QUOTH the RAVEN "NEVERMORE are the immortal words written by Edgar Allen Poe
NEVERMORE and RAVENS are the basis of this unusual family/gamer card game from Curt Covert the man behind the originally named Smirk & Dagger games company. NEVERMORE is a game for 3-6 players aged 14+ and takes anything from 30-45 minutes to play. Actually, despite the shadowy nature of the excellent artwork by several sensational artists, the game offers no censorship problems that make it playable only by adult aged players. This is easily a game where the player's age has less to do with whether they can play it, and more to do with their ability to make basic decisions. NEVERMORE is a game of matching and collecting cards, and knowing what to collect and when to collect them. It is also a game where skill can be beaten by luck, a single error doesn't make the game untennable, a single piece of luck can end it, and players can be turned into Ravens.
Seven tiles, six regular and one triple length, are positioned in a row on the table, with the long tile placed above or below the row with its "L" side face up. The two Raven tiles are positioned at either end of the row, the Company of Ravens to the left and the Skulking Ravens at the end on the right; these two tiles remain in position throughout the game. The four central tiles are positioned Attack (Dagger) Healing (Heart) Radiance (Swirl) and Victory (Cup) for the first round, thereafter these four are shuffled face down and positioned in random order between the two Raven tiles. After each round the long tile is flipped over, thus being "L" for the first round and "R" for the next and so forth.
Players are given 5 life points, a Shadow Magic card, and a Heart tile (on which there is a Raven on its flip side) and are dealt a hand of 5 cards each round and from these they take 2 and pass three to the Left or Right according to the letter on the aforementioned long tile. Then the players keep 3 of the 5 they now hold and pass 2 on, finally passing one on so that they are back to holding 5 cards in their hand.
The playing cards relate to the four central tiles plus the Raven, while the Shadow Magic card is an action that can be performed if required in the phase noted on each card. The players are trying to win Yellow cubes which are VPs, the first player to collect 6 VPs is the winner, which appears to be an indication that they are hard to collect, when actually they can be gathered pretty quickly with a little luck and some canny card play.
Each round is played in the same manner; the Draft - this is when the cards are dealt and passed round and then the Resolution - when the cards are played according to the order of the tiles and each tile is resolved. After the Draft, players may play, in turn order, any cards that affect the game before the Resolution phase. After this the Resolution phase begins by someone (it doesn't matter who) asking if anyone is holding 5 Ravens - a Conspiracy. If someone has collect five Ravens during the deal the round immediately ends and all other players are dealt 1 damage; the player with the hand of 5 Ravens gains 1 VP and a Shadow Magic card.
If no one has 5 Ravens then the round proceeds as follows. The first tile is resolved. All players take all the cards pertaining to the tile from their hands and place them face down on the table. Only cards that have the same symbol as the tile may be played - must be played actually - with the exception that a single Raven card may be added to them; players with no cards from this "suit" may not play a single Raven card. The Raven negates one of the players tile-cards and then the player with the most, or equal most, cards played does the action pertaining to the tile. So on and so forth until all tiles have been resolved. As only one Raven card is played with each different "suit" it is possible that a player may have Raven cards remaining in their hand at this point - players have to play a Raven card when they played tile cards if they can.
If a player loses all their lives they become a Raven and thus can only win in one particular way. They flip their Health tile to reveal the skulking Raven underneath and now begin having fun as the dark and evil bird who can often peck at its adversaries. Pecking opponents to death is the only way a Raven is fun and is actually the only way a Raven can win. If a player-Raven kills the last two (or more) Humans then the Raven resorts back to human form and wins.
NEVERMORE is an absolute pleasure to play, even more than one game in a session is enjoyable. It is a very neat and unusual game with a simple but very effective mechanic that is easily understandable by regular games players and easy to learn by casual players. The artists involved have done a superb job on the design of the tiles and cards and deserve their own credits in this GGO review: They are: Hannah Kennedy (hannahkennedy.com), Kirsten Star (http://kirstenstar.deviantart.com), Abbigail Ward (http://lady-dragonrose.deviantart.com) Stephano Andrieri (http://andrieristefano.deviantart.com), Sherry Gypsy H (http://gypsyh.deviantart.com), Dutchs (http://dutchs.deviantart.com) , Just A Little Knotty Stock (http://just-a-little-knotty.deviantart.com) and Fantasy Stock (http://fantasystock.deviantart.com).