Okay so I've been eyeing this game up for a while. Ever since I missed out on the initial Kickstarter I kept telling myself that I didn't have the money to spend on a big-box game right now, but then on a lovely day out with a friend I acted on impulse and reached up to that top shelf without a second thought and slapped it down on the counter... So was it worth it?
Game Time: 35 mins/player
Nemesis from Awaken Realms (www.awakenrealms.com) and Rebel (www.rebelstudio.eu/games) is a semi-cooperative sci-fi horror where you have to explore the ship Nemesis and complete your personal goals while making sure the ship is working and avoiding being massacred by the 'Intruders'.
The only problem is that your fellow crewmembers may not be trustworthy...
You each start with a choice of a personal goal and a corporate goal, and after your first encounter you will need to choose your priorities. Will it be the usually friendly personal goal or the more selfish corporate goal that may include player death. Of course, with both solo options and fully co-operatives modes available too, there are so many ways to play Nemesis, which makes this game a classic sci-fi horror storytelling experience that is absolutely stunning.
So you've set-up your classic thematic game according to the rules with your chosen ship layout and the appropriate randomised rooms and you're ready to play!
The game is played over a maximum of 15 rounds with players taking turns of one or two actions each round. These actions can be from a generic list of actions available to all players or can one of the specific actions available in your player's action deck.
At the start of each round (after the first) move the first-player marker to the next player clockwise, then draw back up to your hand-limit
Players take turns carrying out one or two actions until all players have passed
Advance the time-tracker
Carry out 'intruder' attacks
Check for fire damage to 'Intruders'
Draw and resolve and Event card
'Intruder' development - draw and resolve a token from the bag of doom!
So, when it come to player actions, there is a list of basic actions. I'll not bore you with full details, but they are the sort of things you would usually expect: movement, combat abilities, trading, etc... The real spicy sauce comes in the individual player cards where you will have access to more powerful abilities depending on your character's specialty. For example, the solider is great in combat and the mechanic in fixing stuff... (well duh), meaning that as a team you can work together to optimise abilities given the limited time available to you.
Depending on the action taken, you will need to discard an additional number of action cards as indicated either on the action played or on your player board.
...trigger an encounter and you'll have to draw from the bag of doom!
It's worth noting one of the key mechanics of the game here when talking about actions, and it's noise. Every time a character moves there will be a noise roll, and you will need to place a noise token on the board unless you're very lucky and roll the silence symbol. If you ever have to place a noise token where there already is one, then you will trigger an encounter and have to draw from the bag of doom to determine which intruder you encounter.
The first time you trigger an encounter is a pivotal moment in the game, where if you are playing competitively you will need to commit to whether you are favouring your personal or your corporate objective thus locking it in for the rest of the game.
These objectives can be varied and could involve just surviving this hell or may require you to do something a little more dastardly like kill one of your fellow crew-mates, or just make sure that the aliens don't survive. The important thing to remember is that for any objective to be successful you need to live. This can be by making sure the ship returns safely to Earth (or your preferred destination) by ensuring that at least two of the three engines are working and setting the appropriate co-ordinates in the cockpit before re-entering the hibernatorium. Alternatively, you may just flee the ship in an escape pod to survive. That is unless you were contaminated...
Aww, do you have a new friend?
Contamination is another key mechanic of this game. Usually when you have encounters with the Intruders they will leave you will contamination, which might mean your character is infected. When this happens you draw a contamination card, which is then placed into your action card discard pile and then serves to restrict your options going forward as these can't be used to perform actions each turn. You can get rid of these contamination cards by resting or using certain rooms, but be careful because if the card shows you are infected you will get a new 'friend' as an intruder larva will inhabit your character like a ticking time bomb. See infected again and it will explode out of you killing your character and adding a new intruder to the board. No matter what, you will always check infection at the end of the game, so keep an eye on your infection and stay clean as long as possible.
Why did the boss music just start?
It's probably worth mentioning how combat in the game works as it can be quite a divisive topic, it certainly was when we played it. In combat players roll a die, which has the following faces:
Blank - always a miss
Creeper symbol (2) - hits an 'intruder' that is a creeper or smaller, dealing one point of damage
Adult symbol - hits an 'intruder' that is an adult or smaller, dealing one point of damage
Single target - deals one point of damage
Double target - deals two points of damage.
Damage dealt can then be modified depending on your weapon, which can either increase the damage or reduce it depending on the specific weapon and roll combination. At this point, you will then check if that was enough to kill the 'intruder' by drawing an intruder attack card and checking the blood symbol in the top left corner. If the damage dealt is more than that number, then the intruder dies. These numbers range from two to six and larger aliens need you to draw two cards. This double random damage feature has led to some very swingy moments that can alienate (pun definitely intended) some people who prefer a more defined combat experience.
I could go on into more nitty gritty detail at this stage, but I think that would start to ruin some of the immersion that makes this game a brilliant thematic game but remember these Intruders are deadly and your weapons may not be that effective against them!
As with any Kickstarter big-box classic it's full of plastic minis, lots of plastic tokens and cards galore; from a personal stand point I don't quite see why everything needed to be plastic as many of the tokens would have been just as good if they were made from punch board...
Equally while the minis are absolutely gorgeous and I loved painting them (see images below) punchboard standees would have been just as good really.
The rules are comprehensive and well laid out with plenty of examples and images throughout. However, with such a big complicated game you really need to read the whole rulebook before you start or you'll make loads of fatal errors ruining your game. Unfortunately, I don't think this is something which can easily be condensed into a quick start guide either so it can make that first play feel a little rough and clunky, until you get used to the core mechanics.
For once, we don't need to have our usual niggle, the box has been well thought out and has great storage trays, which makes it easy to pack away safely without damaging your minis and it even has room for you to fit all your cards in once sleeved which is great. As regular readers will know, it is a massive bug bear of ours when there isn't enough room for sleeved cards in a game box.
The last point I would like to end on for the production is the infection scanner which uses a red filter to show the text hidden on the contamination cards and while slightly corny in this day and age makes me feel like a child again and adds some lovely tension to the game as you check if you're infected or not.
New-style conclusion for me today where I'll break down some of the key features in each of our key focus areas:
For me I find this game highly replayable, with random ship layouts, different combinations of goals, different game I can't see playing the same game twice!
The miniatures are gorgeous and really detailed, and the box has been really well designed, my only gripe is the amount of plastic used when there are more sustainable materials out there.
The game drips with the Intruders' slime... metaphorically speaking of course... but the theme is deep and rich and essential to the storytelling experience of this game.
The game is pretty heavy to get into and takes a long time with a few fiddly mechanics.
The rulebook is well laid out and has lots of examples, making it easy to read and understand. However, with such a complex game there are inevitably some issues.
Okay so it's totally a rip-off of the Alien franchise, nothing really unique or special but classics are classics for a reason.
I know the game has a high price point, but when you consider the amount of miniatures, decks, and tokens involved I think it's got reasonable value for money.
So overall for me I give Nemesis a 5/6 on the D6 scale.
The game is full of amazing potential but I fully appreciate that the price point just stops some people getting this game and so I will struggle to give it a perfect score. However, it won't stop me fully recommending this game! So if you get an opportunity to play in your local game café, or if you can afford it yourself, it's a classic sci-fi horror storytelling experience and I'm glad I have it in my collection.
Your friendly DoaLG rules lawyer
George E Ohh