In the card game Xenofera, currently fully funded on Kickstarter, players take on the roles of hunters attempting to capture collections of rare alien creatures. You must recruit crew members, build cages, and capture creatures all while protecting them from the other hunters and going to battle if necessary. You'll have specific collections of creatures that you are attempting to capture to try to gain more victory points at the end of the game. The player with the most victory points wins.
**Note that this review was made based on a prototype of the game and some changes have been made to the rules since this version of the prototype was created.**
Each turn consists of five different stages: action, build, capture, discard/draw, and renew. During the action phase, players recruit crew members and play action cards from their hand. During the build phase, they construct cages in their cargo bay. During the capture phase, they capture available creatures from the line of sight on the table and place them into any available cages they have already constructed. Creatures have different point values based on varying factors such as how rare they are. Then, players may discard cards and draw back up to six during the draw phase, or draw two collection cards and keep one.
Action cards will allow players to potentially steal crew members, cages, or creatures from the other players which can trigger a battle. During a battle, the attacker and defender both choose two cards from their battle deck with a numerical value on them (there is also a decoy card with no number). The player who plays the highest total value in cards wins and ties go to the attacker. Players can only use each card in their battle deck once until they've used all their cards and can then replenish their deck.
Once a player has captured creatures in a certain number of cages (that number varies based on the number of players) or the draw deck is empty, the game ends and the player with the most victory points from their captured creatures and completed collections wins.
Xenofera is a fun little card game, although admittedly it employs more antagonistic actions than I personally prefer. I’ve never been much of a fan of take-that games, but I can still have fun playing them with the right group.
I was honestly pleasantly surprised by how well polished the game is considering it is still in its prototype phase. The artwork is absolutely beautiful and the card quality was great, and those facts bode very well for what the final product will look like.
My friends and I did run into a few questions and issues while we were playing, but I was able to email the designer and was happy to hear that she was already aware of much of what I mentioned and is actively working to improve the mechanics that are less than perfect. She seems very open to feedback and is working hard to make sure that the game is both balanced and enjoyable before she ships it out to backers. She has also given herself a good cushion of time between the end of the kickstarter campaign and her shipment date to make sure she has the time needed to polish the game.
Even though it isn’t my typical style of game, I had fun playing Xenofera and believe that with some minor improvements, it could be a great addition to a game collection. There is only about a day left in the campaign so if you’d like to get a copy of the game, act fast! There are still a bunch of stretch goals they haven’t unlocked yet.