“There’s so much on the planet, all this money to be made.”
“What about the giant bugs?”
“Hire some good security for the mines.”
“And the scary looking brain scorpions?”
“And the hydras?”
“Alright, mechanical armored security.”
That’s how I imagine it went as they set off for this unknown planet. And I don’t know how anything could go wrong as you fend off wave after wave of monsters as they throw themselves against your base. Xenoshyft: Onslaught is a cooperative deck building game where players upgrade troops and equipment while trying to keep the base working through nine rounds of creatures attacking. The feel of this game is somewhere between Alien and Starship Troopers. Definitely not as silly as Starship Troopers, but you are still fighting off waves of bugs for at least part of it.
Xenoshyft works really well as a deck builder as compared to something like Dominion, it has more game to it and feels much more thematically involved. As compared to another heavier deck builder, it doesn’t run into the situation of Marvel Legendary where you can just get stuck at times with the combinations and with money. The fact that each hand you get to add in a dollar for the first wave, three for the second, and six for the third means that you always can make a purchase. That along with being able to use the wave one troops to discount future troops makes the game scale a whole lot better.
And that’s a good thing, because this is a very tough game. Even without getting the wave bosses at opportune times, such as early in the wave, this game is really tough to beat. For each player the base gets an extra 15 hit points, but possible, early in the game, you can get down to half the points before you’ve gotten into wave two. You can often right the ship and push through wave two, but then wave three hits and now you’re dealing with a whole new level of creature. Maybe we should have just stayed on earth, but there was so much money to be made.
Another fun thing in this game is that you can help other people when they might not be getting what they need. Some of them are using abilities of your troops to help them fight the creatures. However, when you play a troop, weapon, or gear that the troop wears on the other players side of the defense, that card then goes into their deck for good. It makes for an interesting tool, because you want to empty your hand as much as possible each turn so helping other people can do that. I also like it because with the cooperative nature of the game, if one person wasn’t drawing well, it could come down to their side of the base that caused you to lose, but with trading weaponry, troops, and helping the other players out, it’s definitely more of a team game.
Finally, one of the biggest unique things is the idea of the combat lanes. When I say each side of the base (or mine), I mean that each player has a small player board where they can have four troops. These troops can then be outfitted with armor and weaponry. Then four enemies are dealt onto another player board, face down, and you face off against them one at a time. The monster attacking the first troop in your player board, figuring out damage, and then repeating as need be until that monster is killed or until the monster has killed all of your troops. Then, if you have no troops left, any monsters left end up doing damage to the base. But having these unknown monsters means that you have to guess when you might want a stronger troop, because you might not want them right at the front. Or you have to decide, do you want to use an item to help you troop stay alive longer or do you need to save that because a worse monster is coming?
Overall, this is a very fun game. I have only one once, and that was because we cheated slightly in our advantage. The other four times I’ve played, we’ve always made it to the third wave of creatures, there are three difficulty levels/waves, and in each wave, you face off against them three times. But it’s a game that you want to reset and play right away, and in some ways, it feels better to make it further, and it’s less about winning the game, because it might be a while until I can win the game again. Components of this game are okay, the cards are very nice, but when I called them player boards, it’s more like player cardstock, so that part of the game feels a little bit cheap. The plastic health and shield tokens also feel a little bit chintzy. If you’re a person who wants all the components to be amazing, this game might not be for you, though the game play is very good. Or if you’re someone who doesn’t like cooperative games where you lose more often than not, this game is definitely not for you.
Casual Grade: C+
Gamer Grade: B+
How do you get an A out of those grades? I really like this game, I’d play it whenever anyone would want to play it. However, I think that there might be a touch much going on for a more casual player, and with the grittier artwork and look of it, it might be a bit little going on for someone who thinks they are a heavy gamer and wants a lot of conflict. But for me, it’s really enjoyable.
Have you played this game before? Have you beat it before? If so, what has worked well for you in this game?
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