Shaun Varsos
United States
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Fresh out of your camp grounds you managed to escape the zoombie horde. Obviously the zombie animal problem was dealt with and you had nothing to fear. Well nothing except a secret Alien Invasion lying hidden in the forest with a significant foothold, ray guns, and defense turrets. Maybe it was a little easier dealing with the zoombies?

Nightmare Forest: Alien Invasion is similar to it’s predecessor in a few ways but stands on it’s own as a very different game. This game plays 1 to 6 like it’s predecessor and plays equally well at every player count. The forest is set up according to player count and varies by difficulty tier from 1 to 4. On top of the game changing by player count you also get a timer token for how many turns you wish to play before the aliens inevitably conquer the world, *ahem*, I meant to say the amount of turns you have to push back/defeat the alien occupation force. The timer turns vary from nine for easy mode, eight for regular, and seven if you have the greatest dice karma and strategic mind the world has seen since Hannibal. Every hero played is randomly generated through abilities and and a gear card. Then all heroes will choose their entry point into this forest of terror by placing their character next to one of the forest cards. Then you’re ready to be exterminated!

Just like in Nightmare Forest: Dead Run your action economy is based off of your dice pool. Similarly, you get to level up your character as you ruthlessly dispatch the invaders, which will in turn get you more dice and as such you will have a much better chance of continuing your defense effort, and also finding better gear to aid your struggle. Dice can be used for combat or to better yourself through searching for better items. Maybe you find the chainsaw of your dreams to carve up aliens into goo or maybe you find one of the exceedingly rare plasma fusers to make a jury rigged contraption any alien would fear. This system works very well in this game in particular because of the nature of the impending doom counter, the constant reminder of your potential looming failure. It makes the balance between getting better gear and combat even more precious.

Those are all the gameplay basics. There’s a couple of extra things that help set this game even further apart than what’s been mentioned already. This is a fully cooperative game. Even if you secretly desire the sovereign rule of the alien overlords, you’ll need to work together in this particular event. In addition, as a reward for your cooperation, you can make joint attacks to overcome particularly nasty foes. You can also move diagonally giving you a little more strategic freedom than its predecessor. As a penalty for your efforts of good will and cooperation among human kind, you need to avoid any of your friends being vaporized before the turn token is placed on the skull in addition to wiping out ALL of the invaders, after all the aliens can use your particles to create a biological weapon that wipes out everyone else. If any forest cards are unexplored or if any aliens and traps remain the Alien Expeditionary Team calls in their space artillery and summon the rest of their alien brethren, finally securing their world domination.

This is an excellent game. I really enjoyed Dead Run as did all my friends that played it with me. Despite the fact that Dead Run was such a hit in our group I can safely say that this one exceeded all expectations. It excels as a coop game through coordinated actions and it’s simple enough to be an entry game but deep enough to be fun for an experienced group. On top of having neat mechanics that bring it around as a coop game I did not encounter the problem of alpha players or lone wolfing at all in our plays. There’s enough difficulty and decision making to keep the group engaged together, and the timer helps with aid the tension of the situation. The fact that it can and will be largely different every time you play creates tremendous replay-ability. If you’re at all interested in a game that offers engaging decision making, quick play time at around 30-45 minutes, an easy-to-learn-quick-to-grasp rule set, equally fun play at all player counts up to 6, and character development/customization to boot I would highly recommend that you back this game. It’s worth every penny and then some. If you’re averse to dicey games with a fair amount of luck than it’s probably not for you, but if you give it a chance it may surprise you. It absolutely has me hooked for whatever Solar Flare puts out next but I have no doubt we’ll be playing this one for a long time to come.

At the end of the day this offers the simplicity and defense style gameplay I’ve been looking for but have been unable to find previously. It is one of the ideal games to bring in new gamers with a mixed experience group. It will consistently occupy a spot on my shelf. Try it and you’ll see why.

Good luck defending the planet.
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