel like you had at least two pints too much...
Keep an drin... ah reviewing!
 
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Eli Smith
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The smell quickly fades, so I can't count the contact high for repeated plays. I still stand by my component score. The general policy is that is a majority of vital components can be damaged significantly by a spill the very most I can give them is 7/10, 6/10 is because the cardboard is rather thin (especially for the player refrence cards), the units get full marks. The coolenss of the plastic units is reflected in "Whotcha Doin'"
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Dave Sokolowski
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I love to game at the Tugboat! It's my favorite gaming pub in Ptown!
 
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Mark Crane
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Couldn't one just leave the box open for a couple of days near an open window and dissipate the plastic vapors, as opposed to complaining about it obsessively? Curse the darkness, light a candle, etc.
 
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Robert Martin
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craniac wrote:
Couldn't one just leave the box open for a couple of days near an open window and dissipate the plastic vapors, as opposed to complaining about it obsessively?

Gamers love to complain obsessively. I got my copy the other day and was amazed - at how overblown these claims of fumes are.
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Mark Crane
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robartin wrote:
craniac wrote:
Couldn't one just leave the box open for a couple of days near an open window and dissipate the plastic vapors, as opposed to complaining about it obsessively?

Gamers love to complain obsessively. I got my copy the other day and was amazed - at how overblown these claims of fumes are.


In the interest of fairness I put all of the pieces in a plastic bag and then tied it around my head. After about 20 minutes they came to life and started singing about toilet cleaner. Then I passed out.
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"Every Board Game I Reach Is Dead"
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Thank you for your reviews! I'm waiting for the next one with interest. We joked about how it would be cool to wonder down to the locals stocked up with games but I didn't think anyone would do it for real (the spillage/dirt/sticky risk is enough to turn most serious gamers pale). Cheers! goo
 
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