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Subject: A Succint Review of Nightfall (with thoughts on Martial Law as well) rss

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Blue Jackal
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You can read about the rules elsewhere.

I enjoy Nightfall, however, it does have a few flaws:

1. The graphical design could be better. Compared to Rune Age, Nightfall is kind of ugly. Minions look good enough but the Action card's silver scheme looks out of place. The art could be better as well, but on the plus side, Martial Law's art is much better overall, IMO.

2. The fact that the best deck and/or player isn't necessarily going to win. This is going to bug some people, and it bugged me the first time I played. However, given that each player has different private archives available to them, it's necessary that "the best deck" can be overcome via diplomacy.

3. From what I've read, it's not a great 2 player game, and I can see why. In a 4+ player game, some of the strategy comes from not looking like a giant threat and determining who you should attack. EDIT: Since some people disagreed, I gave the 2-player game a try. This is based on 1-play, but it was... OK. I'd play it again, but if Nightfall was just a 2-player game, I'd rate it a 6, rather than an 8 or 9.

4. The cards in Nightfall aren't terribly exciting compared to Martial Law, which makes things a lot more interesting. Martial Law adds persistent minions, and cards like Shining Cross and Relentless Grinder. Shining Cross will make you reconsider buying that awesome vampire and Relentless Grinder will make you pause when you're deciding whether to buy a card-drawing effect or draw a bunch of cards from your Wounds. However, cards like Leave Me and Flank Attack would allow you to cancel the Shining Cross / Relentless Grinder effects if you want to include those in your deck... Combined with the superior art of Martial Law, I'd slightly advise Martial Law over Nightfall itself, though I think you should buy both, ideally.

5. Finally, it can be a bit depressing if you take a lot of damage early in the game, since you have an idea of how much damage you can take and still win. You're never really guaranteed to lose despite taking so much damage, but at a certain point it's very unlikely you'll win. However, this doesn't happen often.

What I like about Nightfall:

1. Interaction. Choose who to attack, who to deal direct damage to, re-direct that effect to your benefit, conspire against that player who has too many big bad minions, and try to Chain off your opponent's cards. However, just because you can Chain doesn't mean you should. Playing a big minion after your opponent has played a minion-killing card earlier in the Chain might be pretty stupid.

On a related note, in a 4+ player game or even in a 3 player game, I enjoy trying to play defensively. Maybe that's my personal preference, but I enjoy picking cards not because they're amazing, but simply because they make attacking you so unappetizing. I remember the first time I played against someone with Marcus Toth in their deck - he goes back into their hand as soon as you kill him! I attack him and he blocks and I've done nothing and now he has Marcus in his hand? If the next player plays the right card, Marcus might come back out right away! Argh!

Similarly, there are a lot of cards I appreciate just for their ability to soak damage. Oh, and I love the promotional cards (which I think you can get for pretty cheap off AEG's website even if you include shipping) - "Shadow Seven" prevents you from being targeted by nasty effects like Death Grip (deals 3 damage to you, that's a lot), and Lisaveta Florescu heals your minions.

Of course, being able to play big mean cards like Death Grip or "Big Ghost" has its value as well. That much damage to the person you think is winning is pretty potent.

2. Little down-time. While this isn't necessarily guaranteed, especially if you have new players, a player who's not paying attention, or a player has a crazy chain that they need to link together, I think Nightfall is pretty good in this area. In most cases, after the Chain phase is complete, you can let the next player start their attack phase while you do the Claim and Cleanup phases. You could even let the player start their Chain phase while you're still deciding what to buy! Though there may be a few rare situations where they may want to wait for you to finish your Claim or Cleanup phase before they Chain, but generally it's not an issue. I like this a lot.

Additionally, are you tired of waiting while someone else draws their cards while playing Dominion? A long action/card draw combo got you down? Not so in Nightfall, friends, while you may draw cards during your Chain phase, you will not be able to play any cards you draw during the same Chain! This concern is what prevents me from buying the gorgeous looking Rune Age, since combat for several factions seems to consist of "Play a card - draw and pick a card and put it into your hand - and now your opponent has to play a card..." ad nausea while the other players are waiting for that combat to resolve.

3. The drafting is neat. Given the importance of the set of cards available in a deck-building game, giving the players some control over what shows up in a game is wise. I think with Martial Law, you draw 5 cards, and the first card you draft is removed from the game. Despite my praise for Shining Cross up above, I kind of hate it. I wanted to buy that vampire! I don't want to suffer damage because I bought him and brought him into play! So, out it goes. The next 4 cards, you pick one for your private archive, same with the next 3 cards. Then of the last 2, one goes into the public archives. If I passed someone the aforementioned Death Grip (3 damage to target player) and I get passed a "Shadow Seven" - I'm probably going to take the Shadow Seven! Similarly, if I passed someone a Hysteria (a really nasty card which deals damage based on a creature's strength), I might avoid picking a strong creature. Of course, maybe I'll take Death Grip for myself and then pick "Shadow Seven" for myself to deny others the chance to get him, or if "Shadow Seven" is in my last two cards, I'll pick the non-"Shadow Seven" card so no one else can buy him

4. Quick to play, easy to teach. I think the basic mechanics are quite simple. Sure, remembering to attack before Chaining can take a little, and I think it helps if you tell people that Chaining works "Little moon to big moon," but especially to someone familiar with Magic: the Gathering, the game's quite simple. With 3 players, you can teach and play a game in less than an hour. With some experience, I'd say it takes about half an hour.

5. Not everybody is playing the same deck. Another thing that bugs me about Dominion. The private archives and small card pile size (7 cards per pile) helps make sure not everyone is playing the same, or nearly the same, deck.

6. As the game progresses, your deck will get more diverse. Well, this might not be entirely true, since you'll have lost your Starting Minions, but the way the chain mechanic works, it might be to your advantage to stop concentrating on those core cards you were buying and buy some new cards. You might have to if the card piles you were buying from are depleted. Given the way Wounds accumulate in your deck, you will want to buy new cards.

7. Even "bad" cards might become good if they help you Chain into something you really want (or you can trigger the "bad card's" Kicker.) Kickers on strong cards do generally seem to be weaker than the Kickers on the less potent cards.

Conclusion: I think Nightfall is great fun. Granted, I do think Martial Law adds a lot, but I don't think you'd need to buy any more expansions after that (or maybe wait until Blood Country comes out and pick up Martial Law and Blood Country, depending on what BC adds.) Currently Nightfall is the game I want to get to the table the most. I've got "CitOW: The Horned Rat" expansion sitting on the shelf, gathering dust, and I love Chaos in the Old World! You will have to accept that sometimes you will lose, even if you were the best player, but if you can do that, I think you'll enjoy Nightfall. I won't say that Nightfall is better than Chaos, or my other favorite: Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage, since I do think it has some flaws, but I do think it's great fun and it takes a lot less time to play than either of my other favorites. (I think arranging the cards in alphabetical order helps the set-up time, which is pretty quick once you get used to it.)
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Fredrik Bexborn
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A solid review, though I disagree that it's not good as a 2-player game. It's just a bit different strategy-wise. I play vs. my wife a great deal, and it's a fast and furious wound-fest where one mistake could mean a lot of damage. (For that reason we always play to 40 wounds instead of 20.)
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duncan easton
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For those on the fence I think this is a well balanced and reasoned review.
 
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Tyler Durden
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i totaly agree, this game is not designed for two people due to the metagameeffects ("he has more wounds, hit him").
of course, it works with just two, but if there are just the two of you, there are far better games that work real good with two.
 
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Rick Teverbaugh
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I also disagree that it's not a good game for two players. In one way it is better as 2 player in that the kingmaker aspect is removed. I also don't think the 2-player aspect of this review should have been included because the reviewer obviously hasn't played it that way. It isn't fair to list that as a negative based on hearsay.
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Jacovis
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Well done review overall! I disagree about the art quality in Nightfall core set and the viability of 2 players (wife and I love it 2 player, and I have a lot of 2 player only games that she could pick instead.) but it is spot on about how much fun it is, and how much interaction there is! Again, well done!

Cheers,

Jacovis
 
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Blue Jackal
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rickert wrote:
I also disagree that it's not a good game for two players. In one way it is better as 2 player in that the kingmaker aspect is removed.


I've edited the review to include the fact that people disagree, and maybe I will give 2-player a try. However, I do think it is possible for some players to have an inherently better combination of cards available to them due to the private archives. Granted, you could possibly call a "re-do" or fix this in some other way, but I think you might be trading one problem for another.
 
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Rick Teverbaugh
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BlueJackal wrote:
rickert wrote:
I also disagree that it's not a good game for two players. In one way it is better as 2 player in that the kingmaker aspect is removed.


I've edited the review to include the fact that people disagree, and maybe I will give 2-player a try. However, I do think it is possible for some players to have an inherently better combination of cards available to them due to the private archives. Granted, you could possibly call a "re-do" or fix this in some other way, but I think you might be trading one problem for another.


But one of those cards would be one that another player passed on, so wouldn't it be that player's fault for passing on that good a card?
 
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Blue Jackal
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rickert wrote:

But one of those cards would be one that another player passed on, so wouldn't it be that player's fault for passing on that good a card?


That's true if you're doing the 5 card draft (for if you have both Nightfall and Martial Law), otherwise with the 4 card draft, the first pick cannot be determined by the other player. Since they don't know what you picked, they don't know what they should pick to stop you.

Additionally, unless you play with the Commons-Revealed-First variant (which maybe you should for a 2 player game), the public archives will probably favor some private archives more than others.
 
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Rick Teverbaugh
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But my point is that you shouldn't have the two best cards in your private archive because one of your private cards would have been passed on by an opponent.
 
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Blue Jackal
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rickert wrote:
But my point is that you shouldn't have the two best cards in your private archive because one of your private cards would have been passed on by an opponent.


But I think how the cards link to other cards is also an important factor, especially when you take into account Kickers. A great card and a good card that link with each other well is quite possibly better than two great cards that don't link. At least one card in the 4-card draft example is out of either player's control, even if you do play with public archives revealed while drafting.

Of course, there is randomness in most competitive games, so it's not necessarily a huge issue.
 
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David Gregg
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BlueJackal wrote:
Additionally, unless you play with the Commons-Revealed-First variant (which maybe you should for a 2 player game), the public archives will probably favor some private archives more than others.

The recommended draft setup is officially changing with Blood Country to the following (which I recommend for all player versions): Deal 8 minus the number of players worth of cards to the commons face up. Deal each player 4 cards (with one set, more with more sets) and then draft normally. This allows for better chain / kicker potential.

Also make sure to use the slightly altered 2 player draft in which the first chosen card is removed from play. This brings better balance / fairness to the 2 player game.
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Blue Jackal
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I gave the 2-player game a try, playing to 30 wounds. I don't think I'd buy Nightfall for the 2-player experience but it was enjoyable enough.
 
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Edward Bolme
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BlueJackal wrote:
Minions look good enough but the Action card's silver scheme looks out of place.


I hate to niggle, but it's steel, not silver. Going for the heavy metal look.

Aside from that, a very detailed and analytical review.
 
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