First Impressions: Nightfall, The Coldest War

I had the opportunity to play the latest iteration of Nightfall on the day it hit our UK shores so I thought I'd pass on my impressions. If you've not played Nightfall it can best be described as the result of a mad professor's experiment to create a hybrid of Dominion and Magic. Nightfall creates a world of vampires, werewolves, hunters and ghouls similar to that of White Wolf's World of Darkness or the Underworld films and is a deck building game which involves using your undead minions to attack other players. Each successful attack results in the victim adding a wound card to their deck and at the end of the game the player with the least wounds wins. There's also a fancy chain mechanic that happens when you draft cards into play and allows you to play a stream of chained actions which your opponents can then continue. At first glass it’s a complicated game and it takes a game or two for the chain mechanic to sink in.

Nightfall has some interesting mechanics. Wound cards actually help your deck; allowing you to cycle through your cards and one Coldest War card acts a chain link. Each player has their own private pair of supply piles; you get to choose these at the start of the game and offer great opportunities to play cards your opponents can't access. And then there's the actual chain mechanic, pulling off a long chain is extremely satisfying.

The Coldest War is a standalone expansion, so doesn't need the original Nightfall to play but can be combined to create a bigger game. It comes with a whole new set of cards, including a new set of starting minions that all have some interesting new strategies. My particular favourite is a minion who allows you to buy cards from other player’s piles. In addition, The Coldest War introduces the Moon Phase cards. This is a set of seven cards that represent different phases of the moon and since we're playing with various creatures of the night these Moon Phases create global effects such as bringing ghouls back from the dead. Any player can change the Moon Phase card at the end of their turn but its replacement is random. Nightfall is relatively quick for a deck builder and The Coldest War appears to be even quicker due to several direct damage effects.

I have only ever played one game of Nightfall before this and my gut says that if you're new to the game you may be better of sticking with the original, either that or play a few games without using the optional moon cards. The complexity of the game is going to put some people off, especially if they prefer their deck-builders Dominion shaped but for those who thirst for direct conflict Nightfall should be right up their alley. I’m looking forward to some more games and then I can give a more in depth review.
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