Nightlancer is a cyberpunk-themed RPG-inspired character development board game using hand management and worker placement to tell the story of 1-4 players' attempts to escape the perils of a dystopian future. Nightlancer is designed by Joseph L Norris, with art by Manolis Frangidis, and it's published by Adversity Games.
Nightlancers are essentially mercenaries, engaging in questionable activities in the hopes of rewards that will enable them to one day buy their way into a secure future, all the while trying to hold on to their ideals. Players take on the role of one of ten unique Nightlancers, with stats in areas such as technical expertise, and special abilities and equipment that makes them all feel different to play. Over the course of six rounds, they will attempt missions that could earn them rewards that will ultimately win them the game.
Each round there is a choice of missions available; each having two paths with different challenges and obstacles that players will have to get past in order to gain the rewards. Challenges involve rolling three dice where each has a half chance of contributing a 'success' to your challenge score. This means that the difference between guaranteed success and guaranteed failure is small, and so your equipment and upgrades make a lot of difference; so each decision feels crucial. Failed challenges can be re-rolled if you spend resolve, or you can try to fight your way out of the trouble you've caused. It all fits well with the theme and creates an immersive experience.
The concept works well for different types of player: you could have up to four players scheming against each other, playing 'take that' cards to thwart their rivals, even trying to muscle in on their missions and fighting head-to-head. Or, less confrontational players can use their cards solely to benefit themselves and restrict the interaction to the worker placement aspect of the game. There are also specific rules for a fully cooperative/solo variant, with players trying to reach a combined score while being hounded by an agent.
There is a lot to enjoy here, from casual gamers to heavy, from worker placement to RPG to take-that. The missions may start to become familiar after a few plays but this shouldn't be a big problem when there are so many other variables. This game is well designed, well produced and well worth checking out.
(Review by Matt Young)