In previous articles we’ve told you about the mechanics within the Shadowrun: Crossfire deck-building game. Things like how to defeat an enemy and how to help your teammates. This time, we’re taking it to the next level and talking about one feature that makes Crossfire really stand out. On the first day of working on this game I decided I wanted to make a cooperative deck-building game. It fit the 1-hour play experience we were aiming for, it would have the flexibility and variability of an RPG, and with players working together, it would feel like being on a small team fighting through the tough life of a runner. There was still one piece missing—a connection to your character between games. I wanted something to carry over with the player from one day to the next or to the next week. My solution was to add stickers (upgrades). Using an experience system, I thought I could add abilities to the players’ characters as a reward for playing several games, which makes the next game more enjoyable because you get a fun new toy to try out.
Upgrades give you a reward for repeated play—something players already do with deck-building games—and since Crossfire games play quickly, players can get in 3 or 4 opportunities for acquiring upgrades in one sitting. Upgrades also let you customize your experience; by choosing the upgrades you like, you create a character that fits your style of play, just like you would do in the RPG.
Each time you finish a game of Shadowrun: Crossfire you and your team earn Karma, and you’ll earn more if you complete the run successfully. Once you have enough Karma, you can spend it to acquire upgrades—there’s over 40 different upgrades included in the core game! Love to play elves but tired of having so few hit points? Buy Fragging Tough to increase your HP. Want more control over the enemies you face? Buy Tactician and start really pushing them around. Ready to trade your life for an extra boost of power? Buy Zealot—it lets you damage yourself to draw extra cards. Are there lots of combos to be discovered? Of course!
Naturally, you can keep your runner between games. It takes a lot of Karma to get the more powerful upgrade abilities for your runner. We also encourage you to take your runner cards with you wherever you game. Bring them to our Shadowrun: Crossfire organized play events to earn special upgrades. Bring them to the homes of your friends and play the same runner with different groups of friends. We’re putting extra runner cards into every core game so you’ll have all the flexibility you want.
Don’t worry about playing with a mix of runners that have different kinds of upgrades on them. The game difficulty adjusts to the total upgrade-power of the runners. You can easily bring a new runner into a game of veterans. Having upgrades in the game also gave us the opportunity to create some difficult missions that basically require runners to be loaded up with upgrades. Keep an eye out for one in the core game and several in the upcoming expansions. You didn’t think life was going to get easier just because you’d survived a few runs did you? Come on, this is the Shadowrun universe! It’s never easy.