Game Review: Nova Lux – Impendium

This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion
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Number of Players: 6

Time: Approx 1 Hour

Age: 10+

Gamer Type: Strategy, Casual

Game Type: Strategy, Space Quest

Complexity: 6

If you enjoyed last week’s review of Nova Lux – good news! Starting this week, players will be able to back the sequel, Nova Lux Impendium on Kickstarter. Dragons Egg Games has built a monster of a franchise even thought it is in the early stages. As you learn the mechanics from Nova Lux, you learn the mechanics of Imperium. However, this game is not simply a rehash of the first game, but a continuation of the story in your own private universe.

Story

Impendium takes place after the story of Nova Lux. Ironically, Impendium would not take place without the events of Nova Lux. In the original game, you were a space miner who was looking for wealth in the galaxy by mining stars. However, just like in real life, when you mine too recklessly, you find that you you destroy the world you live in. Impendium takes over where Nova Lux lets off. Initially, you have a group of space miners who look at the universe and realize they destroyed it. Now it is time to turn back the clock.

In Impendium, players race to rebuild the universe. Since the stars were destroyed in the mining process of Nova Lux, now it is the time for the federations and factions to rebuild the universe. The universe starts out small, then grows as players seed and re-ignite stars across the play field. However, the universe has its own tricks. Beware: if you do not plan accordingly, your progress could be lost to a harbinger of the void. 9 of 10.

Artwork

As the artwork of the game is a successor to Nova Lux, the artwork is similar to the first volume. Upon initial review, you will see that the symbols remain the same and the sci-fi feel is still there. However, as you dig deeper, you notice that there are substantial changes to how the artwork affects the game. In a card-driven game, like this series, the cards are part of the game. As such, you need strong cards to make the game work. Impendium has that.

However, the initial review copy suffers from one of the same problems that the original had, because it has a small box (which is excellent), it also has a very small rule book. The rule book has a lot of rules in it, because it is a strategy game, but the print is very small. While it is well written, a PDF of the rule book in large font would be nice. Speaking of the box, it is a great small box game that fits easily on the shelf. 6.5 of 10.

Mechanics

The thing that kills most sequels is that most sequels are just a rehashing of the original game. Nothing is more frustrating than opening a box and having a game you already own with different artwork. Impendium avoids that problem. The game is, for lack of a better description, the reverse of the first game. Mission-wise, where you are destroying stars, in the new game you build them. Tactically, where you are alone in the universe (with other players), now, you have harbingers to deal with. Systematically, where you had only factions that provided services, now you have factions working to build back the universe. The game becomes more complex.

That being said, the game still revolves around moving through the galaxy completing missions. Truthfully, the card- adding strategy gives you more play dynamics than the card removing system of Nova Lux. This allows for you to build your engines quite well. The combat system also is more functional as spending resources for building stars is more active than the Nova Lux transitional game. The endgame is a little more complex (or less complex, depending how you look at it); you are in a fight for victory points and star placement rather than meeting personal goals. 7.5 of 10.

Strategy

The strategy elements are pretty much the same as Nova Lux Volume 1, but the goals are different. I have never seen such as shift in strategy use from one game to another where the elements are the same, but you must apply them a different way. Initially, you enter into the game treating it like Nova Lux, but that initial strategies from the original can fall flat on their face. Rule tweaks have also repaired some of the broken mechanics (such as infinite engine combos).

Offense is present. Basically, you can attack other players to build faster – just make sure you keep your resource dynamics right or you may be the one losing resources. Defense is still hard in Impendium (like Nova Lux). Realistically, sitting back and hiding is quite difficult in this game. Rush is more difficult in this game than in the original, mainly because your “faction engine” cannot be exploited as often. Honestly, this balances the game- especially for new players. This is an engine game, which of course makes it the games strongest suit. 8 of 10.

Novelty

As noted above, sequels have a hard time in the gaming world. Change it too much, you lose the following. Change it too little and you have people buying the same game. Nova Lux Impendium is a full sequel, not an expansion. While both games can be played together, it is so much more than a simple add-on for the game. This makes it novel in a world of “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it.” Impendium is very novel in a crowded space of space game sequels, not just because of the playabilty, but because it is actually a unique stand alone game that can be played with volume 1. 8.5 out of 10.

Overall

With such a strong game in Nova Lux, Dragon’s Egg Games had a tough act to follow in the sequel. This was “Empire” to “A New Hope.” For those that do not get the reference, “Empire” was the best Star Wars movie, by far. It broke the mold by being better than the original. Impendium does the same. There is ample replay-ability of a game which can be played with or without the original, that alone is enough to add both games to your collection. With a total score of 39.5, Impendium nearly breaks the 40 point wall that seems to be the upper limit of card games. This game is an epic saga, an epic saga you can enjoy with your friends. With a Volume 1 and Volume 2, we can only hope that Dragon’s Egg has more magic up their sleeve with this series.

Author Profile

Dr. Christopher W. Smithmyer
Dr. Christopher W. Smithmyer
Dr. Christopher Smithmyer is a writer for NRN, the Vice President of International Affairs at Brav Online Conflict Management, and an Adjunct Professor of MBA Business at Doane University. He is also part of the founding team at BlackWalletLTD, one of the leaders in stable coin 2.0 ecosystem maintenance. Dr. Smithmyer’s focus is international business and finance, along with reviews of board games, weapons platforms, and survival items.