• Cooperative game
  • Cool theme


  • Ridiculously hard
  • Poor box insert
Fun Factor

Xenoshyft is awesome. It’s a cooperative deck-builder by CMON, which is a style of game that’s been very popular for some time now. I’ve played a lot of these games though I’ve still barely scratched the surface of the number of games available. In general, every cooperative deck-builder provides players with a market of cards they can purchase and enemies they must defeat.

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Xenoshyft’s Mechanisms

Having played both Xenoshyft: Dreadmire and Xenoshyft: Onslaught, I can say that neither is really revolutionary. They follow the same basic rule-set with only minor changes. Each has different items and troops, not to mention enemies. The biggest difference between the two is that some items and abilities grow better as the game goes on. This is accomplished using the [W] variable, where [W] is equal to the wave the players are facing.

Xenoshyft Cards

In this game, players must survive three waves of enemies. Each wave has three rounds. During each round you purchase cards (which is typical of a deck builder), set up your defenses, and then resolve combat and clean up at the end of the round. Each phase has some mechanisms common to all cooperative deck-building games, but a few differences.

The biggest difference is that the purchasing phase is simultaneous, allowing all players to work together and purchase the same items. There are supplies of items, and when one item pile is exhausted a new set of items is made available. Troops, on the other hand, do not refresh once all troops of a certain type are exhausted.

After the purchasing phase, all players set up their defenses from their hands. This is also completed simultaneously. Players can place troops on their defense tracks, along with purchased equipment in the hope of being able to defeat all of the monsters they’ll face. One of the most amazing mechanisms in these games is in this phase. Not only can you play cards on your own defense track, you can contribute to the defense of the other players. It’s important to realize, however, that anything to share with another player will become a part of their deck. I think it’s an incredibly interesting and well reasoned mechanism, especially given that your purchase power is very limited when compared with the sheer number of enemies you’ve got to face.

Xenoshyft Packaging & Appearance

An old adage says you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, and that’s true for games too. At least it’s a little bit true. There are some really, really good games that are also true eyesores. That isn’t true of Xenoshyft. The artwork serves the theme well and it makes me want to keep coming back to this game. The art and components are all quite good, though having thicker boards instead of simple mats would be a great upgrade.

The biggest failing Xenoshyft has is in the packaging. Because it’s a deck builder, there are a ton of small decks of cards that need to be separated and the insert is barely adequate to do that task. If you are someone who stores your games upright then you’re going to be sorting cards every time you open this box. Then again, this is a CMON game, so the organization is going to be either really good or truly terrible. Unfortunately, Xenoshyft falls on the terrible side of that scale.

Buy Xenoshyft