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Subject: Nexus Ops Review: Retail Game rss

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Red Moss
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This review is being written from my memory of a single play of the retail game, which I had the pleasure of taking part in last night at my favorite board game shop (Atlanta Game Workshop), so bear with me if some particulars are hazy.

Objective

To be the first player to gain 12 victory points. These are earned by winning battles and completing secret missions.

Components

In a word: great.
The components are well-made, the board hexes and rubium (money) chits, as well as the exploration and mine pieces are quite thick and punch out nicely with very little flash to trim.
Although some may be put off by the day-glo creature pieces, both the owner of the game and I thought that they were wonderful. The board pieces (hexes, about Settlers-sized, printed with the type of terrain they represent) are also quite garish. The liquifungus forest and crystal spire terrain hexes both score high marks in the ‘I-am-glad-I-do-not-have-epilepsy’ point column. Basically, if you imagine eating a copy of Settlers of Catan and an entire bag of cotton-candy, and then throwing up, you have an idea of what it all looks like.
At the center of the board is a thick paper tower (kind of a king of the hill type of mechanism) that seems to be strong enough to withstand many, many plays.

Set-up

The game is meant to be played with 2-4 people. The rule book shows 3 different ways to set up the board depending on player count, which is basically the same except for the placement of each player home-base tile.
Set-up consists of shuffling the six single terrain hexes and then arranging them randomly around the center tower. Next, the double-hex tiles are arranged around the six center tiles to create a hexagon, and finally the triple-hex base tiles are placed so that each base is the maximum possible distance from all other bases.
Each one of the non-base tiles are then topped with an upside-down exploration chit, which is a small rectangular piece showing what can be found in that particular hex.
Finally each player gets a player mat which shows turn order, battle order, unit types, cost, bonuses or penalties in combat, and faction name.

Unit Overview

Unit cost is inversely related to power (power being the number one must roll equal or above on a d6 to win a fight) :
Human : Cost – 2, Power – 6
Fungoid : Cost – 3, Power – 5
Crystalline : Cost – 3, Power – 5
Rock Strider : Cost – 6, Power – 4
Lava Leaper : Cost – 8, Power – 3
Rubium Dragon : Cost – 12, Power – 2

Most creature types also have a bonus to move or to hit depending on the type of terrain it is on. Humans get no bonuses. Fungoids get +1 to hit on liquifungus forests hexes, and a -1 to hit on crystal spires. Crystallines get opposite bonuses from the Fungoids. Rock Striders are able to move one extra hex if they are moving into or through a rock plain. Lava Leapers are able to select which enemy to kill if a 5 or greater is rolled during combat, can move an extra space (and through an opposing unit) if moving from a magma pool, and get a +1 to hit while in magma. The Rubium Dragon can fire at an adjacent hex with its plasma breath for a non-defendable attack of 4 and can move to any hex from the monolith.
Only the Humans, Fungoids, and Crystallines can mine.

Play

On the first turn everyone gets a certain amount of rubium (money) with which to purchase units. The first player gets 8 rubium to start out with and each successive player gets 3 more than the preceding player.
Turns consist of a purchase phase where you can also play Energize cards (more on those later), then a movement phase. Each creature has a base move of 1 hex per turn. After this phase all exploration tiles that one of your creatures is in a hex with gets flipped. These tiles are all beneficial to you, consisting of extra creatures which instantly rally to your cause, new mines (to harvest rubium), or a combination of both.
Next comes the attack phase. When one or more of you units enters a hex that has one or more of an opposing players units in it, combat begins. Combat uses a battle order system with the most powerful unit attacking first, then the next most powerful, etc. If for instance player A has 1 Rubium Dragon vs. player B’s Fungoid and Human, the Rubium Dragon would attack first. If the Dragon makes a hit, Player B gets to decide which unit is destroyed. The only exception is if a Lava Leaper makes an attack with a 5 or 6, then the attacking player gets to decide which unit is killed. If your unit wins, you are then allowed to draw a Mission Card, worth 1 victory point, unless you choose to play a Secret Mission card that can only be played by itself (more on that in a moment). If you lose a battle, but it is on another players turn, you draw an Energize card.
After all combats are complete, you receive income based on how many rubium mines your units control. As long as you have a Human, Fungoid, or Crystalline unit on a mine you will gain that many rubium tokens.
Finally, you draw a Secret Mission card, and, if you are the only player to be in control of the monolith at the end of your turn, draw 2 Energize cards.
Secret Mission cards have special rules on them such as ‘Win a battle on a Liquifungus Forest’ or ‘Control more Rock Plains than your opponents’. Each of these cards are worth a certain amount of victory points, and may be played immediately if conditions warrant it. Of special note is the color of the listed victory point total on the card. If it is in red, it can only be played alone, or with a card that has a white background for its victory point total. This is important at the end of a battle. All Mission Cards have red backgrounds, and as such can not be drawn at the end of battle if you choose to play a red Secret Mission card, such as the above mentioned ‘Win a battle on a Liquifungus Forest’.
Energize cards come in two flavors, start-of-turn, and battle. Start-of-turn cards can only be played during the deploy phase, and battle cards can only be played before a battle. Both types are extremely beneficial, and are worth trying to get.

Conclusions

I did not even get to finish playing my first game (my girlfriend needed me to pick her up from a nearby MARTA station), but it left me wanting to play again. This is always a good sign. I may even purchase it, but I will need to play it a few more times to determine that. I will post a follow up to this review to let you know if I do buy it.
I believe you should at least give it a try, as it is a fun little game that will definitely cheer you up if you are in the middle of a ‘yet-another-sorta-fun-Euro-game’ rut.
 
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Tom Key
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Re: Nexus Ops Review: Good stuff , this one.
Nice review.
Cam I ask how long you were playing for? Is the 2 hours or so the game suggests realistic?
 
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Red Moss
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We played for about an hour and a half, but that included all the time it took to punch out the pieces, set up the game, and have the rules explained. I figure if we had played for another 20 to 30 minutes than we would have had a definite winner.

So I say yes, 2 hours is entirely realistic, possibly less, given more experience.
 
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Read the rulebook, plan for all contingencies, and…read the rulebook again.
United States
Austin
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Oldstench wrote:
In a word: great.
The components are well-made, the board hexes and rubium (money) chits, as well as the exploration and mine pieces are quite thick and punch out nicely with very little flash to trim.
Although some may be put off by the day-glo creature pieces, both the owner of the game and I thought that they were wonderful. The board pieces (hexes, about Settlers-sized, printed with the type of terrain they represent) are also quite garish. The liquifungus forest and crystal spire terrain hexes both score high marks in the ‘I-am-glad-I-do-not-have-epilepsy’ point column. Basically, if you imagine eating a copy of Settlers of Catan and an entire bag of cotton-candy, and then throwing up, you have an idea of what it all looks like.


I quite agree about the day-glo colors of the pieces. I think it's a welcome change to what we are normally treated to in the way of plastic pieces. And while I find your description of the board quite accurate, I think it also looks suitably alien and rather attractive. I think it compares favorably to the old Titan gameboard.

I'm looking forward to giving this a shot. I think it will appeal most to fans of the new Risk and A&A variants, but gamers that enjoy power diplomacy games of the TI3 variety (as previously mentioned) should have a good time with this game as well.
 
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Don Carmichael
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Yep, this is like a short fusion of many of our favorite war games. And an incredibly good one. Playing time, usually about 90 minutes, is remarkably short, especially compared to my 40+ hour A&A games. Not your classic all-nighter, but the best game on the planet (well, at least, the best war game) for under 90 minutes. That's what I think and that's the gist I'm getting from most of you, although no one has come out and said it that bluntly.
 
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