If you’re like me, and apparently many in the gaming community, the first you heard of Awaken Realms’ game Nemesis was when you saw your friends and others on BGG posting about how great it was. So like any other game, you looked for a copy for sale or trade and were completely blown away by the aftermarket markup on this hard to find title.
While normally a successful Kickstarter is a means to get a game onto retail shelves, this one seemed to test the market and unexpectedly pass with flying colors. But only for the 30,000 or so who planned ahead and backed it. While a couple of reprints are slated for later in 2020, the resellers are making a killing (and rightly so) selling their copies or extras on BGG, ebay, and elsewhere. While I certainly don’t begrudge folks putting the free market system to use and reaping rewards the demand for the short supply brings, it’s always a little frustrating with these exceptions that define the FOMO (fear of missing out) rule. I have learned over the past few years to not pay heed to FOMO. Too many games I’ve backed have ended up being duds. Better to wait and grab a second hand or retail copy down the road if the game passes the test of time (and the playthroughs by non-playtesters).
Side note: a data point that’s probably not captured very well is the number of playtesters who end up disinterested in a game enough that they abandon their testing. So all that’s left is testing and changes (albeit valid) based only on the input of a group that actually likes the game.
Sadly, Nemesis turned out to be a gem that was in very short supply as I finally caught wind of the game. I started looking for a copy. Trades were nearly impossible to make as the cash value far exceeds most games and finding enough to bundle that another person would want is improbable. I kept seeing full set (all the Kickstarter goodies) going for excess of $500, but that was far too much to try a game, especially as a solo-only player. I could find some base game only for a semi-reasonable amount, but even that investment was a lot to “take a risk”.
Like in the old VW commercial where the guy is walking around with a miniature VW bug stuck to his head (as in “on his mind”), I kept looking for ways and reasons to get or not to get Nemesis. As I was doing research I asked a BGG friend who owned it for his thoughts on the game and as he gushed he also offered to loan me his copy. Eeep. Never done this before. He’s hundreds of miles away and I’ve never “borrowed” a game to try. I initially said no, but as I thought about it, I figured it would be a decent low-cost remedy.
I’d get it. I’d try it. I’d not really like it. I’d be cured.
So he sent it.
I got it. I tried it. I loved it.
I found and ordered a copy.
I managed to get a decent deal on the base game only. Of course this highlights (another of) the flaws of Awaken Realms Kickstarter project. First was obviously the failure to use the project as a means to immediately supply the retail version. But even more egregious was their bundling of and the Kickstarter exclusivity of some of the expansions. Crowdfunding is no longer in its infancy and I thought all the quality companies had learned that exclusives are highly frowned upon. Not of course by those who get them, but by those who will probably never be able to get them because of their scarcity. Sure, small things like backer-pins, alternate art, or name recognition on the box or rulebook are fine. Except for the most OCD completionist, those bonuses aren’t going to penalize the more cautious “wait and see” adopters. Even in the case of Nemesis, not owning the pre-washed “Sundrop” version isn’t enough to inhibit the enjoyment of the game.
Unfortunately the main expansion of the game (Aftermath and Voidseeders) was a Kickstarter exclusive as was the add-on Medic character. While the general impression of the Aftermath/Voidseeders variant is not positive, that box also contains additional characters that can be used in the base game. So it’s not possible to get the additional character roles to add to the game without also getting the full expansion, which as an exclusive is a very costly proposition. It would have bee nice if the character pack was a separate non-exclusive product.
Please note, this is all just observation (from frustration) and I know it sounds like “rant”. AR had a perfect right to package their game anyway they wanted. But hopefully they (and other companies) have learned from this decision and will be a little less inclined to make gameplay affecting components and expansions follow a different course than the main product.
All that said… But how is the game?
Find out in my review: Hellooooo Nemesis