My Nexus Ops order arrived today and Noah and I tore it open and started reading through the rules, punching out the bits, and setting up for our first game. I’ve read that if you placed Risk at one end of a continuum and Twilight Imperium III at the other end, you could place Nexus Ops somewhere in the middle. I’m unclear on the relationship to Risk but I certainly see the parallels with TI-III. So far, Nexus Ops feels like super-lite TI-III. Here are a smattering of comparisons:
- You gather special abilities by battling or having battled successfully against an opponent
- You buy forces using Rubium received from holding sole possession of mines and having Humans, Fungoids, or Crystalline’s working them.
- There are no Role cards to choose from like in TI-III
- The order of battle is stricter in Nexus Ops but similar in feel when assigning hits based on dice rolls.
- Tile movement during the movement phase is similar with certain force types having certain abilities based on terrain type.
- Action points are won by fulfilling mission cards
- Special cards grant special abilities
- Some cards can be played at the beginning of your turn and some during a battle.
- First player to 12 action points is the winner
Nexus Ops really is all about battling to gain control of your opponents mines (to get more Rubium so you can buy more forces) and so that you can get more Secret Mission cards (and Energize cards if you posses control of the monolith). The more missions you fulfill the more action points you get. And the first player to 12 action points is the winner.
We ended up having to stop for the night just when the battling started so we haven’t really gotten in the fun part yet. We left the game set up so we’ll get back to it tomorrow night. Most of the Rock Strider exploration tiles ended up on my side of the board and most of the higher valued mines ended up on his side. As a result, I’m compelled to move swiftly to overpower his mine’s protective forces and grant myself more Rubium on each turn.
I’ve managed to secure a couple Lava Leapers, I have a Rubium Dragon advancing from my home base, and I’ve taken initial control of the monolith but my position is tenuous. Noah has a bunch of cash and he’s posed to buy a couple dragons and come out fighting.
My puny human count is fairly low so I’ll need to beef that up to get some cannon fodder during the upcoming battles. My Fungoid and Crystalline counts are of average strength but I fear that I’ll need some more of those to fill out the mid-section of each battle.
So far, both of us are having a great time with this game. I’m not sure I’ve ever heard more sound effects come out of Noah’s mouth during a game before. Great stuff.
I rarely post images of myself on the site but I thought I’d post an image that Noah took of me playing Masons tonight.
Just two days ago I posted a story about being more particular about buying games given that I don’t play that often any more. Wouldn’t you know it but the last few days have been packed with games. Lisa and I played Hansa a couple of nights ago. I’m a fan of Michael Schacht’s designs and Hansa is one of my favorites. It’s a rather dry, cerebral game with some theme sprinkled in but I still enjoy it and feel ready to accept a game whenever offered. The following day, Lisa and I played a two-player game of Arkadia. I was surprised at how well the game played with two. I would have expected that more players would be required to keep it interesting but after playing, I think it shines with two. There is less down time between plays and there seemed to be less of that ‘not so fresh’ feeling of having your perfectly planned setups going awry.
Tonight, we played a game of Masons as a family and Noah totally blew us all away. He had so many good scoring cards and I couldn’t for the life of me get anything of any value. I brought of the rear and I was swapping cards like crazy with no success. I’ve only played Masons once before during a rare lunch-time game session at work. I’m still a little unsure about it. I want to like it but I’m not convinced it’s more than going through the motions. I probably sound like a sore loser but I’m not. I greatly enjoy playing games with my whole family and look forward to it regardless of where I end up.
Noah and I played a game of Oceania tonight. We started out sailing on every other dotted line down both sides and across the bottom. We kept placing tiles with the land facing inward and the dotted lines facing towards the sides of the board making our lives more difficult in the future. By the time we started in on the tougher spots I was getting worried that we’d really have a tough time getting out into the middle of the board. A few placed tiles later and we broke out into the middle of the board and the race was on.
In the end, we tied at 4 points (10 – 6) with me having one three-scout tile left and Noah had no scouts. There are no stated tie-breaker rules so we both celebrated our win.
We started out with a round of Coloretto waiting for our fifth but by the time he arrived we dealt him and played a round. If you’d like to try out an online version against bots to make a decision about purchasing your own copy, you can try it out here.
We thought we might have a sixth player coming soon so we pulled out China making it 2 for 2 for playing games by the same designer Michael Schacht.
I’ve played China many times and find the strategy pretty two-dimensional but it still remains a game worth pulling off the shelf. The pain of opening up a new territory only to have the player to your left plonk down an emissary before you can is a real ‘joy’. I think the game plays best when all players play at the same skill level. Sitting to the left of a novice player has definite advantages if they’re constantly placing houses bumping up the emissary limit for subsequent players.
Our sixth called to cancel and we lost a player around 9:30. We thought long and hard about pulling out Caylus but one of the was worried that it would run too long for a work night so we instead pulled out my new and unplayed copy of Arkadia. I played too conservatively but most of us did as well granting the most aggressive player the win. I enjoyed my first playing of Arkadia quite a bit. I’m not sure how it sat with the others at the table but I’m anxious to play it again. I’m still struggling with understanding how to juggle the decisions of when and what kind of building to build; when to place workers and how to evaluate the number, type, and position of those workers; when to ‘complete’ a building; how to evaluate the value of the exposed draw deck; and how best to manipulate the ‘seal’ market when placing castle pieces.
I also found it difficult to judge which seals to shoot for and I’m unsure if that’s even really a possibility given that you’re at the mercy of the cards you have and the moves of the players plonking down the Tetris-like buildings.
One aspect of the game I did notice was that it started out very slowly. Most players were placing buildings around the castle in order to gather the most neutral colored workers. As soon as the juicy tent camps were covered, the battle began for seals and the castle pieces started coming out onto the board. I misinterpreted the rate of castle piece placement as linear and because of this I misjudged how much time was left in the game. It’s my belief that when the first floor is covered you’re more than half done with the game as the likelihood of multiple building completions goes up as the board fills up. This upward trending rate curve for castle placement caught me with my proverbial architectural banners/pennants around my ankles. My first play felt abbreviated. I’m not necessarily sure I want the game to last longer but I did come away with the feeling that I was just getting into my stride when it came to an abrupt end.
All in all I like Arkadia and I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.