The X-Files: The Board Game

Welcome, one and all, to another MDM Projects journey through the world of The X-Files. Now, this was supposed to be an overview of season three of the TV show, followed by my picks for the best episodes therein … but real life got in the way, and as at time of writing, I haven’t finished the re-watch yet. Rather than let Mulder and Scully take a break for a month, I decided to take the Monty Python route and go for something completely different. Or slightly different. Today, we’ll be looking at The X-Files Board Game.

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The game is designed to be played by 2 – 5 players, and was published by IDW Game in conjunction with Pandasaurus Games. The official description is as follows:

In The X-Files, players take on the role of Mulder, Scully, and the X-Files team as they work to uncover global conspiracies and threats while going up against various members of the Syndicate. In game terms, 1-4 agent players team up against one opponent who controls the Smoking Man and his nefarious network. The X-Files board game focuses on material from the first three seasons of the television series, giving fans a chance to start from the beginning of the phenomenon.

Now, the first thing you may notice there is that the only characters mentioned in the description are Mulder, Scully and Cigarette Smoking Man. Given that the game can be played by 5 people, there must be more, right? Why, yes, there are! As well as the three mentioned above, players can also assume the role of Alex Krycek and Walter Skinner.

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The way this works is simple. One player takes on the role of Cigarette Smoking Man, and works with the aim of covering up the Syndicate’s actions. The other player, or players, select their agent and work to solve X-Files as they come up on the board. Something to note here is that I am very out of practice when it comes to modern board games. While I’ve seen bigger, I will happily admit that when I first glanced at the rule book (available to read here), I did expect it to be relatively difficult to get to grips with. As it transpired, this wasn’t the case. The game is certainly not short on depth, but it is deceptively simple to play, even the first time through.

Both the agents and the nefarious master of conspiracies have their own unique skills that can be put into play during the course of a game. For the Cigarette Smoking Man, this amounts to two things. The first is to replace evidence tokens with cigarette tokens, and the second is lay syndicate cards to counter the agents moves. When a case is solved, the successful agent gets to draw evidence tokens, so the placing of cigarette tokens is important as it prevents them from collecting the necessary amount to win the game. Meanwhile, the cards remain face down until the Syndicate decides to play them, thusly altering the actions of the agent moving forward. For example, certain cards reduce the amount of evidence tokens the agents can draw for clearing a case. To counter this, each individual agent has special skills. For example, Mulder can peek at Syndicate cards, and Krycek can wound other players in order to advance a case.

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The aim of the game also varies slightly for each player. The agents essentially work together to clear cases, and when they do, they can use their winnings to purchase pieces of Mulders ‘I Want To Believe’ poster. If they succeed in collecting the whole poster, they win. On the other hand, Cigarette Smoking Man is aiming to conceal 25 pieces of evidence. If he does so, the Syndicate has completed their cover up, and he wins.

With gameplay moving along at a decent pace, especially once you get used to different parts of a turn, you can easily finish a game in an hour. So, in short, it’s a nice, quick play. But what of the quality of the game pieces? Well, there’s nothing too extravagant. There are no solid models, only cardboard placers – though these are beautifully illustrated. The tokens are kept simple, and the board features a simple layout. The cards themselves only show what they need to in terms of card effect, but much like the character markers, do feature some nice art in the style of the IDW comics.

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So, with all that being said, was the game fun? Well, yes, it was. Thanks to the fine folks at the Playopolis Café, I was able to give the game a fair look-in, and can confirm that plenty of fun was had. The price tag may be a little steep for someone such as myself who only plays board games once in a while, but there’s no denying the quality here. If you’re likely to get some sue out of it, or if you get the opportunity to play as I did, give it a crack!

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