XCOM TheBoard Game hit UK shelves last week. We snapped up a copy from our FLGS (That’s Harlequin’s Shop in Preston) and, after doing some mundane things like feeding children, we dived right in for a spot of unboxing!
I covered XCOM The Board Game in the 30th Jan podcast, but if you missed it, here’s our First Thoughts on the game.
My only play through so far is a 2 player game, the tutorial, and I was the one in charge of the app. It wasn’t optimal. For your tutorial play I’d really suggest hanging on for 4 players, it’s a hectic game, and as there’s no physical rules to read beforehand you’re really glued to the app & the info it spews out.
There were moments where we got confused, can we look at the cards we’ve got, can are the secret, face down? What about the cash, should I go big, does the budget roll over? And because it’s just spitting out the info one chunk at a time, it’s hard to know what to do. It’s very in with the “computer game” walk through the first level, but it felt stifling and clunky for a board game. Having moaned about it, it’s actually simple, there are only a few concepts to grasp, and the app leads you through it all.
There’s two parts to each round, a real-time section. Where whoever is in charge of the app is going to be shouting things like “CRISIS” , “Research ONE!” and “FIVE SECONDS!”!” while the others players are going to be trying to respond, see if they’ve got assets they can use to help in this phase, the player in charge of the budget will be cringing at the amount of credits they’re spending, and generally chaos.
Then the resolution section of the round, where you catch your breath, roll the dice (quite a few times) and push your luck, to see what continents are panicked, if the base is destroyed and what research the scientist actually drum up, if your troops are successful, and if all the UFO are destroyed. There’s some housekeeping. The app asks what the panic levels are, how many UFOs are in orbit, did you complete a mission this round, and do you still have a base?
Then you catch your breath, reset things, and dive in for the next Real Time section… If there were any UFOs left in orbit, then this part gets scrambled, you might not get your budget until the last part, you could have to pick your troops before you know the mission, and a whole load of frustration things, but it’s intense, it’s chaotic. It’s war against aliens.
If you win, you get a nice little victory screen, and a warm glow, as you look around your half destroyed base with 2 troops still standing, and a whole bunch of weird alien tech, that your crazy scientists have made up. And you need a nice cup of tea and a biscuit too. We really did feel like we’d just save the word, it was a bit stressful, but fun. I’m looking forwards to getting a full 4 player game.
A couple of people have asked what the app is like. Is it buggy? Has it crashed? How easy is it to use on a small (iPhone) screen? Does it drain the battery?
Since I’ve downloaded it, I’ve played the Tutorial and just poked about (technical terms) in the app. It seems to be doing fine on iOS, and hasn’t sapped the battery any more than my terminal twitter use does. It fits nicely with the game, I just wish I’d realized you could have read the rules in the app before you play the tutorial.
If the app is something you really worry about, I suggest you search the app store, download and play with it yourself. It’s free, and you can see if you can crash it, how it works and check out the rules & FAQ yourself.
We still haven’t managed to get this to the table for more than the 2 player. As soon as we do, we’ll let you know!