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A Roll of The Dice Reviews – Xcom

Posted on January 19th, 2016

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Welcome to another edition of what is now lovingly called A Roll of The Dice reviews, with your friendly game guru, Adam. This week my friends and me played a game which really did come down to a roll of the dice, so many times, which honestly we were failing miserably for the start of the game. Let’s see how it turned out in the end, while learning our thoughts, and the game play of this, an amazingly built name as it follows along the lines of the Xcom video game series, which is long standing and known for being challenging.

So, to start, we went into this (sixty to ninety minute) game (which ended up taking us almost four hours to complete), knowing that the rulebook was only two pages, which was unusual based on what we knew from online and local gamers. That’s when we realized there is an app, which is needed to even be able to play. The game is a two to four player game, and all four roles will be played no matter the amount of players. This means sometimes people will play more than one role, if there is not four people able to play. Once we get into the roles in the game, you will understand why every role is needed.

This game would be considered an extremely difficult strategy game, that also has hints of resource management, worker placement, and even mini’s to be able to corner the entire board. There is about a hundred pieces in the box, which is a lot considering, but all of them are needed. So instead of taking my word for it, why don’t we take this time to go over the rules, and find out the roles as well, see if this seems like something that would interest you.

GAME PLAY

Okay, this will not be the easiest, and it will not perfectly explained based on the game you play, as every time you play the game, the turn order will change.The only absolutes are that there is a timed phase and a resolution phase.

There are a lot of things that can be done, and a few that may be done or may only happen once per turn.

The Scientist – The Scientist is just that. They are in charge of research. Whether it is building better guns and armor, or building phasers to destroy UFO’s before they do damage, they could be called the backbone of the army (I may be biased, as this was me). Each phase you MAY get to start and attempt up to 3 techs each turn. There is three separate research bases, each which can house up to three scientists, and can learn one research. This could cost one to three “success” tokens to complete.

Success tokens are not the easiest to get, as each one needs to be rolled on a blue dice which contains four blank sides and two sides that have a success icon on it. You get to roll one blue dice each turn based on the amount of scientists that you placed on each project. There is also a “failure” die, which is a red alien die. In order to complete ANY missions, you must always roll higher than the track, which starts at one and goes up by one every time you try again to complete the roll, to a maximum of five. The alien die is only eight sided, so realistically it is very difficult once you hit three, let alone five. If you fail, any successes you have rolled still count, but your scientists/satellites (for the next role) are out of comission next turn, which severely limits what you can do.

If you complete the needed rolls, then you give the card to the person it benefits. There are tech cards for each of the four roles, and each one has good benefits. The issue with all the roles is staying within the budget. Each scientist you use costs you one income, and each round you are limited on the amount of income you have, with there being an emergency pool as well, of ten income. So, while it is very beneficial to produce new techs for the team, it is also really important to protect your base and to complete your missions.

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Commander – The commander, in my opinion anyways, is the most difficult role to try and play, as you have complete control of not only the interceptors (ships used to battle the UFO’s) but also the budget for the entire party. We played on easy so we had the ability to pause the game, like all the time, which gave us enough time to budget (usually 3-4 minutes minimum with a little arguing for our benefits) but in the actual game, there is sometimes less than thirty seconds to plan, which in any co-op game is a bit insane.

On top of all of that, there is penalties for going over budget, penalties for countries who become panicked, and penalties for losing ships and soldiers. Honestly the commander is just that. He is a leader, and someone who has the fate of the whole game on his shoulders.

Squad Leader – The leader of the Xcom military. and the one man who has to plan troop formations, and decide whether it is more important to try and complete a mission, or more important to defend the base (almost always choose the base). He is responsible for the lives of all of the figurative members in the military, and has a maximum of three of each class (Sniper, Heavy, Assault, and Support), but with a single bad dice roll, we could be floundering quickly. Losing a mission you have soldiers on actually kills ALL of the soldiers associated with it. Considering you can put up to four people on any mission/base defense, this means you can wipe out a third of your army in one roll.

On top of that, you need to make sure you stay within budget as well, since each solider you recruit (to make up for lost ones), and each soldier you send on a mission each cost one for the budget as well. So in total, this is usually the biggest eater of funds, but the most needed piece of the military protection. There are so many ways to lose this game, but the only way to win is by winning the missions, and completing the final mission. For this, you always need the Squad Leader.

Central Officer – This is the man who protects the world through use of our satellite network. He protects the world by being able to move UFO’s around, shoot them out of orbit, and make decisive attacks on the countries in which he is needed. Sending out a satellite costs one budget, but there is only three able to be done a turn, so he tends to use the least funds.

The most important thing this role does though, is control the Xcom app. This app is your connection to the game, it is your rule set, and overall, it is the person who can make or break your team. As you begin to take damage, and lose the respect of nations, the game will start to act up. The game may skip certain steps, or put them into a completely random order instead. It may decrease your budget, or blow the entire game up in your face.

This game has a ridiculous amount of planning involved in it, and will keep you constantly on you toes. It is one of the most strategy heavy games I have ever even attempted, and at times, we were at eachothers throats, arguing over the budget, the layout, and every other little aspect of the game. It was great, and upsetting, all at the same time.

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DESIGN

Pros

The game itself includes a little bit of everything. It has cards, dice, mini’s, strategy, action, and luck. It fits in with the more complex styles, but it is not unplayable, and super refreshing when you find a way to win.

The box and overall design is amazing, and exactly what you would expect from the Xcom universe.

The gameplay is fairly unique, and with the requirement for all four roles to be played, it adds to the co-op style of the game.

Cons

With so many little pieces, it is easy to lose sight of the overall goal, but also to lose sight of all of the pieces.

The game itself seems designed to wipe out players every time, which normally I laugh at, but in this case, it is so brutal, it is designed to kill us as efficiently as it can. It SUCKS when you get backed into a corner.

REPLAY VALUE

Pros

Since there are so many tech combinations, so many troop choices, and so many mission types, this game has near infinite replay value. Honestly I can’t think of anything about this that was not built strictly for the replay.

Cons

Absolutely nothing at all.

FUN FACTOR

Pros

This game is an amazing co-op ride, with so many choices to be made. Choosing your roles, and dodging death as a group is amazingly fun, and adds to the feeling of the apocalypse.

Cons

Honestly, this game flips more tables than Monopoly. The biggest complaint is the difficulty when you play anything other than easy mode. This game will test relationships, friendships, and your own sanity. I guess this could be a plus if you were planning on breaking up with your spouse anyways.

OVERALL

Honestly, in the end, there is nothing more satisfying then knowing you dodged death for three hours only to see the victory screen on the app.

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The feeling of knowing you saved the world, and thwarted the alien invasion, is one of the utmost perfection. Honestly, there is nothing I enjoyed more than that feeling. Also knowing that it will probably not happen again, and even if it did, it will never beat the first time you take out the behemoth of a game that is known as Xcom.

You should really stop by The Comic Hunter Moncton, and grab/reserve a copy. I am waiting to grab mine, but for now I now have two people who can bring it over for another adventure.

That’s all the time I have for this weeks review. Until next time, may the dice roll ever in your favour.

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