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Nexus Ops, Part 3
Alien Tactics

Because Nexus Ops uses random terrain and Exploration Tile placement, every game is different, and it's difficult to outline detailed strategies for victory. There are, however, certain tactical principles that will work in your favor more often than not.

Deploy Mixed Units

With six units to choose from ranging in cost from 2 to 12 Rubium, you'll find yourself debating which ones to buy every turn.

More expensive units are stronger offensively, but one hit kills anything, so expensive units die just as fast as cheap units.

Here's an interesting thing about battles in Nexus Ops -- if neither side is wiped out in a single exchange, then no one wins. The surviving units remain on the tile to continue the fight or withdraw on later turns. As long as you have at least one surviving unit, you don't lose the fight, and your opponent doesn't win. You can fail to win a battle in Nexus Ops by not inflicting enough casualties on the enemy, but the only way to lose a battle is to not have enough units in the fight to soak up casualties.

Finding the right mix is a matter of experimenting and hitting the right circumstances. What's best in one situation might be less good in another. You'll always want a mix of units, however -- expensive, hard-hitting units to inflict casualties and cheap units to soak up casualties.

Players familiar with Axis & Allies will quickly hit on the strategy of buying nothing but Humans.

Humans are attractive because they're the cheapest units in the game, and having plenty of them around will prevent you from losing battles (and prevent your opponents from winning them). At a cost of just two Rubium, you can have three Humans for the same expenditure as two Fungoids or Crystallines and six for the price of a Rubium Dragon. Even a Rubium Dragon can kill only one Human per battle, so six humans can hold out against an equal value of more powerful units for several turns. With an all- (or mostly-) Human force, you'll rarely lose a battle.

You'll rarely win one, either.

Humans suffer more than any other pieces from limited flexibility. They can't enter Magma Pools or the Monolith. You might be able to avoid Magma Pools, but eventually you'll want to get a foothold on the Monolith, if only to deny it to someone else. You lose out on the other creatures' terrain bonuses, and also lose the surprise moves of the Rock Strider, Lava Leaper, and Rubium Dragon, which are key to keeping your opponents guessing about your intentions.

Just as importantly, you'll quickly run out of pieces. Each color in the unit mix includes only 12 humans. You'll find it's wise to have lots of them in play, but not to rely on them solely.

Always Explore

There's almost no good reason for not advancing into an unoccupied, unexplored space. Even if the tile is a dead zone -- a space where your exploring units are certain to be destroyed by enemy units before your next turn -- there are still good reasons to explore whenever possible.

Chief among them is that exploration can give you free troops.

Out of 18 Exploration tiles, 14 give you a free unit. Four yield a Fungoid and a 1-point mine, four offer a Crystalline and a 1-point mine, and six grant a Rock Strider but no mine. The remaining four feature 2-point mines.

If the tile is threatened by the enemy, the free troop may kill something else in the battle before it dies or even swing the balance of the battle in your favor. Even if you're destined to lose the battle, the tile, and the free unit before your next turn, you've still kept that free unit out of the enemy's hands, which is as good as killing it yourself.

Employ Tripwire Defenses

If the enemy threatens one of your tiles with a strong force, you have three options: reinforce and try to hold it, pull out and surrender the tile without a fight, or leave behind a token force. Doing nothing isn't really a strategy, so we'll ignore it. Unless you're sure you can hold the tile, reinforcing probably isn't your best play. The best play may be to leave behind a lone, sacrificial, inexpensive unit.

If the enemy advances and kills the unit, you get an Energize card at very little cost to yourself. If the enemy doesn't advance for fear of handing out cheap Energize cards, or fails to kill the unit in battle, you hold the ground very cheaply. Either way, you come out ahead.

Deny the Enemy's Income

It's always better to fight on the other guy's home ground. Battles can be fought without clear victors, leaving two (or more) players' units on a contested tile. If that tile contains a mine, no one collects Rubium from it. You want those contested mines to be someone else's, not yours.

You never have enough Rubium to do everything you want to do. Cutting someone else's production can swing the strategic balance strongly in your favor. This places the battlefields further from your bases, which are also your sources for new units, but crippling the enemy's production is always worth this small disadvantage.

You'll need low-cost units mixed in with your attackers to make this work, because you want to guarantee that every tile you attack is at least contested when the battle is over, if not under your control.


Read other Nexus Ops Articles:

What You Get

Rules Overview

Alien Strategy










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