When comparing Space Alert vs Shadowrun: Crossfire, the Slant community recommends Space Alert for most people. In the question“What are the best co-op board games?” Space Alert is ranked 3rd while Shadowrun: Crossfire is ranked 6th. The most important reason people chose Space Alert is:
The combination of several CD tracks along with variant card combos and action options ensures that no two games will be the same, making the game widely replayable. If you run out of the official CD tracks, then you can also download the [Space Alert Mission Generator](https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.boarbeard&hl=en_US) to get some random scenarios, or you can browse the internet for custom missions.
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Pro Each game is unique
The combination of several CD tracks along with variant card combos and action options ensures that no two games will be the same, making the game widely replayable. If you run out of the official CD tracks, then you can also download the Space Alert Mission Generator to get some random scenarios, or you can browse the internet for custom missions.
Space Alert is a cooperative based game, something that is not always the case for board games and can be a refreshing change.
Pro Varying difficulty
Various options can be selected to alter the difficulty level of the game, such as the power of internal and external common threats and serious threats. This makes, for example, the monsters you encounter much stronger, adding a whole new level of required teamwork.
Pro Strong theme
Space Alert has a sci-fi theme to it, and the game executes it perfectly. From the aesthetic look of the game to the actions you take, there’s plenty of science fiction – aliens, spaceships, robots, etc. The soundtrack playing in the background during the planning phase also adds a lot to the immersion. For those that are into more of a science fiction game, Space Alert could easily fit that bill.
Pro Good humor
While slightly morbid, the humor contained in the game and gameplay is quite amusing. The resolution phase is also full of humorous moments as the players watch their actions unfold or fall apart. For example, the tutorial book states that the captain must remember to do the “C” action that represents pressing the spacebar on the ship’s computer to keep the lights on.
Pro 1 - 5 players
Can be played as a single player game, or with up to 4 friends, dividing roles accordingly. If you don’t have a full group of 5 players, then the missing characters are androids, which can be controlled by any player.
Pro Simple rules
The very basics of the game are quite simple. Every player has a role assigned to them – the captain, the communications officer, and the security officer. The players take 12 turns in 10 minutes pre-planning actions while listening to a soundtrack that explains all incoming threats. The action phase is divided into three further parts, each of which has a separate deck of action cards. The soundtrack calls out the threats, the endings of phases, data transfers, and communication disruptions, and you must act accordingly.
After the 10-minute soundtrack is over, all the actions the players planned and coordinated are resolved. If the ship is still alive after that, then the game is won.
Pro Fast gameplay
The game takes around 30 minutes to play through, 10 minutes of which is the intense planning phase with the soundtrack blasting in the background.
Pro No analysis paralysis
Turn speed is dictated by the CD, avoiding some players procrastinating on their turns / keeping the gameplay flowing.
Pro Ranked highly on board game geek
With an average score of 7.5 out of 10 and a rank of 155, Space Alert is a positively reviewed board game.
Pro No alpha-gamer issue
Space Alert effectively evades the popular quarterbacking issue of cooperative board games. There’s simply no way to communicate enough useful information to other players in the 10-minute timeframe, so nobody can control absolutely everything. Everyone must efficiently work together and say what they’ll be doing to take care of the looming threats.
Pro Good components
The components of the game should hold up to multiple plays and regular wear and tear. There are a lot of good quality wooden tokens, and the cards are made of durable cardstock. The gameboard and the tracking boards are also quite thick and should endure well.
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 Steep learning curve
Space Alert is not very beginner friendly, and if you don’t properly understand how the game works when you start it up, then you’ll have visible difficulty keeping up with what’s happening in the frantic 10-minute action phase. You’ll also be dragging down the other players because there really isn’t enough time to explain rules when the game is already in progress.
It’s worth reserving an hour to play through the well-designed tutorial book that slowly introduces the complex aspects, so you’ll be ready for the real deal.
Con Requires CD player with speakers
Space Alert is only playable with the included audio CD or downloadable MP3's, without them the game is impossible to play.
Every action you take highly impacts what happens to the rest of the crew, and one tiny misstep can make the whole plan fall apart, which can be frustrating to some. Teamwork and good communication is completely necessary to win.
Con A lot of setup
Space Alert has a lot of pieces to sort through, cards and decks to shuffle and place on the gameboard. It’s not so bad if you decide to play more than one game, but the actual games are very quick in comparison to the amount of setup/takedown time.
Con Can’t be stopped once in progress
Once you press “play” on the 10-minute soundtrack, there’s no interrupting it – no pauses, no rewinds, etc. It’s important to stay focused, not engage in casual banter, and make sure there are no distractions in the background, which can be difficult to manage sometimes.
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 Dependant of the 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.