Review – Nemesis

In space no one can hear you pull off a perfect homage...



Designer Adam Kwapiński

Artist Piotr Foksowicz, Patryk Jędraszek, Ewa Labak, Andrzej Półtoranos

Publisher Awaken Realms

Category Thematic, Space

Length 2-3 hours

Release Date 2018

Player Count 1-5

Price $150 MSRP

Alarm klaxons blared. The scout shuffled into the hibernatorium, her left arm dangling at her side. A screech down the adjoining hallway confirmed her suspicion that the Comm center was overrun. Gripping her rifle, she limped towards the door on the opposite side of the room, leading towards the surgery suite. She braced against the doorframe as something in her abdomen squirmed. 

“You can do this. YOU can DO this!” she muttered, squeezing her eyes shut. Just then, a loud clank echoed in the hull, followed by the sound of tearing metal. As the explosion tore the ship in two, the scout sighed in relief, knowing she wouldn’t be any alien’s meal today. 

Nemesis is a 1-5 player game set on a spaceship overrun with aliens referred to as Intruders by the rulebook, but one glance and anyone will see – you’re fighting the aliens from the Alien franchise. How they made this game without being sued, I don’t know. Also, “fighting” is maybe not the best word because more often than not running away is the most viable option. Nemesis is a highly thematic game filled with epic moments and often terrible deaths for some if not all of the players. Sounds fun, right?

Content Guide

Players can be killed by Intruders, fire, ship destruction, contamination, airlocks, other players, and terrible dice rolls. Many of the cards (particularly Intruder Attack, Event, and Serious Wound) feature blood, Intruders, and some gore. When a creature or character dies, a token is left on that tile to show a body dropped there. Some of the mechanisms and goals revolve around analyzing bodies or Intruder eggs to find weaknesses. Several other of the non-cooperative goals focus on either being the last one alive or making sure a certain character doesn’t live. Most games end with 1 or several of the players not surviving, even when working together.


If you’ve ever wanted to play a game that was like Alien/Aliens, then Nemesis could be a lot of fun for you. It has a 2-sided board with a modular setup, and it has some of the most thematic moments in a board game I’ve ever experienced. Players start out awakening from hibernation in the center of the ship. As they move and explore, they start to make noise. The more noise you make, the more likely you’ll attract the attention of one of the new residents. Should you make a noise roll and have to place a yellow noise token on a hallway or area that already has one, then congratulations: you get to have an encounter. Since everyone starts with a loaded weapon, the first encounter isn’t usually the worst. That comes later, when you’re low on ammo, injured, and trying to make it to an escape pod but there’s 3 adult Intruders in the way and you just summoned the queen onto your tile by making just too much noise. Also, noise tokens never go away until someone has an encounter in an adjoining room, so some players could even use this mechanic to their advantage, tromping across the ship and letting others deal with the consequences. 

Players will take turns doing 2 actions from the 5 cards in their hands, all while trying to stay alive and complete their objectives. While the cooperative objectives usually work more in tandem, the standard mode is competitive or semi-coop, and has some directly competing objectives. Someone might be trying to destroy the nest, while another character needs to secure an egg. Another person might be trying to be the only survivor, while the next player over might be actively looking to make sure that particular player dies. Players can’t actively attack one another, but you can damage anyone in a room with an Intruder. In other words, I can’t aim my gun at the player playing as the Scout, but if she’s in a room with the queen I can start a fire and leave, toss a grenade in with the 2 of them, or even try to use Airlock Control to put both of them into the black. The Player phase continues around and around, everyone taking 2 actions until everyone either passes or is out of cards. Often, holding onto 1-2 cards is wise because if you suffer a surprise encounter, your character will be automatically attacked if you have less cards than the number (usually 1-4) on the bottom of the Intruder token. 

The Soldier’s Player board, mini, and cards. Also at the top are a yellow noise token, adult Intruder token, attack die, and noise die.

After everyone passes, the Event Phase happens. Time tracks move, Intruders attack players in the same room, Fire does damage, and then an Event Card is pulled. These cards move some of the Intruders around, and also trigger malfunctions and other bad events for the players. After that the final step in this round is Bag Development, in which players will probably have to roll for noise again, and often you will also have to upgrade the quality or number of tokens in the bag. As the game goes on, more and more adult Intruders are added to the bag. 

At the end of the game, players have to check the engines, coordinates, and their own contamination levels. If the ship was destroyed due to the self-destruct sequence or too many malfunctions or fires, you can skip the first 2. If not, see if 2 or more engines are in working order. If not, anyone hibernating dies as the ship explodes. Then check the coordinates. If the ship is not headed to Earth, anyone hibernating dies (with the exception of the Quarantine objective). Then any player with Contamination cards checks all of them in the scanner. If one of them is Infected, they must take all their action cards and contamination cards, shuffle them, and draw the top 4. If any of them are contamination cards, they die from Intruder infection. So even when you make it to an escape pod or the Hibernatorium, you have a chance of still not making it out alive!

It’s not easy to read in this photo, but since none of the words correctly spell “Infected” this card is Not Infected. None of the lines can be read until the card is inserted into the scanner, and Contamination cards take up room in your hand of playable cards.

Both the competitive and cooperative modes have their pros and cons for Nemesis. In co-op, you can follow each other to minimize noise and work together every step of the way to help ensure more players make it to the end. But… in competitive mode you’ll get a much more thematic and faster game as everyone takes one look at the person sitting next to them, then goes the other way. You can ask for help but they might ignore you, or demand that you reciprocate, or worse yet stab you in the back when you least expect it. My intro paragraph is from my last game where we weren’t playing co-op, and I realized I had to run to surgery after getting infected. With no one left on board with me, my injured player had basically no shot but I almost made it… until the ship blew up from too many malfunctions. It’s a testament to the game that I had fun even when I died. 

I would rate this game higher if it weren’t for 2 things: for one, sometimes the game can feel incredibly unfair. When you face an adult Intruder, for example, you have a 50% chance of completely missing on an unmodified dice roll. And that hurts when you have precious little ammo to spare. Also, most of the Intruder Attacks are situational, but a couple of them are downright brutal. For example, “Tail Attack” has the Queen attack the player – and if they have 1 Serious Wound card, they die (players can usually suffer 3 Serious Wounds before dying). Another, “Frenzy,” sees either the Queen or Breeder Intruders attacking, and everyone in the room that has 2 Serious Wounds automatically dies. It’s a good rule of thumb in this game that if you have some kind of status effect (slimed, wounded, carrying an egg) outside of the norm, you’re more likely to have a bad time. This feels incredibly thematic but can also feel like the game is piling on players when things aren’t going their way. 

The other issue is the price. We don’t usually talk about price points in reviews, but I feel like because this is a higher tier than my usual fare it’s worth mentioning. The game’s MSRP is $150, but Amazon has it for closer to $109 most days of the week. I personally got mine at my FLGS, but was able to mitigate the cost thanks to in-store credit. The incredibly detailed minis and high production value, along with the thematic gameplay make me feel like it’s worth it (at least with the Amazon price), but I would suggest interested players watch a few videos and make sure you know what you’re getting into before purchasing. 

In the end, Nemesis is a lot of fun no matter how you play it, as long as you go into it hoping to survive instead of expecting to run and gun around the ship. Nemesis is a lot – a lot of cards, a lot of tokens, a lot of minis, and a lot of fun. I liked it so much that after playing it at a friend’s house, I went and got my own copy. I even started painting the minis, which is something I thought I’d never do. Anyone with a passing enjoyment of the Alien franchise is going to see the fun in Nemesis… assuming they survive long enough to do so. 

A copy was purchased with the reviewer’s funds at Uncle’s Games

The Bottom Line

Anyone with a passing enjoyment of the Alien franchise is going to see the fun in Nemesis…assuming they survive long enough to do so.



Andrew Borck

Christian/Husband/Dad/Gamer/Writer/Master Builder. Jesus saves and Han shot first.