The dread you felt, the way you held your breath as the Xenomorph was stalking poor Sigourney Weaver, Well Cool Mini or Not took it upon themselves to bring this feeling to the board game realm, but did they do it justice?
XenoShyft is a game for 1-4 players, with each player controlling one of the Divisions of the NorTec Military. Each of these divisions represents one part of the overall NorTec Base, and it is your job as commander of these Divisions to protect the base while its field operations are completed.
You and your teammates will have to work together to survive the continuous onslaught of powerful alien threats and horrors- the goal of the mission is not to wipe out these threats, it is merely to outlast them! Survive through nine rounds of combat with these horrors and the base will have succeeded in its mission, and you and your allies will have survived to fight another day!
Being a deck builder, this game is no stranger to the concept of luck. Players start with a relitively lacklustre deck of cards and must build a better one as the waves progress. What really throws alot of this out the window is the decks of aliens that will attack the base one by one. The player have limited power over what they must face and the cards are specifically designed to cause havoc and even more randomness. This is of course what makes the game such an impressive coop, but you are going to need to be on Lady Lucks good side if you are going to make it through.
While this randomness does throw alot of the players planning out of sync, it is the use of forethought and the ability to adapt to whatever comes out that gives this game its strategic depth. While moves are less about maximizing damage and more so about minimizing casualties, the players are rewarded for taking a moment and planning as a team. The game is much more forgiving when players stick to more varied roles.
While this game does have a conciderable bit going on, it's relitively light for a strategy based game. Players of Magic the Gathering, Doomtown:Reloaded or Android: Netrunner shouldn't have much difficulty processing the complexities that might arise. The one key thing to note is that (similar to most card games) the wording on the cards is always intentional, so if it says you, it means you, if it says all, it means all.
Xenoshyft has outstanding replay value, the game is such a challenge that much like games like Pandemic and Dead of Winter, the losses are half the fun of owning the game. While the game is not unbeatable in any stretch of the imagination, the randomness and cruelty that comes with the Hive Decks make this game an ongoing battle that I can't help but take on again and again.
CMON have been well known for there attention to detail when it comes to miniatures (which the name obviously implies), however this foray into a card game shows that they aren't a one trick pony when it comes to publishing. The art is amazing and the quality of the card is exactly what you'd expect from a publisher of their calibre. My one gripe? The box that they all go into, while able to accomodate all the components easily, the insert just isn't friendly, I have spent plenty of time trying to back this game away only to end up going for the easier option and just dumping them in in frustration.
While this game will take some getting used to, the actually learning of the game is quite simple. I would recommend a solo play through before introducing other players to allow you to get a more all encompassing idea of the mechanics at play. That being said, I find this an easy game to adapt to for anyone familiar to other deck builders like Dominion, Legendary and the DC Deck Building Game. If you have any exposure to these games the skills are very transferrable over to Xenoshyft.
Oh yes, this game is dripping with theme, from the wonderfully tounge in cheek flavour text present on each card, to the overarching concept at play, Xenoshyft really throws you head first into the Hive. One of my favourite parts of the game is the fact that each player, while they may not initially realise it, are cast into particular roles that actually dictate the way they play the game. While this removes a small sense of freedom, the trade off it well worth it.
Want to play alone? No worries, set the life total to 15 and have fun. Oh now a 4 player game? Well just set the life total to 60. This game does a wonderful job scaling from 1-4 players with no gaps in between, I have had plenty of enjoyment no matter what the play count. The only concern I have is the limit on enemy cards, I have actually experienced running out of Hive cards at one point which I could not actually find a ruling on. Perhaps this was an isolated issue? Who knows.
I absolutely love this game, I kickstarted Xenoshyft and while I haven't had much opportunity to experience much of the added content, everything you get in the base game is more that enough to satisfy any fan of space themed carnage. If you are looking for either a challenging cooperative game or a well crafted deck builder, pick this one up today!
Have you played Xenoshyft Onslaught? Do you agree with our review? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below and please like us on Facebook and Instagram!