Board Game Reviews: Nexus & Gemblo

In my very first blog post, I mentioned that one of the games I bought at this year’s UK Games Expo was Nexus, a self-published game made by Vivienne, an adorable little old dear. Naturally, anybody interested in the game will need more than an appraisal of the person who made it before they decide to buy a copy, so I figured I’d give them some free publicity, as well as review Gemblo, another game in my collection, for reasons that shall become apparent.How do you play?

Nexus is without doubt the simplest game in my collection; each player (two at least, six at most) pick a dozen tiles from a bag – all components are of good quality, especially the tiles – that have any number from 1-30 on them. The person with the longest run of consecutive numbers (at least three) goes first, putting their tiles out in a row. Everyone else can put tiles down that complete the row, start columns above and below the row, or just pick another tile out of the bag.

Every turn must begin by drawing a tile, to prevent any player with th right combination of tiles ending the game early. The 1, 10, 20 and 30 tiles are all red – playing them can score you points during the round. The round ends when somebody plays all their tiles, including the one they drew at the start of their go. Everyone tots up their points, and whoever has the most points after five rounds wins.

Gemblo is also about putting down tiles, except these tiles are coloured hexagons of various combinations of shapes. You put the tiles down in a hexagonal grid, making sure you keep all your tiles one hex away from each other; no more, no less. Everybody does this until nobody can put any more tiles down, then you count up your remaining hexagons (how many hexagons are in your remaining tiles, not how many tiles you have left) and whoever has the least hexagons wins.

Who do you play it with?

The reason I put these games into one review is that these are the only two games in my collection that my parents will suggest playing with me. Before you ask, I’ve tried other “gateway” games with them, but they tend to have trouble learning the rules to anything they aren’t already familiar with…

my parents whenever I bring out a game from my collection

I’m not saying this is entirely accurate, but it’s not a hundred miles away either…

Another interesting thing my family – more specifically, my Dad – does with games is introduce house rules (Mum refers to them as “Preston Rules”, usually because they seem to favour Dad whenever he’s playing). You remember all that stuff about scoring and playing “best-of-five”? Well, my parents don’t actually do any of that.

Gemblo, on the other hand, is one that they play to the letter, and they seem to have fun doing it. They sometimes forget that it’s best to get rid of your largest tiles first, but otherwise they enjoy the game. It’s also the game I’d bring out if playing with ” board gamers”: it’s a lot less luck-based than Nexus, and a considerable amount of gamers I know would recoil in horror at the merest hint of playing anything luck-based…

In conclusion, both Nexus and Gemblo are fun games, provided you realise who will enjoy which one more.

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