XCOM: The Board Game

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How to Play XCOM: The Board Game

This document outlines how to set-up and play XCOM: The Board Game. A set-up guide is included in the box and task specific rules are detailed in the app, however we created this document in response to a few requests for rule clarification. Hope it helps.

Alternatively, if you prefer to view a video guide, we have a complete walkthrough and demo game here.

SETUP

  1. Download and start the companion app. You can download on a number of devices or open in your browser.
    download-android-large download-amazon-large download-apple-large
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  2. Place the board in the center of the game area. The ideal layout is a square table so each player can access one edge of the board.Photo-XcomTBG--(1)
  3. Each player chooses a role and is given the associated Role Reference Card and Asset Cards. Asset Cards have an icon at the top left indicating which role should receive each card. They will be explained in more detail later but should be placed nearby as they can be used at any time during the indicated phase.
    Photo-XcomTBG- (2) Photo-XcomTBG- (4)
    If playing with four Players you should take one role each. If playing with three, it’s advised to have one person take both the Commander and Central Officer roles. If playing with two people the Commander and Chief Scientist role should be taken by one person, and the Squad Leader and Central Officer by the other . If you’re playing by yourself..? Well, best of luck to you.
  4. Distribute Reserve Cards to each player and place the number of units listed on each. Reserve Cards have an icon at the top left indicating which role should receive each card.
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      1. Place the remaining soldiers (1 of each) and interceptors (2) in the Recruitment Pool on the board. During the resolution phase you are able to purchase new units from this area
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      2. Place the Credit and Success tokens in piles beside the board. It’s advisable to stack the credits in matching piles to expedite acquisition of funds during the timed phase (e.g. stacks of 5)
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      3. Place the Base Damage Token on the bottom, blue space of the Base Damage Track.
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      4. Place the Threat Token on the 1 space on the Alien Threat Track 
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      5. The Chief Scientist should shuffle all Tech Cards and place them nearby. They will be drawn during the timed phase.
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      6. The Squad Leader should shuffle all Mission Cards and place them nearby. They will be drawn during the timed phase
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      7. The Commander should shuffle all Crisis Cards and place them nearby. They will be drawn during the timed phase
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      8. The Commander should place 10 Credit Tokens on their Emergency Funding Asset Card.
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      9. The Central Officer selects Play on the app then makes the following choicesStep 1 – Chose the number of human players.
        Step 2 – Choose the difficulty. Easy has unlimited pause time whilst the other modes have increasingly shorter ones with higher penalties for missing deadlines in the timed phase.
        Step 3 – Select the invasion plan (game mode) you’d like to play. Once selected the Squad Leader places the selected Invasion Plan Card on the board, face down as shownScreenshot-XcomTBG Photo-XcomTBG- (14)Step 4 – The Squad Leader select all Enemy Cards displaying the aliens listed, shuffle them and place them nearby. They will be drawn during the timed phaseScreenshot-XcomTBG- (26)Photo-XcomTBG- (15)Step 5 – The Commander should place the XCOM HQ Token on the country indicated. If this country goes into panic the game ends.Photo-XcomTBG- (18)The Commander should also discard all bar the indicated Asset Cards.
        Screenshot-XcomTBG- (4)
        Step 6 –
        The Commander should place the indicated Panic Tokens in the location indicated. Each Panic Token relates to a continent and, if any two (or the one your base is in) reaches red you will lose the game.Photo-XcomTBG- (19)When you’re finished press Start to begin playing the game.

GAMEPLAY

Gameplay is divided into rounds each consisting two phases; a timed phase and a resolution phase. During the timed phase you have a set amount of time for players to perform tasks. This time limit is strict so Central Officer needs to relay information from the app to the players quickly and respond to on screen prompts.

Before detailing the specific tasks here’s a run down of the data displayed on the app and how to use it.

Using The App

Screenshot-XcomTBG-App

              1. The Current Task and who should action it. In this case you would inform the Commander that there was a Crisis and they would respond accordingly (more details below).If you’re unsure what an action entails you can press this section to bring up contextual help.

Screenshot-XcomTBG-Help

            1. The Done button. Press this when informed the task is complete.
            2. Time Remaining. This dictates how much time remains on the current task. The Central Officer can prompt players as time runs short however, when nearly expired, the app will start beeping.
            3. Pause Time. You have a certain amount of time you’ are able to pause – giving you extra space to complete tasks. Once the Time Remaining expires your pause time starts running out. If the Pause Time expires you can no longer pause the game.NOTE : In Tutorial or Easy modes you have unlimited pause time.
              1. Predictive Warning Alert. When this red flashing icon appears the Central Officer may tap it so see a prediction of where UFOs may appear. This is by no means definitive so should only be taken as an indicator. It’s often wise for the Central Officer to advise the Commander of these predictions as it may affect their deployment for aerial defence.

Screenshot-XcomTBG-Radar

            1. Budget. If known your budget will be displayed here.
            2. Previous Tasks – This displays the three most recent tasks you completed.

Tasks / Actions

During the Timed phase the Central Officer will relay information from the app to the other players. Players must perform their role specific tasks during the time allocated and inform the Central Officer when complete.

At any time during the game players are allowed to use their Asset Cards, however Asset Cards may only be used during the phase indicated on the card. Sometimes cards require you to exhaust them (turn the sideways), other times they require allocation of assets. Regardless of their requirements or effect they reset at the end of each round (covered in the resolution phase section below)

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Timed Phase

The order of events during the timed phase is somewhat random so this section is sorted by role for easy reference.

Central Officer

Screenshot-XcomTBG-001

Place UFO tokens on the board in the locations indicated by the red blips on the map.

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Place Satellite Tokens in orbit (up to three). Each Satellite Token costs 1 credit and the number deployed determines how many XCOM dice you may roll during the resolution phase. UFOs take one hit to be killed and Satellites are all destroyed once you roll a fail on the Red Alien Die.

Chief Scientist

Screenshot-XcomTBG-003

Draw Tech Cards until you are holding six in your hand. If you’re already holding six then you don’t draw any and can mark the task complete immediately.

Once researched Tech Cards are given to the player controlling the role indicated in the center of the card. The section at the bottom of the card indicates when it can be used and what it achieves. Once the cards have been drawn the tasks is considered complete but it would be wise for the Chief Scientist to examine all cards and plan what they would like to research when their turn comes around again.

In the below example this tech is for the Chief Scientist. It can be used at any time during the resolution phase and grants you an extra success on a Tech Card that has at least one Scientist Token assigned.
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When prompted to assign research you select one of the Tech Cards in your hand and place it face up in the numbered research space as indicated by the app. If the space is already occupied you may choose to either leave the Tech Card there or replace it with a new one. If you replace the Tech Card the old one must be discarded.

At this time you also place up to three Scientist Tokens in the appropriate spaces to the left of the card. Each Scientist Token costs 1 credit and the number deployed determines how many XCOM dice you may roll during the resolution phase. The number of successes required to fully research a Tech Card is indicated in the upper left corner.

In the above example we see Assign Research II so we’d place a Tech Card in position II. If we placed the Alien Construction Tech Card there we would need to roll 2 successes to fully research it so we’ve opted to place two Scientist Tokens on the research to increase our chance.

Photo-XcomTBG- (21)

NOTE : Tech Cards do not have to be fully researched in a single turn. You can put down a Tech Card and assign no Science Tokens or, if you lose a Science Token during resolution phase you can try again next round. All achieved successes remain on the card until it’s either replaced or fully researched.

Commander

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Take the indicated number of Credit Tokens from the central pool. It’s important to monitor your purchases during the timed phase as the penalty for over-spending is quite harsh.

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The Commander may take money off their Emergency Funding Asset Card and place it alongside the budget. Emergency Funding doesn’t automatically replenish so should be used sparingly.

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The Commander may place up to three Interceptors in the circular spaces beside each continent. Each Interceptor costs 1 credit and the number deployed determines how many XCOM dice you may roll during the resolution phase. UFOs take one hit to be killed and Interceptors are all destroyed once you roll a fail on the Red Alien Die.

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Squad Leader

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The Squad Leader draws two Mission Cards, selects one and discards the other. The selected mission is placed face up in the mission space on the board. If the space is already occupied you may choose to either leave the existing Mission Card there or replace it with a new one. Any alien spaces (marked as 1 on the photo) should have an Enemy Card placed face down in them. The rewards for completing a mission are indicated in the top right corner of the card. No troops are assigned to the mission at this time.

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This is what you want to see. Once the final mission becomes available flip the Invasion Plan Card placed on the Game Board during setup. No troops are assigned to the mission at this time however you can analyse the requirements of the final mission and determine whether you have any you wish to deploy. Any alien spaces should have an Enemy Card placed face down in them as shown below. Resolution of the Final Mission follows the same rules as regular missions.

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The Squad Leader may place up to four troops (any combination) onto the Mission Card or Final Mission Card. Each troop costs 1 credit and the number deployed determines how many XCOM dice you may roll during the resolution phase. Elite Troops are granted an extra XCOM die per roll.

When assigning troops it is important to pay attention to the skill symbols on both the Mission Cards and your Troop Resource Cards. Each troop has two skill symbols and each mission task (or enemy encounter) has one to three skill requirements. Only troops with the necessary skill symbol can complete a task or kill an enemy so ensure you choose your troops wisely.
Image-XcomTBG-AttackTypes

Further to this some cards have a yellow highlight surrounding the skill symbol. If a troop and a mission task both have this highlight it’s considered to be your specialty so you get an extra XCOM die.

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The Squad Leader places an Enemy Card on the board in the appropriate location. Only one card is placed per event (this can appear up to three times per round) and should be placed face up.

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The Squad Leader may place troops (any combination and as many as desired) onto the Base Area of the board. Each troop costs 1 credit and the number deployed determines how many XCOM dice you may roll during the resolution phase. Elite Troops are granted an extra XCOM die per roll.

When assigning troops it is important to pay attention to the skill symbols on any Enemy Cards in the base. Each troop has two skill symbols and each enemy has one to three skill requirements. Only troops with the necessary skill symbol can attack an enemy so ensure you choose your troops wisely.
Image-XcomTBG-AttackTypes

Further to this some cards have a yellow highlight surrounding the skill symbol. If a troop and an enemy both have this highlight it’s considered to be your specialty so you get an extra XCOM die.

Image-XcomTBG-AttackCrit

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At the end of the Timed Phase you will be presented with the following screen

Screenshot-ScomTBG-EndingTimed

 

At this point you will have a certain amount of time to review and use any remaining Asset Cards. The time is limited based on how fast you responded to actions and how much Pause Time you had remaining. In Easy or Tutorial modes you have as much time as you wish. If the timer expires you should consider the Timed Phase complete and move on to the Resolution Phase.

Resolution Phase

The app is pretty self explanatory however, there are some ambiguities which, I hope, we address here.
Screenshot-XcomTBG-ResPhase1

Pretty easy. Count up all the troops, interceptors, satellites and scientists on the board. If they exceed your budget then advance the most-panicked continent by one. If there are two that are equally panicked you may select which one to move (I recommend NOT choosing the one where your base is located). If a continent reaches the red panic level and you still have a budget defecit then you should move the next most-panicked continent for the remaining spaces.
Screenshot-XcomTBG-ResPhase2

 

If you’re lucky enough to have a budget surplus you are able to purchase new interceptors and recruit new troops. These cost 1 credit each and are taken from the recruitment pool on the board. You can only purchase units if they are in the recruitment pool at this time.

Photo-XcomTBG- (5)Screenshot-XcomTBG-ResPhase3

During the timed phase you will have placed a number of Crisis Cards in the Crisis Space on the board. During this step of the Resolution Phase you must go through the active pile and resolve all instructions on these cards.Screenshot-XcomTBG-ResPhase4

Starting with Research I and moving to the right you must resolve each of your three research projects. To do this you use XCOM’s push-your-luck dice mechanic. The first step in this process is to move the Threat Token to position 1 on the Enemy Threat Track.

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Once complete roll the Red Alien Die alongside a number of blue XCOM dice corresponding to the number of Science Tokens on the Tech Card you are researching. If you do not have any Science Tokens assigned to a Tech Card then you must skip that research and proceed to the next.

The number of success icons shown on the blue XCOM dice indicate the number of successes you achieved this roll. For each success place a Success Token on the Tech Card. If the number of Success Tokens matches the number shown in the top left corner of the Tech Card then it is considered researched and you may move on to the next research task. If the Red Alien Die displays a number equal to or below the number shown on the Enemy Threat Track then your Science Tokens become exhausted. Flip them over to show that they are now unusable. Even if you fail the Red Alien Die roll you may apply any successes from that roll.

If you did not roll enough successes to complete your research but the Red Alien Die did not display a result equal to or lower than the number shown on the Enemy Threat Track you are able to roll again. This is optional and there are no penalties for leaving research to be completed next round. Any existing successes stay as they are.

If you decide to roll again then you must advance the Threat Token along the Enemy Threat Track and roll again. The same rules apply as with the previous resolutions however, as you continue to roll, the chances of failure grow.

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Now just complete this process for each of your three research tasks – resetting the Enemy Threat Track back to 1 between each.
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To resolve orbital defense you use XCOM’s push-your-luck dice mechanic. The first step in this process is to move the Threat Token to position 1 on the Enemy Threat Track.

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Once complete roll the Red Alien Die alongside a number of XCOM dice corresponding to the number of Satellite Tokens you have in orbit on the board. If you do not have any Satellite Tokens you are unable to defend and must proceed to the next step.

The number of success icons shown on the blue XCOM dice indicate the number of successes you achieved this roll. Remove one UFO from the Orbital Defense section of the board for each success rolled. If the Red Alien Die displays a number equal to or below the number shown on the Enemy Threat Track then your Satellite Tokens become exhausted. Flip them over to show that they are now unusable. Even if you fail the Red Alien Die roll you may apply any successes from that roll.

If you did not roll enough successes to destroy a UFO but the Red Alien Die did not display a result equal to or lower than the number shown on the Enemy Threat Track you are able to roll again. If you decide to roll again then you must advance the Threat Token along the Enemy Threat Track and roll again. The same rules apply as with the previous resolutions however, as you continue to roll, the chances of failure grow.

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At the end of orbital defense resolution raise the panic level in the least panicked continent by 1 for each UFO still in orbit.

 

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To resolve global defense you use XCOM’s push-your-luck dice mechanic. The first step in this process is to move the Threat Token to position 1 on the Enemy Threat Track.

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Select the continent you wish to resolve first and roll the Red Alien Die alongside a number of XCOM dice corresponding to the number of Interceptors you have defending that continent. If you do not have any Interceptors you are unable to defend and must proceed to the next continent.

The number of success icons shown on the blue XCOM dice indicate the number of successes you achieved this roll. Remove one UFO from the Global Defense section of the board for each success rolled. If the Red Alien Die displays a number equal to or below the number shown on the Enemy Threat Track then your Interceptors are destroyed and should be moved into the Recruitment Pool section of the board. Even if you fail the Red Alien Die roll you may apply any successes from that roll.

If you did not roll enough successes to destroy a UFO but the Red Alien Die did not display a result equal to or lower than the number shown on the Enemy Threat Track you are able to roll again. If you decide to roll again then you must advance the Threat Token along the Enemy Threat Track and roll again. The same rules apply as with the previous resolutions however, as you continue to roll, the chances of failure grow.

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Once complete move onto the next continent and repeat until you’re finished.

At the end of global defense resolution raise the panic level in each continent by one for each UFO still there. These UFOs remain in place for next round.

 

Screenshot-XcomTBG-ResPhase7Starting with the left most Enemy Card and moving to the right you must resolve each of the enemies in the base. To do this you use XCOM’s push-your-luck dice mechanic. The first step in this process is to select which of your troops will attack the enemy.

When selecting troops it is important to pay attention to the skill symbols on any Enemy Cards in the base. Each troop has two skill symbols and each enemy has one to three skill requirements. Only troops with the necessary skill symbol can attack an enemy so ensure you choose wisely.
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Further to this some cards have a yellow highlight surrounding the skill symbol. If a troop and an enemy both have this highlight it’s considered to be your specialty so you get an extra XCOM die.

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Next move the Threat Token to position 1 on the Enemy Threat Track.

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Once complete roll the Red Alien Die alongside a number of blue XCOM dice corresponding to the number of troops on the Alien Card you are attacking. Don’t forget: you get an extra XCOM die for each elite troop and for each troop who has a specialty (yellow highlight) matching the enemy being attacked. If you do not have enough XCOM die to complete the task simply roll once, add up the total number of successes, roll the remaining number of dice and add any new successes to the total… or buy some extra XCOM dice 🙂

The number of success icons shown on the blue XCOM dice indicate the number of successes you achieved this roll. For each success place a Success Token on the Enemy Card. If the number of Success Tokens matches the number shown in the top right corner of the Enemy Card then it is considered defeated and you may move on to the next. If the Red Alien Die displays a number equal to or below the number shown on the Enemy Threat Track then your troops have been defeated and should be placed back in the Recruitment Pool on the board. Even if you fail the Red Alien Die roll you may apply any successes from that roll.

If you did not roll enough successes to defeat an enemy but the Red Alien Die did not display a result equal to or lower than the number shown on the Enemy Threat Track you are able to roll again. If you decide to roll again then you must advance the Threat Token along the Enemy Threat Track and roll again. The same rules apply as with the previous resolutions however, as you continue to roll, the chances of failure grow.

NOTE: Unlike other resolutions, in Base Defense, the Enemy Threat Track is not reset to 1 between tasks. Photo-XcomTBG- (32)

At the end of global defense resolution move the Base Damage Token up one space on the Base Damage Track for each enemy that remains in the base. These Enemy Cards are then removed from the board and placed at the bottom of the Enemy Card pile. Any Alien Cards you managed to defeat get handed to the Chief Scientist to be used as salvage (each card equals one unit of salvage)

 

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If, when moving your base damage meter, you pass over any of the red target icons you should resolve the actions dictated on the back of your Final Mission Card. For example; if we took three hits to our base the Base Damage Token would now be sitting on a red target icon. If we were playing Domination then the Final Mission Card instructs us to place two UFO Tokens on each continent that has its Panic Tokens in the red section of the Panic Track.

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After resolving Base Defense you must inform the app if your base was destroyed.

WARNING: If you say it was Destroyed the game ends. You lost.

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Starting with the left most Mission Task and moving to the right you must resolve each of the three mission tasks for a mission to be considered complete. To do this you use XCOM’s push-your-luck dice mechanic. The first step in this process is to select which of your troops will attack the enemy.

When selecting troops it is important to pay attention to the skill symbols on any Enemy Cards or Mission Tasks on the Mission Card. Each troop has two skill symbols and each enemy or task has one to three skill requirements. Only troops with the necessary skill symbol can be used to resolve particular tasks.
Image-XcomTBG-AttackTypes

Further to this some cards have a yellow highlight surrounding the skill symbol. If a troop and a task/enemy both have this highlight it’s considered to be your specialty so you get an extra XCOM die.

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Before you begin flip any face down Enemy Cards on the mission. Next move the Threat Token to position 1 on the Enemy Threat Track.

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Once complete roll the Red Alien Die alongside a number of blue XCOM dice corresponding to the number of troops you wish to assign to the Mission Task. Don’t forget: you get an extra XCOM die for each elite troop and for each troop who has a specialty (yellow highlight) matching the enemy being attacked. If you do not have enough XCOM die to complete the task simply roll once, add up the total number of successes, roll the remaining number of dice and add any new successes to the total… or buy some extra XCOM dice 🙂

The number of success icons shown on the blue XCOM dice indicate the number of successes you achieved this roll. For each success place a Success Token on the Enemy Card. If completing a task the Mission Card will dictate how many successes you need to resolve (usually just one). If fighting an enemy the number of successes required is shown in the top right corner of the Enemy Card . If the Red Alien Die displays a number equal to or below the number shown on the Enemy Threat Track then your troops have been defeated and should be placed back in the Recruitment Pool on the board. Even if you fail the Red Alien Die roll you may apply any successes from that roll.

If you did not roll enough successes to defeat an enemy but the Red Alien Die did not display a result equal to or lower than the number shown on the Enemy Threat Track you are able to roll again. If you decide to roll again then you must advance the Threat Token along the Enemy Threat Track and roll again. The same rules apply as with the previous resolutions however, as you continue to roll, the chances of failure grow. There are no penalties for leaving a mission task of mission enemy incomplete. You do not retrieve any assigned troops but they don’t die either and you receive no adverse affects like increased panic or base damage.

NOTE: Unlike other resolutions, in Mission Resolution, the Enemy Threat Track is not reset to 1 between tasks. Photo-XcomTBG- (32)

 

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Another easy one. Just drap and drop the various continent icons to their respective color as shown on the physical Panic Track on the board.

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Starting with the left most Mission Task and moving to the right you must resolve each of the three mission tasks for a mission to be considered complete. To do this you use XCOM’s push-your-luck dice mechanic. The first step in this process is to select which of your troops will attack the enemy.

When selecting troops it is important to pay attention to the skill symbols on any Enemy Cards or Mission Tasks on the Final Mission Card. Each troop has two skill symbols and each enemy or task has one to three skill requirements. Only troops with the necessary skill symbol can be used to resolve particular tasks.
Image-XcomTBG-AttackTypes

Further to this some cards have a yellow highlight surrounding the skill symbol. If a troop and a task/enemy both have this highlight it’s considered to be your specialty so you get an extra XCOM die.

Image-XcomTBG-AttackCrit

Before you begin flip any face down Enemy Cards on the mission. Next move the Threat Token to position 1 on the Enemy Threat Track.

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Once complete roll the Red Alien Die alongside a number of blue XCOM dice corresponding to the number of troops you wish to assign to the Mission Task. Don’t forget: you get an extra XCOM die for each elite troop and for each troop who has a specialty (yellow highlight) matching the enemy being attacked. If you do not have enough XCOM die to complete the task simply roll once, add up the total number of successes, roll the remaining number of dice and add any new successes to the total… or buy some extra XCOM dice 🙂

The number of success icons shown on the blue XCOM dice indicate the number of successes you achieved this roll. For each success place a Success Token on the Enemy Card. If completing a task the Final Mission Card will dictate how many successes you need to resolve. If fighting an enemy the number of successes required is shown in the top right corner of the Enemy Card . If the Red Alien Die displays a number equal to or below the number shown on the Enemy Threat Track then your troops have been defeated and should be placed back in the Recruitment Pool on the board. Even if you fail the Red Alien Die roll you may apply any successes from that roll.

If you did not roll enough successes to defeat an enemy but the Red Alien Die did not display a result equal to or lower than the number shown on the Enemy Threat Track you are able to roll again. If you decide to roll again then you must advance the Threat Token along the Enemy Threat Track and roll again. The same rules apply as with the previous resolutions however, as you continue to roll, the chances of failure grow. There are no penalties for leaving a mission task of mission enemy incomplete. You do not retrieve any assigned troops but they don’t die either and you receive no adverse affects like increased panic or base damage.

NOTE: Unlike other resolutions, in Final Mission Resolution, the Enemy Threat Track is not reset to 1 between tasks. Photo-XcomTBG- (32)

 

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Select Complete and you’ve won the game! Select Not Completed and it carries over to the next round.

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There are a number of tasks to perform during this step.

  1. Flip all exhausted Science and Satellite Tokens that are NOT on the board so they are no longer exhausted.
  2. Rotate all exhausted Asset Cards so they are uable again.
  3. Return any units assigned to Asset Cards
  4. Place all discared Mission Cards, Alien Cards (undefeated), Tech Cards or Crisis Cards on the bottom of their respective decks (you most likely did this during resolution phase anyway)

Screenshot-XcomTBG-ResPhase14

During this step you can

  1. Return any Science or Satellite Tokens back to your hand from the board. If they are exhausted they must reamin so until the Refresh step of the following round. If they aren’t exhausted they are available for use immediately.
  2. Return all Interceptors to your hand
  3. Return all troops in the base to your hand

NOTE : Any troops assigned to a Mission or Final Mission Card are not returned to your hand.

Screenshot-XcomTBG-ResPhase15

Select the number of UFOs still in orbit and select Next.

UFOs still in orbit affect the order of events next round. This can be very detrimental as you may be instructed to deploy defenses before knowing what the threats will be.

This ends the resolution phase and a new round begins.Rinse and repeat until you win or lose the game.

Good luck!

 

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