[2017-06-11] Amazing Game - Nightfall Eastern Skies Board Game

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The war for the eternal night rages around the world and nowhere is it more bizarre than in the far east. A fully functional city in India nearly untouched by the Nightfall, uncontrolled ghouls from the seas and strange happenings in the skies are only the beginning. Nightfall is a strategy deck building game where you take control of Hunters, Lycanthropes, Vampires and Ghouls to take down your opponent. This set can be played stand alone or can be combined with other sets of Nightfall for enhanced play. This set features the all new Link mechanic allowing for faster play.

Nightfall Eastern Skies Board Game

The world of Nightfall continues to expand with the newest installment, Eastern Skies. Eastern Skies is a standalone game allowing newcomers to play right out of the box. It also has a bit of a mid-eastern flair to its artwork and card names. For Nightfall enthusiasts, there’s a lot here to like.
The Basics. Eastern Skies retains the same structure as the other Nightfall games. Each game begins with a draft of cards which will enter the game as purchasable orders. Once the game commences, on each player’s turn, they begin by sending their minions out to attack. Then, they can start a “chain” of cards to which all other players can add. Then, they claim new cards either from the public archives or their own private stash. Finally, they can draw back up to five and the game continues.
Eastern Skies continues the “summon” mechanic introduced in Crimson Siege. Several cards now have a summon ability typically written as “Summon 1″ or “Summon 2.” When this text takes effect, players draw from the summon deck. The summon deck has three types of ghouls – weak, hungry, and deadly. They come into play as minions for the summoning player. When they die, they go back to the bottom of the Summon deck rather than being discarded.
Eastern Skies introduces “Link,” a new text ability. When a card with Link is played in the chain, the link text occurs immediately. So, unlike chain text which resolves in reverse order, a link card is like an instant. It can do damage, target other cards in the chain, or take any of a number of effects. And, because link text happens instantly, there is no ability for other players to disrupt it.
Finally, as a standalone game, Eastern Skies includes unique starting cards. While the six cards generally follow the theme from Nightfall (Green gets influence, White removes wounds, Yellow is a defender, etc.) they do so in unique ways. The starting cards, unlike from prior versions, are not always best when played early.
The Feel. With the above noted additions, Eastern Skies does a great job of carrying the Nightfall torch. This game remains incredibly aggressive, forcing combat and ensuring that all players take wounds and receive damage. Eastern Skies, like its Nightfall brethren, feels like a high combat, duel to the death between foes.
However, the new additions have some surprising impacts on play. The new starting cards tend to have better effects when played later. The green starter gives influence based on how many minions are in play. Early game, that will be few, but later it could be a ton. Similarly, the Yellow starter attaches to a non-starter minion and turns him into a giant wall. Again, this card works best later after a few good minions have been acquired.
This change really helps to mix up the game a bit. In original Nightfall, the minions all tended to come out early when they would have the most effectiveness. Now, they tend to come out later. So they are used as little surprises rather than being played in the same way every game. It’s an encouraging change and I love the new abilities.

Nightfall Eastern Skies Board Game

Depending on the mix of the game, Summon cards can be very powerful. Some cards not only summon, but then deal damage or gain influence based on the number of ghouls in play. So, being able to combine and chain a number of summoners together can result in huge benefits. This works well in Eastern Skies where many of the cards seem balanced together to not only assist the summon, but to attack those who use it.
However, the goal for most deck builders is to mix it all together. If there happens to be one or two summon cards but no anti-summon cards (because, after all, it wasn’t even in the game for the first five sets of Nightfall), it may prove a little swingy. Similarly, if the public archives have a lot of ghouls in them, then summoning powers might be even more drastic. I haven’t seen this being an issue in my plays (mostly because the all-together method hasn’t produced any summoners in the archives), but it is a noteworthy concern.
On the other hand, I love the Link ability. Link cards, and their ability to impact the game immediately, are incredibly powerful. My personal favorite is Songsuda. Her Link ability targets any other card in the chain and says that the card’s chain text will not resolve. Bam! An opponent thought he was going to summon or do damage. Nope. Now the card either fizzles or the minion comes into play without fanfare. I love adding instant effects to Nightfall and I hope this is a trend that continues.
Components: 4 of 5. Eastern Skies comes with an updated rule book (version 1.4) which provides concise, clear information and is updated to include all effects. This is a wonderful addition since you can keep just one rulebook rather than having to keep each expansion’s rulebook and thumb through all of them to find the one you want. The cards themselves are very consistent with prior sets. Good stock, high gloss, and no color disparities that would influence play.
Strategy/Luck Balance: 4 of 5. Eastern Skies, like Nightfall generally, keeps strategy at the forefront even from the beginning with the draft. The new starting minions do a great job of increasing player options and choices. Sure, you can get a minion down now, but he would be so much more effective later. Of course, that means leaving yourself open to attack… There are some concerns about Summons (and to a lesser extent, ghouls generally) seeing an increase in power. But for now it’s a “wait and see” issue. There are no immediately apparent balance issues.
Mechanics: 4.5 of 5. The Link mechanic integrates well into the game and provides wonderful new tactics to the players. Link cards, because of their power, tend to be more expensive to acquire. But it is often very worth the cost. The new Wound powers also assist with this as Eastern Skies allow wounds to be discarded for influence, allowing the wounded to access the best cards more quickly.
Replayability: 3.5 or 4.5 of 5. If I’m looking at just Eastern Skies, then it suffers from the same card limit that the base game did. With only 24 cards, 5-player games will see a lot of repeats. However, if added to previous sets, this concern vanishes immediately. New variations and new strategies develop each game and combined, the replayability increases substantially.
Spite: 3.5 of 5. Spite is high in this game. Eastern Skies, like Nightfall generally, is very aggressive and the goal is to wound the other players as much as possible. If anything, the spite score underestimates the attacking that goes on in this game. The reason it is slightly lower is that, if you gang up on one player, you’ll end up losing the game. Only the player with the least wounds wins. So, you will want to always attack or give wounds to the player who you believe has the least. Otherwise, it doesn’t matter if you gave a person 30 wounds. You’ll still lose if the person next to you got one fewer than you.
Overall: 4 of 5. Eastern Skies is a solid addition to the Nightfall universe. It creates the same aggressive, unpredictable game while also adding new options and tactics for experienced players. If you are looking to expand your Nightfall tactics, then this game is worth looking in to. In fact, I think the new starting cards are so fantastic that any Nightfall players should check it out for just that reason alone.

Nightfall Eastern Skies Board Game
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