Nemesis by Awaken Realms arrived and makes an attempt to hijack the top of the games list, just before the year end. If you ever wanted to experience Aliens in a board game setting, then this has to be the game to look for. It has theme, atmosphere, co-operative play and some secret agendas. The artwork is high quality and alien miniatures are excellent, and the game really is full of tension and fun to play.
The general production quality of this game is amazing, the spaceship board is huge and double sided to give alternative play options, the rule book is colourful, room tiles and tokens are all thick and solid. Each of the six characters in the core set have 10 action cards to use, you will have a hand of five each turn, and each of them has its own unique artwork, which is just beautiful, and really helps add to the game. The models are really neat, especially the aliens which complete with sundrop paintwork have come out really well, and saved me a lot of painting time. Hero models are very slightly smaller than usual, but work well on the board and have enough detail and differences to make them interesting, and the player boards are lovely to look at and are colour coded too.
Playing Nemesis is an absolute blast, you awake from hibernation unable to remember the exact lay out of the ship, and have to investigate and uncover the various rooms turn by turn. Upon entering each one you will hear noises in the corridors and vents, until eventually your presence is enough to trigger the appearance of an alien, which come in a number of different forms, from tiny larvae to adults, and then the huge queen herself. You will mostly be playing defensively, trying to avoid and escape them, occasionally trying your luck with limited ammo to take one down.
Each player in the game has a secret objective other than survival and escape, which can vary from sending signals, changing the ship destination or even ensuring another player does not make it off alive. You can easily tailor these to make it more towards the co-operative side, as this game is tough enough even with everyone on the same page. This game is awesome, it quickly fills with tension and you will soon each be needing multiple rooms or items to help your survival or remove contamination, as well as ensuring the ship is not destroyed by fire or mechanical breakdown. Each character has its own action strengths too, and it all just works, you will feel you have a chance, and towards the end will be dragging your broken body towards the escape pods or hibernation chamber, but still be so afraid that you will alert intruders at just the wrong moment. Eventually self preservation may get the better of all your nicer co-operative intentions.
There is a lot of replay value in just the core set, with six characters all with different strengths, a spaceship that is never quite the same, and the changing order of events and objectives. A whole wave two of extra content is also coming, much of which provides alternatives to the main set, but I am not even sure I really it, given what I have is so good. Then as a neat final touch an extra small kickstarter box came, containing a short co-op campaign using a graphic novel to bring its story to life. This game is now one of my all time favourites, and whilst it is not a dungeon crawler as such, its content is built like one, and it manages to carry so much more tension within its exploration and actions. I just have to decide which list of mine it best fits in > Strategy (Co-op).
Whilst i own the sundrop version, i could not resist adding a little more painting to the characters, and i tried to keep the colours relatively understated, just giving them a little extra to make them stand out from each other. They don’t photograph overly well, but look fine in play.