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Adam B
United Kingdom
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Starter Price: £4.99
Booster Price: £1.99
Players: 2+
Based on the TV series (duh!). Each player takes the role of protagonist and antagonist, fighting to hide/ reveal the truth. As FBI director they must manage their teams of Agents, to explore suspicious sites and speak to witnesses and uncover their adversaries X-File. To protect their own X-File they must unleash Adversaries and Bluffs to silence witnesses and remove Agents.
Players construct a deck of sixty cards consisting of; Sites, Agents, Bluffs, Combat Adversary, Equipment and Event cards. They then select an X-File and place it, un-revealed to the side. Teams of Agents are then selected, up to the value of twenty resource points. These are then placed in the Bureau, where they can be assigned groups and Equipment.
The Active player then starts the game with a Briefing phase. Drawing one card from their deck and collecting resource counters equal to his Agent’s total Res value. The other players then have the opportunity to discard resource cards from their hand, to add Conspiracy tokens to their pool. These can then be used to purchase extra cards or saved to pay for Bluffs, Adversaries and other Conspiracy cards.
The Hospital phase is next. Agents that have been badly injured must stay in the hospital, until they have healed to at least three Health.
Requisitioning takes place, with the active player spending Resource tokens on Equipment for his Agents. Items can also be traded between teams of agents.
Deploying Agents is next on the list. Agents can be grouped into teams to assist each other on investigations, they are then deployed to either the; Hospital-to recover health, Bureau-to be assigned teams and equipment next turn, or the Field-to investigate suspicious sites.
Case Assignment begins with the active player paying resource tokens to put Site cards into play. The Conspiracy players can then play Bluff cards beneath these to dissuade Agents from investigating them. These can be any cards hence the ‘Bluff’, enabling the Conspiracy to fake-out the Agents, with many concealed cards.
Up next is the Investigation phase. This is where all the action takes place. Teams of Agents are assigned a Site to be investigated. Bluff cards beneath the Site are flipped over and must be resolved and paid for by the Conspiracy. Players now take it in turns to play Cards, either Bluffs, Adversaries or Events.
Combat takes place when an Adversary is played. All long range attacks are totalled for each side, when the resulting damage is assigned any Agents or Adversaries reduced to zero Health are sent to the Hospital or discard pile respectively. Combat then moves to close range and damage is inflicted as with long range. This continues until all the Agents are hospitalised or the Adversary defeated.
Any remaining Agents can now resolve the Site. Each Site has at least one target number and a skill required to beat it. If the Agents have enough points in the relative skill to equal or exceed the number, then they get to ask a question about an opponents X-File. Once all Sites are resolved all players discard down to seven cards, play then continues to the left.
X-Files have an Affiliation, a Motive, a Method and a Result. Each of these have five possible keywords, Affiliations for example can be, Alien, Government, Evolutionary, Primordial or Occult. On solving a Site a player might ask if the target X-File has the Affiliation: Government. The X-files owner must answer yes or no. Using the information to rule out X-files (kind of like Cluedo) they move closer to uncovering the truth. The first player to deduce an X-file’s title wins the game.
Like Cluedo. Agent Mulder, with the Knife, in Cape Cod. Well the card Mechanics are pretty good and the Resource management adds a few dilemmas (Do I play Equipment on my Agents or trade it for more Conspiracy tokens and cards?). All in all a great game is spoiled, by the sheer guesswork required to uncover an X-File. If you get lucky, only four sites need to be solved to win the game, so a powerful deck can often be defeated with a few lucky guesses. Also the X-Files make themselves redundant. As you’ll only ever need one of each, the tons that seem to turn up in every booster pack end up in the bin, once you have them all.
Grainy TV captures from a dark, brooding series don’t make much of an impact. Border art is a bit more eye catching, with hidden messages concealed amongst the background.
Difficulty **
The basic game is as simple as it gets. Playing the advanced version adds a lot of tactics and extra depth, but it doesn’t really get more complicated than spending, resources and beating target numbers.
One Limited starter set, an Unlimited set and one expansion should make this easy to get. There were quite a few Ultra Rares to find though and a few cards were starter only.
Mulder should be hard at work, uncovering the evil mastermind that turned a promising license, into expensive Cluedo.
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