No luck. No randomness. In space, there are only your opponents and you.
Do you have what it takes to obtain victory?
Brief Overview of Nexum Galaxy
Nexum Galaxy is a sci-fi 3X board game, where players eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate their opponents. Up to 4 players will take control of separate factions and attempt to collect ancient relics and wipe out their opponents.
One of the most interesting things about Nexum is that it is a perfect information game. All players will have the same knowledge. You won’t find a hidden trap card here. It’s all about strategy and you’ll faction will live or die by the decisions you make.
Nexum claims to be a strategy-driven 3X game that’s geared toward new players to strategy board games and for those who want a pure strategy-driven experience.
Let’s see if they’ve succeeded.
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How to Play Nexum Galaxy
Nexum has 2 core rule books in the game. One is the actual rules and the other offers a few more advanced rules as well as different scenarios to choose from.
Nexum comes with several different scenarios to choose from, and once you get the hang of the ruleset you’ll be able to create your own as well.
Deal each player 4 phase cards.
On your turn
Nexum uses a cool system to determine what actions the players can perform on their turn. This revolves around the Phase cards. Each player has the same 4 cards and they have different actions on them.
- Play management phase
- Play movement phase
- Play management then movement
- Play movement then management.
Each player can choose which card to use on their turn, and when the action is complete the Phase card is flipped face down and the phase card is no longer available. Once all cards are used, then they get flipped back up and all actions are once again available.
When the current player chooses their Phase Card they also add energy tokens as a big for the initiative. The player at the end of the round that paid the highest amount of energy gets to go first in the next round. This changes up the first player and adds another level of strategy to the game.
The Management Phase allows players to gain energy and then build ships.
Players gain 1 energy for each planet under their control and 2 points for each star under their control. (5 total for a whole tile)
When building ships players spend energy to get more ships. The 1st ship costs 2 energy, the 2nd costs 3, and the 3rd costs 4. You can’t build more than 3 ships in a turn unless you have a specialized relic.
Movement is also pretty easy to figure out. It costs 1 energy to move one ship within a start system, 2 energy to move to an adjacent star system (touching tile), or 3 energy to any other system on the map.
There are a few relics that boost or hinder movement. The Extractor Relic isn’t really meant to move and adds an additional energy to the cost, but the Transporter Relic is a big boon to movement. It Reduces the energy cost of moving for all of the ships moving with it.
There are limits to how many ships can be on planets and stars, so you won’t be able to pull the Australia Risk strategy and build up a massive number of forces on a single planet.
Combat is pretty straightforward, and one of the major ways players obtain victory points.
The Attack values of the ships and the defense values are compared and the bigger number wins. No crazy die rolls. It’s all very civil and straightforward without any luck. Planning and strategy will be key in winning combat.
Players earn a victory point if they win a battle or take control of the majority of planets in a star system.
Relics are an important part of the game. These are abandoned technologies from an ancient alien civilization. When your ship comes in contact with the relics they’ll attach to an individual ship and grant 1 of 4 different bonuses.
Cheaper production, extra attack & defense, Cheaper movement, and or additional resources.
Winning the Game
For a 1-2 player game, players need to acquire 6 victory points before they’re declared the winner. In a 3-4 player game, players need 7 victory points.
Players get points for each battle they win, and for taking a star away from an opponent’s control
Players can also win by controlling a set number of relics, 4 relics for 1-2 players and 5 relics for 3-4 players.
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Pros & Cons
- Perfect Information game
- Easy introduction to 4X games
- Not actually a 4x game (Kind of)
Nexum is a really cool game, but they also never claim to be a 4X game straight out of the box. They very clearly state that it’s a 3X game, and with their Asteroid Expansion an eXploration mechanic is added along with a more advanced AI, more fleshed-out factions, and civilization builder mechanics.
It does feel a bit cheeky when looking at a game and seeing that so much more is added. But I don’t think it’s anything against the designers. The base game is perfectly fine as an easy introduction to 4X games, and the Asteroid expansion just makes everything feel more complete.
The best way I can describe it is by comparing it to Catan. Catan by itself is a fantastic game right out of the box. Catan with the Cities & Knights expansion feels like it’s how the game should be played.
Nexum Galaxy is a really cool game and a lot of fun to play. And when you add the Asteroid expansion, it feels complete, like it’s how the game was always meant to be played.
Nexum Galaxy Review (TL;DR)
Nexum is a 3x-based space game. The designers have done an incredible job of condensing down the rules and making everything simple and intuitive.
It offers quite a few scenarios to play through with variable setups, and after you get comfortable with the rules players can create their own scenarios adding a ton of replay value.
After you play a few games, if you enjoy Nexum, get the Asteroid expansion. You’ll find that it’s everything you love about the base game but more of everything, and adds an exploration mechanic that brings Nexum up to the standard 4X game.
Nexum is a fantastic introduction to 4X space games. It doesn’t bog you down with an encyclopedia of symbols and rules and it lets players jump straight into formulating their strategy and attempting to conquer the universe.
Another fantastic aspect of Nexum is that it’s a perfect information game. Luck is not a factor here. Every player will know exactly what the other player has, and can see each other’s phase cards, ships, and overall strength. It’s really quite incredible.
I’m a big fan of space operas and 4X games. The problem that I and most other player groups run into is that it’s difficult to find a gaming group willing to sit down and dedicate an entire day to playing a single game. Nexum fills a niche that’s sorely lacking in the tabletop world. It’s a game that any fan of strategy can enjoy. I would never pull out a copy of Twilight Imperium or Space Empires 4X to the table for new players, but I have no problems bringing Nexum out for a game night.
So to answer my question at the beginning of the article, “Did they succeed at creating a highly strategic space game?” Absolutely.
If you’re a fan of space, strategy, or 4X games in general, you’re going to want to check it out.
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We hope you enjoyed our Nexum Galaxy review! Have you tried the base game or the Asteroid expansion? Drop a comment below and let us know what you think! We’d love to hear from you.