Shadowrun: Crossfire is a co-op deck building game for 1 to 4 players. Players are thrown in the Shadowrun universe and take on the roles of “runners” trying to complete missions. The goal of the game is to finish the mission without any casualties.
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Pro Constant player interaction
Crossfire is very cooperative, it’s basically impossible to go solo and win only by fighting your own threats; everyone must rely on each other because otherwise the game is lost. There’s an absolute ton of planning, micromanaging, and socializing as players try to beat the looming threats in front of themselves and each other.
Pro Minimal “quarterbacking”
A player can’t take the reins and control everything in Shadowrun: Crossfire because the players can’t show their cards and can only communicate what they’ll be doing.
Pro Satisfying character progression
A big part of the game revolves around the players’ characters and it’s nice to see their level increase and new abilities unlock. There are characters of multiple races you can choose from – humans, elves, trolls, dwarves, and orks. After that you pick one of four classes – face, decker, mage, and street samurai.
You keep developing your character’s skills via “karma” from either winning or successfully aborting missions. You use “karma” to purchase stickers which you apply on your Runner sheet.
The Shadowrun universe is quite vast, and it’s implemented into Crossfire well. The aesthetic design of the components coupled with the gameplay provides a thematic experience that’s just right - it suits both fans of the Shadowrun world and people unfamiliar with it.
The character aspect of the game is immersive - players get attached to their evolving characters over the course of many games. The fact that players can’t just reveal their cards to everyone and must find ways to communicate what they’ll do also adds a lot to the immersion.
Pro Simple rules
The basics of Crossfire are quite easy and the rules are uncomplicated. Before you begin playing, players set up their characters and starting decks and draw cards from the obstacle deck. The win condition varies per mission, but, for example, in the Crossfire mission you must defeat three waves of obstacles to win.
In your turn you play cards, apply damage to obstacles, take damage, draw cards, and buy cards before the next player takes their turn. In the second turn of the game a Crossfire card is drawn that basically causes either continuous, enhancing, or triggered effects that make each round different. After every player has taken their turn, the Crossfire card is replaced with a new one.
Con Sticker feature
As your character gains “karma” (levels) when you win or successfully abort missions, you can get permanent upgrades. They are represented by stickers you put on your Runner sheet.
There’s no way to do a complete reset and just start a new game if, for example, you want to play with a new group. It can be a hassle to physically remove the stickers off the Runner sheet, and it might ruin it in the process. Obviously, you won’t be able to re-use the sticker either, and there’s a limited amount of them available.
The base, expansionless game of Shadowrun: Crossfire includes only three missions, so it can get boring to play the same stuff with the only thing that varies being the cards and obstacles you draw.
Moreover, getting levels to progress your character is a really long process – you get 3 points per win and 1 point if you successfully abort the mission. The cheapest upgrades cost 5 karma, whereas the most expensive ones cost 50, so it can take many hours of “grinding” to get something if you don’t introduce house rules that allow you to level up faster.
Con Luck of the draw
Even if you’ve planned everything out perfectly, an unlucky draw of a very strong obstacle or an unfortunate Crossfire card can literally make the game unwinnable. This can be especially frustrating if it’s the last wave of obstacles and you’ve already got far.
Furthermore, you are susceptible to luck even if it’s your first time playing the game because the “normal difficulty” deck you draw from includes some enemies that are as strong as the ones in the harder difficulty decks.
Con Not very accessible
Shadowrun: Crossfire is very unforgiving and challenging. While the basic mechanics aren’t difficult, there’s a lot of stuff to micromanage, strategize, and communicate to others, which might be hard for a beginner. There’s little room for error and you can lose simply because you didn’t play completely perfectly.