Fantasy Flight Announces an XCOM Board Game

It's been kind of slow for board game news lately--what with most game companies getting ready to head to GenCon. That doesn't seem to faze Fantasy Flight, though, as they just announced a new board based on the XCOM video games. 

The game, by designer Eric M. Lang, plays up to four players, with each person taking on the role of a different specialist in the shadowy organization known as XCOM:

Commander, who oversees budgets, allocations, and Interceptors. 

Chief Scientist, who's in charge of research, which increases weapons, armor, and other technology. 

Central Officer, who's in charge of communications. 

Squad Leader, who will be boots-on-the-ground for invasion missions.

What's most unique about this--from the limited info we have--is that there will be an integrated app what will create random invasion plans to go into the game. It will also help you learn the game. AND, it allows for some random events, such as thematically mixing up turn order, or creating "interference" for your satellites, so you're going into an encounter blind. It sounds like they're working hard to make this a full, immersive feature of the game, but one that doesn't overwhelm or take over. 

From the description page

"Once you formulate your response to the alien invasion, the push-your-luck dice rolling system in XCOM: The Board Game reflects the peril of your situation. Whether you’re resolving your base defense, attacking UFOs, or pulling all-nighters in the lab to upgrade your tech, you’ll need to succeed at a number of dice rolls.

Your dice pool is generally equal to the number of resources you’ve committed to the task. For example, you get one die for each Interceptor you’ve committed to combat the UFOs with which it’s engaged, or one die for each scientist working on the research you’re attempting to complete. Similarly, you get one die for each soldier assigned to your base’s defense; however, you roll an extra die for each soldier who has received officer training and an extra die for each soldier whose skills match those indicated by the icons on the alien you’re aiming to defeat.

The effects of your successful rolls depend upon the task:

  • Each success rolled by the satellites assigned to orbital defense destroys one UFO in orbit.
  • Each success rolled by the Interceptors assigned to global defense destroys one UFO with which it’s engaged.
  • Each success rolled by the soldiers assigned to base defense damages an enemy, and if the enemy suffers an amount of damage equal to its health, it is killed.
  • Each success rolled by the scientists assigned to a research task adds one success token to the task. To complete their research, the scientists need to earn the number of success tokens indicated by the task.
  • Each success rolled by the soldiers assigned to the current mission adds a success token to the mission. To complete a mission, the soldiers need to complete three tasks, each of which requires the soldiers to earn a specific number of success tokens.

Obviously, you want to roll successes. The twist is that there’s only two successes indicated on each die. Thus, you’re likely to need to roll multiple times in order to succeed, and this is where the game’s push-your-luck aspect comes into play.

Each task has a threat level that starts at “1,” and even as you roll your pool of blue XCOM dice, you roll a single red enemy die. So long as the result of the enemy die is higher than the task’s current threat level, you can choose to reroll all the dice in your pool, both the XCOM dice and the enemy die. In this way, you can continue to mount your desperate defense of humanity, even as the aliens intensify their efforts.

Each time you push in this way, you increase the task threat by one step. So long as your keep rolling results on the enemy die that are higher than the task threat level, your XCOM soldiers maintain the good fight. However, if the result of the enemy die is equal to or lower than the current task threat level, you start to suffer losses. You’ll lose soldiers or Interceptors. Your satellites may go offline. Your scientists will suffer fatigue or succumb to alien diseases and won’t be able to continue until they’ve recovered."

I (Firestone) have very fond memories of playing the original computer game. And the recent reboot was really well done, as well! So I'm very excited about giving this a whirl. How about you? Sound off in the comments. 

And thanks for reading!