Caught up in the Crossfire: An interview with Gregory Marques


The Year of Shadowrun is in full swing, chummers! With even the most scant of information being given about production, Shadowrunners noobie and veteran alike are excited to see their favorite setting experience a new Awakening (or get a full-body Alphaware augmentation, if you prefer a cyber-metaphor). Shadowrun Online and Shadowrun Returns are in full production mode, and we’ve got some sweet tabletop action going with a brand new Edition to the role-playing game proper, as well as several other nova-hot tabletop games.

Starting off this very auspicious year is the Adventure deck-building game Shadowrun: Crossfire from Fire Opal Media. Crossfire is  in great hands, featuring some very strong talent in card game design: Gregory Marques, Mike Elliott, Rob Watkins, Rob Heinsoo, Jay Schneider and James “Jim” Lin.



There’s plenty on the ol’ screamsheet of the game to get your inner runner excited:

Shadowrun: Crossfire is a cooperative deck-building card game for two tofour players set in the gritty, cyberpunk fantasy world of Shadowrun. Playa shadowrunner team and take on tough jobs such as protecting a clientwho’s marked for death, shooting your way out of downtown when a rungoes sour, or facing down a dragon. In each game you’ll improve your deckwith a mix of strategies while earning Karma to give your character cyberupgrades, physical augmentations, magical initiations, weapons trainingand Edge. Shadowrun: Crossfire includes an obstacle deck, black market deck,race and role cards, scenario cards, augmentation stickers, and personalmissions that test a team’s allegiances.



Great! A Crossfire game that doesn’t involve fragile plastic guns or easily lost metal pellets! As awesome as it sounds, it still leaves you wanting a bit more, doesn’t it? Natch, chummer! The good Doctor Belmont has your fix. I was able to conjure up an interview with designer Gregory Marques!



Gregory Marques brings his experience as a game designer and product developer to every new project with a fiery passion. He has experience leading both IP-driven and new-brand designs. He was game designer and lead writer for the critically acclaimed Facebook game Dungeons and Dragons: Tiny Adventures. His recent design credits also include multiple expansions to Magic: The Gathering, Duel Masters and Heralds of Chaos. Combining his natural intuition for games with experience on a variety of platforms is evidenced in his successes at Big Huge Games, Score Entertainment, Upper Deck, Wizards of the Coast, Gamehouse and 6Waves. Gregory holds a BA in Biology and Chemistry from Cornell University and a Masters in Biology from Johns Hopkins. He blogs at



Let’s get the ball rolling, shall we?



DB: Well, I suppose the best place to start an interview is at the beginning. What was the impetus of Shadowrun: Crossfire? Was this something that was felt to be a long time coming or was it a recent development?

GM: Catalyst wanted to do a lot of cool stuff for 2013, the Year of Shadowrun. We (Fire Opal) were in contact with them, and we got to talking about the possibilities. I’m not sure who first proposed a card game, but perhaps it was obvious given their needs and our talent.



DB: Why a deck-building game?

GM: I’ve wanted to do one for a couple of years now, and this was the first very real opportunity to make one and know that it would be published. I felt there was something new I could bring to the genre. Deckbuilding has a lot in common with RPGs. Each player has their own stuff, makes choices about what stuff to add, and decides what strategy they want to bring to the game. Once you think of your deck as your character, several things fall into place nicely.



DB: There’s a lot of great talent on the Shadowrun: Crossfire team! What has it been like working together? Has it been smooth sailing, or have there been tough decisions to make due to lots of great, but conflicting ideas?

GM: It’s true! Huge talent. It was really great because we all wanted to work together. For several of us, we’d met and played games or had many mutual friends, but we’d never worked on the same project before.
We were never stuck staring at a wall thinking, “What do we do here?” There were always answers from someone because we just had so much talent and experience on the team. Someone would say, “This part here could be better,” and by the next day we’d have three different suggestions on how to replace that part — all of them much better than the thing we had in there before. We all have a direct approach to the work and thick skins, so we focus on what’s best for the product, and can trust each other because of that shared goal. It’s probably not a great environment for the faint of heart, but I thrive in it.



DB: There has been a glut of deck-building games in the last year or two, more than a few with the same, rather tired “buy cards/use attack cards to score” mechanic. What are a few innovative game mechanics that Shadowrun: Crossfire is bringing to the table? What really sets it apart from all of the other deck-building games out there?

GM: The first, biggest thing is the cooperative play. Shadowrun is about a team of runners trying to complete a mission. Team! That’s the very essence of the game. The world of Shadowrun is a very difficult place to live, especially for those who live in the shadows.
The next biggest thing is the damage tracks on the obstacles. Those tracks naturally create a complex problem for the group of players to solve together. Of course they also make the enemies hard to beat, which is perfect because that’s another important ingredient in Shadowrun: tough situations.
Finally, our little one-up on all the other deckbuilders: when you buy a card in Shadowrun: Crossfire, it goes directly into your hand. You’ll have it next turn and get to use it right away instead of having to wait around until you empty your deck, shuffle, and maybe draw it. What is that, like, five turns from now? Yuck! You want to play with your new toys right away, so we just let you do that. It feels so good we keep wondering why other deckbuilders didn’t do it this way from the start.



DB: From the deck types and challenges I read about, is it safe to assume that we’ll be seeing multiple layers of resource use to overcome obstacles, like we’ve seen in the old Shadowrun CCG from 1997?

GM: Ha! Wow, it’s been a long time since I played the Shadowrun CCG. I honestly don’t remember much about it. You use cards to defeat obstacles in Crossfire. Cards come in four types: Hacking, Skill, Spell, and Weapon. Each contributes a certain color, and you’ll need one or more of these colors to defeat each obstacle. Each obstacle has a unique track. This turns out to be plenty complicated, so we didn’t put a whole onion’s worth of layers on it. You also have Hit Points and Nuyen as resources — I’m pretty sure you can guess the uses of those.



DB: I read that each player takes the role of a Shadowrunner. I also see that “race” and “role” cards are among the listed card types. Are role cards the same as archetypes, such as a Hacker or a Mage? Does this mean that each player can create his own Shadowrunner through different combinations of race and role cards?

GM: You’ve got it in one. The role cards set your starting deck, but those cards are basic; so it’s still up to you to develop your character throughout the game by buying whatever you want for your deck. Each role is associated with a color of card, and there are rewards for sticking to your color. But there are also interesting decks to be made by combining cards from different colors, and even a 4-color deck. What you do will depend on what opportunities you have in buying cards and what the team overall needs in any particular game.



Insert your faces here...

Insert your faces here…

DB: Care to take us through an example round of play? It doesn’t need to be elaborate, but something to whet our appetites!

GM: I’ll give you one turn:
Greg, the Troll Street Samurai, is facing a Mercenary Technomancer, which will deal a lot of damage to him; but his teammate Jim, an Elf Hacker, is facing a Lone Star Sergeant. The Sergeant’s ability is a huge pain, and it really needs to be taken out as soon as possible.
Greg plays Street Smarts, and then Katana—which deals damage and also increases the damage of his other Weapons— and Quick Shot (another Weapon). This is almost enough to defeat the Lone Star Sergeant, but not quite.
Rob, a Human Face, Assists Greg with Covering Fire, which blocks the damage from the Mercenary Technomancer and provides just enough extra damage to deal with the Lone Star Sergeant. Greg applies all the damage from these cards to the Lone Star Sergeant, slicing and blasting it to pieces. He distributes the Nuyen reward to the team.
Since the Technomancer’s damage is prevented this turn, he goes directly to the end of this turn. He draws two cards, and then buys a Sniper Rifle using the Nuyen he got this turn and some he had saved up from the obstacles his team defeated in previous turns. Greg puts the Sniper Rifle directly into his hand.



DB: How does one complete a Shadowrun in Crossfire? Is it a stack of thematic story objective cards? Do you earn progression points to advance the game, or are you trying to burn through the objective deck or find a specific “win condition?”

GM: There are three different missions in the box, and each game you choose one of them to play. Each has its own victory condition(s). A mission might be about defeating a boss, defeating many obstacles in a row, or about surviving a specific number of turns. Extraction, for example, is a survival oriented mission: Your team must protect a Client through a set number of rounds until they are safe. It’s very different from Deal with a Dragon, in which… well, maybe you can guess.



DB: Three Shadowruns are a good start for a core set, but I’m sure Shadowrun fans will be hungry for more soon after its release. I know it’s early to ask, but is Shadowrun: Crossfire being designed to be expandable, or is it a completely self-contained game?

GM: Do you really have to ask? Of course it’s expandable! We wouldn’t want to disappoint Shadowrun fans and deckbuilding game fans with just one-and-done. We’re just getting started on the first expansion now. Because we have missions, we will be able to release small expansions that contain new missions and a small number of additional cards, such as unique Obstacles that fit the new mission. We can alternate the smaller expansions with larger ones that perhaps provides new roles, new cards to buy, and, well, maybe new everything to mix and match with the core game. You’ll just have to wait and see.



DB: Is there a definitive month that Crossfire is going to be available, or is it too early to tell? Any price point guesstimate?

GM: I’m not at liberty to say at this time, sorry! Definitely in 2013.



DB: Does Fire Opal Media have anything they want to say to Shadowrun fans out there?

GM: Yes! Thank you all for loving Shadowrun so much. It’s because of you that we get to make this game, and we had a blast making it. The result is really stellar, we love playing it and all our friends we’ve shown it to have delighted us with their praise. Please enjoy our contribution to the Shadowrun universe. We can never thank the players enough.



DB: Thanks again for your time and the interview. My thanks as well to Wade Rockett for helping to make this interview possible. Good luck with Shadowrun: Crossfire! We eagerly wait to add it to our game collections!

You heard it here, chummers! It’s cooperative, unique, exciting, and expandable! The only thing to top off this interview would have been some art assets, but unfortunately, it’s still too early for them. Either way, I’m excited  to get a hold of Shadowrun: Crossfire. It looks like waiting is going to be the hardest part, though. I’d try and just jump into the future, but I’ve been told to stop messing with Chronomancy…



…until we can get our mitts on a copy, always remember the rules:

Watch your back.
Shoot straight.
Conserve Ammo.
And never, ever cut a deal with a dragon.



Alas, the time has come. The spell has been cast, and those who are under it have been enlightened, and hopefully leave enchanted.



May the shadows hide you on your run, and Happy Gaming!


Fire Opal Media:

Posted on February 11, 2013, in Card Games, Interviews and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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