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Best Board Game of 2014
And the Escapist Award goes to ...
Designed by Mike Elliott, Rob Heinsoo, Jim Lin, Gregory Marques, Sean McCarthy, and Rob Watkins
Published by Catalyst Game Labs
Shadowrun Crossfire Base Game
Senior Editor Jon Bolding says: When we first sat down with Shadowrun: Crossfire we were baffled: How could we, a crew of experienced gamers, get so utterly dismantled by a simple cooperative board game?
The answer? We had been coddled for years.
While a special few cooperative tabletop games offer a real difficult experience on their hardest settings, we've never played one that really threatens players like Crossfire does. Puzzling out each turn takes all the brainpower you've got at the table. Building a deck that complements the other players' choices is a decision all your own, but you know that the others will be counting on your choices in later rounds. Cooperative deckbuilding doesn't sound like the most fun thing on the surface, but making your team into a perfectly interlocked mechanism of destruction is about as good as it gets. As you play cards to match colors and values on challenges you're up against, the game's scenarios throw wrenches and curveballs at your perfectly-laid plans. When a market lockdown card keeps the players form buying for a turn, the situation goes from bad to worse. Then a runner flatlines and you have to break out - but you want right back in. You want to try again and master this game.
That's the experience that wins Crossfire game of the year for us. While other games offer a more pleasant or easy play experience, or a more cutthroat sense of competition, this one makes a group of people band together and desperately want to taste victory against long odds. Its mechanics support that sense, too, because they use persistent characters. Every time you play the game, your own unique character gets karma points that they can spend to get upgrade stickers, allowing you to customize yourself and take on harder scenarios. The persistent experience is more than worth the effort of getting the same group together week after week, and if you can do it, you should do it.