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Shadowrun: Crossfire» Forums » Reviews

Subject: A Unique Co-operative Deckbuilder rss

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Ben Hawks
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Des Moines
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When I first heard of Shadowrun: Crossfire, I assumed it was a cheep knock off of the Pathfinder Adventure Card Game. I played PACG through an entire adventure path and didn't really see the need for a similar game, so I wrote Shadowrun: Crossfire off. For several months, I ignored it, but it kept popping up on my radar. Finally, I decided to look into it. I saw that Rahdo had done a runthrough. Intrigued, I watched it, and learned that Shadowrun: Crossfire is anything but a knock off of PACG. By the end of the runthrough, I was so excited I decided to buy a copy.

Shadowrun: Crossfire is a Co-op deckbuilding game for 1-4 players. Each player picks a metatype (race), which determines their starting Hit Points, Hand size, and Nuyen (money), and a role (class), which determines their starting deck composition. Players take turns playing cards to do damage to Obstacles and purchasing cards from the Black Market. All the while, there is a Crossfire Event deck which will do bad things to the players every round. The longer the game goes on, the harder it gets, as many cards get stronger if there are a certain number of events in the Crossfire Event discard pile. There are three different scenarios, which each have their own victory conditions, but you generally lose if one runner goes Critical (takes damage after they hit zero HP.)

In between games, there is an interesting Metagame element. If you win a mission (or simply don't lose too badly,) you will gain Karma. You may use Karma to put stickers on your Metatype card, which will give you permanent bonuses. These bonuses range from stat increases, to changing your starting deck composition, to unique special abilities. As you gain more Karma, you start gaining less Karma for winning a mission. To counter this, you may optionally increase the difficulty of the mission by using one or more options listed on the scenario card. This gives the game near infinite variety and replayablity.

The game Shadowrun: Crossfire reminds me of the most is Mage Knight: the Boardgame. Shadowrun: Crossfire has a similar puzzly feel, and in both games, the cards you acquire will generally be available on your next turn, often forcing you to chose between a card that is immediately useful and a card that is better for your deck long-term. However, Shadowrun: Crossfire feels much more co-operative then the co-op scenarios of Mage Knight. Mage Knight has everyone spreading out and doing their own thing, at least until end game. In Shadowrun: Crossfire, you constantly need to work with the other players to take out obstacles. There are even some cards, called "Assists," that you can play on another players turn to help them. Shadowrun: Crossfire is also much faster playing and easier to teach than Mage Knight.

On these forums, there have been some complaints about Shadowrun: Crossfire's difficulty, saying it is too hard. I disagree. I've been experiencing about a 50% win rate, which I'd say is about right for a co-op game. The designers have said that, at zero Karma, they have a 4-player win rate of about 90%, and a 2-player win rate of around 80%. I can believe it, as I don't believe I have been playing optimally. That said, luck can play a big part in how easy the game is to beat. The wrong event at the wrong time can throw a wrench in your plans. A Black Market filled with sub-optimal cards can make it hard to get your engine running. Certain obstacles can be difficult to deal with, or have effects that wreck you. That being said, I think Shadowrun: Crossfire has an appropriate level of randomness.

I've played the game with every number of players from 1-4, and I'll say the scaling is pretty good. If you have 2 or 3 players in the Crossfire scenario, one or more of those players will start with an extra Nuyen, and you will have a turn or two reprieve from the Crossfire Event deck, in addition to having fewer obstacles. This is huge, and balances out the lack of the synergies that more players would bring. The Extraction mission changes drastically based on the number of players you have, which is printed on the Client card used with the mission. Unfortunately, the Extraction mission is the only mission a single runner can play, and the Dragon Fight mission cannot be played without a full compliment of 4 experienced runners. Solo play also suffers because many of the cards have vastly reduced utility with only one player, especially the Assist cards.

Speaking of scenarios, the game comes with three. Crossfire is the main one. Players must defeat 3 waves of an increasing number of obstacles in order to win. In Extraction, players must protect an NPC character for 6 rounds. Dragon Fight has 4 runners facing, you guessed it, a dragon, which takes huge amounts of damage to defeat, and every round, it summons reinforcements. Each of these scenarios is endlessly replayable. I have not been able to play Dragon Fight yet, as it requires 4 runners with 70 Karma each to take on. Considering a win typically grants 3 or 4 Karma, and that's a lot of play time. Extraction seems a little easier than the designers intended, as you gain more Karma for winning Extraction than Crossfire, even though Extraction feels a bit easier. Extraction also sometimes feels anticlimactic, as you don't have to kill everything to win. All in all, these scenarios offer a good amount of replayablity. I honestly would have been happy if Crossfire was the only scenario in the box.

The components of Shadowrun: Crossfire are a mixed bag. The game comes with a number of tokens, which are good, solid cardboard. The character cards are laminated and look and feel very nice. The stickers are high quality and are reusable to an extent. The only problem are the cards. I don't notice the quality of cards very often, but these feel cheap, even to me. I suggest sleaving them before playing.

Does this game feel like Shadowrun? I am only passingly familiar with the Shadowrun universe, but I'm going to say, not really. All the elements are there: fantasy races, cyberpunk, spells, runs on big corporations, but it is all heavily abstracted. The upgrades especially feel athematic. This game feels about as thematic as playing Lords of Waterdeep. It's a really solid game, but don't expect it to replicate the feel of the RPG.

So what's my final verdict? I'd say Shadowrun: Crossfire is one of the best Co-ops of all time. It's a challenging puzzle game with lots of co-operation and interesting decisions. It's great playing as a pick up game, or in a campaign with dedicated players. I eagerly await the rumored expansion, but even without an expansion, I could see myself playing this for years to come.
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narya ring
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Great review. Thank you. Very informative.
 
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Jonathan Davis
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Where did you buy a copy?
 
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Bob Bobson
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This review is 2.5 years old, so not sure if seller would still have it. A new edition/reprinting is expected to release within the next 6 months.
 
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