Nightfall: The Coldest War Review

Hello, friends, and welcome to Nightfall review #4.  This one is of.... well.... the 4th set - Nightfall: The Coldest War.

As with most of my expansion reviews, I will assume that you are already familiar with the base game.  If you're not, I highly recommend checking out my review of Nightfall, so that you'll have a context to frame this discussion, as I only plan on writing about the changes that Coldest War has introduced.

One of the phases of the moon
The first, and most widely advertised, thing that Coldest War introduces is the "Moon Phase."  Essentially, there is a new deck of about 6-8 cards that represent different phases of the moon.  Based on which phase of the moon is currently active, a different global effect will occur.  Some of these will make lycanthropes stronger, others will help vampires, one causes all kickers to resolve.  But, for the most part, these phases target a specific race of monsters and make that race stronger in some way.  And, if that isn't a race that you have a lot of in your deck, then at the end of your turn you have the option of changing the phase to be something else.  Honestly, I found this element of the game to be fiddly and unnecessary.  Since most of the phases only worked based on the class of your monster, it generally seemed to be an afterthought to get the bonus.  You definitely couldn't plan a strategy around the moon, because it changes too often, and it's possible for the phase that you want to never come back up.  More than anything, this element felt like something they tacked on just to have something "new" in the game.  Fortunately, it is optional, and I will probably opt out of using it 98% of the time.

The next new addition in Coldest War are Combat effects.  Combat effects are cards that you can play during any combat phase, and they give you a bonus.  This is nice, since inevitably you will not be able to chain every card in your hand every turn.  Most of these bonuses aren't large enough to be overpowering (give a minion +1 strength, heal a minion, etc), but it is nice to have an alternative way of playing cards.  My favorite Combat effect is the minion that is able to be put into play from your hand, but with only one health.  He then becomes a nice surprise attack to your opponents.  Whereas I was a bit torn, because it almost felt like cheating to be able to gain effects from your cards without successfully chaining them (chaining is the crux of the game!), I do like the new Combat effects, and they help the Coldest War expansion to have a different feel than the previous sets.  This is a nice addition.

The third thing that I will mention isn't really a new addition, but is really awesome.  I love the new wound cards.  It's worth mentioning - Coldest War is a standalone set.  Yet, instead of giving you all "new" wounds, Coldest War gives you wounds of each of the existing types.  This can be a bit confusing when you first look through the set and see "Martial Law" written on some of your wounds, but it really makes sense when you think about it.  Anyway (drumroll....) the new wound effect is: "This card chains to and from any card.  This does not count toward your 1 wound effect per turn limit."  That is amazing!  Suddenly, I want to get hit a few times, because I'll be able to chain on any card on any turn (assuming that other players start a chain).  However, because of the final part (not counting towards your 1 wound effect limit) it makes sense to include the other kinds of wounds - otherwise the Coldest War set woundn't make sense without being mixed with the other sets (and, after all, it is supposed to be a standalone expansion).  So, yes, I love the new wound effect.  I like it more than any of the actual archive cards I've seen in the set!

Bone Cruncher!
The final thing that Coldest War mixed up on us was the starting decks.  Nightfall and Martial Law each had the same starting decks.  Because of those starting decks, the first few turns always felt a bit too prescribed (you start off by playing Yuri, because he gets you extra influence).  This is no longer true, and the starting turns feel a bit more fluid - though, that might simply because I'm not as familiar with these new minions, so I haven't found a "go to" strategy.  Honestly, in some colors I like the original starting cards, whereas in other colors I like the new ones.  The most interesting one is "Snowstorm", whose strength is dependent on how many minions the defending player has (if you play this early when nobody else has any minions, you completely wasted your card).  Though none of these new starting cards are incredibly unique or special, I like that they were included, as it provides more flexibility with the starting game.  Now, you can use the old set, the new set, let each person pick which set to use, or even let each person mix and match from the different sets.  I hope that they continue providing different starting decks in the future!

Now, just because it's fun, here's my (current) favorite card from this set: "Bone Cruncher."  He is a Lycanthrope (this actually matters now, but still not much) with 4 hitpoints, and he deals 5 damage!  Plus, he has a Combat effect that lets you make a target minion's damage unblockable.  Awesome!  Can you just imagine having a handful of these in your deck?  You play one on the table, then discard another copy from your hand to make the first one unblockable - all 5 damage!

Overall, I give Nightfall: The Coldest War  an 8.5/10.  Whereas I still like the base game significantly more than this one, because of the new wounds and starting cards I think that The Coldest War is at the top of my list of Nightfall expansions.

If you like expansions, you might also check out (of course) Nightfall: Blood Country, but also Bang! Dodge City, and Thunderstone: Dragonspire.

I would like to thank AEG for providing me with a review copy of Nightfall: The Coldest War.

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