Game Review: Nevermore

Smirk & Dagger, 2015

Nevermore is a new card-drafting, set collection game from Smirk & Dagger. This game has a surprising amount of depth for its simplicity.

The Nevermore deck consists of 12 identical cards in 6 suits, Attack, Healing, Radiance, Victory and Ravens. This deck is shuffled and each player is dealt 5 cards. There are also decks of Light Magic and Shadow Magic. These are event cards that pop up during the game and add great interaction and strategic gameplay. Play begins with players drafting their hands by passing 3 cards, then 2 cards, then 1 card to the left. This alternates each round, so the second round, all cards will be passed right. After they have their “final” hands, play begins. Each player also begins with 5 Health cubes. The object of the game is to achieve 6 victory cubes, or be the last human player. This is one of the really great things about Nevermore. If you lose all your health, you become a raven, and continue playing in the game. You cannot deal damage, collect victory points, or recover health, but you can still draw cards, win tricks, and “peck” other players for 1 point of damage. You also still have a chance to change yourself back to human and win the game. Players are never eliminated in this game.

6 tokens are included in the game. The Conspiracy of Ravens, Attack, Healing, Radiance, Victory, and Skulking Ravens. These tiles determine the order in which each suit will be played. The Conspiracy of Ravens always goes first, and Skulking Ravens go last. Each round the rest of the tiles are randomized (after the first round) and placed face down on the table and revealed and resolved during play. Attack, Healing, Radiance, and Victory cards all played in sets. Each Raven card in your hand negates a card of your choice from the other suits in your hand. Any extra ravens will be dealt with during the Skulking Ravens phase. All 5 ravens in your hand is called the Conspiracy of Ravens. If any player holds 5 raven cards in their final hand, then you deal one point of damage to all other players, draw a Shadow Magic card , gain 1 victory point. The round immediately ends and a new round begins.

The first round, play order is set and resolved in the above listed order. Conspiracy of Ravens is checked for first and resolved. If there is no conspiracy of ravens, then the suits are resolved. All players play all their cards of the suit called. If they intend to use a raven to cancel a card in that suit it is played along with those cards. In each of the suits, the final value of the attack is determined by taking the highest number of cards played, and subtracting the second highest number played. So if player 1 plays three attack cards, and player 2 plays two attack cards, then they will do one point of damage. This mechanic applies to each suit.

Attack suit: The player who has the most attack cards deals damage to a player of their choice. A player who plays 4 or more attack cards may choose to do 4 damage to 1 player, or may do 1 damage to all players but themselves, and receive 2 victory points. Players who lose all their health points become ravens. They retain all their current victory points, because they have a chance to become human again and may still win the game.

Healing suit: The player who has the most healing cards heals any damage they have taken up to a maximum of 5 points. If they have 3 or more points of healing left after achieving their maximum, they may gain 1 victory point.

Radiance suit: The player who has the most radiance cards gains light magic cards. If a player plays 5 radiance cards they heal 2 points of damage and gain 1 victory point in addition to the light magic cards they would normally gain.

Victory suit: The player who has the most victory card gains victory points.

Ties: Players tied for highest each earn the power of the suit.

If, after the regular suits are played and the raven cards used to cancel other suits, a player still has a raven card(s) left, then “Skulking” Ravens are resolved. Each player will receive a shadow magic card for each raven they have left.

A person who has become a raven may become human by having a hand of 5 like cards, or if they have 1 of each suit (5 different cards). They play their hand like normal, but at the end of the round they become human.

Although this may sound a little complicated, the mechanic is very simple. Play is fairly fast, and the game can get quite intense. We have had a lot of fun with this game. It has a fair amount of strategy, and the random order of play can really change the round, so there is a slight element of luck. I really enjoy this game. I have found that if you gain victory too quickly, you can become a target, and may end up most of the game as a raven. However, you are still in the game and can play a great spoiler game from that position, as well as work to get yourself back into the game. My next strategy is to not try to get too many victory points at once. We’ll see how it goes. It really isn’t over until it’s over. Nevermore is well-balanced and the theme and quality of the components are good. If you like trick taking games, or the “dirty-on-your-neighbor” type game, you’ll have a lot of fun with Nevermore. Recommended.