Review – Blood Country (Nightfall)

Blood CountryBlood Country is the second expansion for AEG’s competitive deckbuilding game Nightfall. Blood Country takes your vampires, hunters, werewolves, and ghouls to the scenic environs of Middle-of-Nowhere, Oklahoma. As Blood Country is not a stand-alone expansion, this review will presume that the reader is familiar with Nightfall (and/or the stand-alone expansion Martial Law). Blood Country retails for about $30.

What’s In the Box?

Well, first, what’s the box? It’s tiny. I love it. At about 3’ x 3’ x 6’ the Blood Country box is still about twice as big as it needs to be to hold the expansion. I get the desire to put a game expansion in a bigger box to make it draw the eye on the shelf, but realistically you’re just going to put these cards in with your copy of the Nightfall base game (or Martial Law), so anything bigger than this is mostly just wasted cardboard (and, if you’re like me and never throw away game boxes, wasted space in the closet).

Components

Blood Country comes with 24 new cards (12 Minions, 12 Orders), for 168 total cards (plus the 24 draft cards, of course). There are also dividers for all of the cards in Blood Country, plus dividers for starting decks, Wounds, and draft cards, if you need those.

There’s also a rules sheet that is mostly a pair of fictions about how the battle comes to Canute, Oklahoma (if you’re curious – yes, it’s a real town and yes it’s right off of I-40).

What’s New?

Blood Country has two new rules (plus more Feed cards, which were first introduced in Martial Law). On the trivial side there’s a rule that an archive with no cards in it ceases to exist. This is presumably because Blood Country introduces a card (Pipe Bomb) that adds Wounds into an archive (player must claim them for 0 Influence when they show up on top of the stack), and they didn’t want you to be able to use it on an empty archive.

More significantly, the draft rules now specify that you choose the cards that will for the common archives before you draft. This reduces the luck involved in drafting, simply because you can now adjust your draft strategy to take into account the chain color combinations available in the commons, instead of just picking the best card and hoping that the combos you need show up. It’s only real downside is that it makes drafting take a bit longer, because everyone has to get familiar with the commons beforehand. The rules change is a definite positive if you want the drafting to be more strategic (a good thing, I think) – and, if you still want it more random, you can always just disregard the rules change.

Although they aren’t rules, there are two new design aspects of Blood Country across several cards. First are cards that care about what kind of Wounds you have. This mostly appears on Orders (5 of 6), and half of the six appearances are Feed costs of “Discard [Wound type]” – one Burn (Propane Improv to deal damage to a Minion), one Bite (Flesh Frenzy to inflict damage on a player), and one Bleed (Shotgun Party to try and flip Minions into play from the top of your deck). The other two Orders let you discard a particular type of Wound from hand for an extra thematic effect (Vampiric Turning toasts a Minion and lets you discard a Bite Wound to take control of it; Burning Meat draws card and lets you discard a Burn Wound to destroy a Ghoul). Finally, there’s a Minion (“Rabid Rex”) with a Chain effect that inflicts Wounds until a Bite or Burn Wound is revealed (completing the second cycle by benefiting when you flip Bleed Wounds).

The other new design is Minions that can, at certain trigger points, be damaged or destroyed for an additional effect. “Shadow Hound” is the sexiest – he can be destroyed at the end of any phase to destroy any other Minion. The others – “Straight Eight,” Maggie Hawke (“Working on Those Night Moves”) and LeShawn Wallace – are destroyed or damage to gain influence or make other players lose influence.

Other New Cards

That leaves another 13 new cards in Blood Country. Some of the more interesting ones (at least to us) included:

– Damon Montez and his deceptively good ability to ignore the first point of damage he would take;

– K.C. Bigelow, whose starting Health is equal to the number of cards in your hand;

– “Harley Doberman,” who brings one of the nastier abilities in the expansion – while in play, your opponents have to discard cards or take damage every time they player Minions;

– Wight Trash, because the name pretty much sums up the set’s theme, and for the super-high attack power combined with blowing himself up at the end of every combat phase;

– Exit Strategy, which can steal Orders off the chain; and

– Healing Hurts, which returns Wounds from your discard pile to hand.

Blood Country lacks any really high-power/high-cost cards – the costs top out at 4 Influence.

Opinions/Judgment Calls

Blood Country basically just adds more Nightfall – more options and more strategy (from the new draft rules and from cards that care more on which turn you play them), but basically without any new rules complexity (unless you count Feed), with minimal additional card complexity, and without anything counterintuitive or fiddly. If you liked Nightfall, then we don’t see why you wouldn’t want to add in Blood Country.

Promotional consideration was provided in the form of a review copy (and props to AEG for providing a review copy of Blood Country even after we panned Martial Law).

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