Nevermore game box design with raven giving you the evil eye
Nevermore game box

Forget quoting the raven, how about going to head to head in a card-drafting spell-flinging all out duel to the death? Because that’ll really get your feathers flying.

Nevermore hails from Smirk & Dagger Games and is a fast-paced card drafting game in which you try to outwit your friends to rise to the top. The game fledges somewhere between Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven and The Crow supernatural superhero comic series, with magic users attempting to defeat one another, turning each other into ravens by attacking or flinging spells while trying not to be turned into ravens themselves.

In a raven-peck-raven world, how do you come out on top?

There are multiple ways to win: to gather enough victory points to win while ending the game as a human, to be the last human player standing, or to peck all of the other players to zero health turning them into ravens while in raven form. You have hover stay on top of everything to be sure no one is sneaking anything past you and to make certain none of your opponents have the upper hand. But then again it always pays to keep up on the highest branches; there’s less shit to deal with up there.

Nevermore game setup with the layout of the cards, digitally altered so to be seen from the shadow realm in raven form
Nevermore game setup, digitally altered so to be seen from the shadow realm in raven form

Flights of cards: structuring game play

Each round, all of the players are dealt 5 cards. They try to build their hands around the suits: hearts (healing), swords (attack), cups (victory), and Light Magick (spells). Whoever has the most of any given suit in a round gets to activate that suit’s power for the round, the effects of which differ depending on what suit it is. A fifth suit, the raven cards, can either go all out and win the round (if your hand consists of 5 ravens) or cause you to lose other cards in your hand to their incessant pecking. Skulking Ravens (extra raven cards that remain after all other cards have been pecked away) earn Shadow Magick (dark spells). So the bird in the hand can be worth more, but only if you can manage to get enough of them to do something useful.

The challenge comes from having to pass cards and dealing with flung Light and Shadow Magicks. It’s not just the luck of the draw but requires attentive planning to be sure that you don’t pass cards to your neighbor that would give them an edge. And to keep cards that you think will gain an advantage when paired with the unknown cards coming your way from your neighbor to the other side. You have to pay attention to what goes and comes around to get ahead in this peck-or-be-pecked world.

Nevermore cards in hand, two ravens pecking three swords for an attack of 1, also digitally altered so to be seen from the shadow realm in raven form
Nevermore cards in hand, also digitally altered so to be seen from the shadow realm in raven form

Nevermore is pretty simple to learn and it’s easy to get the hang of play. And even when you are losing, you can still make a comeback and win the game while in raven form (for all that you are very limited in your ability to do), so there are many different strategies depending on how things are going and what the other players are up to. As a result, Nevermore is less frustrating than some of those drafting games where you know well in advance who is out in front while you just keep watching them fly further and further into the lead with nothing you can do to thwart them. This game offers options, like those shiny baubles you want to collect and hoard in your nest.

I give Nevermore 4.0 Cthulus.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)

It’s a great game to pull out from time to time and get your Edgar Allan Poe and/or Eric Draven fetish on. But Nevermore is a bit simple to keep long term interest, kind of like a shiny bauble in your nest-hoard. Sure, it’s sparkly, but there’s just not much else to it. Every game plays out more or less the same with differences depending on the players and the draw of the cards. But let’s face it, sometimes that’s just what you needed – something to glimmer at you as you peck everyone else’s eyes out.

About the Author

Jennifer Weigel is a multi-disciplinary mixed media conceptual artist residing in Kansas USA. Weigel utilizes a wide range of media to convey her ideas, including assemblage, drawing, fibers, installation, jewelry, painting, performance, photography, sculpture, video and writing. You can find more of her work at:

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