As a fan of the XCom series, I was of course particularly curious to see how the board game offshoot will feel at the game fair in Essen. The hype was great, as was the anticipation, but the wait for the first test was worth it: XCom The Board Game is a real guarantee of fun and takes the cooperative board game to the next level. In the following blog article I will present my gaming experiences with the board game X-Com: The Board Game in detail and show you why it is worthwhile for non-SciFi fans to play this complex board game. Have fun!

The license to alien (kill)

If something is particularly tricky in board games, it is the implementation of well-known and beloved film or game licenses. Strong brands like Star Trek, Star Wars or Lord of the Rings forgive minor slip-ups - brands with a smaller fan base don't do this and the game authors only have one attempt to convince board members of the quality of their game.

Fortunately, the implementation of XCom: The Board Game has succeeded, and what's more, it is fabulous and can reproduce the threatening atmosphere of PC and console games: The earth is in danger and you can feel that with XCom The Board Game. The XCom: The Board Game App is responsible for this, because the game is another combined board game that cannot be played without the small program application. Board players who are toying with XCom should have a tablet at hand or at least plan to buy one.

XCOM is a board game with app support.

Each player manages their own tactics department. So while one player takes care of research and development, his counterpart organizes the troop strength and coordinates the replenishment, during the least popular teammate of the round (Editor's note: kidding!) has sovereignty over the finances and has to distribute the available funds. Of course, the money cannot be spent with full hands, because only 10 million of the precious currency are available per round, which must be used wisely and tactically. Researchers need large amounts of money for new developments, but even the council of war cannot raise new troops without funds. The finance minister is sitting between the chairs and has to weigh up in real time which decision is the right one. So nothing works without compromises.

App-solute stressor

The XCom: The Board Game app simulates the alien attack and is therefore a core element of the board game. The Companion App not only serves as a ruthless alien commander who coordinates his attacks and reacts to the moves of the human players, but also directly influences people's ability to act. This is done through unknown plot rotations that dictate to the board players which planning segment it is their turn to play. But that's not all, because the time for the individual moves is also limited - how much time is available to each player and his sector is always unknown. Strolling is therefore undesirable! This lack of time creates additional stress, but on the other hand also creates a good deal of tension. The players fight together against aliens and time. Agreements must therefore be made concisely and effectively, otherwise, in the worst case, there is a risk of “empty moves” that remain without result.

Of course, X-Com: The Board Game does not only consist of the virtual game part. A visually appealing game board was not forgotten either. In addition, every round figurines are moved, cards are drawn and dice are thrown. The mix of the individual parts of the game is terrific and great fun despite all the hectic pace. There is enough classic board game flair that ties the game round to the table. The individual elements correspond to what is known so far: Cards provide all sorts of surprises, dice rolls decide on victory or defeat in the battles against the nasty aliens. No matter how well the team-mates tact, a portion of luck is part of every win. Winning is not that easy and requires full concentration from every player over the entire playing time.


Number of players: 1 to 4 players
Age: from 14 years
Playing time: 60 to 120 minutes
Difficulty: medium
Long-term motivation: medium

Publisher: Asmodee
Author: Eric M. Lang
Graphics: Jörg Kiefer
Year of publication: 2014 
Language: German
Cost: 45 Euro


The board game implementation by XCOM inspires players as well as the digital template. In exciting rounds, everything revolves around clever maneuvering and strategic thinking. The app is integrated very naturally into the game. Here the tablet is practically another player and not a disruptive technology that board game lovers like to do without when they pursue their hobby. Long game rounds without annoying lengths, lots of aliens, lots of tactics - XCOM stays true to its line as a board game too.