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Nemesis Review

Trapped on a derelict spaceship, you and the rest of the crew have to work together to get the engines running and reach the safety of Earth. However, you’ll quickly realize that there’s something very dangerous prowling the corridors, and nobody is safe.

Even in a life and death situation, personal and corporate interests remain a priority, so on top of dealing with the ship and the alien threat, you’ll have to watch your back around other crewmates. Nemesis will always keep you on the edge and unsure who’s going to win or even survive until the very end.

Read the full Nemesis Review below.

Brief Overview of Nemesis

Nemesis Board Game Featured Image

Nemesis is a sci-fi survivalhorror game set in the distant future. The main theme is blatantly based on the movies Alien & Aliens, but it’s used properly and significantly enhances the experience. 

The game is designed for 1-5 players, with 4-5 regarded as the best number. Nemesis is a moderately complex game with a lot of mechanics and rules, but the turn-by-turn actions are fairly streamlined. Sessions last 90-180 minutes on average.

To win, you need to achieve one of the two objectives handed to you at the start of the game. You must keep these objectives a secret and manipulate other crewmates to help you out. Be careful, as their goals might go against yours, and even involve your demise.

Versions & Expansions

Nemesis: Carnomorphs

Carnomorphs changes the intruder system completely — instead of a mixed bag of potential threats, only the Metagorger larvae will be used. They won’t cause major wounds, but they’ll flee after an attack and mutate into stronger, more dangerous creatures.

Nemesis: Carnomorph Expansion
  • THIS IS AN EXPANSION TO THE NEMESIS BOARD GAME: This is not a...
  • SURVIVAL GAME: Experience a new Alien race with its own...
  • NEW GAME MECHANICS: Carnomorphs adds a terrifying new Intruder...

Nemesis: Voidseeders

Voidseeders is a different life form that attacks the mind rather than the body. Instead of becoming contaminated, characters grow insane and have to get rid of the intrusive thoughts. Instead of generating noise, moving through the hallways generates whispers that further deteriorate the mental state of crew members.

Nemesis: Voidseeders Expansion
  • THIS IS AN EXPANSION TO THE NEMESIS BOARD GAME: This is not a...
  • SURVIVAL GAME: Experience a new Alien race with its own...
  • NEW GAME MECHANICS: Void Seeders adds a terrifying new Intruder...

Other Expansions

Unboxing Nemesis

Nemesis comes in a large box packed full of components:

  • 1 Game Board
  • 6 Character Boards
  • 1 Intruder Board, Bag, and Scanner
  • 2 d6 and d10 dice
  • 20 Room Tiles
  • 26 Miniatures
  • 5 Plastic Card Holders
  • 6 Colored Plastic Rings
  • 2 Room Sheets
  • 114 Markers
  • 12 Doors
  • 83 Tokens
  • 325 Cards

I don’t think the numbers fully convey just how many components are in the box — Nemesis is one the most content-packed games I’ve ever seen. What’s just as important is that Nemesis looks like a premium game from box art to each of the individual components. 

There’s a lot of punchout cardboard to go through, but every piece falls out easily and without tearing. The artwork favors a dark color scheme because of the horror theme, but that doesn’t mean they’re lacking detail — far from it.

With the game board out of the box, you get to a plastic separator and box organizer underneath where the aliens, dice, and tokens are stored. The minis are obviously the most interesting part, and you’ll be happy to hear that they do not disappoint. 

Even in the base grey color, they look great and ready to be used. Those that cannot wait to paint them will appreciate all the details that are revealed under the brush, but for those that cannot bother with details — a dark contrast paint with a dark wash and a hint of metallic will drastically improve their appearance in just a couple of minutes.

We’re not done yet, as underneath this organizer is yet another with more minis and all the game cards. The artwork featured on the cards is very impressive, with the shiny finish enhancing the look further. 

Nemesis does a lot of little things to improve the overall impression of the components. Everything feels nice to the touch and doesn’t have a bad smell of cheap ink. Box dividers feature a Nemesis imprint, components are pre-organized and contained within pouches. 

The overall impression is very positive as Nemesis manages to deliver a huge number of game components without sacrificing quality, and in fact, improves it in many regards over standard game releases. 

How to Play Nemesis

Nemesis Board Game Box and Components

To fully grasp how to play Nemesis, you’ll need to go through the rulebook a couple of times and play at least one or two games to get a feel of how the game functions. 

Rather than go through the fine details, I’ll give you a general overview of how the game functions. You’ve likely experienced many of the core mechanics in other games, but there are a few elements unique to the Nemesis gameplay.

Game Setup

To prepare the game, shuffle the board tiles and place them in the designated positions on the board. These will determine the locations of the rooms and randomize the game every time. The tokens and markers are set up based on the number of players.

Players draft characters from a pool, then take the character board, miniature, starting item, action cards, and quest items corresponding to that character. The game starts with an additional dead character in the Hibernatorium (starting) room. 

Game Flow

Nemesis is played over a series of turns divided into player and event phases. The number of turns isn’t limited and the game continues until one of the end conditions is met. 

Player Phase

Taking actions in Nemesis requires action cards. At the start of the player phase, all players draw until they’ve got a full hand of 5 cards. The first player token is passed to the left and the player action round can begin.

Event Phase

With the player phase completed, the event steps have to be resolved. The time tracker progresses and intruders (aliens) attack the players if they occupy the same space. The fire burns intruders just as it burns players during the previous phase. Lastly, an event card is drawn and resolved based on the instructions.

Nemesis
  • SURVIVAL GAME: The crew wakes up from hibernation to find a...
  • STRATEGY GAME: Choose your character wisely because each one...
  • DETAILED MINIATURES: Game includes 26 high quality miniature...

Objectives

There are two critical moments during a game of Nemesis — the first appearance of an intruder, and the death of the first player character. 

When any type of intruder appears, players must decide which objective card to discard. Once a character dies, escape pods open and can be used by the survivors. Hibernation and self-destruct trackers mark the points where players may use the hibernation pods, or leave the ship before it explodes.

Aside from the obvious objective of surviving, you might need to get another character killed, change the trajectory of the ship, send a signal, discover the intruder’s weakness or destroy the nest.

Actions

If you’ve played hero-based board games in the past or DnD, the list of actions in Nemesis won’t be anything out of the ordinary. Actions are divided into four categories: 

  1. Basic actions.
  2. Action cards. 
  3. Item cards.
  4. Room tiles.

Basic actions involve movement, careful movement, shoot, melee attack, pick up heavy object, trade, craft. Action cards are character-specific while actions tied to items or rooms depend on the conditions. Actions may have a cost of 1 or 2, paid for by discarding an action card from hand.

Movement

To achieve anything in Nemesis, you’ll have to explore the ship and different rooms. On your way there, you may generate noise that will attract the attention of intruders. 

Unless you’re moving into a room with another player or an intruder, you’ll have to roll the noise die and place the noise token on the board. Intruders in adjacent rooms will react to noise and immediately move to the sound’s location. To make matters worse, intruders may use technical corridors (vents) to quickly traverse large distances and cut off the crew. 

Combat

When a character and intruder meet in the same room, they automatically enter combat. Fleeing from combat is an option, but the alien will have an opportunity to attack the character once. 

To attack the intruder, you can use a melee or ranged attack. Ranged attack requires 1 ammo and involves a simple dice roll to determine the damage. Melee works the same way, but the player has to draw one contamination card due to the close contact with the creature.

Contamination

Contamination cards are placed into the action deck and once drawn, they act as dead cards that limit the total number of actions a character can take. These cards can be removed through resting, using the antidote item, or certain rooms, but before it’s discarded, the card has to be scanned. 

Slot the contamination card in the scanner tool to reveal the secret words. If you find the word infected, the card can’t be removed and the character gains one larva token. If they’re infected again, a creeper will burst out, killing the character and becoming a new threat to deal with.

Your First Game of Nemesis

The previous section should give you a basic idea of how the game plays out, but there’s still a lot that you’ll have to learn for your first game of Nemesis.

Playing to the strengths of your character is important, especially considering the nature of the game. Sure, you can rely on a character well-equipped to deal with an alien threat, but don’t be surprised if they run away and leave you in serious trouble. 

That brings me to the second point — at its core, Nemesis is not a cooperative game. Objectives may or may not partially align, but the final step is different for everyone.

Still, I would suggest being overly trusting than completely skeptical for your first game. Tagging along with someone, preferably the captain will provide a more meaningful experience and a sense of the tempo. Focus on survival, even if it means you don’t get to achieve your objective. 

Contamination cards are a big problem and you should do everything you can to get rid of them, especially if you’ve scanned an infection. As scanning an infection for the second time means death, avoid this action until you get rid of the first larva. Alcohol has a chance of removing a contaminated card, the antidote has a chance of clearing larva, and surgery is a certain way of removing the parasite. 

Nemesis
  • SURVIVAL GAME: The crew wakes up from hibernation to find a...
  • STRATEGY GAME: Choose your character wisely because each one...
  • DETAILED MINIATURES: Game includes 26 high quality miniature...

Pros & Cons

Pros:

  • Interesting Horror Experience
  • It’s Alien – The Board Game
  • Solo Mode Is Great

Nemesis took years to refine and you can really see the dedication. All of the components are well made, with artwork that perfectly fits the design direction. 

Even though it’s obvious that Nemesis is heavily inspired by the movie Alien and similar horror movies, the mechanics were designed to create the best gameplay and atmospheric experience.

The solo mode is excellent and sets you on a one-man mission to survive the swarm of intruders. It’s a different kind of experience to a full party and definitely adds more value to the package.

Cons:

  • Slow Gameplay
  • Early Player Elimination

Nemesis doesn’t play out like other board games, which is one of its strengths but also something that’s going to rub some players the wrong way. Despite the daunting amount of mechanics to remember, most of the time you’ll move and explore. Compared to an average board game, there’s not as much interactivity in Nemesis. 

The fact that the odds are stacked against you no matter what you’re doing can be frustrating, even though it’s entirely within the expectations for a survival-horror game. Think of it more as being trapped in a building that’s flooding from the bottom and burning from the top — you might die while trying to escape, but it’s better than not doing anything.

Nemesis
  • SURVIVAL GAME: The crew wakes up from hibernation to find a...
  • STRATEGY GAME: Choose your character wisely because each one...
  • DETAILED MINIATURES: Game includes 26 high quality miniature...

The fact that there’s a real chance of character death early in the game may be fitting for the theme, but I don’t like it regardless. A high chance of failure is one thing, but getting eliminated an hour before everyone else can be frustrating. Giving the eliminated player an alien to control would’ve been a decent way of keeping them engaged.

Nemesis Review (TL;DR)

Nemesis is a horror experience reminiscent of the Alien franchise in a board game package. Every action you take may be your last which puts a lot of weight on each decision you make. Surviving is far from easy and other players will make it even harder. 

You should consider trying out Nemesis if you’re a fairly experienced board game enthusiast and a fan of the theme. The gameplay isn’t for everyone, but a lot of players have found it to be one of the best games in the genre.

Conclusion: Verdict?

Before I played my first game of Nemesis, I wasn’t really sure whether I’m going to like it or not. The horror theme isn’t exactly my thing, although the whole Alien aspect made it a lot easier to figure out what it was about. 

Within the first couple of sessions, it was obvious that this game requires a group of people that have at least some experience with roleplaying games. The whole “we cooperate until we don’t” part can make or break the game, and some players just won’t find this aspect enjoyable. 

With the right mindset, you can really get a lot of quality game time with Nemesis. It’s all about the tension buildup and the inevitable betrayal of other crewmates, whether to blatant sabotage or through more deceiving methods. 

When things are going well and everyone’s cooperating perfectly, you might feel that something’s off, and that’s one of the best moments in the game. Who knows, someone might have changed the ship’s trajectory to Venus or is waiting for the last moment to ditch everyone and blast off in the evacuation pod. 

I cannot recommend Nemesis to everyone, but ultimately there’s no need to. If you’re a fan of horror, Alien, or high-stakes social deduction games that actually have mechanics, Nemesis is a game you cannot miss. 

Nemesis
  • SURVIVAL GAME: The crew wakes up from hibernation to find a...
  • STRATEGY GAME: Choose your character wisely because each one...
  • DETAILED MINIATURES: Game includes 26 high quality miniature...

We hope you enjoyed our Nemesis review! Let us know in the comments below if you’ve tried this game and how it compares to your other favorites in the genre. Drop a comment below! We’d love to hear from you.

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Stats at a glance

Players: 1-5

Ages: 12 +

Hard

90-180 Mins

Publisher: Awaken Realms

Published: 2018

Nemesis