I love XCOM. I’ve loved XCOM since it was laser squad. Since it was UFO. I played laser squad nemesis by email. Enemy unknown and the wonderful Enemy Within and everything else in between. It’s one of the best game franchises of all time, Nothing more ,nothing less so like a Star Wars fanboy waiting for episode seven, the Boardgame was setting itself a difficult goal and a hardened critic. I needn’t have worried this was fantasy flight. They don’t mess around
XCOM the coop Board game is a coop game, WAIT! Come back! Based on the last incarnation of UFO, XCOM the enemy within. If you haven’t played this game I highly recommend it. If you’ve played enemy unknown I still recommend enemy within its tremendous.
If you’re a fan of the video game you’ll love this incarnation it gets the vibe just right. FF as you would expect have lifted graphics straight out of the game and the build quality of the game is spot on.
Xcom has always been a game of two halves. A strategic management game and a tactical squad based shooter. The board game concentrates on the former. You and up to three other players have to deal with running Xcom and allocating resources to combat the myriad of problems that crop up.
The game is app driven. A very slick and free app assists your play and unlike say Descent, Heroquest etc the bad guy is played by the app. Truth be told I would have loved if one player (me) could play the aliens and micturate on the goodie goodies. It’s not to be, it’s the app or nothing.
The four players take the roles of science officer (chose which research for which player role ) squad leader (ground troops), central officer (satellites and events) and commander (allocates the budget and emergency funding).
All of the roles rely on each other so even though it’s coop blame can be squarely levelled at one player when it all goes south. (Probably the squad leader). I got to play a couple of games on Thursday last. We lost them all. The last one was very close. I didn’t mind, it was still fun. Perhaps I should mind, we played it on easy
The game is all about resource allocation. Be it your limited budget, your pool of troopers or your murder of fighter planes.
The turn is split into two distinct halves one timed and one not. The first dozen or so actions consist of (sometimes in no particular order) guided by the app, picking which techs to research. Picking the best choice of two upcoming crises cards. Seeing where UFOs are appearing, seeing which aliens are coming for tea in your base (you’re all out of tea), what missions are popping up and whom to allocate to defend your base, go on away missions and whom to support them.
The time section is tense. The app counts down minimum safe distance style and any time saved on one section gets transferred to another. In easy level you can pause. On normal you get some breather time. On higher levels it’s, well it’s bad, real bad. You have most certainly picked a bad day to give up sniffing glue
Once you’ve come out of the timed section you reap the seeds you set one by one and hope you haven’t made bad decisions leading up to this (you probably have). Attempts are made to conquer these problems in your in-tray and a push your luck mechanic means you can sometimes make it worse but you always know it was your fault if it all goes moobs up.
Once you’ve dealt with all these issues its back to the timed section for the next turn.
Rinse and repeat for a half dozen or less iterations until you complete the final mission.
There are a number of different scenarios that the app picks at the start so each game is different.
It’s a fun game. It’s coop. I don’t like coop games. I like xcom. It’s fast. Faster still when you lose. It’s xcom (the greatest game ever). It’s fantasy flight. It’s worth a look
Some people are against the idea of using an app for this, but it does add to it and I personally welcome our app overlord. Hail App.
There will be a few copies at KNAVECON. I recommend you have a look, if you’re an xcom fan doubly so