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Game Name: Dark Rages Expansion to Nightfall

Publisher: AEG

Designer: David Gregg

Year: 2012

Players: 2 – 5

Ages: 12+

Playing Time: 45 Minutes

Retail Price: $29.99

Category: Horror Deck Building Game Expansion

Components:

  • 84 Minion Cards
  • 84 Action Cards
  • 12 Avatar Cards
  • 26 Card Dividers
  • Rulesheet

From AEG:
Dark Rages is a new expansion to the competitive deck building game Nightfall. Dark Rages brings you a complete all-new set of cards with special powers, and features new vampires, werewolves, hunters and ghouls. Dark Rages also introduces new Avatar cards that allow you to customize your decks’ themes like never before! Will you be a Vampire Overlord or a Werewolf Alpha, and which other groups will you ally with?”

Dark Rages is a small box expansion to Nightfall, but it has some powerhouse cards packed into it. The world of Nightfall continues to grow adding more and more options without making the game become so complex that it is unplayable.

The big addition introduced in Dark Rages are the Avatar cards. Avatar cards represent who the players themselves actually are during the game and currently come in four different flavors: Militia Leader, Voodoo Houngan, Pack Alpha, and Vampire Overlord. Each avatar card has three separate versions with a different benefit power and detriment power on each. Looking at the Vampire Overlord, you might get the ability to draw a card every time you claim a hunter or vampire, but if you do you will also have to discard a card each time you play a ghoul or lycanthrope. The second Vampire Overlord avatar card allows you to inflict one damage point on any opposing minion when you claim a vampire or ghoul, but all of your hunters and lycanthropes enter play with one less health. As you can see, each of the card both help and hurt. Using the avatar cards is completely optional, and I did find that sometimes the bad outweighs the good when using them. All in all though I found the avatar cards added a new dimension to the game.

Gaining an avatar is similar to when you draft your archives. All of the avatar cards are shuffled and dealt out evenly to the players, with extras returning to the box. The player selects one and passes the rest to the player on the left. Then another one is selected, and passed, and so on until all are drafted and you have a couple of avatar cards in front of you. You then draft the cards for the game as normal, and once this is done each player selects one avatar card and puts the rest back in the box. The reason you do this is that if you had only selected say one Vampire Overlord avatar card at the beginning of the game, and then it turns out there were no vampire cards drafted, you’d be in bad shape. So you get several choices and you make your final avatar selection once you see the cards that are going to be available during the game. Doing it this way also helps you plan which cards to pick for your private archives, as you can try to match the cards you pick to one of the avatars in your hand. It’s a neat mechanic.

During one game that I played with VooDoo Houngan as my avatar, my special ability was that whenever I resolved a wound effect I could draw two cards. The bad part was that I couldn’t exile any wounds during the game. As the game went on, I started to get two wounds in my hand quite often. I discarded these for two cards each (as per the wound card effect) and then drew two extra cards thanks to my avatar. This allowed me to start some hands with 11 cards. Early in the game when I draw a single wound it was worth four extra cards. I loved this benefit, and I was doing great until the wounds started piling up. I didn’t lose, but I didn’t win either. It made for a lot of interesting hands though and I think I could have pulled out the win if I had used a bit better strategy.

In addition to the avatars there are a whole new group of cards to add to Nightfall. This is not a stand alone expansion, so you will need the original game to play. The box is small, I’d guess around five inches long. The cards take up about half of that, so actually if you are looking to play a game of Nightfall over at a friend’s house, this would be the perfect compact way to bring a bunch of cards over in a small box and have enough cards with you to keep it interesting for the evening. It’s like a Nightfall travel box.

As I was saying, the cards. One of the cool features that they have added is that some of the cards allow you to attack back if you are blocking. In essence this means that if a player attacks you with a minion, and you block with one of these new minion types, your blocker does damage back to the attacker equal to its strength. To tell you the truth, when I first started playing Nightfall I assumed that all the cards worked this way anyway, king of like in Magic: The Gathering, and was a bit disappointed when I realized my mistake. This expansion adds that dimension back in and I found it a welcome addition and a nice way to whittle down your opponents minions if you can get the cards.

There are other interesting cards added in Dark Rages. Here are a few:

What Should Not Be: An action card. This is basically a Frankenstein’s Monster card. You attach this card to two of your minions to make one super-minion with all of the strength, health, and powers into one.

Body Armor: Attach to a target minion, that minion negates the first two damage inflicted against it when it blocks. It makes a nice combination with “Good Boy”

Good Boy: This card absorbs damage inflicted on you from card text. The body armor can’t prevent this, however you can choose not to attack with this minion, and if you don’t attack you do not have to discard it at the end of combat.

Cane Alpino: A powerful lycanthrope with four health. Cane Alpino can block multiple attacking minions. It also allows you to draw a card when played in the chain.

Canal Refuse: When this card attacks, the defending player must block with two minions or automatically receive one wound. Canal Refuse has four strength, nothing to sneeze at.

The Baskervilles: A minion with four strength and three health. When played in a chain, this card allows you to place all copies of “The Baskervilles” from your discard pile into your hand. This would be nicer if you could chain it on itself, but it will chain with “Body Armor”. So if you can get a few of each in your hand somehow, you can have a really deadly round.

Mirabelle Durand: She’s pretty hot, and pretty weak with only one health. She has two strength, but during combat you can discard her to do one damage directly to a target player. The nice thing is that her chain ability allows you to do to do two damage to a target player right then and there.

Blood Pact: An action that you attach to a target minion. Once attached, the player can claim cards from any other player’s archives. However, the other players may also claim cards from your archives.

Infernal Resuscitation: Attach this card to a target minion, and if that minion would be destroyed at a later time, you can destroy this card to restore that minion to full health.

Overwhelmed: In combat, you can discard this card to have a target attacking minion inflict damage upon itself equal to its strength.

That’s only 10 of the 24 new cards included in this expansion. There are others along similar veins. Most have some very interesting powers, some more useful than others. For example the “Exposed” action card inflicts two damage on each player that doesn’t have at least two minions in play. I haven’t found much use for this yet as it is a double edged sword. I didn’t find that any cards were broken, so it is a well thought out expansion.

Overall, Dark Rages is a great expansion to Nightfall. The addition of the avatars is a great touch and there are some really interesting cards that add to the game rather than unnecessarily complicate it. Plus the small box lets me take Nightfall on the go.

Elliott Miller

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