Review – Nevermore
A drafting, take that game.
Year Published: 2015
Designer: Curt Covert
Publisher: Smirk & Dagger Games
Game Time: ~45 Mins
Set-up Time: >1 Mins
Theme: The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe
Mechanic: Drafting, Take That, Set Collection
How to win: Earn 6 victory points or be the last player standing.
Pass with care…
Many are the paths to power: brute force, subtle deception, cunning trickery. You hold the cards…but you can’t keep them all. What will you decide to collect for personal gain? And what are you willing to give up in order to destroy? The Ravens are gathering, many of whom used to be rivals. Will you rise to power or simply be…nevermore.
Each player gets Heart token and a number of Health cubes depending on the player count. Each player also gets a Shadow Magick card.
Arrange the tokens in the order shown below (it’s in the rule-book) and have the ‘pass Left’ side up on the round token so everyone knows which way to pass cards.
Deal 5 cards to each player… Players then draft in the direction on the round token. First you pass 3 cards, then 2, then 1.
Resolve each suit in order, from left to right, in order of the suit tokens. To do this, each player may place any number of cards face down. You can play a legal hand (cards of that suit plus any Ravens) or can ‘Fake’ with a false hand. On a count of 3, legal hands are revealed, false hands are taken back by the player.
Each suit token has a different ability…
Conspiracy of Ravens – Requires 5 raven cards. If you manage this you deal 1 damage to each player and gain 1 VP. You also draw a Shadow Magick card. This ends the round immediately and no further actions are played.
Attack, Healing, Radiance, Victory and Skulking Raven steps are all played the same way. The total you activate is equal to the highest played minus the second highest played. So if the highest number of attack cards is played is 4, and second place played 3, the player will deal 1 damage.
Worth mentioning the other use for Ravens here. These MUST be played with other cards BEFORE the Skulking ravens step. Each Raven played will cancel out 1 card in the revealed hand.
Attack – These cards let you damage a player, any player. Killing a player gives you 1 victory point. If you deal 4 damage in one go you can choose to deal 1 damage to everyone else and gain 2 victory points instead.
Healing – You heal damage. If you’re at max health and heal for 3, you gain 1 VP.
Radiance – Lets you draw light Magick cards. Play a full hand of 5 radiance cards and you can heal 2 points of damage and get a victory point as well as draw the cards.
Victory – Score that many victory points.
Skulking Ravens – Draw that many Shadow Magick Cards.
At this point, you should only have Ravens left over from ones you were required to play earlier in the round. In others words, you needed to start this round with 3 or more Ravens to be able to play this step.
Becoming a Raven
If you go to 0 health, you flip over your token and you are now a Raven.
You can turn human again by collecting 5 of a kind or 1 each of the 5 suits in a round. You return with 4 life points in a 3-4 player game or 3 in a 5-6 player game.
A Raven cannot attack, heal or gain victory points. A Raven with the most or joint most of a suit pecks second place for 1 damage. If the Raven is uncontested for the suit, they peck all other players for 1 damage.
If pecking a player turns them into a Raven, a Raven gets a victory point but still cannot win. Ravens get Light/Shadow Magick cards as normal but won’t get to peck for these suits.
At the end of the round the middle tiles on the table are shuffled and placed face down, randomising phase order. You also alternate between drafting left and right by flipping over the direction tile.
When a human player earns 6 VP they win immediately.
Tiebreaker 1 – The player with the highest number of victory points.
Tiebreaker 2 – The player with the most remaining health.
Tiebreaker 3 – Keep playing until a clear winner is found!
Alternatively, If one Human remains alive they win.
If pecking all players as raven kills the remaining players simultaneously (as long as there are 2 or more of them), the Raven player will win.
A very simple and smooth game to play. The only tricky part to explain are the Ravens, the fact you HAVE to spend to hurt yourself before you can use them for the good thing they do… people don’t always get it…
Drafting is simple, 3 then 2 then 1… The cards are all the same, easily recognisable, big symbols, different colours which makes drafting super quick.
Remembering what you passed in a round is important. You may think passing Ravens is obvious but if everyone always passes Ravens and one person doesn’t, they may get 5.
Playing cards is simple too as all you need to do is play what you have for that round. The only issue here are the Ravens, judging when to use Ravens is tricky.
Dealing damage is actually quite hard, as is scoring points and it’s a crawl for the win but it makes each round super important.
Personally, I don’t think making an effort going for Black or White Magick is worth it but if you happen to get one that’s pretty good. Their abilities are strong, just not strong enough to justify collecting the cards for them I think.
The lack of player elimination is cool too. Turning into a Raven keeps you in the game but makes winning that much harder, I don’t know many games that do that.
A very simple drafting game that is so simple to play yet requires good planning and a little bit of luck.
I give it 7/10