Friday, December 21, 2012

Winter Holidays

Like everyone else we are taking a break from working hard, but not from playing, so this is one of the last posts of this year. We're going to refresh our minds and prepare new games which we hope will entertain most of you through the years to come.

We want to thanks all of you for reading us, commenting and giving us advice and we promise we'll come back soon will stories and news about gaming and beyond.

We are wishing you all Merry Christmas, a great New Year and happy holidays! 

More about NSKN Legendary Games on the website Facebook | Twitter | BGG |  ScoopIT Magazine | Blog
Warriors & Traders can also be found on its own website | Facebook |  BGG
Exodus: Proxima Centauri: website BGG
Wild Fun West: website | BGG
Follow us on Twitter: AgniAlexandraAndrei and Vlad 

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Praetor - first pictures and details about the workers

I was telling you some time ago about a Euro-game to be from NSKN, called Praetor. Today I have the first pictures with the prototype and a few more details about the game.

Let's start from the... end. This is a city built by 2 players. The Green and the White were competing to become Praetor and the Green player succeeded.

You can see the city tiles with property markers on them, the Caesar tiles on the left, representing demands from the empire, the two player boards at the bottom and the workers on the map.

The end of a 2-player game
The city
City detail with workers

City detail and the happiness track

The special thing about these workers is that they gain experience with almost every action they take. A more experienced worker will bring you more resources or more Prestige points, becoming increasingly efficient, but they end up retiring and from that point on they will just consume your food.

The workers are represented by dice! A worker starts with 1 experience and he will grow to a maximum of 4 before retiring. There are ways to make your workers stay active longer by building a Clinic or Public Baths in your part of the city.

The rules of the prototype are almost final and we'll proceed to testing soon. So, stay around for more Praetor news before the end of this year.

Happy holidays!
More about NSKN Legendary Games on the website Facebook | Twitter | BGG |  ScoopIT Magazine | Blog
Warriors & Traders can also be found on its own website | Facebook |  BGG
Exodus: Proxima Centauri: website BGG
Wild Fun West: website | BGG
Follow us on Twitter: AgniAlexandraAndrei and Vlad 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A special day

Today is a special day for me for two reasons. The first is that it's my birthday, but that's been happening every year for the past... well let's leave it at that. The second reason is that exactly two years ago today I made a life-changing decision, to quit my day job and make board game full time. It was the kind of decision which triggers all your friends to gather up and have an 'intervention' to make you realize how silly/crazy/stupid you are and to bring you back on the righteous path.

Well, I stood my ground and two years later I am still in the board games business and I don't regret it for a second. It was probably one of the best and (at the same time) worst decisions of my life, but I am finally doing something that I love and even though from the financial point of view it is not as good as my old job, I have high hopes and most of all I am happy from the professional point of view.

There are people around who contribute to my being happy with what I am doing and those are the people from NSKN and all the others who I won't name here and who are contributing by testing, giving feedback, etc.

So, this is the story of the day, at least for me, and now I will go back to doing what I'm usually doing - board games!

More about NSKN Legendary Games on the website Facebook | Twitter | BGG |  ScoopIT Magazine | Blog
Warriors & Traders can also be found on its own website | Facebook |  BGG
Exodus: Proxima Centauri: website BGG
Wild Fun West: website | BGG
Follow us on Twitter: AgniAlexandraAndrei and Vlad 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Impressions from around the internet

The new NSKN games are not going unnoticed this winter. There are some English reviews waiting for the final touches, but in the mean time, we found discussions and reviews in several other languages. 

In French, on there's a short description of Exodus
Exodus Proxima Centauri (au lait)

Ludoversum have published their own impressions of the game. For our German fans
Exodus review

There's a review of Wild Fun West, also in German, on
Wild Fun West

Wild Fun West was noticed as far as in Japan and the game description together with some links on
ワイルド・ファン・ウェスト(Wild Fun West)

Our Italian fans were not forgotten and, even though a bit older, there's a nice game description  of Exodus on
Exodus review

We are constantly collecting all the impressions about our new games, good or bad, from everywhere in our quest to provide the latest info and it is all on our website.

More about NSKN Legendary Games on the website Facebook | Twitter | BGG |  ScoopIT Magazine | Blog
Warriors & Traders can also be found on its own website | Facebook |  BGG
Exodus: Proxima Centauri: website BGG
Wild Fun West: website | BGG
Follow us on Twitter: AgniAlexandraAndrei and Vlad 

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Praetor - a worker placement board game

I've been asked countless times what the story of NSKN focusing so much on civilization or empire building games and when will we come to our sense and do what every typical start-up board games publisher does and make a simple worker placement game which would potentially reach a much wider market. Every time I answered the same thing, "when the time is right, our Euro-game will come to be", maybe with less fancy words, but you get the idea.

Well, it looks like that time has finally come and we're working on a Euro-game!

The working title of our board game is Praetor, it has a setting in the Roman Empire - pretty obvious I would say - and a number of players, most likely up to 6, are competing to become a Praetor. They're all in charge of building a new new Roman settlement together, each responsible for his own part and in the end, the most skilled of them will be appointed Praetor by the Caesar/Emperor.

As Euro-games go, this one aims to be either middle-weight Euro. That means it won't be addressed to absolute beginners - it looks like I am simply not capable of designing easy games - but it won't be too complex for the average gamer to enjoy and it won't last more than 90 minutes.

So far the theme is a bit different from the typical worker placement game (Agricola, Pillars of the Earth, Caylus, Fresco, Le Havre, Ora et Labora) but this is just the beginning.

Since we're in the early stages of development and the game has undergone just a few tests, we can't reveal all the details, but just to stir your curiosity... the most important 'trick' this game bring is that your workers gain experience over time, becoming more efficient in building and collecting resources. However, once a certain amount of experience is accumulated, they retire so you must recruit new ones.

Moreover, instead of being a simple worker placement board game, Praetor will combine this mechanic with city building. You will start with a simple settlement and you will develop it by placing new tiles. In a nutshell, each game will look different, simply because the order of available building will be different.

Most Euro-games have a scalability problem, if they work well with two players they become messy in 4 or 5, or if they work well with many players they will become dry with only two. We plan to overcome this problem from the very beginning by changing the modular map setup according to the number of players. 

I guess these details will do so far, as soon as we're convinced and start massive play-testing, we'll come back with many more details and pictures.

Until then, it looks like the winter is the season of great board game ideas. Stay tuned!


More about NSKN Legendary Games on the website Facebook | Twitter | BGG |  ScoopIT Magazine | Blog
Warriors & Traders can also be found on its own website | Facebook |  BGG
Exodus: Proxima Centauri: website BGG
Wild Fun West: website | BGG
Follow us on Twitter: AgniAlexandraAndrei and Vlad 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Essen loot

I cannot believe it's been already two months, well almost two months since we went to Essen. Right after we came back - and by we I mean the NSKN people and our friends who helped us - we divided the games and each of us took his.

However, this is what Agnieszka and I managed to get just for ourselves. I was telling people that I exceeded by far mu budget for board games for the whole year, so this is why...

Essen 2012 loot

All these games made a nice addition to our collection and we're trying to give each and every one of them a chance to hit our gaming table.

I can tell you so far that I had many good surprises, like ViavaJava - The Coffee Game and Kosmonauts and that there was only one game that was a really disappointing, but I won't mention its name since there are people I know who like it.

Overall, this was a good year, we managed to increase our collection and now we're playing and gaining more experience for our games to come.

More about NSKN Legendary Games on the website Facebook | Twitter | BGG |  ScoopIT Magazine | Blog
Warriors & Traders can also be found on its own website | Facebook |  BGG
Exodus: Proxima Centauri: website BGG
Wild Fun West: website | BGG
Follow us on Twitter: AgniAlexandraAndrei and Vlad 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

An expert opinion

Yesterday evening we had a very pleasant surprise. It came from Tom Vasel, one of the most famous board game reviewers in the industry, who posted his Dice Tower review of Exodus: Proxima Centauri.

Without any further introduction...

More about NSKN Legendary Games on the website Facebook | Twitter | BGG |  ScoopIT Magazine | Blog
Warriors & Traders can also be found on its own website | Facebook |  BGG
Exodus: Proxima Centauri: website BGG
Wild Fun West: website | BGG
Follow us on Twitter: AgniAlexandraAndrei and Vlad 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Back to the basics with Warriors & Traders

When it comes to Warriors & Traders, the world seems to have split in two, into those who love it and those who hate it. We are very pleased that the first category contains more people, but we still want to understand and improve so that for our future games there will be less and less people unhappy of what they get. So, we've been looking into what made some of the gamers complain about Warriors & Traders and what parts did they like the least.

After careful research we've identified two issues and both of them are related to our lack of experience at the time we developed the game and wrote the rule book.

The first and largest issue was the length and clarity of the rules. Most of the people who rated Warriors & Traders low on BoardGameGeek are those who did not agree to the way we phrased the rules and could not get a grasp of the game. Some gave up, the others survived all the way through but ended up playing only one game without ever discovering the full potential of Warriors & Traders. But we're not here to point fingers or to look for excuses. It is obvious that in spite of our enthusiasm and heavy testing, we lacked the experience of writing short, clear rules. We've improved a lot since then and the best proof is the way the rules of Exodus or Wild Fun West are written, so it would not be fair to overlook our first game and leave things the way they are.

We're starting to re-write the rules of Warriors & Traders from scratch, following the same principles of play and using the same game components. We will simply try to show everything in a new light, so that more gamers will be able to enjoy the game.

And since we're about to put a lot of effort to address one issue, we'll tackle on the second one as well. Some of the players who did not have a problem finding their way through the rules and even enjoyed the theme found Warriors & Traders too ... realistic. In other words, the limited number of options led to a too deterministic or even dry game. We worked too hard to show the shortcoming of those centuries and we ended up making people feel that with just a few more turns the game would have made so much more sense.

While developing, we've been playing around with several sets of rules. We need to go back a few steps, look over the old rules, find another point of balance between the Dark Ages setting/realism and the game play and get to work.

We believe that before the end of this winter we will have a brand new rule book for Warriors & Traders, one that reflects the experience we've accumulated and solves most (if not all) the problems people pointed out.

More about NSKN Legendary Games on the website Facebook | Twitter | BGG |  ScoopIT Magazine | Blog
Warriors & Traders can also be found on its own website | Facebook |  BGG
Exodus: Proxima Centauri: website BGG
Wild Fun West: website | BGG
Follow us on Twitter: AgniAlexandraAndrei and Vlad 

Monday, December 3, 2012

W - a future board game

You must be wondering what comes next for NSKN after Exodus: Proxima Centauri and Wild Fun West. We're already working on several new projects which we'll present to you as they evolve. We said quite long ago that we're trying to diversify our portfolio and the result of this effort is starting to take shape.

I have been fascinated with politics ever since Romania ceased being a dictatorship and embraced democracy and I have been following political news from all over the world since my high-school years, although I never intended to get actively involved. There are things I like about politics and probably more things that I dislike about it, but one thing is for sure, a political campaign has something unique, that je-ne-sais-quoi that pushes me to study further.

The US political campaigns are particular interesting, they run much longer than the European ones and in my opinion the political debate is far above what I could expect in my home country and most of the countries I've lived in. Even in its darkest hour, US has provided the world with very entertaining presidential campaigns which made the whole world stop and watch.

Blue states vs. Red States - Source: Wikipedia

Two of these campaign features ex-president George W. Bush. Although I am not a big fan of him myself, I studied his campaign for a simple reason, they are some of the tightest political contests is US history and, like everyone else, I sometimes wonder what would the world have looked like if only a few thousand votes went the other way.

So, between hearing news, reading Wikipedia and playing board games, an idea sparked in my head, a board game about the US elections. Easier said than done, I have been working on the game mechanics, studied the history of the Democrats and Republicans and the American political system in details and, long story short, I decided to pursues the idea of putting the US presidential election of 2000 and 2004 in a board game.

For now, the working title is simply "W". Whether we like it or not, George W. Bush was the winner and the main character of those elections and now part of all our history. In "W", two players will take the roles of campaign managers for the Democrat and Republican candidate and will try to either preserve or bend history.

More about NSKN Legendary Games on the website Facebook | Twitter | BGG |  ScoopIT Magazine | Blog
Warriors & Traders can also be found on its own website | Facebook |  BGG
Exodus: Proxima Centauri: website BGG
Wild Fun West: website | BGG
Follow us on Twitter: AgniAlexandraAndrei and Vlad 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

A thorough review of Exodus

Today we have a guest post from a friend who has kindly agreed to share his thoughts about Exodus on the NSKN blog. So, let's read a review of Exodus by Ben Crane, as it first appeared on BoardGameGeek.

Full Disclosure: I’ve played this game once. It’s a long game, and once is enough to have an opinion, but I just want everyone to know where I am coming from. This isn’t a review from someone who has played the game a lot, but there are only 2 reviews of it up right now, so I figure more—even if slightly less informed than I’d like—can’t hurt.

Alright, so caveats out of the way, on to Exodus: Proxima Centauri. I will try and update with pictures over the next few days.


This is going to be a pretty exhaustive run-down of the rules. If you don’t care or have read the rulebook, feel free to skip down to the analysis section.

The first thing that happens is you build the board. For any given number of players there are three possible board arrangements: a normal game; a long game; and a short, high-interaction game. You pick your game length, which tells you where your starting worlds go, where the Centaurian Resistance ships go, and how many of each type of world to put in the map, then randomly fill in all the gaps between the starting worlds and the core hex with the other planets.

So each game has a mix of fixed positioning and randomly generated map elements. What this means is your strategy will have to change every game. If you find yourself surrounded by money, but without any building resource planets nearby, you might have to go for a trading strategy to get the missing resources. If you have some resources, but not much money, investing in banking might be better for you. This also means there isn’t any exploring to do in this game; the entirety of the map is known by everyone at the start.

Everyone also starts out with a transport ship and a cheap fighter. You then fill all the planets with their resources, and you’re ready to go. Setup took me about 20 minutes for a 5 player game.

The game takes place over 7 turns, with each turn divided into five stages.

UPKEEP STAGE – During the upkeep stage everybody will extract resources from planets where they have population and increase the population on their home planet by two. If you have a population cube on a planet, you will take one resource from it. Several people can have population on a planet, and they all get resources (so long as enough are available). If enough aren’t available, then you extract resources in turn order. Additionally, you have to pay taxes on each building resource you get.

There are three resources in the game: Crystallized Platinum (CP) serves as the general currency and you extract it in units of 5. Axinium is needed to build ships and Phasium is needed to buy upgrades; they are extracted in units of one. For each Axinium and Phasium you extract, you have to pay one CP to the bank in taxes.

DIPLOMATIC STAGE – In the diplomatic stage, representatives of the various human factions will meet on the council station to discuss their mutual agendas. Three possible legislative actions will be dealt out. These can be powerful one-time effects, mid-range effects that will last for one turn, or minimal things that will remain in play for the rest of the game. Players can openly discuss them for as long as they like, but after all the debating is done, they must vote. Everyone has three voting chips corresponding to the three actions, and these will be used for simultaneous, blind voting.

Of course, you can also back your vote up with money. You may place as much CP into your hand with the vote chip as you like, and each CP counts as one additional vote. Whichever action passes takes effect and the rest are discarded. This is an all-pay auction, which means that even if your vote loses, any CP you spent on it is spent. The ads were bought; just because you lost the vote doesn’t mean you can take them back.

Then, the Chancellor (first player) and Vice Chancellor (second player) will set the agenda for the rest of the turn. From a hand of six bonus actions the VC will select two and hand them to the Chancellor, who plays one of those two. After everyone has finished their actions in the Action Stage (coming up soon!) each player gets to take the bonus action once.

Lastly, elections are held to determine turn order for the coming turn. These elections are held entirely with CP. Each player puts some amount (possibly zero) of CP into a closed fist, then everyone reveals simultaneously. Whoever bids the most is Chancellor. Second bidder is VC, and so forth. The old Chancellor will break all ties, however, he cannot break any ties in his own favor.

ACTION STAGE – In the action stage, players play actions. This is when you develop your economy, research no technologies, build ships, and upgrade those ships. Each player has a hand of six action cards: Banking, Mining, Research, Upgrade, Build, and Trade. Everyone selects and plays one of these cards simultaneously, then takes the corresponding action. For the most part, these can be done all at the same time, but should be done in turn order, if it matters.

If you Bank, you roll 6 and gain that much CP. There is a technology that lets you roll 2 6 .

Mining allows you to put more resources down on planets for your people to extract. You roll 6 and put that many resources down, distributed amongst your planets as you see fit. A tech lets you roll 2 6 .

Research lets you research a technology using CP. You get a discount for having researched similar technologies and having researched technologies on the same row as the one you are buying now. There are no prereqs for any technology, and all techs are available to all players at all times. However, to mark the technology as researched, you will have to place one of your unused civilian cubes on it, and these are a limited resource, so you must be careful not to research so much that you run out of them.

Upgrading allows you to upgrade your ships. There are four types of ships and you can have up to two of each. You have blueprints for each ship with slots for shields, engines, and guns. When you upgrade, you may purchase new upgrades (that you have researched) and/or rearrange what you have already bought. Any upgrade on a blueprint applies to all your ships of the associated type on the board.

Building lets you build ships, which you have to place on your home planet hex.

Trading allows you to either sell Axinium and Phasium for CP or buy Axinium and Phasium for CP. You will roll a 6, which determines how many trades you can make, then decide whether you want to buy or sell. Then you can make that many purchases or sales. As more and more people trade during a round, the exchange rates they get will become worse and worse. A tech allows you to get better exchange rates and to both buy and sell with one action (potentially coming out with a tidy profit).

After everyone has taken their action, then everyone may—in turn order—react. Each action card has a secondary action on it as well (one of the basic 6 actions). You may take your own reaction by placing one civilian from your home planet onto the card, or someone else’s by placing two civilians onto it. Once a reaction has been taken, nobody else may take it.

After everyone has reacted, then a second action round is played just like the first. Everyone chooses from their five remaining action cards and plays the main action, then everyone may react.

Finally, the bonus action that was selected by the VC and Chancellor at the start of the round is taken by all players.

FIRE WMDS STAGE – This stage is quick. If anybody has built WMDs (an upgrade), then they fire at this point. WMDs are build on planets and can target resources, population, or entire planets. Whoever has the most civilians on a planet can fire the WMDs there. All targets are declared, then the weapons fire. They have to make a to-hit roll based on the distance they are traveling, then a damage roll. A number of dice are rolled (5 for resources, 3 for civis, 2 for planets) with a 5 or 6 being a hit. For each hit, you remove one resource or civi from the hex. If a planet-targeting WMD (the graviton rocket) hits, then everyone on the planet and all resources are removed, then the entire hex is flipped over to reveal empty space.

CONQUEST STAGE – Like the action stage, the conquest stage happens twice. This is where you will fight other players and the Centaurian Resistance ships and also put civilians down onto new planets to mine there or compete for control of WMDs.

First players, load civis onto their warships. Two of the four ship types can carry civilians. Just move the cubes onto the mini that is carrying them.

Then everyone moves their ships simultaneously and secretly. The edges of each hex are numbered 1-6, and everyone has a stack of tiles numbered 1-6. Play tiles face-down next to ships describing where they move. To start out with, each ship can move only 1 hex, but if your ships can go further, you can play multiple move tiles onto those ships (thanks to the transitive magic of math the order doesn’t matter). When everyone is content, movement is revealed and ships move. Ships can pass through spaces containing other ships, but if you end your movement in a hex with enemy ships, then you must fight.

If fighting a Centaurian Resistance ship, flip over a card from the corresponding deck (they are of strength 1-3) which will say how many guns and shields the enemy has. You roll 6 for each gun you have, and the player to your left rolls for the Centaurian. A 5 or 6 is a hit. Damage is applied by the attacker, so you just apply all damage to the Centaurian, while the player controlling it can apply his damage to your ships as he sees fit. If any ship has more damage than it has shields, it is destroyed.

If either side has won, combat ends. If not, another round is played. There is no retreat.

If you beat the Centuarian, you get it’s card as a trophy. You can trade it in at any point in the future for a bonus (what it is depends on the card) or keep it for points at the end of the game. If you lost, the card is put on the bottom of the stack. You have to face a new, fresh enemy if you try again.

Fighting another player is done in exactly the same manner. Count guns, fire, apply damage, remove destroyed ships, repeat until only one player has ships left. If several players are all in a hex together, they fight in a giant scrum until only one is left. If several players and a Centaurian are in a hex, the winner of the free-for-all fights the Centaurian.

When fighting another player, the winner of the fight receives points based on the strength of all enemy ships destroyed in the combat. The loser(s) receive nothing. There is no participation prize.

Damage to player ships carries over from fight to fight and round to round.

Once all combat is resolved you can disembark your passengers and then a second conquest stage is played – embark, move, fight, disembark.

So that is a round. After the second conquest phase (or third, if the VC and Chancellor selected MOVE as their bonus action), you go back to the start. After seven rounds, the game ends.

GAME END - Each planet is worth 1 or 2 points. The ones which start with fewer resources are worth more VP to make up for the difference. Whoever has the most population on each planet receives that planets VP. In the event of ties, the VP are evenly split (and yes, you can have fractional points).

Additionally, players receive 1 VP for each hex where they have at least 1 ship. Whoever has ships in the central hex will receive 3 VP for controlling the council station. The Chancellor receives 3 VP and the VC receives 1. Players also receive VP for all unspent Centaurian Resistance cards.

Whoever has the most VP is the winner.


Alright, so I am sure that seemed really complicated, but here’s the thing: it really isn’t. Not for a big 4X game at least. The designers made a lot of really good decisions, and the result is a beautifully smooth game. They have stated their goal was to create a game where at the end of round 1, you get the mechanics; at the end of round 2, you get the tactics; and at the end of round 3, you get the strategy; and they have succeeded quite well at that. By round 3, we could get through a whole round in 20 or 25 minutes, though this number ballooned at the end when there started being a lot more inter-player combat.

Of particular note is that the designers at every turn adhered to the rule of 7. At no point, goes the rule, should a player be confronted by a choice with more than 7 options, because rather than giving them freedom, this will overwhelm them. All the decisions in Exodus (with the exception of technologies) are made between 6 or fewer options. I love that. It means that a newbie can pick up the game and immediately start developing a strategy of their own, and as we figured out the game more and more, the agony of those decisions only increased.

When I was writing the rules description above, I kept wanting to say “this phase is the heart of Exodus.” The political stage is the heart of the game because the political actions can have such a huge impact, the bonus action will affect everybody’s turn and overall strategy, and turn order is critical for things like reactions and trading.

But then, the action stage is the heart of the game, because it is here that you do everything. Here that you have to decide whether you want to hold off upgrading until you can trade for more resources, but leave your fleet open to attack, or do a lesser upgrade now. Is it worth the population to take an extra action, or do I need them to maintain control of a contested planet? If I bank at the end of the turn order, will my research reaction still be available to me later, or should I just take research as my main action, but be left with less money? The action/reaction mechanic is nothing short of brilliant, and so surely it must be the heart of the game.

But then, the only way to score VP is through fighting. Everything else is but a means to an end. So surely the conquest stage is the heart of the game, because that is where all the fighting happens. It is also how you put population down on planets and is filled with its own set of terrible choices. Do I load my civis on now and bring the transport into the fight? The extra shields might be nice, and if I win, I can get those resources next turn, but if I lose, then my civilians die in the cold void of space! And when it comes time to assign damage, should my opponent go after my warships, reducing my firing power, or should he take out the civilian ships, probably setting himself up to lose the battle, but leaving me far weaker coming out of it?

The hidden movement, as well, carries tactical and strategic choices made on top of imperfect information and bluffs upon bluffs. If I have ships adjacent to an opponent, and we each have 2-movement engines, and I am trying to kill him, where do I think he is likely to go so that I can provoke a fight? Do I split my forces to cover more ground, but lose my numerical advantage? And if I am trying to avoid a fight, where do I think he thinks I am going to go, so I can avoid that? This is all exacerbated by the existence of blank movement tokens which can be played on a ship in order to signal that it is moving, only to have it remain exactly where it was.

A few times during the game, two players would wind up in the same hex without either having planned it, but having to fight anyways. Had they talked to each other, they might have avoided it, but then, they also would have been giving the other valuable tactical information. It all worked as a brilliant simulation of the breakdown in communication between factions, and the lag between the situation when an order is given, and the situation when it is executed.

So in summation, the game play of Exodus is nothing short of fantastic. Almost everything is done simultaneously, so there is very little downtime. The game is filled with interesting tactical and strategic choices, and at least after our first play through we didn’t find any strategy to be wholly dominant or unstoppable. The random map forces you to adapt to the hand you are dealt, and should you be unlucky enough to be surrounded by nearly barren planets, you can take comfort in the fact that they will be worth more VP at the end.

However, all of this is not to say that the game is without flaws. The largest problem we had was in the randomness in the economic actions (bank, mine, trade). Randomness in combat is fine, and everyone accepts a certain amount of swing there. Exodus mitigates this by having you chuck handfuls of dice, greatly normalizing the results (late game combats often involved 20+ dice per side). The economic side of the game, though, should not be so beholden to random chance. When one player would bank for 1CP, and another took the same action and randomly got 6CP, that didn’t quite feel right. Same thing with mining. The advanced banking/mining techs mitigate this somewhat with a second die. This normalizes the results around 7, and raises the floor to 2. Banking or mining without those techs seems like a one-off thing, not a strategy, so the randomness is a bit better. It’s what you do when you need a quick bit of cash or a few more resources and have nothing better to do, or a spare civilian for a reaction and figure why not.

Trading was another matter however. One of the players in our game went heavy in for trading, thinking it would be a good way to generate income (A 6 on the trade die, with advanced trading, can generate 12 CP, 8CP and a building resource, or 4CP and 2 building resources) to overcome poor tile distribution (low resources, high VP). However, advanced trading doesn’t normalize that trading die result at all, and at a critical point in the game, he wound up having to use 3 of his 5 available actions one round to trade, rolling 1, 2, 1, and coming out of it all with barely any benefit.

Now sure, good rolls would have left him rolling in far more cash and resources than good rolls on banking or mining would have, but that seems problematic. At that point, trading isn’t so much a viable strategy as it is a random gamble. Victory or defeat hinges on two or three rolls of a single die. Had he rolled better, he would have swept half the board in the final turn and won. Instead, he came in 4th of 5.

Also, fractional VP are just goofy. I get it at the end, but throughout the game you will be gaining 1/2 VP for things, and the score track dutifully provides spots in 1/2 VP increments. Why not just double the VP value of everything to avoid this?

Lastly I want to just point out the balance of the 5-player game. Five players on a hex-based map isn’t easy, but they made it work through asymetrical, but balanced starting placement. One player is closer to the center and with the most room to expand, but also surrounded by the strongest enemies (Player A). Two with the least room have the weakest enemies near them (Players B & C). The last two are a good balance between room to expand and enemy strength (Players D &E). The final arrangement of scores, top to bottom, was B-A-D-C-E. No apparent pattern there means balance. Anecdotal, sure, but it seems to have worked for us.


Something has to be said about the components, unfortunately. They just aren’t that good. There are 4 major problems: warping, printing, color choice, and IP.

Warping – According to people who know more about this than I do, the cardboard had too much moisture and too little wood, leading to warping. It isn’t terrible, and is the least of my concerns here, but it is present.

Printing – The laminate used on the punch boards which make up most of the components (CP tokens, upgrades, hexes) peels. I was very careful and used an X-Acto knife to punch all of my pieces, but even still some of them peel. The box came with a bag of pre-punched extras, which is appreciated, but it did not come with enough to replace everything. Thankfully, nothing in my box was damaged enough to make replacement necessary, but others have had bad luck.

Color Choice – The CP, Axinium, and Phasium cylinders that represent the resources on the planets are blue, red, and green painted wood. The player’s civilians on a planet are represented by painted cubes in their colors. Three of the player colors are blue, red, and green, and they are made with exactly the same paint as the resources. This makes it hard, at a glance, to tell which planets have resources, and which have civilians.

IP – The ships are represented by wonderfully detailed little plastic minis. Unfortunately, it would seem that the printer told NSKN that these minis were their generic space ship molds and that NSKN could use them, when it turns out that they are actually made from stolen molds from another game (Silent Death). I believe NSKN had no ill intentions here, but damage was done. They have reached out to the other company, but no resolution has been reached as of this writing. I will update this section of the review should that change.

Special bonus component comment – the rulebook isn’t great. It is perfectly functional, but the layout is a bit weird (2 columns per page, but you can’t just read each column from top-to-bottom, left-to-right. Instead, often times, you have to read the first half of the left column, then the first half of the right column, then the bottoms of each), and looking up rules was a pain. There is very little white space to break up the bullet-pointed walls of text. However, the rulebook is filled with great examples. Could’ve used a pass by a professional layout artist, though, and a few more blind playtests (where the playgroup just gets the book and the game and has to muddle through it without the benefit of the designer to explain it; this can reveal flaws in the rulebook. For example, the rulebook neglects to mention that each reaction can only be taken by one player, although the designers have clarified that this is the case).


So how does Exodus stack up against Eclipse and TI:3? Everyone has their own opinion, and I’ll try to keep this brief.

On flavor and story, TI:3 and Exodus are both clear winners. The Exodus rulebook is filled with wonderful descriptions of the universe and there is clearly a story behind everything. The Centaurian cards have great flavor text hinting at what is to come (NSKN has said this is the first game in a trilogy). 

Exodus plays faster than either of the other two and, to my mind, doesn’t sacrifice any depth of gameplay in achieving that. The 2-ship limit made choices interesting without reducing the scale of the battles, but the feel is probably a little less epic than TI:3, but significantly more so than Eclipse. 

Eclipse’s action selection mechanic is great. Exodus’s is too. Both involve choosing how much of a limited resource to spend to get more actions, but each does it in its own way.

I dislike the random tech draw of Eclipse and the convoluted tech tree of TI:3. Exodus wins the technology competition hands down for me. All the techs are alluring, none seemed to be must-haves. The multiple stacking discounts felt more natural than Eclipse’s single discount, since the association of techs on one row in Eclipse always seemed pretty non-existent. 

The fact that combat awards a flat VP value based on how hard it was is preferable to me over Eclipse’s VP chip draw.

Exodus wins the Diplomacy contest hands down as well. The political actions do far more here than in TI:3, and the elections are great.

Exodus doesn’t quite reach Eclipse on the economic front, though. The mining mechanic is interesting, but held back by the reliance on randomness. The same goes double for trading. I think Exodus could be more interesting than Eclipse were it slightly tweaked. This is the biggest tragedy of the game to me; a horrible missed opportunity.

So clearly for me, Exodus is the best of the three. It fixes my two major gripes with Eclipse (the tech draw and the VP chip draw), and streamlines the epicness of TI:3 into a much faster playing game that loses none of the scale. If you love the map-building phase of TI:3, though, or the exploration parts of Eclipse, then be warned that there is no analogue here. The map is prebuilt and fully known by all.


So that’s Exodus. In case it wasn’t clear, I loved this game. Other than my one gameplay issue, it was pretty close to a perfect 4X game, and even that issue is surmountable (either warn players off focusing exclusively on trade, or make advanced trade let you roll something like 2d3 or d4+2 instead of 1d6 for the number of trades available; similarly advanced banking/mining might let you roll d6+4 or something like that).

The component quality is regrettable, but far from a deal-breaker for me. Of course, I also got this at the reduced IndieGoGo price. If I were paying full retail, I might be more upset, depending on what full retail is. Still, after a bit of griping, I’d be happy with my purchase.

The best thing I can say about this game, though, is that after it all wrapped up and we were cleaning up and nursing our long strategy game headaches, the first topic of conversation was when we were going to play again.

More about NSKN Legendary Games on the website Facebook | Twitter | BGG |  ScoopIT Magazine | Blog
Warriors & Traders can also be found on its own website | Facebook |  BGG
Exodus: Proxima Centauri: website BGG
Wild Fun West: website | BGG
Follow us on Twitter: AgniAlexandraAndrei and Vlad