It was 2018, and Awaken Realms, a Polish publishing house that had recently risen to the headlines after masterpieces such as This War of Mine and Lords of Hellas, launched Nemesis, that would have become their most acclaimed project.

A handful of characters awaken from cryogenic sleep on a ship in deep space. Silence permeates the room and, in the darkness, a corpse can be glimpsed. Doubt and terror assail the survivors as they try to figure out what happened. They’ll find out in a few rounds. And it will not be pleasant, nor beautiful, nor fragrant.

The reference to the famous Alien series is absolutely evident, and one would think “yet another spin-off of yet another blockbuster”. Though stop everyone: the connection to this splendid movie, supported by a marketing operation as it may seems, hides behind it a wonderful world made of commitment, aesthetics and really well-made mechanics, which have led this board game to be considered one of the best in recent years.

The question arises spontaneously: how did Kwapinski & co. manage to take a theme and turn it into something so innovative and engaging? Well, the answer isn’t simple, but it can be summed up in one word: interaction.

In our opinion the idea was brilliant, and it was the creation of a solid and well-thought-out engine that oils the gears of a game based, at the same time, on collaboration, individual goals, betrayals and pure survival.

Forget the lone hero who can stand up to hordes of slobbering and deformed aliens only in a semi-destroyed laboratory. In this game the threat is subtle, elusive, unstoppable and, listen, trying to stop it with Gauss cannon fire is not the aim of the game. Because the goals of each character are secret, they are multiple, and they can be collaborative or competitive. Everything revolves around this, from the rooms, to the route of the Nemesis, to the aliens that appear or disappear, and sometimes get killed.

Every decision, every single movement of each player can give indications about his goal, misleading or convincing, in a game of a paradoxical “collaborative poker” that will end only with death, explosions, or longed-for salvation.

And so Awaken Realms created a world around this board game, expanding the base game with expansions like Aftermath and Void Seeders, and also creating its version 2.0, or Nemesis: Lockdown. A myriad of variants, characters, enemy races, events and campaigns are now part of the core of suspicion, collaboration and anxiety that generates any game of this creation.

The writer has been passionate about Eurogame for years, the most classic declination of the board game, and calling Nemesis a “board game” in my opinion is misleading. Because this game, which I sincerely hated in my deterministic heart, but at the same time loved for its incredible interactive freshness, cannot be associated with almost any other title. The experience of a game of Nemesis is radically different from one of a classic game: the calculation component is certainly a good part of the experience, but the interaction, the looks between the players, the interpretation of others’ moves in key threatening or collaborative make Nemesis, perhaps, a very solid bridge between the “one shot role-playing game” and the playful afternoon with friends. Each game is an adventure that begins and ends in a few hours, bringing with it unique episodes, which will remain in the annals of each group of players.

We at The Dicetroyers have decided to honor this creation by making logical sense of the component chaos and creating organizers for Nemesis, Aftermath, Void Seeders and Nemesis: Lockdown. And we tried to infuse the atmosphere of the game in our trays and in the organization of this masterpiece. Did we succeed? The final judgment is up to you!

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