In 2018, Awaken Realms published Adam Kwapiński’s semi-cooperative science fiction board game Nemesis, which may be played by one to five players. The game takes place on board the spacecraft Nemesis and features cooperative features alongside adversarial ones and competing goals. Nemesis was praised for its components, intensity, and replayability when it was first released, but its extreme complexity drew criticism.
What is this Game About?
Can you endure the harsh reality of an unconscious spacecraft that is malfunctioning? You must restart the spacecraft to accomplish your objectives after being awakened from hypersleep on the Nemesis, unless your objective is to destroy the vessel.
How to Play Game?
Nemesis may be played with one to five players, however I thought playing it alone was quite boring. As I continue below, kindly note that this section, along with the remainder of my review, was composed to allow a two-handed solo player to manage two characters. I will explain why in the following part.
You select a character (or two), at random or not, and then take out the player board, player cards, miniature, and starting goods to begin the game. All player miniatures who are now in play are placed in the hibernatorium, where they have just awoken, except the corpse, which is now a token on the board.
You are also issued two objective cards at the start of the game, and they get to choose one when the first alien miniature shows up on the board. Two-handed solo is a cooperative game and winning requires achieving both goals. You can choose to tour every room, learn about the invading species, exit the spacecraft, or simply let it blow up. Yes, in certain situations you can win the game even if you’re not alive!
The five cards in each player’s hand dictate the actions that can be taken. Until all players have either passed or run out of cards, players take turns acting in pairs, each doing one or two actions. You have to discard cards to offset the cost of each action you do, which is one or two action points.
Nemesis might be a lot of fun for you if you’ve ever wanted to play a game similar to Alien/Aliens. It features a modular setup with a two-sided board and some of the most thematic moments I’ve ever seen in a board game. The game begins with the players emerging from slumber in the ship’s center. They begin to produce sounds as they move and investigate.
The likelihood that one of the new inhabitants will notice you increases with the amount of noise you make. If you create a disturbance and are required to set a yellow noise token on a corridor or other area where one is already in place, then good news! You will be having an interaction. The initial meeting is typically not the worst because everyone is starting with a loaded gun.
That happens later, after you’ve run out of ammunition, are hurt, and are attempting to reach an escape pod, but three adult intruders are in your path and you accidentally called the queen to your tile by making too much noise. Furthermore, as noise tokens remain active until an encounter occurs in a nearby room, some players might even take advantage of this feature by stomping across the ship while leaving others to bear the repercussions.
In an attempt to survive and accomplish their goals, players will alternately perform two actions from the five cards they have in their hands. While the regular mode is competitive or semi-coop and has some directly competing objectives, the cooperative aims typically function more in tandem. While one character must protect an egg, another may be attempting to destroy the nest.
One player may be actively trying to ensure that the other player dies, while someone else is striving to be the only one who survives. While players are unable to actively assault one another, anyone in a room with an Intruder can be damaged. Stated differently, I am unable to point my rifle at the player pretending to be the Scout, but if she is in a room with the queen, I can attempt to utilize Airlock Control to place both of them in the black, light a fire, and then flee.
Everyone takes two actions during the Player phase, which goes on until someone passes or runs out of cards. It is usually a good idea to keep onto 1-2 cards because if you have fewer cards than the number (usually 1-4) on the bottom of the Intruder token, your character will be assaulted immediately in the event of a surprise encounter.
When the game was released, reviews were favorable. Ars Technica’s Dan Thuort praised the game’s replayability, concept, player elimination system, and level of engagement. In addition, he compared the game to the Alien film series, saying that “[The game is] evocative rather than elegant.” This is one of the most thoughtfully put-together narrative games of the previous year, so don’t be fooled by the mounds of plastic. Dan Jolin, who wrote for Tabletop Gaming, compared it to the Alien franchise and praised its solo mode, components, engagement, and mix of confrontational and cooperative features.
However, he also condemned its length, complexity, and player elimination. Additionally, it was a finalist for the Golden Geek Best Themed Board Game award in 2018. GamesRadar’s reviewer Matt Thrower gave the expansion Nemesis Lockdown high marks as well, highlighting its story, replayability, suspense, and component quality. The “rules are very complex and presented in an obtuse rulebook rife with minuscule fonts, confusing cross-references, and mislabelling,” he said, criticizing the accessibility.