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Just a step away

...from being a great game. I'm talking about Xenoshyft: Dreadmire. As a fan of deck building games, I like this one a lot and always enjoy the occasional session. But the rules for solo make me suspect Michael Shinall (of Bloodborne fame) never really bothered to win by himself.

If you go by the book, you win if your base doesn't take more than 15 points of damage. Not gonna happen.

The game is set in an alien planet. You are working for a mining company that extracts the precious xenosathem crystal. All you see around you is swamps. Fog and pouring rain are making your life harder, as you go out of the base usually at night. Giant reptiles and insectoid monsters inhabit the premises. No matter how well armed they are, your troops are just snacks to them.

I don't know if I have seen another game where the heroes are so helpless. They are literally used as fodder. You purchase the highest-tech armor and guns to equip your soldiers, only to see them vanish within seconds. Even mechs don't stand a chance against the 'Death Harvester'.

The system is good, the lanes in which both you and the enemies move and face each other work well, the shuffling of the deck doesn't hinder your ability to inflict damage. But in the end, the rulebook says 'if you find it too hard to win, just try beating your own score'. Why? Just give us a realistic goal. I usually set mine to 30 points but I don't like to houserule games, it makes me feel as if I'm cheating.

As the picture shows, the box is almost empty, presumably made big to fit expansions (by now hard to find and/or pricey). The latest CMON Time Machine Kickstarter said a few copies were available in the company's warehouse. Only VIP backers were able to grab them, leaving us mere mortals out.

I'm sorry to see this game receive no support, a new setting doesn't seem likely (an icy planet was once teased, then all teasers froze). If you happen to stumble on a copy, give it a try. It may not have the mechanical sophistication of Aeon's End, but it has way better artwork, and the gameplay is solid. Just don't play by the scoring rules.

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