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Nexus Ops» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Nexus Ops – or “How I learned to love being the bad guy” rss

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J M
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Why am I reviewing a five year old game? Well, two reasons really. One, this game still gets good buzz on boardgamegeek.com (current rank 161) and two; it sells for around $70 on Amazon. So, considering its scarcity and high price, it would be good to know what you’re getting into before dropping that kind of cash, right? Well, if you’re a fan of sci-fi, direct confrontation, and games with a lot of theme-iness, this might be worth your while.

The game takes place on a far flung moon rich with a natural resource called rubium. When the evil galactic mega-corporations find out, they each send their own mercenary force to for control of the moon. As a player, you represent one of four corporations vying for control of the planet. That’s right, in Nexus Ops you get to be the bad guys from Avatar.

In addition to your generic human units, each group has conscripted the help of native creatures to gain an upper hand. Unlike real life, where the winning condition would be wiping out the competition and indigenous population while monopolizing natural resources, you win in Nexus Ops by being the first to collect a set number of victory points. Generally, victory points and theme go together like a big glass of orange juice right after brushing your teeth, but here it is a necessary and welcomed evil to manage game length (but we’ll get into that a little bit later).

COMPONENTS
The game board is modular, with hexes placed randomly around a central monolith. The hexes are a mixture of terrain types, each having a different effect on your units. Each unique unit performs better in their natural habitat, and some units cannot enter certain terrain types. These terrain bonuses/penalties will certainly affect your strategy as you move units around the board. Each player starts with a three-hex board piece which is their home base and serves two major functions: On, you have to deploy new units here and this is where you generate your base income.

The units are small plastic models that range from puny humans (read: cannon fodder) to the most powerful unit in the game, the Rubium Dragon (read: the cannon). They are made of a black-light reactive plastic, and while I like the idea of glowing pieces, in practice they are just not practical. We tried playing a game by black light, and the result was less than fantastic. I would recommend forgoing the black light, and repainting the minis.

While the quality of the sculpts is more than adequate (especially considering the original price point), I wish I could put the entire game on a copy machine and hit the "enlarge by 25%" button. Just from a logistics standpoint, when two decently sized armies are fighting it out in a single hex, it’s more crowded than a Tokyo subway and becomes far too easy to lose track of a small unit. And while the theme does a good job of creating the feeling of a raging battle of epic scale, the component and board size don’t convey the same.

GAMEPLAY
I think the simple and streamlined rules, but not at the sake of strategic decisions, is where Nexus Ops really shines.

In the initial rounds, this is a game of exploration. Each of the eighteen hex tiles are seeded with chits that indicate what is gained by the first player to reach that hex. They give you either more powerful units (for free), mines (which generate income), or a combination of both. This does a really good job of encouraging the player to fight the "baby bird" syndrome that is common in games like these. Instead of amassing troops in just a few safe hexes, you have to leave the nest and push out your relatively unprotected units to take advantage of these early game bonuses. I think this is a wonderful mechanic to encourage confrontation early and often.

The mines are how you generate income as the player. Each player starts with 3 mines that generate 7 rubium per turn (rubium = money) and as you explore, you turn over the bonus chits which awards you new mines as you go. These will add to the income you generate every turn.

The battle phase takes place after the movement phase. Battle only takes place if you move your units into a hex that is already occupied by your opponent. Battle resolution is simple but retains a nice strategic flavor. Each of the 5 units attacks in order from strongest to weakest. Roll the dice for each unit type in order and if you hit (taking into account the terrain bonuses and special abilities), the opponent chooses which of his units get removed from play.

During the battle phase of the game (or at the end of your turn), you can gain Energize cards which you use to improve your strategy. These cards give you special abilities that improve dice rolls, effect troop movements, gain extra income, and other advantages that can quickly change the outcome of a battle. Energize cards are gained either by controlling the monolith in the middle of the board (controlling = having one of your more powerful units on top of it uncontested), or by being on the losing end of a battle that you didn’t initiate. These cards accomplish two things: 1.It helps balance losing battles. If all the other players decide to gang up against one, the energize cards he earns in lost battles can make him extremely powerful in later rounds (if he survives), and 2. It makes the monolith a legitimate focus for your troops because the payoff for controlling it is so good.

After the battle phase has ended, and if he has won the battle, the attacking player can play the Secret Mission card that he has satisfied. Victory points come from the Secret Mission cards which you draw at the end of each turn. They list certain tasks to accomplish during play. When completed, the player gains the victory point value of the mission card (they range from 1 to 3). In a standard game, 12 victory points wins the game. This does a good job of avoiding the war of attrition that drags out in other games (cough- RISK!... cough, cough).

While Nexus Ops isn’t particularly deep, it accomplishes what it sets out to do. The strategy is light but engaging, theme is well represented, and the components sufficient. If you can find this game at a reasonable price, and you don’t mind being the big bag corporation destroying the Na’vi’s way of life enslaving the native population and robbing them of natural resources, don’t hesitate to pick it up.



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Joseph Gesumaria
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I picked this game up about 6 months ago for 15$ when a local shop was clearing out older games. MAN was I lucky. Great little game Great little review!
 
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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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Viewed in isolation, this is a good review. Personally, however, I can't see the point of focussing on the components and procedure when there were already more than 4 dozen reviews covering the same ground. If you'd taken this approach for another game with a relatively empty reviews folder, it would have been far more useful. When somebody writes review #50 for a game, I look for a new perspective.
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J M
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Sphere wrote:
Viewed in isolation, this is a good review. Personally, however, I can't see the point of focussing on the components and procedure when there were already more than 4 dozen reviews covering the same ground. If you'd taken this approach for another game with a relatively empty reviews folder, it would have been far more useful. When somebody writes review #50 for a game, I look for a new perspective.


I appreciate the input, and it is a completely valid point. Since this is only my second review, I approached it from the standpoint of writing for someone unfamiliar with the game (not knowing how knowledgeable my audience might be), but I will keep that thought in mind for future reviews. Thanks for taking the time to critique!
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Great review! Very well written, and the humor was a big plus.
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mar hawkman
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I liked your comparison to Avatar. Of course, your dislike of the VP system kinda bothers me. It's a small-scale conflict where either side can get resources easily. Fighting to the death would be boring. I find the VP system to be a good way to avoid getting bogged down with near endless fighting.
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J M
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marhawkman wrote:
I liked your comparison to Avatar. Of course, your dislike of the VP system kinda bothers me. It's a small-scale conflict where either side can get resources easily. Fighting to the death would be boring. I find the VP system to be a good way to avoid getting bogged down with near endless fighting.


I absolutely agree that fighting to the death would be boring and I do think that the Victory Points serve an important purpose in the game. The point that I was trying to get across was that normally, I would not like a fixed number of victory points to decide the outcome of such a "themey" game, but in this I think they are used well. Hope that clarifies. Thanks for the input!
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Sphere wrote:
Viewed in isolation, this is a good review. Personally, however, I can't see the point of focussing on the components and procedure when there were already more than 4 dozen reviews covering the same ground. If you'd taken this approach for another game with a relatively empty reviews folder, it would have been far more useful. When somebody writes review #50 for a game, I look for a new perspective.


I kind of agree, and then again, I don't.

Would Roger Ebert give two bowel movements whether or not Gene Shalit had already reviewed Saving Ryan's Privates before deciding to give it his "thumbs up"? Probably not, and nor should he. Each person that writes a review here should be given the opportunity to say what he thought of the game from his/her own point of view. Ultimately, it's up to us as users to decide how much merit the review has and whether or not that reviewers opinion is worth listening to/reading again. While this review doesn't exactly pave any new paths, the sheer volume of people that have sung the exact same praises tells me that out of those that choose to review the game, the majority liked it for all the same reasons and that if I like other games for similar reasons, my affinity for those types of games make it highly likely that I would like Nexus Ops.

By the time a game has been reviewed 10+ times, it gets kind of difficult to say or do something different. We shouldn't be so judgemental though. Discouraging reviews such as this stifles any desire to contribute further and if users quit posting after having a contribution chided or critiqued as you're doing, we might very well lose some of the best contributions this site has ever seen.

I can't speak for everyone, of course. I personally find myself falling victim to my own emotions and typing out critical replies as I'm doing now, so I AM aware there's a certain amount of hypocrisy to my current actions, but I find it more productive to focus on what I liked from a contribution rather than pick the review apart or publicly dismissing it as superfluous and devoid of anything of usefulness or merit.

For instance, I find it interesting that he views the blacklight reactive figures better off painted over. I felt differently after replacing the rubium counters with red acrylic gems and touches of blacklight reactive paint on the hexes as well as 3 overhead blacklights vs. just one. The increase in light sources as well as the increased amount of reactive materials used in the game provided enough illumination alone to see things almost as easily as with incandescent or florescent lighting. He clearly has a different opinion based on his own personal bias and standards. Now, you most certainly didn't need some idiot like me to understand we're all different, but it's those very differences in opinion that make his review worthy. Just because you feel it was lacking, doesn't mean that it's not "just what I was looking for" to someone else.

Just so you know, this wasn't all typed just for you. I intentionally didn't quote you because I was kinda hoping that others would read and let it sink in a bit too. Whether a contribution is from a new user or not, if you don't like it or find it lacking, you catch flies more easily with honey than vinegar. Let's not stifle the contributions and creativity of others by forgetting to include the constructive part of constructive criticism.

Then again, I've been called a pompous ass by more than one person from time to time so feel free to take this entire post with a grain of salt. I'd rather see people summarily dismiss this than get their feathers all ruffled.
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hskrfn822 wrote:
Let's not stifle the contributions and creativity of others by forgetting to include the constructive part of constructive criticism.

I'm not trying to stifle creativity - on the contrary, I'm trying to encourage it:

Sphere wrote:
When somebody writes review #50 for a game, I look for a new perspective.

I explained my position in more detail in this thread. The responses make it clear that not everyone agrees with me.
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Sphere wrote:
hskrfn822 wrote:
Let's not stifle the contributions and creativity of others by forgetting to include the constructive part of constructive criticism.

I'm not trying to stifle creativity - on the contrary, I'm trying to encourage it:

Sphere wrote:
When somebody writes review #50 for a game, I look for a new perspective.

I explained my position in more detail in this thread. The responses make it clear that not everyone agrees with me.


That's perfectly fine. For the record, I wasn't trying to imply anyone's opinion, including yours, was crap. I get what you're saying. You want less reviews, less redundancy and more quality. It's a signal to noise ratio issue. I'll take a peek at that thread just to make sure I don't misinterpret your point of view in the future any more than I may have in the past. If I'm going to reply to your posts from time to time in review threads like this, it's important I exoercise* due diligence.

*Grammatical edit: While Sphere can be quite passionate about what he believes in, I don't believe he's possessed, therefore no exorcism is necessary, nor am I Holy enough to perform one. Holier-than-thou perhaps, but definitely not Holy...
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Jason Weed
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Immelmann wrote:
I picked this game up about 6 months ago for 15$ when a local shop was clearing out older games. MAN was I lucky. Great little game Great little review!


Got mine for the same price on clearance at Toys R Us, glad I bit
 
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hskrfn822 wrote:
Sphere wrote:
Viewed in isolation, this is a good review. Personally, however, I can't see the point of focussing on the components and procedure when there were already more than 4 dozen reviews covering the same ground. If you'd taken this approach for another game with a relatively empty reviews folder, it would have been far more useful. When somebody writes review #50 for a game, I look for a new perspective.


I kind of agree, and then again, I don't.

Would Roger Ebert give two bowel movements whether or not Gene Shalit had already reviewed Saving Ryan's Privates before deciding to give it his "thumbs up"? Probably not, and nor should he. Each person that writes a review here should be given the opportunity to say what he thought of the game from his/her own point of view. Ultimately, it's up to us as users to decide how much merit the review has and whether or not that reviewers opinion is worth listening to/reading again. While this review doesn't exactly pave any new paths, the sheer volume of people that have sung the exact same praises tells me that out of those that choose to review the game, the majority liked it for all the same reasons and that if I like other games for similar reasons, my affinity for those types of games make it highly likely that I would like Nexus Ops.

By the time a game has been reviewed 10+ times, it gets kind of difficult to say or do something different. We shouldn't be so judgemental though. Discouraging reviews such as this stifles any desire to contribute further and if users quit posting after having a contribution chided or critiqued as you're doing, we might very well lose some of the best contributions this site has ever seen.

I can't speak for everyone, of course. I personally find myself falling victim to my own emotions and typing out critical replies as I'm doing now, so I AM aware there's a certain amount of hypocrisy to my current actions, but I find it more productive to focus on what I liked from a contribution rather than pick the review apart or publicly dismissing it as superfluous and devoid of anything of usefulness or merit.

For instance, I find it interesting that he views the blacklight reactive figures better off painted over. I felt differently after replacing the rubium counters with red acrylic gems and touches of blacklight reactive paint on the hexes as well as 3 overhead blacklights vs. just one. The increase in light sources as well as the increased amount of reactive materials used in the game provided enough illumination alone to see things almost as easily as with incandescent or florescent lighting. He clearly has a different opinion based on his own personal bias and standards. Now, you most certainly didn't need some idiot like me to understand we're all different, but it's those very differences in opinion that make his review worthy. Just because you feel it was lacking, doesn't mean that it's not "just what I was looking for" to someone else.

Just so you know, this wasn't all typed just for you. I intentionally didn't quote you because I was kinda hoping that others would read and let it sink in a bit too. Whether a contribution is from a new user or not, if you don't like it or find it lacking, you catch flies more easily with honey than vinegar. Let's not stifle the contributions and creativity of others by forgetting to include the constructive part of constructive criticism.

Then again, I've been called a pompous ass by more than one person from time to time so feel free to take this entire post with a grain of salt. I'd rather see people summarily dismiss this than get their feathers all ruffled.


There's also this viewpoint to consider:

I never heard of Nexus Ops till yesterday. I hit the main Nexus Ops page, scrolled down to the forums section, highlighted 'reviews' and clicked on a random review.

As a total noob to the game, what I want is a review that tells me what the bits are like, how the game is played, and gives an opinion on it. The times I've clicked on a thread called 'Game X: a review' or 'why Game Z is great' from a position of knowing nothing and /facepalmed at seeimg 'loads of other reviews have covered the mechanics, so i won't here' - sometimes I've had to scroll to page 2 to find sth that I'd actually call a review. Ebert to my mind has never said 'go somewhere else to learn what the films about and who's in it - thumb's up from me!'.

Too many players seem to think that a 'new' review is only for people who already know how to play a game etc.

So this review was exactly what I as a new player was looking for.

Eco





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Thanks Eco
Ecosmith wrote:
hskrfn822 wrote:
Sphere wrote:
Viewed in isolation, this is a good review. Personally, however, I can't see the point of focussing on the components and procedure when there were already more than 4 dozen reviews covering the same ground. If you'd taken this approach for another game with a relatively empty reviews folder, it would have been far more useful. When somebody writes review #50 for a game, I look for a new perspective.


I kind of agree, and then again, I don't.

Would Roger Ebert give two bowel movements whether or not Gene Shalit had already reviewed Saving Ryan's Privates before deciding to give it his "thumbs up"? Probably not, and nor should he. Each person that writes a review here should be given the opportunity to say what he thought of the game from his/her own point of view. Ultimately, it's up to us as users to decide how much merit the review has and whether or not that reviewers opinion is worth listening to/reading again. While this review doesn't exactly pave any new paths, the sheer volume of people that have sung the exact same praises tells me that out of those that choose to review the game, the majority liked it for all the same reasons and that if I like other games for similar reasons, my affinity for those types of games make it highly likely that I would like Nexus Ops.

By the time a game has been reviewed 10+ times, it gets kind of difficult to say or do something different. We shouldn't be so judgemental though. Discouraging reviews such as this stifles any desire to contribute further and if users quit posting after having a contribution chided or critiqued as you're doing, we might very well lose some of the best contributions this site has ever seen.

I can't speak for everyone, of course. I personally find myself falling victim to my own emotions and typing out critical replies as I'm doing now, so I AM aware there's a certain amount of hypocrisy to my current actions, but I find it more productive to focus on what I liked from a contribution rather than pick the review apart or publicly dismissing it as superfluous and devoid of anything of usefulness or merit.

For instance, I find it interesting that he views the blacklight reactive figures better off painted over. I felt differently after replacing the rubium counters with red acrylic gems and touches of blacklight reactive paint on the hexes as well as 3 overhead blacklights vs. just one. The increase in light sources as well as the increased amount of reactive materials used in the game provided enough illumination alone to see things almost as easily as with incandescent or florescent lighting. He clearly has a different opinion based on his own personal bias and standards. Now, you most certainly didn't need some idiot like me to understand we're all different, but it's those very differences in opinion that make his review worthy. Just because you feel it was lacking, doesn't mean that it's not "just what I was looking for" to someone else.

Just so you know, this wasn't all typed just for you. I intentionally didn't quote you because I was kinda hoping that others would read and let it sink in a bit too. Whether a contribution is from a new user or not, if you don't like it or find it lacking, you catch flies more easily with honey than vinegar. Let's not stifle the contributions and creativity of others by forgetting to include the constructive part of constructive criticism.

Then again, I've been called a pompous ass by more than one person from time to time so feel free to take this entire post with a grain of salt. I'd rather see people summarily dismiss this than get their feathers all ruffled.


There's also this viewpoint to consider:

I never heard of Nexus Ops till yesterday. I hit the main Nexus Ops page, scrolled down to the forums section, highlighted 'reviews' and clicked on a random review.

As a total noob to the game, what I want is a review that tells me what the bits are like, how the game is played, and gives an opinion on it. The times I've clicked on a thread called 'Game X: a review' or 'why Game Z is great' from a position of knowing nothing and /facepalmed at seeimg 'loads of other reviews have covered the mechanics, so i won't here' - sometimes I've had to scroll to page 2 to find sth that I'd actually call a review. Ebert to my mind has never said 'go somewhere else to learn what the films about and who's in it - thumb's up from me!'.

Too many players seem to think that a 'new' review is only for people who already know how to play a game etc.

So this review was exactly what I as a new player was looking for.

Eco





 
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Aaron Gelb
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I got super lucky a few years ago.

I found a copy online for sale from a store for around 7 bucks!

But when it arrived, ups had damaged the package, and it crunched a bit of the box. Nothing too bad, though.

I called the company to tell them what happened, and they said don't worry about it, we'll refund you're money and take it up with UPS.

And that's how I got Nexus Ops for FREE!
 
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Trevor Gowe
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Sphere wrote:
Viewed in isolation, this is a good review. Personally, however, I can't see the point of focussing on the components and procedure when there were already more than 4 dozen reviews covering the same ground. If you'd taken this approach for another game with a relatively empty reviews folder, it would have been far more useful. When somebody writes review #50 for a game, I look for a new perspective.


Uh, so write your own review.
 
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