The first decision to be made in Nexus Ops is spending Rubium to buy units. While the fickle hand of fate may play havoc with your dice rolls, a player needs to understand the strengths and advantages of each unit in order to consistently perform well.
Each unit has two primary statistics listed on the handy unit reference card -- cost and minimum number required to hit when rolling attack dice. A cursory glance might overlook two additional unit features that are nearly as important -- the units' order of attack (units on the right attack before any unit to their left) and which units can operate mines. Without units to run your mines, you'll soon run out of Rubium. Finally, each unit has special advantages and disadvantages that also have to be taken into account.
Time for Some Statistics
A simple mathematical analysis can provide some interesting insights on the various units. A human hits on a 6+, so a single human in combat has a 1 in 6 chance of causing the enemy to lose a unit. If a player attacks with six humans, she should expect to eliminate, on average, one enemy unit. Six humans can be purchased for 12 Rubium, so human units could be seen to cost 12 Rubium per hit. Similar calculations can be seen in the table below.
|Chance of hit
|Cost per hit
A quick glance at the chart reveals that in a cost per hit analysis, the Fungoids and Crystallines are the cheapest in the game. Leapers, Striders, and Humans all fill in the middle ground, and Rubium Dragons are unsurprisingly the least cost effective unit in the game. This ignores all the special powers of the units and even their attack order, but it illustrates an important point about Fungoids and Crystallines. For just one more Rubium (a 50% increase in cost), a player can purchase a unit that is more than twice as effective in combat. If a player starts the game with even a moderate number of nearby Crystal Spires or Liquifungus Forests, buying a few of the appropriate units should be a no-brainer.
A pure comparison of hit costs is unfair, because units' attacks are not simultaneous. For example, Crystallines attack before Fungoids, making the Crystallines the kings of cost-effectiveness. This is well and good, unless your opponent destroys all your Crystallines in his initial attack with more expensive units. A realistic player will plan to lose at least one unit in an attack, making the inexpensive humans useful. Rock Striders' movement capabilities can't be underestimated, and the mighty Rubium Dragon's plasma breath should not be overlooked.
In Unit Purchasing 102, we'll break down each unit's special abilities and the obvious and less obvious opportunities they create.
About the Author
A lifelong lover of games, Dr. Matt J. Carlson is the author of GamerDad Unplugged, a regular, online column about board games.