Nevermore is a game by Curt Covert, published by Smirk & Dagger Games. It is for 3-6 players. In this game, players will conspire against their fellow players to use various forms of magic to attack them and turn them into ravens. They will have to balance the light and dark as they try to be the last player standing. In the end the player that can best manipulate their fellow players will be declared the winner.
To begin, each player is given a health/raven marker which should be placed in front of them health side up. Depending on the number of players, each player will take a number of health cubes and place them on their health marker. The gold victory cubes are placed to the side of the play area in a common pool. The passing direction marker is placed in the middle of the play area with the Left side face up. Above this marker are placed the raven and resolution tokens in a straight line starting with the conspiracy of ravens, attack, healing, radiance, victory and finishing with the skulking ravens. The 3 decks of cards should be shuffled separately. Each deck is then placed face down to form 3 stacks within reach of all players. Each player is given a starting shadow magick card. One player is chosen as the dealer. Play now begins.
The game is played in 4 phases; drafting phase, resolution phase and the end phase. First off there’s the drafting phase. In this phase, players are dealt a hand of 5 cards from the main deck. Players now choose 2 cards to keep and will pass the other 3 face down to the player on their left. Players then choose 2 cards from their hand to pass to their left. Finally 1 card is passed to the left. This final hand is referred to as the Final Drafted Hand. The Passing direction marker is now flipped over to show that the next round of drafting will force players to pass to the opposite side.
The next phase is the resolution phase. In this phase cards are played for their effects one suit at a time, starting with the conspiracy of ravens tile and moving to the skulking ravens tile. After the first round the 4 middle tiles; attack, healing, radiance and victory, are cloaked in shadows causing them to be flipped face down and shuffled before being placed back in the middle. In this way, players won’t know which suit of cards is to be resolved next until it is flipped over. Resolving the tiles, the dealer asks if anyone holds a conspiracy of ravens. This is when a player has 5 raven cards. If a player has this, then the hand ends and the player holding the conspiracy of ravens deals 1 damage to all other players, draws a shadow magick card and gains 1 victory point. If no players have 5 raven cards, then the dealer moves to the next tile. If it’s face down then the tile is flipped over. The dealer ask for cards of that type. Any player that has cards of that suit will place them in front of themself, hidden from the other players. When all players are ready they will simultaneously flip over their cards along with any raven cards that they chose to add. I’ll explain a bit more about how the raven cards interact with the suit cards in a moment. Just note that all cards of the called suit must be played when called for along with any raven cards that the player chose to include. This continues for each consecutive tile until the final skulking ravens tile, which I’ll also explain in just a moment.
As I mentioned, there are 4 middle tiles apart from the 2 raven tiles; attack, healing, radiance and victory. Each time a tile is called out, the players will compare their cards minus the raven cards played with them. The player with the most will get a benefit minus the number of cards from the player with the second most of that particular type. Attack cards allow the player to damage another player by the amount determined. If the player is able to inflict 4 or more points of damage, they can instead chose to do 1 point of damage to all the other players and gain 2 victory points. It should be noted that if a player is ever reduced to 0 health, they are turned into a raven, flipping their health token to the raven side. The player that caused the transformation gains a victory point. Healing allows the player to gain lost health cubes up to the amount determined. If the player is already at maximum health and can heal an additional 3 more points, they gain a victory point. Radiance allows the player to draw a number of Light Magick cards based on the amount determined. If the player has 5 radiance cards, they heal 2 points and gain a victory point, as well as gaining any Light Magick cards. Victory allows the player to gain victory points based on the number determined.
Let me explain a bit about the raven cards now. If a player has 1 or 2 raven cards in their hand, this is known as a dark omen. The player must place a raven card along with another card of one of the suits to kill it. This means that the card that is played will no longer count towards the suit. For example if a player plays 2 raven cards along with 3 attack cards, then it will count as them only having had 1 attack card. To show this, the player flips over the raven card(s) and the card(s) that is killed. If a player has 3 or 4 raven cards, then they will have more raven cards then suit cards. Therefore they will end up with some leftover raven cards after their suits have been killed. This is where the skulking raven tile comes into play. Players compare their remaining raven cards and the one with the most draws a number of shadow magick cards based on the number of their raven cards minus the number of the second most player’s raven cards. Players can play shadow or light magick cards per the timing rules on the card.
Finally there is the end phase. In this phase players check to see if any raven players are turned back into humans. If a player collected 5 of the same suit of cards or if they played 1 of each of the 5 suits, then they are returned to human form and may flip their raven token back to the health side. They then gain a number of health tokens based on the number of players. It should be noted however that a raven player can not attack, heal or gain victory points while in raven form. However they can prevent other players from gaining these abilities. Also, if a raven player has the most of a suit or ties for the most, they are able to peck the player with the second most of that suit for 1 damage. If there are no other players that played cards in that particular suit, then the raven player is able to peck all the human players. If a pecked player is turned into a raven, then the raven player gets a victory point but is unable to win. However if pecking causes there to be no more human players, then the raven player that pecked is returned to human form and immediately wins the game.
The game continues until one of 3 things happens. If a human player earns 6 or more victory points, the game is over and they win. If all the other players are turned into ravens leaving only one player human, the game ends and that player is the winner. If as stated above, a raven player pecks the last two or more human players turning them into ravens, they return to human form and win the game.
The pieces for this game look amazing. There are several tiles and markers that are made of thick cardboard. These look great. I love the artwork especially on the resolution tokens and health/raven markers. Also included are some really colorful wooden cubes; purple for health and gold for victory points. These are really sturdy and look great. Finally there are the cards. I love the artwork on these. It definitely has a mystical and magical feel to it, like something out of a Edgar Allen Poe story. The cards have a great textured feel to them, like linen finish. It does dull down the artwork just a bit but only a bit. These are very similar to the ones in J’Accuse! except the finish isn’t as dulling as on those. These actually look really good. I’m very happy with how everything looks together. You really get a good sense of mysticism with the components. I really like the quality and overall appeal of everything. It looks great to me.
9 out of 10
The rulebook for this one is really good as well. There are plenty of great pictures, artwork and examples of game play throughout the book. Everything is explained really well including all the different suits and the effects of each one. The book has a really great reference on the back of it that includes both a flowchart of the phases of gameplay as well as detailing each of the special hands of cards. There’s also a really great story like description of the game on the back cover as well. Everything looks great. I’m very happy with the overall look and design of the rules. There’s nothing here that will be difficult to understand at all. It’s all good.
9 out of 10
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that this has to be my most favorite take that style card game. I really enjoy this one. It has card drafting that I really love. Most card drafting games are all about getting the most points that you can with your hand of cards, but this one adds in some negative aspects so that you can do a little hate drafting as well. I love that. You can pass off those ravens to other players keeping in mind how many that you’ve already sent them, because you don’t want them to get TOO many of them. There’s also the take that aspects of the light and shadow magick cards. You can use them as you see fit to possibly increase your own health or even add a card of a particular type when using some light magick cards. Likewise you can do lots of nasty things to your opponents which they won’t enjoy at all. I even like the catch up mechanic in the game. Just because you’ve been turned into a raven doesn’t mean that the game is over for you. You can turn yourself back into a human with 5 of the same card or you can peck the other players and possibly even win the game this way. Needless to say, there’s lots of fun to be had with this one. Fans of take that or card drafting style games should really enjoy this one. I would highly recommend this one. It’s a hidden gem that should be in everyone’s game library. I love it.
9 out of 10
Nevermore is a take that style card game that includes card drafting and set collection. It’s not a really long game. Most game sessions last around 45 minutes or so. The components are top notch. I especially love the artwork and design of the cardboard tokens and markers. The cards have a nice finish that dulls the artwork just a bit but not enough to be a problem. The artwork is great and is amazing to look at. The game itself is absolutely my favorite take that style card game. It adds layers of card drafting that make it possible for you to be as nasty as you want to be with it. The game also has some great catch up mechanics that make it possible to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. I absolutely love that. This is a game that fans of take that and card drafting games should really enjoy. Thematically it gives you that feeling of something from Edgar Allen Poe’s world. Being a fan of Poe’s, I’m thrilled with this game. I would highly recommend this one. It’s a game that should be in everyone’s library. Quoth the Raven “Nevermore”.
9 out of 10
For more information about this and other great games, please check out Smirk & Dagger at their site.