Top positive review
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MTG + Dominion + Uno = Nightfall
on January 8, 2012
I've played a fair number of deckbuilding games, and Nightfall is one of my favorites. A little harder to learn than Dominion (or Uno), but easier than Magic the Gathering, this game combines elements of all those games, adds in some neat mechanics of its own, and covers it with some Twilight flavoring (vampires, werewolves, undead).
Some of the things that set Nightfall apart:
- Catch up mechanism. - The person with the most wounds in their deck at the end loses, but during the game having a lot of wounds can be really helpful, so if you are getting beat up early on, it helps you get back in the game.
- Personal "village" - Like Dominion or Thunderstone, there is an 8 pile village that everyone can buy from, but each person also has a 2 pile personal village that only they can buy from. This ensures that everyone can't just go after the same strategy.
- Drafting - Rather than randomly selecting the village, in Nightfall you do a simultaneous draft (a la 7 Wonders). You draft about half the common village as well as your own personal village.
- Chaining - This is how the game is like Uno. Each card has a big moon and 2 smaller moons, usually all of a different color. On your turn (or other peoples turns) you build a chain (like the chain in MTG), but rather than paying a cost to put a card onto the chain, you just have to match its big moon color with 1 of the 2 small moon colors on the previous card. So if I play a card that has a Red big moon and yellow and blue small moons, the next card on the chain has to have a yellow or blue big moon. Once you are done with your chain, the next person can add to it, even if its not their turn. This means you are always doing something and should always be paying attention, even when its not your turn. So Nightfall doesn't suffer from the "multiplayer solitaire" that Dominion can. And its a lot more intuitive than my explanation makes it seem.
- Self-trashing starting deck - Unlike most deck builders where you are working to get rid of your starting hand, in Nightfall it trashes itself. Whenever you play a card from the 12 card starter decks, it is trashed whenever it leaves play.
- Attack based - You don't win by collecting victory points, you win by willing your opponents' decks with wounds, so there is a lot of player interaction through attacks.
If I could, I would give this game 4.5 stars. You can attack anyone in the game on your turn, so if one person is doing well, everyone will pile on him to give him wounds. The base rules that come with the game are set up so that the game is a LOT of politics and potential kingmaker. Some people really enjoy this. I don't. I would dock the game a full star for this, BUT there are a lot of alternate rulesets posted online by the designer, so people can play with whatever win condition they enjoy most. For example, in one ruleset, you start with a pile of 15 wounds to give out, and your final score is the sum of the wounds in your deck and the ones you haven't given out. This rewards people for actually doing well, and dealing a lot of damage. In another rule set, everyone has a life total, and you lose a life whenever you take a wound, so the game plays much more like MTG. Alternate rules can be found at boardgamegeek.com.