Bugs! Too many bugs!

A Xenoshyft Review

“Trying to kill some bugs sir. Get out of here. GET OUT OF HERE!” – Sugar Watkins, Starship Troopers Movie (1997)

Processed with VSCO with kk1 presetThe scuttling sound of claws scraping metal is getting louder by the second. One moment, nervous silence of soldiers anxiously staring at the barred bay doors… next moment… bullets, screeches and screams.

The militia in front of the line opens fire, realizing the giant roach before him is about to spit poison, throws his grenade just before another face-hugger clamp his windpipe, ripping flesh and killing him in an instant. A mixture of blood, alien goo and toxic enzymes sprayed on the ranger’s vizor behind him. The ranger got two aliens before a spined beast thrusts needles through her. Troop after troop fell as the wave of tangos withered against the defensive formation.

The unit was completely decimated. The last gargantuan louse smashed into the 2nd tier defensive barricade. Everything shook for a moment; display cracked; the signal got cut.

The sergeant turns away from the screen and faces the officer towering above him. The commander had a stern but elated look. “Good work! Loadout the next defensive line, more waves are coming. Cull the used xenosathem energy shards. We can make it work. The base must survive, no matter the cost.”

Xenoshyft is a deck building tower defense cooperative board game.

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Waves of aliens are drawn at increasing difficulty, placed in lanes for each player to assign defensive measures. Players get to reinforce their defense lanes with troops, equip them with weapons and armor. They can even assign their assets onto other people’s lanes.

Each player picks a role with a starting deck that varies slightly with the others. The unique playstyle of each of the roles and how they help the other players, makes for good replayability.

Deck building is a mechanic in board games where players start with a simple deck of cards. As they purchase new cards and deplete their draw deck, the fresh cards along with the original ones get all shuffled back into a brand-new draw deck.

The nuisance in deckbuilding is the tendency for your draw deck to become unwieldy with the amount of cards being added to it.

In Xenoshyft, that is mitigated by built-in culling mechanism. Optimizing resource production, unit quality as you progress through the waves.

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The game is hard. Unforgiving at the early waves. Resources are scarce, and the aliens are just brutally powerful. When you reach the last stages though, you may feel overpowered because of all the technology you then have access to. Its alright because by then you are happy getting the chance to stick it back to them bugs.

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Xenoshyft makes for an awesome gamenight for you and your buddies. Provided you don’t get all devoured early. The art is really ubertechy and cool for the humans and bordering gruesome for the aliens. One super minor gripe I have with the game is the setup. It has a lot of card piles to configure. I understand why the equipment needed a randomizer system, I felt the place holder card could have been done another way. At least its not as much setup as the other big deck builders like Legendary or Pathfinder.

One unique feature also is the game almost fixes itself up as you go up the rounds. By the time you are finished, all that is needed is to splay the equipment card markers and have players return the cards to their respective piles. Not much work is left on the rest of the cards because they’ve already been returned in previous rounds. Kudos to the designers Keren Philosophales, and Michael Shinall for making clean-up a game mechanic!

If your group are into starship troopers, Starcraft or alien themes then this is an easy must play. If you are not into the theme, but are after unique mechanics and systems, there is content for you here on the aspect of how cards are used, from battles and combos.

Xenoshyft, is terrible to spell and google but definitely a great game.

Available in local game stores all over the metro.

Thanks for reading! This is Ron of VariablePlay reminding you to make your gaming count.