Sunday, 13 May 2018

Space Hulk

It's birthday time and this year I received a copy of the Games Workshop Space Hulk board game.  2nd Edition, 2nd hand and evidently well loved, it's missing the odd bit but still very much playable. Incidentally, I last played the game around 1990-ish, and have fond memories of the same.  So we've opened it up, had a speed read of the rules and taken it for a few spins.

What's it about?  A squad of Space Marines in Terminator Armour, board a 'Space Hulk' - a derelict spacecraft teaming with scary aliens - called 'Genestealers' - full of claws and teeth.  Fortunately, the Terminators have big guns which make short work of the Genestealers but there's only so much a Terminator can do, especially when those Genestealers just don't quit!

This would be Alex, just prior to
kicking Dad's butt!
How does it work?  Firstly a map is laid out using the included collection of cardboard corridors, rooms and doors.  Then the Marines are deployed - usually 5 of them.  Each game Turn sees the Marines going first, where they can (typically) perform 4 actions like, opening a door, moving, shooting etc.  Once all the Marines have done their thing, the Genestealers have their actions.  Genestealers can do 6 things, are a little more mobile, much more deadly in hand-to-hand combat but can't shoot.

Each Turn the Genestealers typically can bring on reinforcements onto the board - they join the board as 'blips', like in the Aliens movies.  Each blip can represent 0-6 Genestealers and they sneak around until they're spotted.  Unfortunately, the Marines don't get reinforcements, so they've got to get a move on and complete their mission e.g., get to a special room.

It's a board game, isn't it?  Yes, it is.  The map has squares and each move action see's a piece (Marine or Genestealer) move from one square to the next.  Also, (some special) dice are rolled to determine whether shooting hits, guns jam (one of the game's most stressful and entertaining mechanics) and who wins close combat.

What else is in the box?  In addition to the cardboard map pieces and doors, there are various cardboard tokens (blips, counters etc) and plastic miniatures.  I think the original comes with (unpainted) 10 Marines and 30 Genestealers.  That alone makes the game a lot more immersive than say, Monopoly.

What does the family think?  Paddy (9) and Alex (7) give it a thumbs up.  "It is cooler than the other miniatures game Dad," said Alex, who incidentally beat me on his first game (beginners luck).   Harriet (11) thought it was good - she spent some time really thinking through sequencing/tactics which was very encouraging.  The Wife... well she's happy the kids and I are occupied, but otherwise not interested.  And finally, Charlie: at 5-years old, it's all a bit too constrained for him.  He just wants to set-up army men and tanks and pew-pew.  That's okay, he thinks the Terminator marines are pretty exciting and is looking forward to me painting them up in due course.

The game comes with two books, one with rules and the other with scenarios.  There's plenty of variety straight out of the box and if one uses a bit of google-fu, there's a huge amount of additional scenarios and variants available.

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