Ring Side Report- Board Game Review of Shadowrun: Crossfire

Game– Shadowrun: Crossfire

Producer- Catalyst Game Labs

Price– $60 here http://www.amazon.com/Catalyst-Game-Labs-CYT27700-Shadowrun/dp/B000B2VCDG/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1409799537&sr=8-1&keywords=shadowrun+crossfire

Set-up/Play/Clean-up– 20 min per player (2-4 players)

TL; DR– Randomness hurts the story. 84%

 

Basics-Welcome to the shadows, chummer.  Crossfire is a co-op deck building card game where players take the roll of different Shadowrun characters.  Each character chooses a race and a roll.  The race give you hit points, a starting hand size, and  starting money.  The rolls are twofold.  The rolls give you a starting deck of cards as well as determine what cards will attack your character.  The players then choose a scenario.  The scenarios give you a set up conditions, new rules, and a story.  Aside from the scenario specific changes to the basic game, the game goes as follows.  A number of obstacles are dealt out equal to the number of players.  Each obstacle has a color and that obstacle will attack a player with the same roll color.  Then, players take turns as follows.  First, the start player draws a crossfire card.  This card will give an effect for the round such as increased damage to players or players not being able to heal.  Some cards also have an effect if enough crossfire cards are in the discard pile.  Next, the player play cards with icons that match the current icons on any obstacle to damage it.  If the players play enough cards to completely damage an obstacle, then the players get money.  Otherwise, counters are used to indicate the next icons that have to be played on the obstacles to defeat them, so damage to an obstacle is tracked between players.  When the player is done playing cards on obsticles, any obstacle in front of him/her damages that player.  Finally, the player draws cards if he/she has less than three cards, buys cards from the center, and play passes to the next player.  This player takes an almost identical turn except does not draw a crossfire card.  Play continues until it’s the start players turn, a new crossfire card is drawn, and the game continues.  If all the players do not have an obstacle in front of them, then the crossfire pile is discarded.  The game keeps going until the players beat the scenario or a player dies.  If the players beat the scenario, they score karma (experience) based on the scenario.  If a player dies, then the players run away and only get one karma each.  Between scenarios, players can spend karma to upgrade their characters, but they almost always start with the same basic cards in their starter deck.

 

Theme-This game feels like a stripped down Shadowrun game.  It’s fun, but you don’t get the complete experience.  There is a bunch of Shadowrun things here ranging from quotes and story starts for the scenarios, but the games random nature makes the cohesiveness come apart a bit.  You don’t get the story you would expect from a standard night of playing Shadowrun, the Pathfinder adventure card game, or the Lord of the Rings card game.  Both of those card games have more targeted effects and story.  Make no mistake, this is Shadowrun.  But, it’s not as Shadowrun as I wanted. 4/5

 

Mechanics– Your enjoyment of the mechanics of this game will directly reflect how many people you play with.  If you play with four, this game is awesome.  Each player gets a roll; everybody gets a ton of turns to help, even if one player has all the obstacles in front of him/her.  The mechanics of building a deck, using icons to target icons to damage an obstacle, rolls, karma, and money will all work pretty well.  But if you play with three players, or god forbid two, this game is a ride on the pain train.  With fewer players, the current players take more rolls.  But, those same players DON’T take more cards for those rolls.  You take two roll cards, choose one, and then get the base cards for the roll you choose, not the one you didn’t.  This means you get fewer icons and can still be target by obstacles from that color.  That’s a problem as the random nature of the obstacle deck means the Orc Decker/face could get all face obstacles even though Orc only has Decker cards.  That player will die, and his/her partner won’t be able to do anything because the center market cards could only be black attacking cards.  The balance is off if you are missing players, so that is a very troubling problem for me as my wife and I typically only play co-op cards together. 4 /5

 

Instructions– The instructions are ok.  The rules start with a quick start guide, but the quick start isn’t quick, and to really understand the game, you have to read the full rules anyway.  Also, the rules hide some of the more fiddly bits of the game in text.  They rules do a decent job of explaining the game, but it could use a bit more polish and a one page external summary of what to do to get you playing in under five minutes. 4/5

 

Execution– I like what I see here, but the game makes a very BAD sin!  This box is full of cards, room to expand the decks, glossy character cards, stickers, and lots of nice, hard tokens.  The cards don’t bend or tare easily.  A major complaint a while back was that the stickers would ruin the game.  But, the glossy cards and the stickers work together to hold the stickers just enough to keep them on the character cards, but not hard enough to make it a pain to change stickers.  However, this game could really use a start player marker among the many other tokens.  Also, the book says to just use a dry erase marker to track karma on the characters.  But, no marker comes in the box.  I HATE when instructions do that.  If you tell me to use something to do X, by god, you better have put X in the box!  This game has a MSRP of $60, and I don’t get a nice way to track karma besides buy another thing?!  Why not give me stickers? What’s here is well done, but what’s missing is pretty obvious. 4.8/5

 

Summary– This is a fun game, but your fun will really very with the number of players you got.  Like any good Shadowrun RPG game, you need all the bases covered-one person on magic, another on computers, a talker, and a guy/gal with a gun.  Playing a game without those people will really make life that much more hard, and that’s reflected in this game.  It’s fun, but it’s punishing if you don’t have that full party.  Another problem is the story.  It’s there, but get used to randomness.  I’d like a bit more targeted problems for my team to deal with, so each game fits the story, not just random encounters.  This game is fun, its one I want to play more of, but it’s one that I know the sheer randomness of could really make me hate playing.  A bad draw, and a bad night can really spin out of control easy.  What this game really needs is more options and cards.  I really want some more cards for characters, half rolls, and more scenarios.  If Catalyst promised semi-regular releases of this game, I’ll keep buying!  Keep that in mind, shoot straight, never deal with a dragon, and you will have a great time. 84%

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