Ring Side Report-Board Game Review of Nefarious



Price– $ 30 here 

Set-up/Play/Clean-up– 20-40 minutes (2-6 players)



TL; DR-Production issues hurt a decent game. 86%


Basics-What are we going to do tonight?  TRY TO TAKE OVER THE WORLD!  In Nefarious, players each take the roles of different mad scientists trying to each take over the world.  The game starts simply enough with each player getting  some starting gold and invention cards.  Each turn, players secretly selected one of four actions, reveal them at the same time, and all actions of the same type happen simultaneously.  The actions are: espionage, invent, research, and work.  Work simply earns you more money.  Research earns you a bit less money, and you get to draw a new invention card.  Invent is the meat of the game.  When you invent, you pay money and reveal one of your invention cards.  These cards have a cost that you pay, a victory point total, and possibly some effects like gain money, cost your opponents money, or gain more invention cards.  Espionage is an investing mechanic.  When you do espionage, you select an action and place a meeple on that action on the main board.  When a player on your right or left takes that action, you gain money equal to the number of meeples you have on that action.  Once all four actions are resolved, players then select new actions, and play continues the same way.  What makes this game a little deeper than it seems are the twist cards.  Each game two twist cards are secretly drawn from a deck of cards.  These cards provide new twists on the game like giving you strange new abilities, taking away some actions, or just removing some money from some of the actions.  When a round ends, a player has at least 20 points, and that player has more points than any other player, the game is over and that player wins and conquerors the word!

maim board

Mechanics– This is not a complicated Euro, and that works for and against this game.  The simplicity of the mechanics works as a great introduction to the gaming hobby.  You will know the rules of the game in under five minutes.  The simplicity works against the mechanics as I didn’t feel as challenged as I could be if this game had multiple resources to track.  However, the multiple resources would have made this game that much harder to teach, learn and play.   Overall, it’s a good, simple Euro.  Think of this as an excellent sushi appetizer to the gaming industry-it tastes great, but you might want something a little more filling as you learn to love this acquired taste more. 4.5/5


Theme– This game has some good theme, but something gets lost along the way.  The theme of inventing new items to conquer the world comes through.  And the fact that most items have some side effects also keep going with this theme as you’re battling it out with other mad scientists.  However, some of the theme get’s lost along the way.  I’m fine with most of the actions but some things don’t translate well.  The work actions seems like a misplaced opportunity in that vain.  All of my other actions are downright nefarious, but work feels like I clock in at Amazon to fill packages; even the work action looks like a shipping company.  Why not something like Extort with the action picture being a man/woman in profile with some sort of atomic raygun getting money from a generic civil leader.  It’s those little touches that cause this game to lose some of its theme.  You will still feel like a mad scientist inventing crazy machines, but maybe one who moonlights as a DHL driver.  4.25/5

Instructions– The rules a simple, sleek, and short-all great descriptors for a board game’s rules.  This game isn’t as hard as Twilight Imperium, but the rule book does explain the game in simple terms that gets the point across quickly and well.   5/5


Execution– Here is where I think things need a bit of work.  Overall, everything is serviceable.  That said, there are some issues.  The cards for the game are printed on very thin cardstock.  It’s not bad, but it will tear easily.  The art in the game is awesome and has that retro-science feel to it.  The worst part of the game is the coins.  The coins are printed on sheets of several cardboard pieces pressed together, but the cardboard didn’t adhere to itself properly, so the cardboard is spongy and bows.  The coloring of the cardboard is a single sheet of sticker.  That’s not horrible, but the cutter for the cardboard didn’t cut the cardboard and stickers well, so when you punch out your money it will have all these random bits of extra sticker attacked like flaking paint.  USAopoly has acknowledged the problem, and future print runs will be better.  But, for right now my copy gets a C overall.  If you want to see the components, I’ve made an unboxing video where you can see all the components here http://youtu.be/Qdtz9YQDKHA  3.5/5

Summary-This is a good quick Euro.  It’s a great game with lots of replay.  I like the mechanics as I can teach random people how to play quickly, and they get autonomy in a short game.  Also, this game has some meat on its bones as it’s a Euro with some decent thinking power behind it.  You can’t go into this game hoping for Kanban or another four hour Euro though.  This is excellent at what it wants to be, and you have to know that going in.  I think the rules are great, but I’d like some minor, cosmetic changes to help the theme a bit.  The production quality is ok.  It will be better, but if you get a first print run, expect a few, minor problems.  But, if you’d like a good game that will have you thinking for 20 minutes with your friends, then this a great game of world domination to pick up!  86%