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Subject: Vampires and Werewolves. Yeah that hasn't been done before... rss

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Larry Carter
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I've only played Nightfall once. I normally wouldn't even consider doing a review for a game until I had played it many times. But while I'm sure I'll end up playing Nightfall again (others in my group like it) I know it won't change my outlook about it.


1. Theme -
If there is one single thing that I can point to that best covers the reason why I don't like this game, theme is it. As I have mentioned in my other reviews, theme is very important to me. Even in cases where the theme is really just a tacked on framework for a Euro math problem it's important because it gives my imagination the seed to work with during game play. I much prefer games with lots of theme (Arkham Horror for example).

This game has a pretty heavy theme and AEG has done a good job of trying to put the cards into that theme. The art is really good. The names and flavor text are only so-so but they get the job done.

But I'm giving the game no stars for theme for one very simple reason. I hate the theme they selected. Vampires? Werewolves? Really? Hoping to tap into the Twilight fad are we AEG?

I hate vampires. Hate them. They are a horrible horror genre. Werewolves are ok but they too have been done to death.

This alone will keep me from ever being interested in playing this game let alone buying it.


2. Components -
The cards seemed to be of good quality (keep in mind that the game I played was using my FLGS' promo copy). The box however was the best part. Very well constructed and best of all small. I'll confess to having something of a box fetish and while I've never had a problem with large game boxes there are times when a box is way larger than it needs to be for no good reason. In this case the box is big enough for the base game with some apparent room for future expansions while still being compact.


3. Rules -
I'm probably being a bit unfair here since I didn't actually read the rules myself. Also given that this was our first game we all knew we were going to get stuff wrong. However several mechanics got messed up multiple times with numerous reads for them and that gave me the impression that the rules were not written well enough to get the point across after the first couple of reads.

To be truly fair though there wasn't anything that really stood out to me as bad about the rules other than the confusion I've mentioned and that could easily be chalked up to the players themselves.


4. Gameplay -
Nightfall has a couple of interesting mechanics and a few that I didn't like.

Setup
Like Dominion, Nightfall has a "village" of cards that you can buy from. But rather than a simple randomizer deck to determine what cards are available the village is partially drafted. Also each player gets to draft two cards whose stacks only they can buy from (with some exceptions). I found this mechanic to be very cool and I think would make a great variant idea for Dominion.

Chaining
Unlike other games of this type, cards come into play via a play chain started by the currently active player. You can play as many cards as you like onto the chain so long as you are meeting the chaining requirements (handled by colored moons on the upper left hand corner of the card). Once everyone has had an opportunity to play onto the chain the cards are then resolved in reverse order.

This mechanic is both interesting and annoying. At first I felt that it had been put into the game simply to set it apart rather than as a good idea. After some play though I can see how it can create some very interesting combos and chaining effects and it certainly is a novel method of getting cards into play. It also helps to keep players involved in the game even when they are not the active player.

But I disliked that the chaining was done using color matching. I personally am only partially color blind and really only have a problem with colors which are too similar. While I had no problem discerning the colors on the cards one of our other regulars
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is green-red color blind and had a hell of a time with any cards using either of those. It also meant that you could end up without the chance to play a card onto the chain simply because you lack the color needed to add to the chain. Added to this the player starter decks have only a single color for chaining (all other cards have two) and in some cases you wouldn't want to play any of the cards onto a chain other than your own anyway. This made the game seem very very slow to get moving. To be fair however this was our first game and we were all feeling our way along so this could easily be just a failure of analysis on our parts.

Combat
One of the things that I think is a shortcoming for other deck building games is the lack of direct player interaction as a core mechanic. Nightfall flat out requires you to attack your fellow players if you have creatures in play. But then at the end of your turn all your creatures (again with a few exceptions) get discarded which I found annoying. Creatures are already able to take damage from attacks so the only reason I could think of to force us to discard them was to keep the cards cycling in your deck.

Victory Condition
The winner is the person who took the least wounds from combat during the course of the game. Wounds are tracked using special wound cards that form their own deck and this deck is the game timer. Once all the wound cards are gone the game is over.

What's cool about the wound cards is, while they go into your deck, they aren't a play detriment like Dominions VP cards. Not only can you discard wound cards from your hand to draw additional cards (only at the end of your turn) but you can also trash them from your deck with card effects adding another interesting dynamic.


Conclusion
Nightfall as a deck building game is not bad. It brings some interesting new mechanics to the genre. The card chain and the forced combat mean you will be interacting with your opponents which is something this game type needed.

For me though I just can't get past the theme. I know many others will love it and I would say that if you do like the theme and you like deck building games Nightfall is probably going to be great for you.

Edit: I accidentally left my conclusion off when submitting the first time.
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Anthony
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Totally disagree with you. I LOVE the theme. It's infinitely better than another boring, dry as the desert Euro theme of moving cargo around or moving your workers around or ....::: insert randomly inane and boring Euro them here ::::

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Mike Mead
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It looks like the Conclusion of your review was cut off.

I like your review, but I just have to point out something with regards to the theme you hate. I think AEG knows their core audience for this game is not someone who loves the Twilight movies. When you think about the current themes for deck building games, Dominion has the medieval theme covered, and Thunderstone has the fantasy/high fantasy theme covered. The fact that this is a competitive deck building games leads me to believe that vampires and werewolves is a pretty decent choice.

Thus, the chosen theme is clearly not something you like, but I don't think it was a bad choice. FYI, if you have never played Fury of Dracula because of the vampire theme, I highly recommend you give it a go.
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Jason Cookingham
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machosancho wrote:
wherewolves


No where you want to be!
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Mike Mead
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cookinjr wrote:
machosancho wrote:
wherewolves


No where you want to be!


I have no idea what you are talking about. Pay no attention to the "number of edits" on my post.
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Max Maloney
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I too am interested where the conclusion went. You seem to like everything other than the theme fairly well. Will you conclude hating it as much as your preamble implies or forgiving the theme to find a good game underneath?
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Kostas K.
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KD7SVH wrote:
Really? Hoping to tap into the Twilight fad are we AEG?


Yeah, I bet teenage girls just can't get enough of Zacharias Sands and all the other emo vampires that populate the Nightfall universe... And what's with everyone going "Twilight" every time he comes across a Vampire/Werewolf universe? Weren't the Underworld movies awesome enough to leave a stronger impression?
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Bobby Warren
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machosancho wrote:
wherewolves

There, wolves!
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Larry Carter
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wytefang wrote:
Totally disagree with you. I LOVE the theme. It's infinitely better than another boring, dry as the desert Euro theme of moving cargo around or moving your workers around or ....::: insert randomly inane and boring Euro them here ::::



Alas my conclusion was not included by mistake. I know a lot of people (like you) are going to love the theme and I wanted to make it crystal clear that as a game Nightfall isn't bad (I don't like the color coded chaining aspect) and that if you like the theme you are probably going to enjoy the game.
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Larry Carter
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machosancho wrote:
It looks like the Conclusion of your review was cut off.

I like your review, but I just have to point out something with regards to the theme you hate. I think AEG knows their core audience for this game is not someone who loves the Twilight movies. When you think about the current themes for deck building games, Dominion has the medieval theme covered, and Thunderstone has the fantasy/high fantasy theme covered. The fact that this is a competitive deck building games leads me to believe that vampires and werewolves is a pretty decent choice.

Thus, the chosen theme is clearly not something you like, but I don't think it was a bad choice. FYI, if you have never played Fury of Dracula because of the vampire theme, I highly recommend you give it a go.


Yes it was, I got fixed now thankfully!

I knew my attempt at humor was going to miss a few people. My implication that they used the theme to tie into Twilight was meant as a joke and just to further emphasis my absolute hatred for the entire vampire concept (and their popularity)

I don't want to go into my long anti-vampire (and anti-pirate and anti-mafia) rant here. Suffice to say that they are romanticized in almost all popular media and I find that disturbing.
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Larry Carter
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kostool13 wrote:
KD7SVH wrote:
Really? Hoping to tap into the Twilight fad are we AEG?


Yeah, I bet teenage girls just can't get enough of Zacharias Sands and all the other emo vampires that populate the Nightfall universe... And what's with everyone going "Twilight" every time he comes across a Vampire/Werewolf universe? Weren't the Underworld movies awesome enough to leave a deeper impression?


OK, I will fully admit to really liking the Underworld series. BUT... The vampires in those movies were portrayed in roughly the same way they always are. As good looking, rich, aristocratic super class that are somehow cool. Nothing is cool about vampires! angry
 
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Bobby Warren
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KD7SVH wrote:
Nothing is cool about vampires! angry

Watching them burst into flames when the sun hits them is kinda cool.
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Jesse Hickle
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Bobby4th wrote:
machosancho wrote:
wherewolves

There, wolves!


There castle!
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Richard Diosi
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A comment about the OP's rating theme a 'no star' and hating the theme.

I'm not sure such a severe rating goes well within a review. I understand the OP does not personally like the theme but a review is better served if it comments on how well the theme was implemented not just a personal bias for or against it.

For sure one might want to mention that they hate vampires as a theme but that it was handled well/not well by the game's designer. I would suggest that most review readers want to know if the game pasted on the theme or did it languish in it. Seeing the 'no star' rating (please remember not everyone reads all the review no matter how much care attention was put into it) can give birth to a false perception.

Good review otherwise. Might give this a try if it shows up in my gaming group so that I can judge for myself.
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Fede Miguez
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This review made me think that there ARE people who has never heard about WhiteWolf's RPG games...
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Ryan Kinney
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KD7SVH wrote:


The vampires in those movies were portrayed in roughly the same way they always are. As good looking, rich, aristocratic super class that are somehow cool. Nothing is cool about vampires! angry


30 Days of Night, Darkness, Near Dark, Nosferatu, Subspecies and a dozen or so other movies disagree with you. Just saying.
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kostool13 wrote:
Yeah, I bet teenage girls just can't get enough of Zacharias Sands and all the other emo vampires that populate the Nightfall universe... And what's with everyone going "Twilight" every time he comes across a Vampire/Werewolf universe?


Yeah, the "Oh, they want the Twilight audience" argument I've seen doesn't make a lot of sense. I understand the Reviewer was trying to make a joke though.

kostool13 wrote:
Weren't the Underworld movies awesome enough to leave a deeper impression?


The only impression the first one left was not to watch the others.
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Larry Carter
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DocStryder wrote:
A comment about the OP's rating theme a 'no star' and hating the theme.

I'm not sure such a severe rating goes well within a review. I understand the OP does not personally like the theme but a review is better served if it comments on how well the theme was implemented not just a personal bias for or against it.

For sure one might want to mention that they hate vampires as a theme but that it was handled well/not well by the game's designer. I would suggest that most review readers want to know if the game pasted on the theme or did it languish in it. Seeing the 'no star' rating (please remember not everyone reads all the review no matter how much care attention was put into it) can give birth to a false perception.

Good review otherwise. Might give this a try if it shows up in my gaming group so that I can judge for myself.


I tried to make it very clear in the text body that in fact I felt that AEG had done a good job of presenting the theme. I also tried to be very clear that the theme is what I primarily disliked about the game.

If this game had a different theme I would be a lot more interested in it. It isn't perfect but it is compelling enough as a game that I would be interested in playing it.

To be honest I will be dropping the star rating off of future reviews. In fact I'm even contemplating pulling them off this review. The more I think about them the less value I think they add to the review.

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KD7SVH wrote:

OK, I will fully admit to really liking the Underworld series. BUT... The vampires in those movies were portrayed in roughly the same way they always are. As good looking, rich, aristocratic super class that are somehow cool. Nothing is cool about vampires! angry


In all fairness, a lot of the vampire lore is based around an aristocrat who used his vast wealth to torture and maim people for his own amusement. Most vampires are based upon the idea of established wealth preying on the common villagers. The only difference between now and then is that once upon a time, the financial elite were largely identified as the industrial barons or largely inbred lords. These days, we associate wealth more with socialites and heavy plastic surgery. The wealthy super class is pretty synonymous with vampires, it's our own definition of that class that has mostly changed.
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Actually, just to show how the lore of vampires has changed over the centuries, vampires were originally stand ins for the mysteries of disease and death. In original folklore, vampires weren't intelligent creatures. They were more like ghosts who fed on the lifeforce of others, often friends and family members.

The notion of vampires being intelligent, plotting creatures came much later. The romanticizing of them also came much later. Almost all of modern vampire "folklore" was crafted by writers like Bram Stoker to create an interesting story. Very little of modern vampire "folklore" has anything at all to do with the original concept.

The same could be said for werewolves. Almost everything we take for granted in the myth of the werewolf was invented by film studios.

The point is not to be nitpicky, but to say that these monsters represent abstract concepts and ideas. They change as time marches on because our needs change. We no longer fear disease or death in the same abstract way we once did, so we no longer have need of vampires to explore that idea. Instead, we translate other ideas and thoughts into the archetype. It's what keeps them relevant.

Of course, this doesn't explain why the popularity of one portayal such as Twilight has apparently branded vampires and werewolves as glittery teen bubblegum. It's not as if these monsters haven't been popular for a very long time. But this has less to do with vamps / werewolves and more to do with our human nature to consider the most prominent thing that comes to mind as the most influential and founding element. We don't handle ambiguity well. And our knowledge of history is passing at best.

Vamps and werewolves were popular well before Twilight. They'll be popular long after. And the form they'll take in a hundred years will probably be unrecognizeable to us now. That's how folklore works.

As an aside, I too have to disagree with the low score for game theme. The game isn't deceptive in what it's about, and while I can see not liking the theme, a good critic judges a game by what it's trying to do, not by what he wants it to do. It's like judging an action movie harshly for having too many explosions. Or a period piece for too many costumes. It's unfair and reflects the reviewer's biases rather than the artist's intent.
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KD7SVH wrote:
DocStryder wrote:
A comment about the OP's rating theme a 'no star' and hating the theme.

I'm not sure such a severe rating goes well within a review. I understand the OP does not personally like the theme but a review is better served if it comments on how well the theme was implemented not just a personal bias for or against it.

For sure one might want to mention that they hate vampires as a theme but that it was handled well/not well by the game's designer. I would suggest that most review readers want to know if the game pasted on the theme or did it languish in it. Seeing the 'no star' rating (please remember not everyone reads all the review no matter how much care attention was put into it) can give birth to a false perception.

Good review otherwise. Might give this a try if it shows up in my gaming group so that I can judge for myself.


I tried to make it very clear in the text body that in fact I felt that AEG had done a good job of presenting the theme. I also tried to be very clear that the theme is what I primarily disliked about the game.

If this game had a different theme I would be a lot more interested in it. It isn't perfect but it is compelling enough as a game that I would be interested in playing it.

To be honest I will be dropping the star rating off of future reviews. In fact I'm even contemplating pulling them off this review. The more I think about them the less value I think they add to the review.



So my wife took me to see the original Twilight movie. I knew nothing of the books and had no expectations. When Edward took off his shirt to show Bella how Vamps sparkle like a crazy disco ball in sunlight I nearly lost tossed my movie snacks.

Then I was talking with a friend about a COOL Vamp series, Blade, but we noticed something. In the first one, vamps were nasty bad asses and only Blade could take em down. In Blade 2 a nasty strain of "other" vampires could easily take dowm the regular vamps...well, that was still OK. In the third, two ordinary humans were able to team up with Blade and kill vamps like they were the originals wussy cousins.

I think the problem with the vamp and were theme is that they have been wussyfied to a level that some can;t stand.
The Wolfman was on the other night and my son wanted to watch it. He thinks werewolves are cool. I told him some about the story and the fact that the wolfman killed innocent people left and right, and he thought that sucked.
Why, because he saw the Werewovles in Twilight. Arghhh.

Anyway, it looks like while AEG is capitalizing on the popularity of the genre that this game is an aggresive conflict game of bad guys fighting bad guys. No wussy creatures here it appears. I hope they stick to that.

Oh, and Anne Rice started this crap so as much as I liked those books we have her to thank for the current state of our evil monsters.
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KD7SVH wrote:
[q="kostool13"][q="KD7SVH"]Nothing is cool about vampires! angry


A certain Irish bloke begs to differ:




No, seriously, I am not too sold on theme either. I mean, I don't have anything against horror theme (Fury of Dracula, for example, seems so spot on theme even though I didn't play it) but I just don't "feel" it that much. Will probably get the game though.
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wytefang wrote:
Totally disagree with you. I LOVE the theme. It's infinitely better than another boring, dry as the desert Euro theme of moving cargo around or moving your workers around or ....::: insert randomly inane and boring Euro them here ::::


Do we really need "yet another Vampire / Werewolf / Zombie" anything?

Sorry wytefang, but this is where I disagree with you. I can't stand that type of theme and I for one, will take the dry shipping / cargo / treasure hunt / desert theme ANY day over this kind of "junk".

Not everyone likes what you like. Please PLEASE remember that.

-Caz
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While I have no issue at all with most of your review (either the good or the bad), there is one part which has me very confused:

KD7SVH wrote:
But I'm giving the game no stars for theme for one very simple reason. I hate the theme they selected. Vampires? Werewolves? Really? Hoping to tap into the Twilight fad are we AEG?

What do vampires and werewolves have to do with Twilight? I will grant that there is a strong horror aspect to those movies, in much the same manner as there being a horror aspect to a live action Yogi Bear movie, but to my knowledge there are no vampires in any of those movies, nor are there werewolves. I do recall seeing some furries in clips of the second movie, but a decent costume isn't enough for me to grant the characters the descriptor of "werewolf".

For a fantastic (i.e. highly tongue in cheek) summary of Twilight, go here.
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KD7SVH wrote:
wytefang wrote:
Totally disagree with you. I LOVE the theme. It's infinitely better than another boring, dry as the desert Euro theme of moving cargo around or moving your workers around or ....::: insert randomly inane and boring Euro them here ::::



Alas my conclusion was not included by mistake. I know a lot of people (like you) are going to love the theme and I wanted to make it crystal clear that as a game Nightfall isn't bad (I don't like the color coded chaining aspect) and that if you like the theme you are probably going to enjoy the game.


No worries - it seemed like a great review, in general. I just didn't agree with your opinion of the theme, that's all.
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