Review of Nevermore

Posted: August 11, 2015 in Board Games, Gen Con 2015, Reviews
Tags: , , , ,

Nevermore1

There are many paths to power: brute force, cunning deception, cunning trickery. In Nevermore from Smirk & Dagger games you hold the cards, but you you can’t keep them all. What will you give your opponents lest they turn it into the dagger they stab in your back? What will you keep for yourself? And what will your opponents give you that you can use against them?

 

Nevermore is one of the surprise hits of Gen Con 2015, selling out completely (at which point a hero emerged from their crew and drove two hours back to their warehouse to get more copies, which nearly sold out as well). This game was on my list of games to check out but I didn’t get around to demoing it until Sunday, so I’m glad they fetched more copies otherwise I would have been one sad gamer.

Nevermore is a medium weight, card-drafting game in which players try to build sets of cards to gain the powers of the various suits. This is complicated by the fact that the hand you are dealt won’t be the hand you end up playing–after receiving their hands of five cards, players pass three cards to their left, look at their new hands, then pass two more cards, look again, and finally pass one more card. Then a tile matching one of the five suits is flipped and players reveal all of the cards in their hands which match that suit; the player with the most cards of that suit unlocks the powers of that suit (attack, heal, draw magic, or score victory points) to a degree based on how many more cards they have than the player who had second most. The next suit is then revealed and play continues until all of the suits have been resolved.

The twist comes in with the Ravens suit. Ravens can be either very bad for you or very good; if a player has any Ravens in their hand they kill of a card from their hand of any other suit when that suit is revealed, making those cards not count that round. If any players have Ravens left in their hands after killing off their other cards, the player with the most Ravens gets to draw from the powerful Shadow Magick deck. If a player manages to somehow have a hand containing five Ravens, they declare that they have a Conspiracy of Ravens and do one damage to every other player, draw a Shadow Magick card, and score one victory point.

If a player is ever reduced to zero wounds they are not eliminated from the game, but are instead transformed into a raven. As a raven they can no longer attack, score victory points, or heal, but can still draw Shadow or Light Magick. Also, a player may not win the game while they are a raven, although there are ways in which a raven may transform back into a human (having a hand of five of a kind or one of each suit). The first human player to score six victory points or the last human standing is the winner of the game!

Thematically, Nevermore asks the question, “what came before Poe’s raven?” While this game is infused throughout with the theme of ravens, the lore of the game isn’t really important to the gameplay itself and that’s just fine by me; this game plays great without requiring a strong narrative. Using player transformation instead of player elimination is a great way eliminate players from being a front runner for the win while still allowing them the ability to affect the game and even come back in, although transforming back to a human from a raven is tough to pull off (although not so tough that it never happens).

I’m really glad I was able to pick up Nevermore at Gen Con; I had a great time while I was demoing it there and my friends loved it when I brought it out at game night last weekend. It took a couple of rounds for everyone to figure out how everything went, especially the concept of Ravens killing off other cards, but after that everything went smoothly (although we somehow managed to get a Conspiracy of Ravens in the first two hands of the game) and everyone had a great time. The cards are beautifully illustrated and well printed; the box organizer is well designed and keeps the three decks separated nicely. Nevermore also plays with three to six players, so it will definitely be making repeat appearances at game night as it can be tough to find anything more than very “light weight” games which can handle more than four players. This game is one of my favorite finds at Gen Con this year.

I give Nevermore 4.5 out of 5 stars.

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