Preview: Beneath Nexus
Beneath Nexus is an asymmetrical card-based dungeon crawler for 3 to 6 players that streamlines big RPGs into an easy to learn format.
Normally, we don't like games that require more than 2 players, it's just a thing around here, we like to think any game can be played well with 2 people. It's just not true really. If you look at the classic Settlers of Catan, now called Settlers, it really sucks as a 2 player game, and shines as a 3-4 player game. Sure you can play it with 2, but why?
But Beneath Nexus requires 3 players, 1 baddie and 2 goodies at a minimum. It does play up to 6 players, and that sounds like a lot of fun. With only 3, it's still a good game, just not as wildly fantastic. The game really wants you to like roleplaying games, so much so that it will take all the uniqueness out of a RPG system and boil it down to card decks.
That's not a bad thing.
Often what intimidates new RPG players is the fastness of the rules, and the whole "create a character" as a first step. What does it mean to create a character? What options are best? I just want to play not read books of rules!
Beneath Nexus attempts to streamline the process without losing the fun of playing an RPG. It attempting to streamline roleplaying, it raises the oldest question, what exactly is essential to an RPG? Is it the character creation, combat, setting or something else? I think the answer is "something else". What really makes an RPG around here is the interaction of the players. (edit: that's why games like Ticket-to-Ride is not popular around here) But honestly, that's so the hardest part. How to interact with your best friend of 5 years, as an orc that just met her. You have to learn how to do that.
And I think that's where Beneath Nexus really does a good job. The game handles all the other parts of a RPG, without the roleplaying. So when you want to move to a full RPG, the players already have the idea of combat, casting spells, different characters with different abilities.
Well done Beneath Nexus.
If we take a good look a the contents, pictures above, you'll see lots of fiddly bits, great cards and a fun theme. One of the things we really like about Beneath Nexus is that not all players have the same goals. The good guys have one goal, and the bad guys have their goal. In a 3 person game, 2 players want to kill the single bad guy, where the bad guy wants to kill the entire party. Not unlike most of the RPGs we play around here. Yeah Derek, I'm talking about you and your love of a TPK. (edit: TPK means Total Party Kill in roleplaying games.)
Please take a good close look at the cards. The art is really wonderful and use of the background color is part of game play, and easily determined. I highly doubt anyone will confuse one card with another. And as a matter of fact, the designers WANT you to learn the back of location cards, so you learn what behind each "door", even though its a card. Love that.
Game play is very much like a RPG, players take turns, with the fastest going first, the slowest going last. But sticking to card games, one side takes their turn before the other.
Characters have abilities that they can use as actions, actions make up the bulk of the turn limitations. I can take only so many actions, but there are lots of options for those actions. All of the cards have rules on the cards, and some of those refer to passive actions. Again, like an RPG or Magic: The Gathering. These is a recurring theme in Beneath Nexus, these rules seem like (fill in the blank: game name).
There are some issues.
I've not seen a RPG that didn't have a character sheet. I know I will get comments and emails now with names of those games, but that's OK. Beneath Nexus wants you to use dice to record hits. If you look at the opening video, you'll see dice on top of cards. I'm sure that represents health of that character or monster. Also, if you want the How To Play, you'll hear the voice over say " so-and-so takes X damage", but you don't see that recorded anywhere. So be prepared to have lots of dice on hand.
Another thing we don't like on the ranch... lack of stretch goals.
Yes it's true, there are a couple of stretch goals, but this game needs 4 or 5. I am not a supporter of the "more to be reveled later" strategy of game campaigns. Entice me with what I will get if I back you, AND get all my friends to back you. Put it out there and we'll work together to get the goal... kinda like an RPG.
And another thing, which I will find under grumbly items, I hate cards with white boarders. Since colors are a factor in your game, use that color to the edge. It's a great use of color, you picked great colors... but I see white... ug. Ye I admit, t might just be me that cares about that.
Overall this game has great potential to expand not only card playing game market, but be a lead in to the RPG game market. And for that we applaud you, and head down to the game store to buy more dice... as if that's a bad thing.
Do as we have done and back this project!
P.S. Head on over to gamerustlers.com to see if there are any events in your area playing Beneath Nexus, when it comes out in February 2017.
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