Publisher diary 4/5
In this 4th article, we present the last cards of NINE: 2 Hero cards and 4 Influence cards.
Hero cards do not work the same way the Influence cards do: when you play a Hero card, you resolve its ability immdiately. There is no majority involved concerning Hero cards as their ability applies when you play them only, not on later turns. Heroes abilities are powerful ones, but they will punish you if you don’t manage to get rid of them: why?
Alpha is certainly the most powerful Hero: when you play Alpha, you may destroy an opponent’s Influence card and steal a token (Military, Science, Chaos or Coin) from them. Alpha is a “game changer” card as it changes the state of the game when it is played. Of course, it’s possible to win without playing any Alpha card in the entire game! Playing Alpha is powerful in a short-term view but can be painful for your long-term development.
Fenghuang is more a situational Hero, but always useful and quite powerful if played in the right tempo: you gain a Culture token and you may copy an opponent’s Influence Kingdom phase ability, but only if that opponents controls the majority of this Influence. This versatile ability will help you to gain the last token of any type before an opponent who would have taken it, to gain a Diamond by copying Xi’an ability, etc.
Playing Fenghuang is the only way to gain a Culture token, which means more card draw during the Dealing phase or more cards played if your control the most Phoenix cards.
Narashima has 2 Kingdom phase abilities, so you can trigger only one each round :
Narashima is the only way to get rid of the Hero cards you played during the game and can even be the key to an alternate strategy based on Hero cards.
His first ability, by discarding a Hero card from you play area, is very helpful in two ways: shuffling back Heroes in the deck increases your odds to draw more Hero cards for the next round and avoids to discard during the clean-up phase as most of the time, players play 2 cards each round while the card limit increases only by one.
His second ability is more situational but can be very powerful in the right circumstances. We have seen players winning the game 3 or 4 flipped Hero cards! The drawback of this strategy is that these cards count towards the card limit so you will have difficulties to trigger Influence cards abilities and it will be easier for your opponents to do so. This ability also modifies the flow of the game, especially if you flip Alpha cards: the game will be less aggressive and will make Goan-Sul destruction ability more powerful, so playing Narashima and Goan-Sul seems fun if you want ton control the majorities on the board ...
Justice is also a “game changer” because she proposes a different way to play the game. If you control Justice, you want to win as many ties as you can to trigger the most Influence abilities. This is obviously a strong strategy during the game but at the end of the game you will not gain a lot of VPs by winning Influence majority scorings, since it’s the only tie she cannot break. However, being tied on Civilization tokens (Military, Science and Chaos) will grant you a Supremacy you wouldn’t have gained otherwise!
Justice is very powerful but scores only 1VP at the end of the game (as much as any flipped card at the end of the game) and is often the target of a destruction by Alpha or Goan-Sul. Your opponents will also seek to reinforce their majorities to avoid the Justice player to be tied with them.
Galmi’s abilities offer support and protection for your development : His first ability is to protect your Influence columns immediately on your left and on your right from opposing Heroes. However, Influence cards must be sorted in ascending number, which means you never totally control the Influences you want to protect: left to Galmi you can only place Justice or tomorrow (3 cards in a deck of 45 Influence cards) reducing your opportunities to optimize Galmi’s Shield.
Hopefully, Galmi’s second ability is more stable and leads to interesting combos with Phoenix (you can play more cards at a time) or Narashima (you can flip Hero cards) and generally it is always good to control more cards to trigger more abilities!
Byun Hyung Ja’s ability modifies strongly the state of the game in two ways : The number of cards of each Influence is increased or reduced (for BHJ) by one for each BHJ card played this way. This means it will be harder to score VPs for Influence majorities and easier for BHJ majority.
BHJ ability acts like a protection because should a card be destroyed in a column with a BHJ in it, the BHJ card must be destroyed first. You may place several BHJ cards in the same Influence column if you wish to! Finally, BHJ ability helps you to adapt to the state of the game, to your opponent’s decisions, and to control the randomness of the game! The main drawback is you are risking losing 9VP to trigger more abilities, but most of the time you will control another majority, so you never lose 9 straight VPs.
The next article will also be the last. You will soon be ready to play NINE as we will unveil the scoring phase that occurs at the end of the game and a few strategy tips.
The SWAF team.