Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Game Review: Xia - Legends of a Drift System

Hi folks,

My mate Wade picked this game up a few weeks ago and we have had the chance to play a few games so far. It is a hard game to describe, mainly because it has so many different playable aspects. It can quite literally be a different game for each player, with some necessary commonalities. It is a swashbuckling exploration and adventure game, where players take on one or more roles during the game (smuggler, thief, bounty hunter, space taxi driver, trader, researcher etc) with the aim of becoming famous.

You start the game by choosing a Level 1 space ship. The ships are lovably dorky, reminding me a lot of the shuttles in the Sci-Fi comedy Red Dwarf (I am this close to pursuing a custom 3D printed Star Bug for the purposes of playing this game. Seriously!). Apparently, a lot of the templates for the ship cards are free to download, so you can make your own custom ships. We had a little wistful chat about using some appropriate X-wing ships and turning it into a Star Wars scum game. More on that sometime later...

Lovable, but dorky. The paint job on these prototypes does not match the ones in the box...

My ship of choice, the Easy Tiger. Full leather interior (slightly stained).

You can spend credits to upgrade your ships with shields, engines, cannons or missiles, which take up cargo space. Obviously, limiting cargo space reduces your ability to win fame through trading, so ship customisation reflects the kind of role you want to play. The upgrades themselves are different shapes that you have to fit on your ship like Tetris blocks, which is a great mechanic. Sometimes you have to buy a bigger ship to fit the stuff that you want. Damage that you receive is taken onto your cargo spaces as well and can render upgrades inactive.

Upgrades. Cue the Tetris music.

To activate your upgrades you need to spend tokens, which must be bought back at the end of the turn with energy points. Running out of energy leaves you slow and defenseless; meat for thieves and bounty hunters.

When you explore new areas you randomly place space tiles down which contain planets, asteroid fields, rubble fields, nebula and stars. You can spend energy to scan a new tile before you place it and fly into it... or you can just fly in blind like my wife did every turn. Her tactic works just fine until you fly into a star, which ends your trip real quick. You can score fame points by destroying other ships, buying and selling goods, transporting people from planet to planet, performing heroic deeds and conducting research in far flung locations. I chose the research route and geared my little ship up with a powerful engine and shield system. I spent an awful lot of time disabled inside Nebula I was trying to research! My wifey took MOAR GUNZ and used them ruthlessly, eventually winning the heroic title of "Viking" for her skills at ramming. The eventually winner of the game, KuriboGoomba, took a bit of everything and won most of his fame transporting wedding parties from one planet to another.

I'm pretty sure Kuribo is cheating right here.

Easy Tiger wins a fame point for being the first to use a gate to travel through space more rapidly. One of the gates is faulty and transports you randomly, which is great for escaping Bounty Hunters.

Your fame points are recorded on a Fame Point Track, which includes such inspiring levels of achievement as "Space Scum", "Rubbish Runner", "Courageous Corsair", "Renowned Starfarer" and ultimately, "Legendary Legend".

We only played to 10 fame points, which was a shorter game, but if you play it to twenty points you have a good chance to upgrade your ship and try out a few different routes to fame. This is a four star game in my opinion, with plenty of room for improvement and customisation.

See you across the table,