With Nemesis: Lockdown, the new offshoot of Adam Kwapiński's alien nightmare is currently coming into the hands of the players. In Germany, Asmodee will take over the distribution of the retail version and all expansions after the Kickstarter versions have arrived. For this reason I took the original and describe my experiences in this report.

The Nemesis crowdfunding campaign launched on Kickstarter in January 2018. In 21 days, Awaken Realms raised over £3 million from 30.553 backers, becoming the publisher's most successful Kickstarter campaign to date. With the release of the game, Nemesis jumped into the top 100 on BoardGameGeek and holds up well with a rating of 8.3.

What the hell is happening here?!

In Nemesis we are part of a crew on the eponymous spaceship Nemesis. We are currently in a comfortable cryosleep on our way back to earth, but suddenly we are woken up unpleasantly. The cryopods open unplanned and a member of our crew is dead next to his pod. As we search for the reason, we suddenly come across aliens called Xenos. They have infiltrated our spaceship. Also present is her queen, who of course has set up her nest with us and is now sending her sugar-sweet children to us. It's all very reminiscent of the Alien movies starring Sigourney Weaver from the late 70's/early 80's.

In this mess, the crew must now survive together and bring the ship back to earth safely. Due to this tense situation, however, each crew member has developed their own goals in order to make it out of the spaceship alive. Some good, some selfish and evil.

Back to earth together – or not…

Nemesis is a semi-cooperative dungeon crawler where each player gets their own goals. You don't win together, but only if you have reached your goal and survived. Depending on the goal chosen, this can be communal or selfish. For example, there is the goal that the player must keep the spaceship intact in order to bring the crew and especially himself safely to earth. In contrast to this, however, there is also the goal of destroying the spaceship because of the aliens. The crew member has gone insane from the burgeoning threat and can no longer think straight.

At the beginning of the game we find ourselves in the cryochamber together with the corpse (plate) of a member of our crew.

At the beginning of the game we find ourselves in the cryochamber together with the corpse (plate) of a member of our crew. Image: Cornelius Drees

To reach the goal, the players move through the spaceship and uncover rooms. When discovering a room, an exploration tile is turned over, which indicates whether the room is malfunctioning or on fire. The tile also indicates how often the room can be searched for helpful items. Each room has a room action that can be performed if the room is operational (does not have a burn or malfunction token). Through the spaceship actions, the players can, for example, activate the functions of the spaceship, heal themselves, replenish ammunition and so on. This is important to survive and to ensure that the spaceship makes it back to earth safely. For example, a player can damage the engines so that the spaceship does not reach earth. These can be checked by the engine control and it can thus be revealed whether the opposing end of the game is playing well or badly.

The different goals make Nemesis a consistently exciting affair, since you can never be completely sure what the intentions of the other players are. The smallest strange move and you're already under suspicion. Or the tide suddenly turns. This is what happened to me: I teamed up with another player and we did everything we could to open the escape pods. Towards the end of the game I was suddenly betrayed by being locked out of the escape pods and dying surrounded by xenos.

Watch out - too much noise attracts the Xenos!

When moving through the Nemesis, we must always be on our guard. Because each end of the game creates noise when moving into the next room, which attracts the nasty xenos. During a normal move, we roll a noise die, which indicates which adjacent hallway we are making noise in. We then place a noise marker in this. As soon as there are two noise markers in a hallway, a xeno appears in the room where the noise was generated. With a careful movement we can consciously avoid the threat, because here it is not a coincidence that decides in which corridor the noise marker goes, but we ourselves. However, once a player (or xeno) is in a room, other players can also move into the room without making noise.

If we cannot avoid the threat of the second noise token, an encounter will occur. Here we draw a tile from the Xeno bag, which announces which of the five different types will appear and attack us if necessary. While the larvae still appear relatively harmless, crawlers, hunters, broodbeasts and queens can already dish out more. Especially the last two can become a big problem.

What makes Nemesis so special

The combination of the Xenos threat and the player threat is what makes the game special to me. We have an urge to support each other precisely because of the Xenos, however, you never know what the other player is planning. Especially at the beginning of the game there is a strong desire to control everything possible on the spaceship in order to be sure later on whether the other players are on the same side or not. However, I also had the feeling during the games that the players who opted for the "bad" goals had it more difficult to achieve their goals. However, it is not impossible! If you're clever enough, you can also achieve your "bad" goals without showing it too much. And it's always a nice challenge when you decide on such a goal.

At no time can we feel safe, because Xenos as well as players can pose a threat to us.

At no time can we feel safe, because Xenos as well as players can pose a threat to us. Image: Cornelius Drees

I also had games in which all players had the goal of bringing the spaceship to earth intact. These games never got boring either, as there is a certain degree of uncertainty throughout. In the end we were even happier that everyone fought for the same goal and that we could trust each other.

Nemesis just does everything right

All my games ran at least 2 ½ hours, but nobody ever got bored. And I played the game in many different constellations. One person initially found the subject and characters far too dark. In the end it was the best game she has ever played. Nemesis manages to captivate its players and creates a gaming experience like few other games. As a player, you feel as if you really are on this spaceship and have to fight for your survival.

It's also nice that Nemesis' basic rules are easy to learn. Only one player needs to have learned the rules for a fluent game. The rest of the players find themselves playing very quickly. Basic actions and the sequence of rounds are all easy to understand. The room actions are a bit more difficult because each room can do something different. However, there are help cards that clearly explain the actions of all rooms.

I don't know when was the last time I was so captivated by a game. So much so that I would love to play it over and over again. Now that Nemesis: Lockdown is slowly reaching us, I'm excited to see how the new spin-off will fare. I'm particularly interested in how well the original can be combined with the new game, since the materials in the new title are compatible with the original. With a BoardGameGeek rating of 8.6, Nemesis: Lockdown currently fares better than its predecessor, but we're still at the very beginning of its journey.

Information about Nemesis

Number of players: 1 to 5
Age: from 12 years
Playing time: 90 - 180 minutes
Difficulty: difficult
Long-term motivation: high
Classification: expert game
Core mechanics: Semi-cooperative dungeon crawler

Author: Adam Kwapinski
Illustrations: Piotr Foksowicz, Patryk Jędraszek, Ewa Labak, Andrzej Półtoranos
Publisher: Asmodee, Awaken Realms
Official Website: Link
Year of publication: 2018
Language: German
Costs: RRP 149,99 euros

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