Monday, January 5, 2015

Xia: Legends of a Drift System board game review

From my "How to Play Caverna" post, you might surmise I like board games. I hereby officially confirm this. Also, I've (okay, the fiance) found another winner.

More on BoardGameGeek
Xia: Legends of a Drift System is a board game featuring space battles, space exploration, and the ever-looming possibility of foolishly jumping into the galaxy's sun (or wisely, depending on when you do it...)

It features an exploration-based world, where you reveal new places to go by flying off the map and flipping tiles (think Betrayal at House on the Hill, where you discover new rooms as you go). Exploration isn't strictly necessary, at least not after you've discovered a planet, but it's fun, and it allows you to complete missions and sell and trade cargo.

Oh, yes, there are missions. These range from Assassin, where you can murder your fellow players and/or one of the 3 NPCs, to Thief, a bloodless robbery that gets you money, to Research and Shuttle missions, which are perfectly legal ways to get cash. That's important, because outlaws get hunted by the enforcer NPC and are lucrative sources of income for other players who kill them (there's always a bounty on outlaws!). Yep, you totally get into space fights.

The goal of the game is to get famous. Yep, you're taunting death for a chance of fame and glory. You win by gaining "fame points," which are like victory points. The length of the game varies based on where you set the goal--you can play to 5, 10, 15, or 20 FP, as you want.

The game itself is a whole level of awesome on its own. It features metal currency chips and tiny painted ship figurines. This explains the fairly hefty price: $90 (ouch). But if you can afford the investment, the game is a ton fun, and has enough built-in variety that you could play for years without getting bored.

That said, the rules are pretty complicated. Really. It's a twenty-page rule book, with pages 2-16 containing relevant info. It is, however, well-written and easy enough to follow. And once you've read through the rules once, it's not terribly difficult to put them into practice. Still, if you can get someone to show you how to play, you'll be glad to have skipped the lengthy rule-reading.

You'll need a lot of space, too. Our standard folding table didn't cut it (while exploring, we kept running out of room for our player boards), so we play at the dining room table for the extra space.

This is one game I'd love to see on TableTop, but it's still really new, so I'm not going to hold my breath. Instead, I'll be playing Ghoststalker, slipping past planetary borders to scoop of loads of smuggled goods and selling them to the authorities on Kemplar II.

Did I mention the Firefly vibe? Yeah, that happens. Somewhere between hiding from the Enforcer's missiles in a debris field and tractor-beaming the outlaw NPC to shoot him in his fleeing back for the bounty, you definitely start feeling a bit Wild-Wild-West-Space. Mwahaha...

(Like all my reviews thus far, nobody has paid me for this review or given me anything. I just played the game and liked it.)

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