The Nameless is the second small box expansion in the Aeon's End series of games. For a detailed run down of the game's system, I'd like to point to Nick Welford's review of the base game.
What does the Expansion Include?
The Nameless expansion, designed by Kevin Riley, adds one new breach mage to your Aeon's End or War Eternal core game. Malastar is an interesting one, his deck consists almost entirely of crystals, making him adept at purchasing anything he likes within his first few turns. Whether you want to focus your breaches, charge your ability or buy a five-cost spell as early as turn two, Malastar is completely versatile.
On top of that, his unique spell 'Immolate' gives you an additional way to take advantage, allowing you to gain a charge every time you suffer damage while the spell is prepped. You can easily engineer a situation where every one-damage effect is sent his way, and if you have any decent method of healing him then he effectively gains a couple of free uses of his ability every game, which is his main payoff.
'Gift of AEther' places any spell onto any player's open breach, regardless of cost, and depending on the turn order deck can effectively buy an extra five damage or more inside a round. Pair him with Brama from the base game or any card with a healing effect and watch him feed your allies with spells. A solid mage, perhaps one of the best in the game for those who prefer support mages to damage dealers.
The Nameless also brings with it two new Nemeses to fight. Blight Lord's play style revolves around manipulating the players' decks by giving them Tainted Jade cards, a gem that grants two AEther at the cost of one health. However, as much as this gives the player a slight boost in buying power, there is also a catch: If the Tainted Jade supply pile runs short, it pushes Blight Lord's Tainted Track up instead, causing suffering to both Gravehold and the players, and eventually could reach a new loss condition if players aren't careful.
Luckily, Tainted Jade cards can be returned to their supply pile for two AEther, but without careful balance of purchasing and returning, players could find their turns locked out due to the necessity of keeping the Blight Lord under wraps. An interesting puzzle, and at a difficulty of four presents a natural next step up from the Umbra Titan or Rageborn depending on which core set you start with.
Wayward One is comparatively more complex in scope. At difficulty seven, she is on par with the highest difficulty Nemeses in the game, with a focus on how the players manage their breaches. Wayward One uses a position chart to denote where their alignment is. If a spell doesn't match Wayward One's alignment when it is cast against him, it only deals half of its intended damage.
Minions from his cards also have alignments that work in the same manner, meaning players will have to watch how they manage their breaches and spells in order to deal the most amount of damage. Wayward One presents an interesting puzzle, one that is significantly more difficult at higher player counts (though somewhat mitigated by using the split player tokens from War Eternal and Legacy) but so rewarding when your planning pays off. A great addition to either base set, but especially the original game whose Nemeses only go up to a five in difficulty.
Finally, The Nameless provides a plethora of new market cards as well. Temporal Helix is a relic that effectively copies the best spell on the field, one that can be used instantly in the face of a must-answer threat or saved for an opportunity to throw more damage at the Nemesis. Blaze is the perfect all-in spell, one that any player can contribute towards by putting them into one player's supply pile and unleash in a single volley that can deal 20+ damage in a single turn if left unchecked by the Nemesis.
Finally, Scrying Bolt offers the rare ability to check the top cards of the Nemesis deck, allowing you to plan ahead for a round with perfect information. Multiples make defeating Nemeses child's play.
Aeon's End - The Nameless Expansion Cards (Credit: Indie Boards & Cards)
Is The Nameless Worth Purchasing?
When comparing the five small box expansions for Aeon's End, you could be forgiven for thinking that this offers a bit less content than others in the rage. The Depths, The Void and Outer Dark each offer four dashboards, and only The Void has less cards in it (by one). However, I am under no illusion that The Nameless offers the best first expansion to your Aeon's End experience.
Between Malastar and Wayward One, this set is a massive slam dunk for me. In terms of power level alone, Malastar evokes the best of what a support mage could be in the game, able to fuel the other players admirably while still getting access to powerful cards of his own with almost practised ease. Wayward One offers a fantastic challenge while exploring vastly different design space to any other Nemesis that has come before it. He is a Nemesis that requires careful and adequate planning, and on top of that changes the game not just from throwing damage on the Nemesis as quickly as possible but changes it into a game of picking the right spot as well. Blight Lord is a fair addition but unfortunately plays second fiddle to the other two. He is a fine addition to either core set with his own unique mechanical spin, and gives an additional way for new players to get familiar with the system.
The market cards are generally on the more powerful side, even the more innocuous-looking cards offer solid and diverse inclusions to aid in your puzzle-solving while dealing with some of the more difficult Nemeses. A lot of the new cards also have a wider focus on interaction between players: Blaze allows players to quickly build a damage engine inside one deck, while the Radiance spell grants allies the ability to draw through their decks faster. Despite the second-lowest amount of new cards in any of the small expansions, every card is well-designed, functional and potent, and I can't find a standout worst card throughout any of the presented options in the set.
All in all, The Nameless is a solid inclusion for both sets, narrowly more so for the base game over War Eternal just for the sake of the differing difficulty levels between Nemeses, but a worthy inclusion to either.