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XenoShyft: Onslaught» Forums » Reviews

Subject: For the Meeple, by the Meeple (Review of Xenoshyft: Onslaught) rss

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Michael Carpenter
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For the Meeple, by the Meeple


SUMMARY




Xenoshyft: Onslaught is a cooperative deck-building game designed for 1-4 players. In the game players are attempting to hold off waves of alien forces that are trying to destroy their base. If the heroes can survive nine rounds they will emerge victorious from battle and live to see another day.


THE BOARD


The main board in the game is a mat with two main areas.



The first area features a round tracker down the left side of the mat and eleven predetermined spaces for cards found in the game. Three of the predetermined spaces are for xenosathem (the game's currency) and eight of the spaces are types of troopers (good guys).



The right side of the mat is home to nine spaces labeled "items". These spaces will hold nine randomly decided items that can be acquired by players and used to aid their troopers.



In my edition of the game you also receive four player boards (dashboards). The left side of the dashboard is designated for the "Hive" or the alien enemies. The right right side of the dashboard is designated for the "Nortec" troopers and the player's deck and discard pile.



THE COMPONENTS


In addition to the main dashboard (player mat) and the individual dashboards (player mats) there are 20 damage tokens (red) used to track damage done to troops or enemies and 20 ability tokens (blue) used to track when the abilities of cards have been used during a round. There is also a spin-down HP tracker to determine the health of the Nortec base.

Since Xenoshyft: Onslaught is a pure deck-building game the remainder of the components are cards, distributed as follows:

- 83 Nortec troop cards
- 100 Hive enemy cards
- 6 Hive boss cards
- 78 Xenosathem cards (1's, 3's, and 6's)
- 120 Item cards
- 24 Unique item tracker cards
- 6 Unique division cards.

Nortec Troop Card



Troop cards are used by the players to combat the Hive enemy cards on the individual dashboards. Troops cards have a Xenosatham cost in the top right corner (the militia troop card shown cannot be bought and thus, does not have a number beside the Xenosathem symbol). Troop cards have a strength (or a number of damage they do to an enemy) in the bottom left corner and an amount of health (or damage they can take before being killed) in the bottom right corner. Troop cards also have a special ability directly below the image on the card.

Hive Boss Card (regular Hive enemy cards look identical, minus the boss symbol in the top right corner)



The Hive enemy cards and Hive Boss cards will repeatedly attack the Nortec base via the individual dashboards. Hive cards also have a strength in the bottom left corner and an amount of health in the bottom right corner. Hive cards also have a special ability directly below the image on the card.

Xenosathem Card



Xenosathem cards do not have a cost and may not be bought. Instead, players will receive these one free Xenosathem card at the beginning of each round. The value of the free card depends on the number of the current wave of attacks. Xenosatham cards have an exchange ability written below the image.

Item Card (One of 24 types of items)



Item cards have a Xenosathem cost in the top right corner, and ability below the image, symbols at the bottom of the card to indicate which type of item it is, and will sometimes have additional strength or defense in the bottom left and right corners. There are six types of item cards: Medical, Instant, Equipment, Technology, Armor, and Weapon.

Item Tracker



The item tracker cards are used to indicate when all cards of the type of item shown has been used. When this card is revealed it should be removed from the game and a new item should be placed on the item area of the main dashboard.

Division Card



The division cards give each player three special abilities (one becomes available in each of the three waves) to use once per round throughout the game.



SETUP


To setup the game players should randomly select 9 item tracker cards. These cards should be placed face-up on the 9 empty spaces on the item area of the main dashboard.



Next, players should put the 5 copies of each item that has been selected on top of the matching item tracker card.



Players should also places all copies of all Nortec troop cards on the matching spaces in the troop area of the main dashboard. The xenosathem cards should also be placed in this area. One blue ability token should be placed on the round 1 space of the round tracker.

Players will also take one individual dashboard each and place it in front of them. Each play will also need one division card and a starting deck consisting of 4 Militita Troop cards and 6 Xenosathem cards of value 1.

All Hive enemy cards should be sorted into Wave 1, 2 and 3. Each stack receives one of the two boss cards for the corresponding wave in a 1 or 2 player game and both boss cards in a 3 or 4 player game.

The final step is to set the Nortec base HP tracker to the appropriate starting number. The base starts with HP equal to the number of players multiplied by 15 (1 player = 15 pts, 2 players = 30 pts, and so on).


THE GAMEPLAY


Each of the nine rounds in Xenoshyft plays exactly the same. The round consists of 5 phases.

1. Draw Phase
2. Acquire Resources Phase
3. Deployment Phase
4. Combat Phase
5. Wrap-up Phase

Draw Phase -
In the draw phase players will draw 6 cards from their starting deck to their hand to start the game and in future rounds will only ever draw as many cards as they need to reach 6 cards in their hand. If a player's deck ever runs out of cards while drawing new cards before the player has reached the hand limit then the discard pile is shuffled and placed back in the deck space on the dashboard. The player then finishes drawing their hand.

2. Acquire Resources Phase -
At the start of this phase each player will receive one Xenosathem card from the main dashboard. The value received (1, 3, or 6) depends on the wave that the players are in. In Wave 1 (rounds 1-3) players receive a value 1 Xenosathem card. In Wave 2 players receive a value 3 and in Wave 3 the players receive a value 6 Xenosathem card. Players take these cards directly to their hand.

Once players have received their Xenosatham card they may simultaneously buy troop cards and/or item cards and place them directly into their hand. Players may discuss what cards they are buying to help the team be as efficient as possible. It is important that players check to see if cards are available to be bought during the current wave. Most of the better troop cards may not be bought until later waves.

3. Deployment Phase -
The Deployment Phase is when players will send their troops into battle. To do this players place up to four troop cards or in some cases, item cards, in any empty spaces on their Nortec lane. Players may share troop cards to help other players defend their lane more adequately. If a card is placed in another player's lane that card will be sent to the new player's discard pile, not the original player's pile. Players may also equip troops with item cards such as armor or weapons to make their forces stronger before the Hive invasion.

Once all players have set their lanes the way they would like the players place four Hive cards face-down in every player's Hive lane on their dashboard.



This is how a player's dashboard would look after the deployment phase.

4. Combat Phase -
To perform the combat phase players select the first player to defend against the Hive invasion on their own dashboard. To perform combat the active player reveals the right-most Hive enemy card. This will mean the two opposing cards that are the closest to one another will do combat.



The two opposing cards that will fight first int he combat phase.

To perform combat players simply look at the strength of each card (including any adjustments made by abilities or items) and simultaneously deal that much damage to the other card. Players then place that many damage tokens on the cards and if the number of damage tokens equals or exceeds the number of health the card has in the bottom right corner (plus any abilities or items) the card is dead and removed from the lane, unless impacted by the ability of another card and is required to be moved elsewhere. If a card (Nortect or Hive) survives the attack they will remain in the lane and fight the next enemy. This is done until all Hive cards or all troop cards have been killed. If the Hive invasion is defended successfully, meaning all Hive enemies were killed then no damage is done to the base on this player's turn. If all troop cards were killed and Hive enemies remained then the base receives damage equal to the strength of all remaining enemies.

This is done for each player in the game and if the players successfully defend the base (meaning the base still has at least one HP) then players move onto the final phase.

5. Wrap-up Phase -
In this phase players check to see if any of the item stacks are empty and if so, the players draw a new item tracker card at random and replace the empty stack.

Then player's check for advancement. If player's are moving from round 3 to 4 or from 6 to 7 then they advance to a new wave according to which round they are transitioning into. Some of the better troop cards will now be available. However, stronger enemy cards will also be attacking the base.

Players repeat these 5 phases for as many rounds as they can, hoping to defend the base for all nine rounds. If they fail to do so the game will end before the ninth round but if they can stay alive for all nine rounds the team wins the game. They do not have to defeat every Hive enemy card in the game, only those that were drawn throughout the nine rounds.



FINAL THOUGHTS

I have heard mixed opinions about the difficulty of this game and as always it does rely on how many players you are playing with. If you are playing with 1 or 2 players you only have to defeat one boss card per wave. So having two players to defend against a boss card (which are strong) will definitely help. When playing with 3 or 4 players the players will have to fight 2 boss cards per wave. Even with three players this is difficult and while four is more manageable, it isn't a breeze because each player has to combat four of their own enemies.

With that said, I think the game is definitely hard but not entirely unbeatable. I think you will need a few games under your belt before you really have a decent chance of winning but you will start to see better combinations and approaches to equipping your troops and how to order them in the lane as you play more. A portion of this game though relies on which starting item cards you get. There are certain cards that are much more useful than others and some that we still haven't used. The more you play the more you can tell if you are going to have a good chance of winning before the game even starts.

The combat system is very simplistic but with as much battling as you do I think a more drawn-out system would potentially make the game too long, at least for a deck-builder. While the combat is simplistic to perform you do have to think your way through how you want to approach each round of attacks. If you just throw cards into the lane haphazardly you will not defend the base efficiently each round. Honestly, even if you do think your way through you may not defend the base efficiently because the abilities of the Hive cards are strong and will throw you for a loop since you do not know what the abilities will be until they are revealed.

I don't think this is a game I will play a lot now that I have played it enough to get a good feel for it but I do think the game is well designed and engaging, especially if you like difficult co-ops. I have started to shift away from co-op games in general, not liking the atmosphere they create as much as competitive games, but I thought I would give this one a chance because I am drawn to the theme and the theme does get you excited while playing, but the game play itself just isn't quite for me. I would play this game if someone really wanted to play but I don't think I will getting it off the shelf in many occasions by my own suggestion.




Rating: 6/10
If you enjoy my reviews please recommend and check out my geeklist For the Meeple, by the Meeple
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Michael Pittman
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I bought Xenoshyft and initially found it fiendishly difficult. I think I won one or two games out of the first 10-12 games. A good number of those games were solo.

After that initial period, though, I have had considerable success - winning five out of the last six or so games.

I think there are two reasons for this. One, you do get better at the game, particularly when you can start to anticipate the different types of Hive you are likely to face ... one really bad development can lead to defeat. Two, I started playing two 'players' for my solo games. That helped mitigate the bad developments and gave me greater capacity to respond to a boss or an untimely appearance of the one nasty you really can't deal with.

I enjoy the game quite a bit, but I haven't played it as much since I 'worked it out'.
 
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Michael Carpenter
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Right. I feel like we are on the same page here. My first game was solo and after being demolished I tried the rest of the games with at least two players and two players just seemed to provide the best chance of winning. I don't value winning so much that it negatively impacts my opinions if I can't win but I do like to feel like there's a chance. Two players game me that feeling the best. You are right about anticipation of the enemy. That is a good point.
 
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Andrew Kapish
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MariettaTennis wrote:
If you are playing with 1 or 2 players you only have to defeat one boss card per wave. So having two players to defend against a boss card (which are strong) will definitely help. When playing with 3 or 4 players the players will have to fight 2 boss cards per wave.
You may want to try playing with the new enemy deployment rules introduced in the upcoming Xenoshyft: Dreadmire expansion.
These revised rules tweak the difficulty curve and add quite a bit to the theme.

Adjust the following for each WAVE
- Remove the boss cards from the Hive deck.
- first round: 3 facedown enemies. (No bosses)
- second round: 4 facedown enemies. (No bosses)
- final round: 4 facedown enemies per lane with a single guaranteed boss.
 
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Michael Carpenter
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That actually sounds like a potential game changer, in a good way! I take it you have played with it?

What are you thoughts?
 
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Andrew Kapish
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MariettaTennis wrote:
That actually sounds like a potential game changer, in a good way! I take it you have played with it?

What are you thoughts?
I did play with the revisions and I enjoyed it.
Typically before the revisions, most of the damage that was delivered to the base occurred during rounds 1,4,and 7 when players were least prepared to handle the newly increased threat. Things stay a little more even now as the difficulty slowly ramps up. Feels more thematic. It's fun knowing you're awakening a boss, but not knowing from which direction it's approaching.

Additional revisions will be introduced in Dreadmire as well. Wave:1 Rangers have reversed HP and Power stats. Rangers also have an improved "burn this troop" discount of 2 instead of 1. Divisions have been super streamlined. Those changes are outlined in KS Update #43.
 
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Michael Carpenter
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Thank you for the information. I plan on trying the revisions soon, I just haven't had an opportunity yet.
 
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