I've always really enjoyed the Shadowrun universe but for the past several years I've just never had time to play RPG campaigns so I was pretty excited when I saw there was a new card game and I purchased and played through it a few times.
Shadowrun Crossfire is a deck building game set in the Shadowrun universe. Players can create simplified characters and run them through a number of missions, gaining skills and weapons along the way. Gameplay starts by choosing a race. You have Human, Elf, Ork, Troll, and Dwarf with male and female images for both. You take your race card and then select a character class to go with it. The classes are Street Samurai, Decker, Mage, and Face. Each class comes with a starting hand that reflects each classes innate skills. Samurai are good with firearms, Mages with spells, Face with street skills, and Deckers with Hacking.
Choose a mission card - the game comes with three - and play your way through. Each mission has a number of "scenes" where you engage in a fight with a number of adversaries usually equal to the number of people playing. Each enemy has health that can either be degraded by any skill card in your deck or requires a specific skill card (firearms, hacking etc.). This requires the players to apply their skills wisely as some runners may need help with their adversary. The game also features Crossfire events that add challenges and gradually raise the difficulty level - motivating runners to end the fight as quickly as possible.
During the run, runners earn nuyen from defeating enemies which can be spent on skill cards and weapons in the Black Market. At the end of the run, runners gain karma and can spend it on skill stickers which can be placed on the character card as permanent special abilities.
Where it Shines
One of my biggest pet peeves of deck building games is that game designers often get lazy and give you hordes of copies of the same card instead of making unique cards to flavor the game out. Shadowrun Crossfire does not succumb to this temptation. Every single card in the enemy deck is unique. No copies whatsoever. The Event deck is likewise unique. There is some repetition in the Black Market deck but not excessively so. The card art is excellent and the race cards are sturdy and finely decorated. The overall game experience is quite colorful.
Where it Comes Short
One major aspect of Shadowrun that is heavily sidelined is the role of cyberware. Cyber implants are as much a part of the Shadowrun universe as magic. But cyberware only gets a passing mention. The only cyberware you can gain in the game is wired reflexes - paid for by karma oddly enough. Everything else is glossed over. I would appreciate a greater role played by cyberware in future expansions.
One Shot Shopping
One of the more curious aspects of the game is the Black Market Deck. Here you can purchase skills, spells, weapons, and programs. It's a good concept but what makes it feel odd is the fact that you are doing this in the middle of a mission - right in the middle of a firefight to be accurate. After you take your turn you draw cards from your personal deck and then spend nuyen to purchase cards from the Black Market. It's an odd time to make a phone call.
(Sound of gunshots)
"Yes, I'd like to order a DH-57 Assault Rifle please."
"Okay and would you like Standard Shipping or Two Day?"
"Uhh, do you have RIGHT FREAKING NOW shipping?"
"Certainly sir. And would you like to try a month free trial of Crimazon Prime?"
"NO! Just send it!"
"Okay, do you have your authorization number? It's the three digits on the back of your credstick."
I understand the logic but it does kind of look strange. You buy everything you need mid firefight and you only use it for this run. Then everything but your starting hand goes right back into the deck. So technically you're renting skills and equipment.
I like the game. It can be frustrating, the enemies can be ridiculously difficult to kill and the Crossfire Events aren't really events as much as they are arbitrary rule changes for the sake of arbitrary rule changes. I found it practically impossible to beat just the beginning scenario without a hefty level of house rules (and once you get through the two starter scenarios, go fight a dragon!). But house rules are easy to engineer. The game is colorful, entertaining, and easy to learn. My only serious complaint is the lack of cyberware. If you love Shadowrun, you'll like this.