Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Thursday, 4 June 2015

Thoughts from the yellow meeple:- XCOM

Game: XCOM: The Board Game

Designer: Eric M. Lang

Manufacturer: Fantasy Flight

Year: 2015

XCOM was a present for Amy based on her love of the original PC game. I didn’t expect to enjoy it, but agreed to a single play through of the game, but no more. This game is the second biggest gaming surprise I have had thus far, second only to Battlestar Galactica (who would have thought I could enjoy a 5 hour game based on a Sci-Fi series I’ve never seen, played with people I’ve never met). From the first play through of XCOM, I loved it!

The game is a 4-player co-op where each player becomes a different character in the XCOM team, with differing responsibilities, all working to prevent alien invasion and prevent the different continents of the word from going into Panic. The Scientist researches tech for all four team members, which will generally provide additional special abilities for combat with aliens or with UFOs on earth or in orbit. The Commander is responsible for the budget, the fighter jets and also for causing crises within the game. The Central Officer relays information from the app to the team. The Squad Leader deploys troops to fend of alien attacks on the base and also on the mission.


The XCOM minis - The Squad (From left to right: Assault, Heavy, Sniper, Support), UFOs, Interceptors and the XCOM dice (Blue) and Alien die (Red)

Typically I do not get engrossed in the theme of a game, I prefer the game mechanics to the theme, but the companion app brought with it stress and intensity through the timed phase and the atmospheric music bringing our dining table to life. I imagine the stress was increased by playing two-player and having to be on-top of two roles each and I have yet to recreate these stress levels in a 4-player run through.

Currently I am definitely at home as the Commander. It probably is the likely position for the alpha gamer, so perhaps is best avoided if there is an alpha gamer in your group, but I enjoy having the responsibility for the budget which means that you really have to be the bad guy in preventing all of the other players from deploying or researching as much as they would like, as well as picking the lesser of two evils when selecting a crisis card. The Scientist’s role certainly to be the least stressful and complex, but admittedly can be pivotal in the game, providing the right weapons for the troops and providing a means to recoup lost fighters, in particular.

The game set-up

As a lover of the co-op genre this game is automatically high on my list, but currently it is ranking as my favourite co-op game. However, my enjoyment of this game is going to strongly rely on the group of people I am playing the game with. If I’m playing with people who are not fully invested in the game, then I will not enjoy it – the whole point of the game for me is the immersion in the game world and this is destroyed by you having a side conversation, even if we are in the resolution phase.

In this game it isn’t important to me if I win or lose, so long as we’ve gone down fighting! So far we have only defeated the alien forces once, on tutorial difficulty. I am scared by how challenging this game will get, but I can’t wait to find out! 

With the right group of people, I definitely rate XCOM a 9/10.

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