Updated: Jul 9, 2021
In Nightfall: Martial Law you play the leader of an army of vampires, werewolves, hunters and the undead in a free-for-all, take-all-comers, battle-royal that is fought to the last man standing.
Despite the images on the cards that show the ever popular Vamps and Werewolves, Nightfall: Martial Law, like it’s predecessor doesn’t really feel like a card game about vampires fighting werewolves for supremacy, it’s simply a very good, attack driven, deckbuilder. If you were looking for Martial Law to bring more “theme” to the base game, it doesn’t.
So, what’s in the box?
60 Starting Minions (5 Players)
24 Draft Cards
3 Promo Dividers
Everything is presented nicely, there are some printing errors on the Draft cards in the original print run, however it doesn’t affect any of the actual gameplay so I wouldn’t let this worry you. One thing that I would have liked to see were different starting minions, rather than the same ones found in the original game. This would have given us more options for how to play the game and made for different game experiences.
Playing the Game
I’m not going to recap the game here, as it essentially plays exactly like the base game, so check out my review for a full rules summary.
In Nightfall: Martial Law however, we find a couple of new rules and mechanics.
The Feed Mechanic allows a player to repeat an effect as many times as they can pay the “feed cost”, in most cases this is to discard a number of cards.
For example “Sweep and Clear” allows you to Draw 1 Card, however you can discard 2 cards to feed it and draw again. You can continue to Feed as long as you can meet the cost on the card. Another type of card that makes use of the Feed mechanic are the new wounds which are used when attacking to boost a minions Strength for each wound discarded.
However, as in the base game, you can only use one Wound Effect per turn, meaning that you can’t do this multiple times in the same turn, or use the Clean Up Phase effect found in the original set.
Stays In Play
The second mechanic that really dominates this set is not actually new and that is the “Stays in Play” mechanic. In the base set this was found only a few cards like Bad Smoke. In Martial Law however many Minions stick around after attacking instead of being sent to the discard pile. This makes cards like Chang Jiang that force specific minions to block; or cards like Headshot that target specific minions, invaluable.
Luckily there are plenty of both Stays in Play and Target Minion effects in this set.
Do I like Nightfall: Martial Law? Yes, without a doubt, it’s an excellent implementation of the system found in the base game. Due to the fact that more minions stick around and more cards allow you to target minions the game feels more tactical and less about the luck of the draw.
The Stays in Play Mechanic allows you to use cards like Brynna and Taylor to build up an engine like in other Deck Builders, without taking away the all-out attacking nature of the game that the original offered.
While other Stays in Play cards offer a high attack value that will force your opponent to either deal with them or suffer the consequences. I also enjoy the new feed mechanic, particularly on cards like Bleak Resurrection which can allow all your powerful minions in your discard pile a new lease of life, very very cheaply. Finally, the new mix of colours and how they chain together is a welcome change that I’m hoping will allow for more kickers to be activated when mixed with the base game.
But, is Nightfall: Martial Law a good base set? Yes, it plays well as a base set, but I think I would recommend Nightfall to new players first. Because Martial Law has additional mechanics like Feed it’s a tiny little bit more complicated and because Nightfall is radically different to most other games out there, even other Deck Building games, the less complex it is the better when dealing with new players.
In additional Nightfall Martial Law has a higher focus on combat than Nightfall, everything from the new wounds to cards like Headshot and Silver Stake that destroy minions outright make for an even more take-that style of gameplay than the original.
I honestly love this expansion and I can’t wait to try it with the base set (once I’ve explored all the new cards thoroughly on their own) but if you’re not a fan of direct confrontation or of the original base game then this is not the game for you. Otherwise give it a spin and if you already own Nightfall there really is no reason not to try out Martial Law.
Thank you to the wonderful people over at AEG for providing Unboxed with a review copy of this game. I’ll be back soon with more reviews and opinions, but until then, have fun gaming.