This is an area control game, but you don’t get victory points for controlling areas. You get them for taking areas. That is essentially what Nexus Ops is about. But it gets more interesting, I promise.
Each player has access to 6 different units. The stronger the unit, the more Rubium you pay to deploy it. Your weaker units can mine Rubium from certain tiles on the board, balancing the need for all types.
To earn victory points you need to take control of a tile from another player. Through the course of the game you’ll also receive objective cards. These offer additional victory points if certain conditions are met. In the center of the board is The Monolith. Controlling this tile gives players Energize cards. There cards offer advantages during deployment and battle.
Battles follow a simple system. Each unit shows a number to roll. If you roll the same or higher it’s a hit and one of the opponent’s units are removed. Do this for every unit, strongest to weakest. If, at the end of this, the tile is still occupied by both players it remains contested until the next turn. It’s all very simple, but plays surprisingly well.
First player to 12 victory points wins. But don’t expect runaway victories. The game tends to favour the underdog, keeping things nice and close for the finish.
The game also has a King of the Hill play style, essentially the same game but with more focus on the Monolith rather than attacking other players.
A simple area control game with solid mechanics that is easy to understand but offers a surprising amount of depth. The reliance on dice can make it feel a little too random but the randomness can be controlled to a certain degree.
Components: 3/5. Units are very easy to identify but are made of a very soft plastic meaning they often bend during shipping. Nothing that can’t be fixed though.
Gameplay: 4/5. Well designed and quick to understand. Some players might find it too random but personally I think it’s manageable.
Complexity vs Depth: 4/5. Nexus Ops has just enough complexity to make it fun without bogging it down with unnecessary detail. Some games don’t need depth.
Theme: 4/5. Slight sci-fi theme but not very strong, and not really needed.
Overall: 4/5. Quick to teach, fun to play. That is all.