Last year I was fortunate to have the opportunity to review a cool little game that was heading to KickStarter. The game was The Lords of Rock by SolarFlare games and it was a hit at our house. If you’re into rock and roll, amazing, over the top art, or ancient gods, then I highly recommend checking it out. Dave Killingsworth was able to create a quick, light family game that was fun and highly entertaining. So, when Dave reached out to me to play test his new game, Nightmare Forest: Alien Invasion, I was ecstatic. I was curious to see if he could pull off another gem in the light game category. Needless to say, after numerous, and I mean like 30 plus games, I can safely say that Dave is a light game mastermind! Nightmare Forest: Alien Invasion packs a lot of punch in less than 40 minutes.
The forest is created by placing forest cards face down according to the number of characters. Cards are selected from four tiers; 1 through 4 with 4 being the toughest, which means each game is a unique challenge. Once the forest is ready the players select and customize their characters. You randomly start with one gear card and get to select one of two randomly selected ability cards. Along with a unique forest you will always start with a unique randomly generated character. Place the timer token on the number of turns you wish to play; nine for easy, eight for regular, and seven for hard. Every player then places their character outside the forest next to one forest card. You are now ready to enter the forest and kick some alien butt!
Players can take actions based on the number of dice they have in their dice pool. The more dice you have (you gain dice by leveling up your player using the experience gained by eliminating aliens) the more you can do and the better odds you have of defeating monsters or finding gear. You start the game with four dice. Each level gains one extra die. At level two you can allocate five dice for moving, attacking, or searching for gear. You can use the experience points gained at anytime on your turn assuming you are not getting attacked by a pesky alien.
Basically, that is all there is to the game. Keep moving and fighting aliens until one of the end game conditions is met; the forest is cleared, the timer runs out, or all the players get vaporized. Most of our games ended with us running out of time due to some poor decisions early in the game. Along the way you may have to deal with traps, you may find survivors that will help you out, or decide if you should use a noisy weapon, make the decision to use one or two handed weapons, and when to use gear cards. There are many choices and a lot of dice chucking packed into very little time.
SolarFlare Games absolutely nailed another “light” game. Games that can be setup, played, and stored back on the shelf in less than 40 minutes are always a plus at our house. When that same game is engaging, fun, offers numerous meaningful decisions and is full of tension-well, that is even better. If you want a good co-op game but don’t have the time to break out an “epic” game then this is perfect. You seriously have to work together or you won’t succeed. No “lone wolfs” will make it out of the forest alive. Oh, you also get to level up and get loot! So let me go over everything Nightmare Forest: Alien Invasion offers one more time. Quick setup, easy rule set, quick play time, meaningful decisions, easily scales in player count and difficulty, great replay-ability, character customization, loot, sweet custom dice, and a very reasonable price! I am very impressed with everything this game offers.
We were on the edge of our seats every game we played. A couple bad dice rolls and soon the panic of watching the timer tick down sets in. This usually led to bad decisions followed by more bad decisions, followed by failure. I loved that we were always torn on how to allocate our dice. Do we try and beat the alien with the bare minimum needed and save some dice for moving or searching or do we go for overkill to make sure we kill the alien but sacrifice performing other actions. Decisions, decisions, decisions!
If you’re not fond of dice chucking, luck, and randomness, then you probably won’t enjoy it as much as someone like me that loves adapting to ever changing game conditions and poor dice rolls. Also, if you’re a “heavy” gamer that scoffs at “light” games then you will probably want to pass on Nightmare Forest: Alien Invasion but you will be missing out on a great light game that has features seen in games with much bigger boxes and higher price tags.
Tony’s Pros and Cons
PROs: Quick Setup, easy rule set, great replay-ability, quick game play, tons of decisions, challenging, lots of tension, reasonable price, custom dice.
CONs: Depends on the luck of dice (if that isn’t your thing then I guess that would be a con), there really isn’t much of a con list. How can you find fault in a game that features almost everything an epic game like Zombicide but plays in a quarter of the time!
Tony’s Epic Scale: 1 (quick setup, plays fast, easy rules, low component count)
*Epic Scale is on a scale of 1 to 5 and is a combination of number of components and ruleset)*
VALUE: 8 (I would like to see this in the low $20s but $30 MSRP and $25 on KickStarter is a solid value.)
ART: 7 (I only have the play test version but the art Dave has been posting looks awesome.)
SETUP/TEARDOWN: 10 (It doesn’t get much easier than this!)
Re-playability: 8 (It will take awhile but eventually it will feel the same. Good thing it is compatible with the original Nightmare Forest!)
FUN FACTOR: 8 (Lords of Rock was fun but I liked this even better!)
OVERALL: 8.2 (Dave did it again! Another amazing light game! )
Check out Nightmare Forest: Alien Invasion coming to Kickstarter on January 24th!
A software developer by day and avid game player by night.KickStarter has recently rekindled my love of board games. Now I am looking to help the little guys of KS get their games noticed and funded as well as demonstrate how easy or difficult a game is played its first time through.