Updated: Feb 11
Designed by Konstantin Seleznev and with art by Erbol Bulentaev, this is a new revised edition of a game that first appeared five years ago. The Nightmarium is the menagerie of monsters players create by combining leg, torso and head cards. Don't worry tho', this is a game that children can happily play - the monsters are not actually going to give anyone nightmares. And nor too will the rules: this is a game that's easy to learn and play.
Essentially, Nightmarium is a hand management/set collection card game. Players (2–5) each start with a hand of five cards. On your turn, you get to take two actions (which can be the same action taken twice). You can draw a card, discard as many cards as you like and replace them with half that number rounded down, or you can play a card from your hand to the tableau in front of you where you'll be assembling your monsters. If your card completes a creature (ie: adds the head to the legs and torso placed out on previous turns) then you get also to activate that creature's special abilities (corresponding to the icons on each of the cards that make up the creature).
The special abilities for completing a creature are what turns what would otherwise be a simple set collection game into a tactical tussle. The order in which you activate icons can be critical to securing the most successful combo actions, so you won't want to just complete your chimera willy nilly. For example, you'll get much more effective use out of a card's 'scavenger' ability (discard any incomplete creature belonging to another player) if you've first activated an 'executioner' ability which steals the top card from another player's already completed creature.
The game is won by the first player to complete five creatures, tho' the rules invite the option of increasing this to six or seven. More than five, however, risks making the game run over long and overstay its welcome; the 'take that' element permitting even completed creatures to be attacked inevitably results in all the other players turning on a player that looks close to completing their winning quota; so much so that, in order to sneak a win, you're likely to need to deploy the 'mocker' special ability (play another card from your hand) in combo to complete more than one chimera in a single turn.
This revised edition of Nightmarium, from Ares Games, incorporates a 'Legions of Horrors' mini-expansion. This introduces an extra set of cards that add an extra rule option to the game.