The RockyMountainNavy Saturday Family Game Night series continued this week with Nexus Ops. I have the original Avalon Hill Games, Inc. version from 2005. This game is good, but showing its age. In it’s day it probably seemed innovative enough; by today’s standards its a bit stale but still makes for a good light, family wargame.
The players each lead a corporation exploring a strange planet. Each corporation is trying to explore the planet, gaining the most income from mines while buying units to fight and control areas. Victory Points are scored for winning battles or completing Secret Missions. The first player/corporation to 12 VP wins. Each player/corporation has the same player mat with identical cost and capabilities. The only difference is the starting money; starting earlier means less initial income. The middle of the board is an area known as the Monolith; only certain units can enter this space and possession gives the owner two (2) Energizer Cards (special abilities for reinforcement, movement, or combat) each turn.
We played a three-player game with Little RMN starting off, Middle RMN second, and myself third. Play initially was slow as all three corporations explored the board. Little RMN jumped out and took the Monolith, only to be ejected by me. I took full advantage of my Secret Mission cards and laid down many, but most were only one VP making my march toward victory slow. Little RMN eventually caught on and started playing his Secret Mission cards, and was quickly catching up as his were of the two and three VP-each variety. Middle RMN was accumulating money and making both of us worried. Eventually, Little RMN and I clashed over the Monolith and mines along our exploration boundaries, but I was unable to devote my full attention to him because I was worried about the storm that might come at me from the other direction. Eventually, my slow but steady strategy worked and I made my 12 VP on a few fortunate plays of Secret Mission cards just ahead of Little RMN sweeping me away, and just as the Middle RMN was making a giant purchase of killer units that surely would of swept me away too!
After the game we talked about the game mechanics. We all agreed that it was very simple with little variety. Sure, the board will be different each time, and the Exploration chits vary, and going first starts with less money, but the corporations themselves are symmetrical with no difference other than the color of the bits. After playing games like Scythe or 1775 – Rebellion recently this symmetry was very…vanilla. This doesn’t make Nexus Ops a bad game – just not as interesting as more recent designs.
Nexus Ops will stay in the Saturday Game Night series rotation, but I don’t expect it to be played that often. Maybe when we are looking for a quick game on a short game night or if we introduce new players it may land on the table.