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Nemesis Board Game Review

M Updated January 21, 2020
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
1819 0
Nemesis Board Game

Game Information

Game Name
Publisher
Players
1 - 5
There Will Be Games

In space, no one can hear Ridley Scotts IP lawyers scream.

I first saw Nemesis at GMT East back in the spring. I hadn't heard of it and it sort of disappeared off my radar. Being a Kickstarter game, I figured it would disappear like so many other Kickstarter games. I think they only shipped the base game back then. Fast forward to this fall and the next wave starts shipping along with a lot of bonus content and I start hearing more about it. By this time however copies are scarce. So I mention it to a local opponent who is much more attuned to Kickstarter and he mentions seeing a copy in a local store. So I go over and snag it; by this time it isn't available online anywhere other than rapidly rising secondary market sellers. From what I gather a new printing is possible but nothing definitive. Yes I failed my FOMO check but so far I have no regrets.

Nemesis is basically ALIENS the board game. The premise is that the crew wakes up in the hibernation room in the center of the ship and other than knowing that the engines are in the back and the cockpit is in the front, don't know where anything else is.

The game can be played in either co-op mode with public goals, or semi co-op, with each player having two secret objectives, one of which must be chosen upon the first alien being discovered. The objectives range from somewhat benign (escape the ship with 7 items) to ....less benign, such as be the only survivor, or transport an alien egg back to Earth. The Paul Reiser objective so to speak. It supports 1-5 players. Player count scaling is achieved via number of aliens as well as each player adding another objective in full co-op mode.

Each turn is divided up into rounds, where each character takes two Actions, or one Action/Pass, or pass. Once you pass you are done for the turn, so you can't pass and stall. Actions are the usual move, shoot, search etc. Cost varies from zero to three points, being paid in the form of hand discards. Each character deck has a number of common cards, then each character has several cards unique to that character based on their special abilities. For instance the Soldier can discard a special card to avoid a surprise alien attack. The Scout can move without making a noise check. While not a deck builder, there is the chance you'll have Contamination cards clogging up your deck, which are useless and must be removed by going to certain rooms and scanning them; pray you don't have an Infected card (which is only revealed by passing the card through a scanner, a sleeve with a red filter, pretty cool) .

The tension throughout is very well done. Every time you move, you can either spend two cards and move quietly, or move "fast" and spend only one card and make a Noise check. If you move into a room that already has a character, no Noise roll is made. Nice touch as it represents the first one checking things out/covering for the next person. There is also a press your luck element in that while using all your cards allows more actions, passing with cards in hand decreases the chance of an alien getting a first strike on you when they appear. The reveal of the rooms amps up the tension until the Nest is discovered.

As you might imagine, Noise brings the increased chance of the aliens showing up. Even if you move quietly, after the action phase there is an Event phase where your characters might have to make another noise check or if you're in the Nest, the alien Queen could appear.

At the start of the game the contents of the rooms other than the engines and cockpit are unknown. Each space has a face down tile with an Exploration token on top. You flip over the tile to see which room it is (Armory, Lab, etc or the dreaded alien Nest). The Exploration token tells how many possible items there are as well as other special conditions - additional noise, Malfunction ( meaning the rooms special function won't work til repaired ), alien slime. Items can be searched for, costing actions and there are a very finite amount available. In a game with a lot of players, this can create the need to spread out as rooms get picked clean.

As play progresses and aliens start popping up, you'll either need to kill them or get the hell out of there. In the latter case, moving out of a room with an Alien triggers a possible attack. If you have the right action card, you can move out without an attack. Some characters have a Covering Fire ability to get both characters out this way. There are several levels of aliens, ranging from eggs to adults to the great evil Queen herself. The smaller ones are easy to kill, the larger ones take a fair bit of punishment. Sometimes they'll stand their ground, other times they'll retreat into the ventilation ducts - and heal any damage they have. Characters all start with some sort of weapon and can find more in rooms; many need ammunition however and that needs to be scavenged. Items can also be combined into things like Flamethrowers and Molotov cocktails. You can also discover weaknesses by transporting carcasses to a lab.

I've only played it in solo and 2 player co op mode so far but am really impressed from what I've seen. I think its best to start in full co-op mode to get the mechanics down and then progress to semi co-op with the secret individual objectives. The rules are fairly well written and I found them easy to explain to a new player and get started within a shirt amount of time.

As you can probably tell from what I've written, I really like the game.  The tension is palpable throughout the game, I could hear the soft beeping of Hudson't tracker as we explored the ship and then the heavy blaster fire from Vasquez once combat started.  The game mechanics place tough decision making on players with no easy choices in many cases. I could see some groups getting frustrated in that sometimes no matter how careful you are, bad stuff can happen in the blink of an eye - a player could be perfectly healthy at the start of a turn and wind up dead after becoming infested with a Larva and the wrong event card being drawn.  But if it were too easy I think hard core groups would become bored, so I am fine with this aspect. 

The production quality is top notch, the models are finely detailed and the player aids and other components are excellent.  The custom inserts provided are some of the better ones I've seen.  The replay factor for this is pretty high.  Even if you are using just the base game, between the double sided board (the back side has a more difficult layout that takes more time to explore), six different characters, both full co-op and semi co-op modes as well as a number of different possible objectives there is a lot to explore. Add in the fact that the room layout is random and not all rooms come into play each game and you'll be assured of a lot of plays before it repeats itself. If you can track down expansion content, there are another six characters (which all play much differently than the base game ), new races of aliens that slowly drive you insane, a  shuttle mapboard and more different game modes. 

There is a downside to all this goodness however. As of this writing, the game is not only expensive at regular MSRP (about $140 for the base game) but pretty much sold out currently. It is difficult to ascertain the status of any reprint in the near future. On the secondary market prices are already getting crazy. If this review has piqued your interest, keep your scanner going, you may be able to still find a copy in a store or perhaps a copy will pop up again in the future. 


Editor reviews

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Rating 
 
4.0
M
1 reviews

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ubarose's Avatar
ubarose replied the topic: #305908 07 Jan 2020 15:39
Thanks for the review Martin. I'm hoping to get to play this soon. Josh brought his copy over last week, but we didn't get to it. I did get to look at what was inside the box. The minis and components really looked "top notch" as you said.
southernman's Avatar
southernman replied the topic: #305911 07 Jan 2020 16:31
Here's my post from the FB page:

Finally got my first play of Lifeform in and, albeit after just the one game of it, Nemesis is easily the better game for me and my group.
Nemesis does tension (noise rolls strange moves of other characters, events, intruder attacks, infected contamination cards) fine, which is what fans of Lifeform say is a strength of that game (although we didn't see much of it but we did spend about a third of the time going back and forth thru the rulebook), and it provides the challenge of your objective and some good old-fashion fun as you fight off an intruder or watch others fight ones off that you brought out or just run to the escape pods as the ship is overwhelmed by fire, malfunctions and hungry intruders.
Nine games in now, a couple of co-ops plus a couple that ended very early as fire or malfunctions rampaged, and this game is a mandatory play at a session - damn good fun.
Only downer is the very average (poor) quality board I received (especially compared to the board with their 'Lords of Hellas' game) that they are being very reticent about replacing.
hotseatgames's Avatar
hotseatgames replied the topic: #305912 07 Jan 2020 16:32
I have yet to try the cooperative mode. Thankfully my group is just fine fucking each other over, so perhaps we never will.
southernman's Avatar
southernman replied the topic: #305913 07 Jan 2020 16:56

hotseatgames wrote: I have yet to try the cooperative mode. Thankfully my group is just fine fucking each other over, so perhaps we never will.


Our group can be very competitive and revenge-seeking so I recently introduced a house rule - if your objective does not involve killing any of the other players then you can't deliberately try and kill someone. This happened after one of the guys, quite typical for our group, towards the end went and sabotaged the engines before trying to pod it away even though his objective only required him to reach earth - that is a red flag for our group for reciprocal action in following games and soon the game is all about last man standing than trying to achieve your objective, I have plenty of last man standing games.
On a similar note the same guy spotted in our last game that the Mechanic has a very useful (over-powered ?) ability for achieving a kill one or all of the other crew - one of his actions is to move between any rooms adjacent to a technical corridor, so he can get to the engines (only need to two of them) and then back to an escape hatch without having to get near any rooms that may have hungry visitors in, very handy at the back end of the game. Unfortunately for him all the Intruders went on a damage rampage soon after and the ship exploded.
hotseatgames's Avatar
hotseatgames replied the topic: #305916 07 Jan 2020 18:46
I have never played as the Mechanic but if I'm not mistaken, when he uses that technical corridor card he has to end his entire round so it still would take him a while to accomplish engine fuckery, would it not? Still, probably easier for him than for any other characters.
Msample's Avatar
Msample replied the topic: #305918 07 Jan 2020 19:02

hotseatgames wrote: I have never played as the Mechanic but if I'm not mistaken, when he uses that technical corridor card he has to end his entire round so it still would take him a while to accomplish engine fuckery, would it not? Still, probably easier for him than for any other characters.


Yes, he has to Pass after using the Technical corridor.
Shellhead's Avatar
Shellhead replied the topic: #305929 08 Jan 2020 10:10
I love bughunt games, but the price for Nemesis is too damn high, and I already own several bughunt games. Intruder, Space Hulk, The Vesuvius Incident, and Death Angel. Nemesis might be a better game than some or even all of these other games, but I can't justify spending $250+ at this time.
Rliyen's Avatar
Rliyen replied the topic: #305930 08 Jan 2020 10:36
Did mine pre-order from MM for about $130 back in June. Got it in November. Worth every penny I paid.
Msample's Avatar
Msample replied the topic: #305937 08 Jan 2020 13:10

Shellhead wrote: I love bughunt games, but the price for Nemesis is too damn high, and I already own several bughunt games. Intruder, Space Hulk, The Vesuvius Incident, and Death Angel. Nemesis might be a better game than some or even all of these other games, but I can't justify spending $250+ at this time.


I hear you on price, its def expensive at MSRP, let alone the secondary market prices its going for now.

That said, I think its more than a bug hunt game. I've played Space Hulk and Death Angel and I give them full credit for being stripped down to just that . But after awhile, SH especially struck me as much as being a puzzle solving exercise . Find the optimum place to move to/make your stand and hope the dice don't betray you. DA may be one of the best games in such a small package but it is kind of one note, even with the expanions.

For me, NEMESIS has not only more variety in terms of board/character combos, but it has the early game portion of tension and the unknown, and its not strictly a bug hunt - they might appear, then go away . Once they show up the game tension ramps up a lot and these aliens can be a lot harder to kill; you're not packing 40K era weaponry. Running away might be necessary. You've got the added element of being unsure of who your friends are, which perfectly captures the ALIENS theme IMO. But I fully understand the price barrier, hence why I specifically called it out in the review.

On a related note, GF9 last year teased a new game called ALIENS : ANOTHER GLORIOUS DAY IN THE CORPS, obviously based on the Aliens IP . When they first announced it I was pretty interested, given GF9s track record. ( and yes I know they had an exodus of the original staff ) . Lately though they've been sending out some vague signals that its release is in limbo due to the Disney/Fox merger and the Mouse having to review licensing agreements, so who knows what will happen. From what I've seen, that game is pretty much an ALIENS themed tactical bug hunt, so I'd think it has a little less depth than this game but given their track record I'll probably track it down at some point; their price points are always quite reasonable.
southernman's Avatar
southernman replied the topic: #305940 08 Jan 2020 14:18

hotseatgames wrote: I have never played as the Mechanic but if I'm not mistaken, when he uses that technical corridor card he has to end his entire round so it still would take him a while to accomplish engine fuckery, would it not? Still, probably easier for him than for any other characters.


If he makes his way normally to one engine, sabotage it and then he only needs to use the ability to get to one other engine, then end round. Do the next engine and make his way back and wait for the card to come back so he can 'teleport' to an escape hatch. Need to do this in the last 5 or so turns when everyone else is trying to finish their objective, fighting off hungry intruders and racing for the hybertorium or escape pods so they can't interfere - he was a sneaky bastard, I'm glad the ship took us all out.
southernman's Avatar
southernman replied the topic: #305941 08 Jan 2020 14:22

Shellhead wrote: I love bughunt games, but the price for Nemesis is too damn high, and I already own several bughunt games. Intruder, Space Hulk, The Vesuvius Incident, and Death Angel. Nemesis might be a better game than some or even all of these other games, but I can't justify spending $250+ at this time.


Don't let the Warhammer lads hear you saying that about spending mega-$$ on little plastic figures, you'll be hounded off the site :laugh:
Shellhead's Avatar
Shellhead replied the topic: #305944 08 Jan 2020 15:28

southernman wrote:

Shellhead wrote: I love bughunt games, but the price for Nemesis is too damn high, and I already own several bughunt games. Intruder, Space Hulk, The Vesuvius Incident, and Death Angel. Nemesis might be a better game than some or even all of these other games, but I can't justify spending $250+ at this time.


Don't let the Warhammer lads hear you saying that about spending mega-$$ on little plastic figures, you'll be hounded off the site :laugh:


I'm the guy who openly bragged here about buying stripped (everything but the minis) copies of Silver Tower, Hammerhal, and Black Fortress, then using customized wooden tokens in place of the minis.
ubarose's Avatar
ubarose replied the topic: #306010 10 Jan 2020 10:54
I got to play Nemesis last night. I think it is an excellent dungeon crawl. Certainly better than most. I'd choose it over and of the D&D board games. I like how you can do different things in different rooms, but you have to find those rooms first. I like having personal goals. The menace of the Intruders ramps up at a nice pace with the adding more powerful Intruders to the pull bag as the game progresses. The event cards added a welcome element of surprise and a bit of push your luck, as did not knowing how many hit points an Intruder had. I think all these elements these kept the game exciting and kept the amount of over planning and over thinking down.

While playing it, I also kept getting the feeling that bits of it felt familiar, and then I realized that I was being reminded of Space Cadets: Away Missions. Now I just really want to play SCAM.
southernman's Avatar
southernman replied the topic: #306018 10 Jan 2020 14:54
Can't say, after 8 games in a month and owning SCAM twice, I've had that feeling. But then so many games are just mechanics of other games recombined that if you analysed games at low level we'd be saying that so often - me, I just play them :) .
Space Ghost's Avatar
Space Ghost replied the topic: #306275 16 Jan 2020 14:17
Is this good at less than 4? Would it be good at 2?
hotseatgames's Avatar
hotseatgames replied the topic: #306279 16 Jan 2020 14:35
There is a cooperative mode that I have yet to try. I'm sure it would be fine for lower player counts. I don't think the standard mode would be as good. Player treachery is what really helps things along.
charlest's Avatar
charlest replied the topic: #306281 16 Jan 2020 14:42
I found 3 a little boring honestly.
southernman's Avatar
southernman replied the topic: #306294 16 Jan 2020 17:14
Agree with both, I make the guys play co-op when there's just three of us. I don't really feel it in a normal game with just three and co-op does give it a bit of a challenge trying to get the three objectives done, if you want to up the pressure just change the rules so that any death is a loss.
Personally I wouldn't bother with two, if it did happen it would have to be co-op.
Josh Look's Avatar
Josh Look replied the topic: #306319 17 Jan 2020 10:12
I played a 3 player game last night with the normal competitive rules last night and it was fine. Nobody won, which irritated one player, but the other two of us had a great time. Things really went to shit when we all made it a bit more clear what we were going for!