Beings go bump in the night. Strange things are happening in the darkness. When the normal eye is turned inward for bed time, a whole other world comes to life in the shadows. A war has been raging during the night. In it, several different manner of creatures are fighting for control. The war rages on, and this time the focus is set on the east – specifically a city in India that’s yet to be touched by the Nightfall. All of a sudden, ghouls from the seas, strange creatures in the sky, and much more have started to work their way out of the darkness to assert their dominance.
The war for the eternal night continues, and only one faction will be left standing by the end.
Inside the box you’ll get a ton of cards. Here’s a breakdown:
- 84 minion cards
- 84 action cards
- 30 summon cards
- 60 wound cards
- 60 starter cards
- 24 draft cards
- 32 card dividers
This is pretty common for a deck building game, but there seriously are A LOT of cards. Luckily the cards aren’t flimsy at all and play real well. Even through shuffling the cards held their own and didn’t bend. I’ll still probably want to sleeve them, but they will stand on their own fine until I do.
How to Play and What Has Changed
Eastern Skies is technically a standalone expansion for the original game of Nightfall. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Nightfall, I’ll go over the core rules for the game and then touch on what changes with Eastern Skies.
Like any other deck building game Nightfall provides players with a starter deck which can be added to throughout the course of the game. What sets Nightfall apart from other games in the genre is the draft mechanic that’s used to determine what cards will be available to play with throughout the session. Players each get the same starter deck, and then draft cards are shuffled together and a certain number are dealt to the middle of the table. These draft cards represent a stack of matching cards that gets placed in the middle of the table to form what’s known as the Common Archives. There will be a handful of card piles here, and any player can acquire any of these cards during the game. Each player will also have their Private Archives, two stacks of cards that are again chosen randomly at the beginning of the game. Players may only purchase cards from their own Private Archives or the Common Archives, not the Privatel Archives of other players.
The goal of Nightfall is to be the player with the least amount of Wound cards at the end of the game. During each player’s turn they attack with all of their minions, play cards from their hand, and acquire cards to add to their deck. Nightfall introduces a new mechanic called the Chain for playing cards from your hand. The Chain works like this: you play a card from your hand for free to start a Chain. You can then add cards to the Chain as long as their colors match the Link colors of the card played previously. When you finish playing cards for your Chain other players may play cards from their hand, following the same rules, and add to the Chain. Once all players are finished playing cards the Chain resolves and the cards are put into play.
Players begin their turn with 2 Influence Points with which to purchase cards from either the Common Archives or their own Personal Archives. You can discard cards to gain more Influence Points and some cards may provide Influence Points as a special ability. Purchased cards are added to the player’s discard pile just as with other deck building games to be used when they come up later on.
As players attack with their minions, defending players can choose minions to block those attacks. For all of the damage a player does not block they take Wound cards. When the Wound deck runs out players count up all of the Wound cards they’ve acquired and the player with the least amount wins.
Now, onward to the changes Eastern Skies brings to the game. In this expansion we get a new mechanic: Link effects. Link effects happen when a card is added to the Chain. These effects can be anything, from making a player discard a card to immediately doing damage to a minion when the effect resolves. Link effects make you play more strategically, as you can put an intense amount of effects together to create an amazing play. Eastern Skies also adds new starter cards, but they work the same as others in the game: they are exiled once they’re played, destroyed, or discarded.
Do the Skies Remain Dark for Nightfall?
All together Nightfall: Eastern Skies is a solid expansion. It introduces new starter cards, a new mechanic, and plenty of new cards. It can be combined with previous sets to create a crazy fun experience, making use of all the cards in the entire line. I personally enjoy the draft mechanic because it offers a lot of replayability for the game, which I find crazy important for deck builders and any other game for that matter.
The new Link effect makes for some exciting card plays, and if you strategize correctly you can get some huge plays off of linking the right cards to the Chain. What’s also fun about the Chain itself is just how it plays out. Unlike other deck builders, Nightfall doesn’t offer a lot of downtime in between turns because of the Chain mechanic. You can play cards on your opponent’s turn to foil their plans (such as linking a card to the Chain that negates certain other cards from being played) and advance your own at the same time.
I really like how sturdy the cards are as well. They don’t worry me like some other deck builders on the market that I feel I have to sleeve right away or I’ll lose the cards. The artwork is really nice, and it fits the theme quite well. The starter cards are a bit different, as previous cards were best being played early. In Eastern Skies your starter cards are valuable enough that you might not want to waste them in the early game. Strategy is the name of the game here, and Eastern Skies is by far the most complex expansion in the Nightfall line. Don’t let that deter you, however, because I believe it is also the most fun.
If you’re a fan of the Nightfall series I highly recommend this expansion to you. However, if you’re a newbie to the game then I’d suggest either the base game or one of the earlier expansions. By the time you get up-to-speed you’ll be ready to tackle Eastern Skies without hesitation.
Thanks to AEG for providing a review copy of Nightfall: Eastern Skies for review!
- draft mechanic separates the game from others in the genre and adds to replayability
- Chain mechanic offers unique and exciting gameplay
- new Link effect adds to the Chain mechanic, offering strategic plays and sometimes crazy interrupts
- cards are of great quality and have a nice finish
- artwork stays true to the theme
- new starter cards change up the gameplay and provide a more strategic approach to the gameplay
- replayability will see some drawbacks if Eastern Skies is the only expansion used over time
- the most complex of the Nighfall expansions, Eastern Skies may not be suitable for new players