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Subject: Xenoshyft - All its cracked up to be?? A review. rss

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Scott

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Xenoshyft: Onslaught

I will begin this review by saying that the review copy of this game is the retail version, purchased by myself.

Xenoshyft is a cooperative deckbuilder, base defense type card game. It is 1 to 4 players. Basically you have to outfit troops in your hand with weapons, armor, and other items to fight off "the hive," your enemies that try to destroy your base. Your base is just a set number of damage that has to be done before you lose.

HOW TO PLAY: The first thing you do is put out a set number of armor , weapons, and equipment by a random draw. The troops that are out are all the troops in the game and do not change from game to game. You then start with a set number of low-level troops and currency (xenosathum). You draw 6 cards in your hand, and are ready to go! (You also have a special division card which gives you special powers each game).

The game is played over three waves, each consisting of three rounds. So to beat the game, you have to defeat (survive) a total of 9 rounds. Each wave consists of more difficult enemies to defeat, called the hive. But you can purchase more powerful troops each wave. The equipment is all available for all rounds.

Once you have 6 cards in hand, you draw one "extra" xenosathum card into your hand. You then buy troops and equipment. Following that, you place troops and equipment into the lane, with 4 slots to occupy. Once you do that, you place 3-4 (depending on the rules you are using) hive cards face down next to your lane. Rounds of combat take place, troops vs individual hive cards. If you can take out all hive cards out, great! No damage to your base. If not, any surviving hive cards do damage to the base equal to their power (damage amount). I will not go into detail about combat, but it is very straight forward. The troops and the enemies each have base power and health. They each do damage to each other equal to their power, and rounds of combat occur until one of the cards has damage equal to or greater than their health. The card is discarded, and other cards are moved up. Cards adjacent to each other "fight."

Components: Overall, the components this of game are average. The cards are decent stock. You also receive very thin cardboard mats for the lanes and for troop and equipment storage. These are pretty cheap and the most complained about by most users. But the game comes with 400+ cards and a very nice base damage tracker. All in all, I think the components are worth the money. (side note: the game comes in a very large box; personally the box seems too big to me. It could have been much smaller and still fit everything. It also comes with an insert, which isn't the best)

Art/Theme: This is what drew me to the game. The artwork is fantastic; some of my favorite in any game I own. It is dark, gritty, and realistic. The troops look awesome, and the enemies look menacing and terrifying. Even the xenosathum looks cool. Like super crystals or something. The box art is all very cool. Big thumbs up for the art.

Mechanics: This is mostly a hit to me, with some minor misses. The combat and hand management is all very good. And the way you can clear your hand of "junk" is well-thought out (you can trade better currency cards into your deck by discarding lower currency from your discard pile). Combat is simple and streamlined. The use of instants is smart and all works very good (instants are cards you play from your hand during the combat phase of your turn (i.e. a grenade)). The only complaint I have is that sometimes there is unclear wording on cards. Many of the hive cards have "reveal" abilities and other special abilities (as do the troop cards), and how these all interact and work with each other can be unclear. I have searched the forums for hours and still am not completely sure on how to treat certain card combos and abilities. Honestly, since many of the cards seem open to interpretation (void mine!!), the only way I see clearing this up is having a 15+ page FAQ, with how each card interacts with other cards. Not likely, but would make me happy. But everything else is so well done and so streamlined, this is a fairly small complaint. I can play most games and have no troubles.

It also should be noted that this game can be very difficult. It is more difficult at low player counts (1-2), and less difficult at higher player counts (3-4). Some people say this game is too easy. Do not listen to these people, they are either liars or like to play by their own rules, which are wrong. (Although, admittedly, some kickstarter content and expansions can make the game easier). I have yet to beat this game, but have only played the lower player counts.

Overall: I was hoping to like this game. I really was. I loved the art and deckbuilders in general. Well, it turns out, I do. I enjoy the deckbuilding part of the game (the great draws, and the awful ones). The replayability is good with different equipment available each game. Also your hand draws will differ along with the hive cards that come out. I should also mention that their are two different boss enemy cards per wave, and these will differ as well. I was nervous about this game, but found it to be my second favorite deckbuilder, over-taking Legendary Encounters: Aliens (but long-live Dominion!). Aliens has a better story line for each play, but I prefer the art, the troop cards, and combat in this one. I also think this one is easier to set up. I would say if this kind of game interests you, pick it up. If you do not like deck-builders/sci-fi themes, probably pass it up or play it first. Also, I could see rule-nazis having trouble with this one. Overall, I give this game 8 out of 10. Better than expected!

(I would also like note this is my first review, so please don't shred my poor writing style too much. I'm a delicate flower)

Review by The Z.
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Stan Matz
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Wow! This is one of the best game reviews I've ever read. It is short and sweet, succinct and to the point. Excellent rundown of gameplay. Well done!!!
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