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One of Raine's biggest hobbies has always been gaming. It all started with an Atari and spread out to Yu-Gi-Oh!, Magic: the Gathering, and Dungeons & Dragons. As an artist, Raine takes pride in painting models for games as well as making his own terrain. He's also been a writer for many years, working both in the journalism industry and writing pieces of fiction. He decided to create Initiative : Tabletop as a platform to talk about all things gaming that he simply thought were cool, and reviewing games became a part of it!

Written Review – Nightfall: Eastern Skies

Nightfall ES Box

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.

# Players:


Play Time:

45 Min




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
  • Rulebook

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.

Nightfall ES Components

Here the cards are all organized nicely in the box!

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.

Setup for a two-player game.

Setup for a two-player game.

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.

These draft cards are used to randomize the cards that are used during play.

These draft cards are used to randomize the cards that are used during play.

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.

This is an example Chain. The first card (bottom) is played and the second card is linked to it, matching its link color to the previous card's. The Chain continues until all players have stopped playing cards.

This is an example Chain. The first card (bottom) is played and the second card is linked to it, matching its link color to the previous card’s. The Chain continues until all players have stopped playing cards.

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.

Wound cards can lose you the game, but in Eastern Skies they have special abilities that can actually help!

Wound cards can lose you the game, but in Eastern Skies they have special abilities that can actually help!

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.

Each of the new starter cards.

Each of the new starter cards.

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.

Buy This Game IT Button

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 interruptsD10 Rating 8
  • 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

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One Comment on “Written Review – Nightfall: Eastern Skies”

  1. Ryan Pearson April 24, 2014 at 12:50 PM #

    Very curious about this. I’ll have to try Nightfall first though.

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