Thursday, January 13, 2011

Forward Brothers!

I played Spacehulk a lot. I still own the first edition and all expansions but it doesn't get played that much. Mainly due to it being a 2 player game and its with most of my GW games up in the loft.
The new edition of Spacehulk is lovely, I have only played it once but it did look really good and played very well. However the price tag put me off and as I don't play my other copy that much it wasn't going to join my collection.

Death Angel continues the spacehulk genre but is condensed into a couple of decks of cards and scales to 6 players. It's been called spacehulk light and I can see why.

When my copy arrived I opened it up and started reading through the rules. Then put it down again, the rules just seemed to be a mess. Any rulebook that tells you to jump to page 22 then page 21 during setup has not been put together properly in my mind. FFG gets a bit of a bad wrap about there rule books and sometimes its for good reason. I ended up watching a couple of videos on the geek and the picked up the rules again. It didn't seem that bad afterwards and was ready to play.

The game is for 1-6 players and takes about 30-60 minutes. So its got the potential to be a quick solo game which is nice. Our initial game was 5 players. Initial starting location is determined by the number of players and a number of location cards are randomly selected and placed on the table. These represent the areas the marines are going to fight through to make their way towards the mission objective. Other landscape cards are placed on the table to represent corridors and doors. These are where the Genestealers are going to spawn from. Each player chooses a marine team and the cards are collected, shuffled and dealt out to make the marines formation. Marines are facing different ways which can cause challenges in the game.
Lastly a number of Genestealers are but into blip piles on each side of the location card.

Play then commences with each player choosing one of their action cards. These are either move and activate, support or attack. Any card you play stays on the table and cannot be used the following round. This stops you just playing attack cards continually. Each team of marines has different effects on the cards to represent the equipment they are carrying or the abilities of the marine.

All cards are revealed and played in numerical order, the support cards generally go first followed by move then the attacks are dealt with. Attacks are easy, you just roll a dice and hope you get a face with a skull on it. Some cards effect the number of genestealers you remove but generally its only one.

Then its time for the genestealers, and marine engaged with genestealers must roll a dice and get a number higher than the number of genestealers attacking him. If not he dies. This is where support tokens come in. You can place them on marines using support actions and they allow you to re roll an attacking or defending roll. So if you have any you can discard them to roll again. Unfortunately if you are being attacked from behind you can't use them.

An event card is then drawn and resolved, them more genestealers are spawned and then moved depending on the icons on the card. Play continues until one of the 2 blip piles is empty, then the marines get to move to the next location in the deck. This continues until the last location is reached where the marines have to fulfill a final objective to win the game.

We managed to win our first game, although at the end our squad of marines was down to 3 men. So only just, I don't think we could have survived another round. The genestealers were piling up and most of the heavy hitters in the squad were down.
The game felt like spacehulk, slightly claustrophobic with a feeling of dread. Play moved along at a reasonable pace, you had a couple of choices in what to do each round which helped. Although you have to work as a team supporting each other and moving to be in the best spots to attack. I think different teams work better than others but there is enough variety in the box to keep the game interesting. I suspect that there will be an expansion for it which will build up the rules and add new locations and marines. Although I don't think I will need anything extra for a while.

So for under £20 you get a pretty decent co-op game that can be played solo. I need to give it more plays to see how well the solo play works but it looks very good.

This page on the geek lists a number of common mistakes and is worth a read if you already own the game.

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