Facebook

2001 A Clash of Kings A Feast for Crow A Game of Thrones A Scanner Darkly A Storm of Swords Abney Park Adrianne Palicki AEG Aether Shanties alderac Allen Steele AMC Andew Stanton Anne McCaffrey Asimov Assassin's Creed Atari 2600 Atlanta Nights audio books Babylon 5 Barsoom Ben Bova Bill & Ted 3 Blade Runner Blind Guardian Blue Oyster Cult Bo Hansson Board Game Board Games Bob Catley Books brian lewis Bruce Boxleitner Bruce Sterling bucephalus C.S. Lewis Cady Coleman Captain Robert card game Carl Sagan Carol Clerk Chad Jensen Charlton Heston Christmas music christopher badell Chronicles of Narnia Civilization COD Comic Books comic books Commentary Conan Conan movie Cons Contact contest Conventions conventions Corey Konieczka crysis 2 dance with dragons Darkwalker on Moonshae Darrell K. Sweet Dave Brock David Arkenstone David Gerrold David Gregg David Mack d-day dice Deathlands Dejah Thoris Digital Content Disney doctor who Dominion Dork Tower Double Fine Adventure Douglas Adams Douglas Niles DragonCon Dragonriders of Pern DRM Drowning Towers Dune dungeon crawl Dungeons and Dragons Echo Edgar Rice Burroughs Edwin A. Abbott EEdgar Rice Burroughs Elric Eminent Domain emissary Emmanuel Aquin epic duels ereader Facebook fallen Famous Monsters of Filmland fanboy fandom fantasy Fantasy art Fantasy Flight Fantasy Lit fantasy literature Fantasy music Fantasy quotes film Flatland Forbidden Island Forrest Ackerman Frank Frazetta Frank Herbert Frankenstein Friday From the Earth to the Moon furniture Gabriele Mari Gadgets game of the year Game of Thrones game review Game Table Gamewright Gaming Furniture gaming table Geek Chic Gene Wolfe George Alec Effinger George R.R. Martin George Turner GGeorge R.R. Martin Gianluca Santopietro GiftTRAP Glory Road Glory to Rome GMT Games gozer games Graphic Audio Greater Than Games Gryphon Games GtR H.G. Wells Halo Harrison Ford Harry Harrison Hawkwind Hollow Earth Expedition Hollywood Homeworld Horror Humor humor Ian Anderson Idoru Ignacy Trzewiczek Infinity Beach International Space Station interview Intrigue Isaac Asimov J. Michael Straczynski J.R.R. Tolkien Jack L. Chalker Jack McDevitt Jack Vance James Axler James Bama James P. Blaylock Jason Momoa Jeanne Cavelos Jethro Tull Jhereg Jim Burns JJames Axler Jodi Foster John Carter John Carter of Mars john hughes John Kovalic Johnny Rotten Jules Verne Jungle Tales of Tarzan Justin Oh keanu reeves Ken Kelly Kenneth Branagh Kentucky Kevin Wilson Kickstarter Kim Stanley Robinson Knizia Langdon St. Ives Larry Elmore Larry Niven Last Man Lazarus Long Leigh Brackett Lemmy Leonard Nimoy Les Johnson Letters from Whitechapel Lifeforce Lost Horizons Lynn Collins Manowar Mansions of Madness Margaret Weis Martial Law Martin Mary Shelley Matt Leacock Max Holliday Mayday Games Michael Apted Michael Chabon Michael Moorcock Michael Stackpole Michael Whelan Middle-earth Midnight at the Well of Souls Monte Cook Mostly Harmless movie Movies music NASA NBA Nebula Awards netflix News nexus games Nightfall Nik Turner Nine Princes in Amber Ninjas Niven's Laws N-Space Octavia Butler out of the box Outlanders Parable of the Sower parents' guide PARSEC Party Game Patrick Stewart Paul Kearney Paul Koenig Pern Peter David Peter Jackson Philip Jose Farmer Philip K. Dick photoshop Pirates Planet of Mystery portal publishing post apocalyptic Potion making practice Poul Anderson prequels Pret a Porter Print-and-play qFantasy quotes Race for the Galaxy Ray Bradbury Reach reboots Red Mars remakes review reviews Ridley Scott RightGames Ringworld Robert E. Howard Robert Heinlein Robert Kirkman robots Rock Roger Zelazny Role-playing Games rook city RPG RpgFan Rush San Juan Satire Science Fiction Science Fiction art Science Fiction music Science Fiction quotes Science Fiction Writers of America script Sean Young Sentinels of the Multiverse sequels Sergey Machin Seth Jaffee SETI SFWA shakey cam Sherlock Holmes Slough Feg Small Matters Smurfs Southern Fandom Resource Guide space flute space rock Space Shuttle spiel des jahres Sports Stanislaw Lem star trek star wars Starworld steampunk Steven Brust strike force one Stronghold Super Dungeon Explore super heroes T.H. White Tabletop Game of the Month Tad Williams Tars Tarkus Tarzan Tarzan and the Jewels of Opar Tarzan the Untamed Tasty Minstrel Games Taylor Kitsch Terror Bull Games Terry Bisson Terry Pratchett The Hobbit The Adventurers The Beasts of Tarzan The Black Wizards The Boat of a Million Years The Book of the New Sun the coldest war The Complete Elmore Artbook The Death of Tragedy The Difference Engine The Dying Earth The Fellowship of the Ring The Gods Themselves The Great Tarzan Adventure The Heretic Kings The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy The Hobbit movies The Lord of the Rings The Lord Weird Slough Feg The Matrix The Moon is a Harsh Mistress The Moonshae Trilogy The Newspaper Clipping Generator The Once and Future King The Saga of Hawkwind The Secrets The Shadow of the Torturer The Shadow Within The Son of Tarzan The Stars My Destination The Walking Dead The Wind Whales of Ishmael therapy thrift store Time Enough for Love Time Machine Tour Titan Books titans of industry To Green Angel Tower To the Stars Toc Toc Woodman Tracy Hickman Traveller Ursula K. Le Guin valentine's day Valley Games Victorian Undead Victory Point Games Video Games Voyage of the Dawn Treader Voyage to the Red Planet War Against the Chtorr Wargame wargames watchtower games Well of Darkness Wheelworld wii Willem Dafoe William Gibson William Shatner Wonder Woman word game worker placement Writer Beware Writing Yahoo Zelazny zombies
Search Nerdbloggers:
Nerdbloggers

 

 

 

Nerdbloggers RSS
« Gaming with the Kids | Main | Out of the Park Baseball 13 Review »
Monday
Aug062012

Nightfall: The Coldest War - Staking New Territory

 

I've been playing Nightfall since it first came out, and have been impressed with the low-downtime cutthroat fun delivered through it's unique chaning mechanic. In my review of the last expansion in the series, Blood Country, I had expressed some concern that the Tru-blood style settings and themes in the various Nightfall entries were becoming somewhat similar. Almost as if AEG has read my mind, I find the newest expansion The Coldest War half a world away from the humid nights of the American South, revealing instead how Nightfall has affected the cradle of vampire myth: the fridgid tundra of mother Russia.

Nightfall: The Coldest War not only opens up a refreshingly new thematic setting, it also introduces the widest variety of changes to core gameplay so far in the series. With new starting minions, moon phase cards that change the overall playfield, a couple of new mechanics that turn the game on it's head, and a set of fully illustrated wound cards, there is a ton of new content packed in the box.

Like Nightfall: Martial Law, The Coldest War can be played as a standalone game. However, where Martial Law duplicated some cards from the base set, The Coldest War presents an entirely new cast of starting characters, as well as gives all of the wound cards a graphical facelift. If one word can describe The Coldest War, it is "change".

Has this new Nightfall toppled a Berlin Wall-like barrier holding back it's thematic potential, or has it dropped like an Iron Curtain separating the new play experience from it's core audience? Let's take a look at the new changes in a bit more detail, and I'll give you my impressions.

Setting:

The biggest change to the game is the new setting. In what seems like a complete reversal of the Tru-Blood style Americana slasher, Nightfall: The Coldest War opens up an entirely new continent with plenty of supernatural lore to explore. As children, practically every one I have known has played make-believe as the stereotypical movie vampire while laying on a thick slavic accent. The minions in The Coldest War may be foreign, but their horror heritage will allow any players to comfortably assimilate the thematic flavor that theiy bring to the game. That's not to say that Nightfall has done a 180, and is delivering 1800's dracula; Not at all, it's still the same mix of urban decay Nightfall does so well - but the minions and artwork in this expansion have a bit more foreign charm than the previous settings.

I really like this detour in setting. I was getting a bit bored with the sameness of the theme in the previous expansions, and I was pleasantly surprised at how refreshing a simple change of locale made to he gameplay experience. I hope that AEG continues along this line and explores all of the shadowy nooks and crannies of the newly decaying world.

Mechanics:

Moon Phase - One of the biggest changes introduced by The Coldest War is the inclusion of Moon Phase cards. An optional addition, moon phases are represented by a small deck of cards, each card depicting a certain phase of the moon. Each moon phase adds a global effect to the game, usually helping or hindering a particular type of minion (Lycanthrope, Vampire, Ghoul, etc..). Players can choose to manipulate these cards on their turn by blindly drawing the next one from the deck or shuffling the deck. 

This gives an interesting flavor to the game, and although there is a bit of allowance for strategy when deciding when to draw vs. shuffle, it is still pretty random. It definitely spices up the game, though, and actually gives some purpose to the different minion types. Players may be divided about whether or not they like this particular mechanism, but it's optional status means that it can easily be left out if it is not your cup of tea.

Combat Effects - While the moon phase cards may seem like a big change to the game, the biggest change is actually much more subtle. Many cards in The Coldest War contain combat effects: actions that can be taken during combat by playing the card directly from the player's hand without chaining. This will probably be the most controversial aspect of this expansion. The chaining mechanic is really the core of Nightfall, but these new combat effects essentially bypass it. These effects may be likened most to "instants" in Magic the Gathering, allowing players a chance to save themselves or damage others out of turn. We have seen this mechanic before in some of the wound cards introduced in previous sets, but The Coldest War really brings the concept into the spotlight.

Personally, I like the addition. One of the apparent shortcomings of Nightfall after many plays is that it can be prone to "Kingmaking", where all of the players beat up on another - virtually forcing him out of the game. The ability to more nimbly counter these attacks takes some strides to level the playing field. Players may feel that these cards are a bit more powerful than the standard cards due to the fact that they have potent effects without having to consider their colors, but I felt that they brought an interesting, refreshing twist to the formula.

New Wound Cards - The Coldest War not only introduces new wound cards with a flexible effect that acts as a wildcard to chain any two colors together, it also includes cards from the previous games with slick new art that is much nicer than the simple bullethole graphic found in the original. Since each of the older expansions have unique wound effects, this is actually like getting bonus cards in the coldest war expansion. (Even if you are like me and snag each new expansion as it comes out, the new art is worthwhile in and of itself.)

 

New Starting Decks - While every full expansion up until The Coldest War has included a set of starting characters, they have been the same familiar faces in each set. With the setting change in The Coldest War comes a new cast of starting characters as well, which is a breath of fresh air. I'm not sure that these new characters were built with beginners in mind though, as their effects and powers are a bit more nuanced than the basic set, with one or two that may seem downright weaker at first glance. As a set though, these new starting characters are balanced and play differently enough to be worth exploration. I am already starting to notice changes in my strategies while utilizing these new starting cards.

Conclusion:

The Coldest War definitely has a new feel to it, and plays much differently than the previous games. The combat effects really change things up and create a faster, more aggressive, and immediate game. I can't help but feel that Coldest War brings a bit more "Magic the Gathering" flavor to Nightfall, by adding more complicated interactions that require a new type of thinking about how, and where cards can be utilized.

While this new mechanism seems to address kingmaking a bit, it also makes the game much more cutthroat, and changes its nature significantly. If you want more of a CCG feel in your Nightfall, then this will be an excellent addition, but those who feel that Nightfall is already too chaotic may want to steer clear. I enjoy the new mechanics, and feel that they help revive a game that was starting to falter with expansions that were beginning to feel too similar.

Some players may feel that the optional Moon Phase cards add a bit too much randomness to the game as well, but I really enjoy that the moon phases give more purpose to the different creature types found in the decks, delivering an added dimension of strategy to the card draft process. I may not use Moon Phases in every game I play, but the ability to add them on a whim is a welcome inclusion.

I think that Nightfall was really due for a refreshing change, and The Coldest War really delivers. There is enough newness here to last for quite a while. That being said, The Coldest War may not work very well as an introduction to Nighfall - the new mechanics all bend the basic core of the gameplay, and while exciting for the veteran player, this may seem aimless and without focus to the beginner. If you are looking to dip your toes into the Nightfall universe for the first time, the base game is still the best entrypoint.

All in all, Nightfall: The Coldest War is a solid entry for the veteran Nightfall player and should scratch the itch for those who are looking for something to spice up their gameplay - just be aware that this changes the nature of Nightfall quite a bit, and may require a paradigm shift in strategies that are used to succeed.

PrintView Printer Friendly Version

EmailEmail Article to Friend

References (6)

References allow you to track sources for this article, as well as articles that were written in response to this article.
  • Response
    Response: Bart Starr Jersey
    Incredible Nfl Jerseys - Cheapest Price On Line
  • Response
    NFL is really 1 of the biggest sports in America. It has a key following.
  • Response
    Great Web page, Continue the beneficial job. Thanks a ton.
  • Response
    Nightfall: The Coldest War - Staking New Territory - Home - Board Games, Video Games, Reviews, Previews, Fantasy Flight, Z-man, Game of Thrones, Walking Dead
  • Response
    Nightfall: The Coldest War - Staking New Territory - Home - Board Games, Video Games, Reviews, Previews, Fantasy Flight, Z-man, Game of Thrones, Walking Dead
  • Response
    Nightfall: The Coldest War - Staking New Territory - Home - Board Games, Video Games, Reviews, Previews, Fantasy Flight, Z-man, Game of Thrones, Walking Dead

Reader Comments

There are no comments for this journal entry. To create a new comment, use the form below.

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
Post:
 
Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <i> <strike> <strong>