A very apt name for this 2-4 player game.
Having played Martin Wallace’s Discworld: Ankh-Morpork, I was very excited to hear about Nanty Narking. Especially when I heard Nanty Narking was a Victorian themed re-skin of the game. If you’re a fan of fast-paced, easy to pick up and thematic games, then this is for you.
What I like about the game is the easy to pick up mechanics of the game play. Everyone receives a secret personality with a secret win condition. On a turn, you play a card and resolve the action(s). If at the start of your turn, you have fulfilled your victory condition, the game ends and you win!
Sounds simple right guvn’r, so let’s delve a bit further into the game.
When you open the box, the amount of game pieces may put you off . It may deceive you into thinking this is a complex game that is going to take hours to set up with a rule book to match. This could not be further from reality.
Everyone gets given a colour set of miniatures (buildings and agents), a personality card and £10 from the bank. A player aid is also provided detailing actions, city cards and win conditions of the different personalities.
The board represents Victorian London and is placed in the centre. Action, random events and city cards are placed around the outside.
Each player receives 5 cards and starts by placing an agent in the East End, the City and Chelsea areas.
You have your personality. You now know if you are Sherlock Holmes, Fagin, or some other famous literary character from the Doyles and Dickens world. Next, you know what you need to do to win. This could be something like controlling a certain number of areas in London or by causing the most trouble or by holding the most value.
Now is the time to start causing trouble, bribing and buying your way to victory!
On your turn, you choose a card from your hand and play it. Each card may have many actions, and you can resolve as many or as few of the actions as you like. Icons represent the actions, details found on your player aid. All actions are optional except for a random event which must resolve when played. More details on this later.
Optional actions range from placing agents, placing buildings, removing other players’ agents, collecting money from the bank and resolving the card’s specific action.
If you place a building, you get that area’s city card. City cards give the player an extra ability per turn and last the entire time your building remains in that area.
There might be times when another player is wanting to cause trouble and play an action on you to gain an advantage. If you have a card with an interrupt icon, you can play this out of turn to cancel any action and thus thwarting their plans. Well played!
Random event actions cause a random event to be played. These will generally bring negative effects to buildings or players. But if the ‘Riots’ card is drawn and the conditions are met, the game ends immediately. In this scenario, the player with the highest value of money and buildings wins.
One of the important points about this game is you need to know the win conditions for all the personalities. By keeping an eye on what the other players are doing, you can suss out who their personality might be and block them from winning.
Updated personalities, new building abilities and new agent abilities bring an advanced game play, making this game have huge replay-ability value. No two sessions play the same.
Nanty Narking is one of my favourite ‘bigger’ games. I describe it as fast paced even though it can take 45 - 60 mins approx to play but you don’t notice the time when you are playing.
I am a huge fan of the theme. Recognising character and locations from popular literature or from the Victorian era eg Jack the Ripper adds to the enjoyment. The artwork is great and adds to the quality of the game.
The game mechanics are straightforward and allow new players to pick this up really quickly.
I have played the game with 2, 3 and 4 players and it works well with each number. With 4 players, it gets harder trying to keep track of what each player’s win condition is but that is part of the fun. The last game I played, I was convinced I had figured out one player’s win condition so was actively trying to block them. Meanwhile another player wins because they took advantage of the distractions, and managed to fulfil their win condition.
The miniatures are nice but if you are not too bothered by miniatures, there is also a revised version of the game which has cardboard standees with plastic bases instead.