Fantasy Flight – XCOM: The Board Game – Role Strategy (Commander)

June 24, 2015


As previously discussed there are four roles in the game. Each role plays a little differently from the others and so below I present some strategies for how to execute your role as commander more efficiently and intelligently. Given the nature of the game, how well you play your role can determine the outcome of the game.

Role Overview

The Commander – The Commander is responsible for keeping track of the XCOM budget and deploying Interceptors to repel alien UFOs.

This role is all about pre-planning. You want to have a budget in mind way before you actually find out how much money you’re going to get that turn. You can estimate how much money you’re going to get by looking at the panic levels for each country. In general the following applies:

  • Countries in Yellow provide $2 per turn
  • Countries in Red provide $1 per turn
  • Countries in Orange provide $0 per turn

So, on turn 1, since all of the countries start in yellow, you can expect to get around $12. Keep in mind this is only a rough estimate, other factors can raise or lower this value.

Next, lets look at what funding levels mean for each role.

Funding Levels

Role Crippled Minimum Medium Max
Central Officer 0 1 2 3
Chief Scientist 0-2 3 4-7 8
Squad Leader 0-3 4 5-7 8
Commander 0-1 2 3-7 8

First I will point out that based on the split above, if you give the minimum funding to everyone that will cost you $10. This minimum represents the bare essentials of what is required for each role to function. These are sub-optimal levels which ideally you should always be above, but it’s good to keep in mind so you know how much you can safely pull back on a role without completely crippling them.

Lets look at what each funding level means for each role.

Central Officer

  • Crippled – Obviously at this level the central officer will be unable to shoot down any UFOs from orbit.
  • Minimum – Now, they can at least roll one die to attack UFOs in orbit, not a good place to be unless there are only 1 – 2 UFOs in orbit and even then taking out more than 1 might be tricky
  • Medium – This is a comfortable level of funding. Though taking on more than 3 UFOs may be difficult
  • Max – The central officer can not physically spend more than this.

The nice thing about this role is that it’s a relatively small step to go from minimum to medium and so you will usually be able to comfortably budget this role at a medium level. If you’re having to cut the budget here to minimum or lower than you’re in bad shape and hopefully you’ll be able to win sooner than later.

Chief Scientist

  • Crippled – At these levels the Chief Scientist will not even be able to roll on each task without using salvage acquired by the Squad Leader.
  • Minimum – This gives enough that the Chief Scientist can assign 1 scientist to each research task meaning they can at least roll for each one.
  • Medium – At these levels The Chief Scientist can double or even triple up on technologies that they feel are critical. Everyone benefits, but it can be expensive to maintain these kinds of levels in the long run.
  • Max – The Chief Scientist can not physically spend more than this.

For the Chief scientist, it’s a good idea to pay attention to how much salvage they have available. If they can roll 2 dice on each task, they will have a fairly good success rate. Keep in mind that only 1 salvage can be spent on each task though. It works best to start them off at 6 at the very beginning and then slowly cut back as more and more salvage comes in, until you can get away with 3 each turn because it’s enough for them to keep churning out a tech card or two every turn.

Squad Leader

  • Crippled – At these levels the squad leader does not have enough manpower to defend the base or accomplish a mission, much less do both.
  • Minimum – This gives the squad leader enough manpower to defend the base or complete a mission. They may try to split soldiers to do both, but they are risking one or both in order to do this.
  • Medium – At these levels the squad leader should be able to defend the base and attempt a mission without being under manned.
  • Max – In theory the squad leader can spend more than this, but they really shouldn’t be. If they are then they are wasting money as they are either trying to defend the base with more than 4 soldiers (which should rarely be necessary) or they are attempting two missions simultaneously. Beating the final mission wins you the game, so its pointless to attempt both the final mission and a normal mission at the same time.

The commander and squad leader should work together closely. For one thing as the commander you can train one of their soldiers each turn making their job easier. You just want to be sure you’re not grabbing a class of soldier from their reserve that they need for something that’s come up. It’s easiest to just ask them to give you one to train and they can decide who they can temporarily give up to be trained.

Additionally, the squad leader starts with the ability to remove 1 crisis each turn. If they’re having you choose which one to remove then you already have an idea of what to get rid of. If you find it’s easier to just hand them the stack to let them choose, it’s best to at least mention one or two cards you think are particularly bad and/or cards that you know won’t actually do anything so they needn’t bother removing them.


  • Crippled – At these levels you’re making it impossible on yourself to protect all of the countries. The communications officer can only take on so many UFOs themselves.
  • Minimum – This gives enough money to attempt to protect countries that are at dangerous levels. Even so, you likely won’t be able to kill all the UFOs, but you can at least slow the panic they’re causing
  • Medium – At these levels you should be able to beat back the UFOs and keep all but the least panicked countries safe.
  • Max – You can not physically spend more than this on interceptors.

Always remember to allocate some funding to yourself. The last thing you want to have happen is to go over budget because you were too zealous in your defense. Especially considering that the penalty for doing so is the very thing you were trying to prevent in the first place, increased panic.

When it comes to the budget. I would recommend taking a moment before the timed portion begins and tell each player how much they have to spend on the upcoming round. Also, I would caution on the cheap side a little. You can always change your mind after you find out how much you have, but it’s less jarring for people to find out they suddenly have more money than they thought, then to feel like you’re taking money away from them.

Also, you will want to establish how exactly you’re going to track the budget for yourself. Wether it’s shuffling the tokens around and stacking them a certain way or foregoing them all together and just using a calculator or pencil and paper. You should figure out what will work best for you and be sure everything is ready before the timed section starts.

Budget Tricks

  • remember you can use timed abilities at any time during the timed phase. Abilities that add money to the emergency funding card should be used as soon as the timer starts. In this way, when emergency funding is available you can immediately take the money you just added. You also don’t run the risk of forgetting to use these abilities.
  • Don’t be afraid to take most if not all of the emergency funding on turn 1. This extra money can allow you to pump a lot of money into research and recruiting to give you a jump-start in these areas without having to make sacrifices in other areas. Additionally, there is a crisis card that takes money out of your emergency funding which can be painful if you’ve been trying to save it. But it’s completely painless if you’re keeping said fund constantly empty.
  • Listen to your teammates. If someone is asking you for more money, find out why they feel they need it instead of casually brushing it off as “Whatever, they’re just being greedy”. Maybe there is something you’ve overlooked. Just remember you have final say in the matter and maybe you want to give them more, but it would mean cutting money from somewhere else that can’t afford to have less.

Fantasy Flight – XCOM: The Board Game – Review
Fantasy Flight – XCOM: The Board Game – Role Strategy (Commander)
Fantasy Flight – XCOM: The Board Game – Accessory (Commander Balance Sheet)
Fantasy Flight – XCOM: The Board Game – Role Strategy (Chief Scientist)
Fantasy Flight – XCOM: The Board Game – Role Strategy (Central Officer)
Fantasy Flight – XCOM: The Board Game – Role Strategy (Squad Leader)

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