Monday, September 28, 2009

First Games of Space Hulk

After owning Space Hulk for nearly a month now, I finally got to play it. I met up with Badelaire yesterday and played two games, both Mission I: Suicide Mission, first as the Genestealers, then we swapped sides and I played the marines.

In Game One Badelaire's marched down the corridor, killing stealers along the way, until on one turn Badelaire neglected to put a marine on overwatch, allowing one of my stealers to get close, killing that marine, and then the Heavy Flamer behind him, winning me the game. Both of us taking lessons learned from Game One, we replayed the mission with me as the marines. This time I advanced quickly down the corridors and had to change my plan midstream, as the genestealers were piling up awfully fast. Having lost one of my scouts, I resorted to firing the Heavy Flamer to clear a path, which proved decisive. Using it again I blocked off more genestealers, allowing me to make a made dash for the control room. Aided by a lucky draw from the Command Point pool, I was able to get to the room and flame it, winning me the game.

I do have to say that timer on the Space Marine side adds immeasurably to the tension and excitement. It keeps the players focused on the task at hand, and forces the Space Marine player to be decisive. On the other side of the coin, the fact that the Genestealer player has untimed turns can be used to the Space Marine Player's advantage. When the Genestealer Player is thinking about what to do, the Space Marine player can use that time to plan his next turn. In my own experience, I tried to plan very quickly and move most of my marines fast, and then take some time to consider the best use of my command points.

As for the game experience itself, I noticed that some of the genestealers were a pain to fit on the board next to other genestealers, mainly the ones standing on girders, i.e., the ones with the larger bases.

Finally, I want to add that while the map for Mission I seems very simple--all the marines have to do is walk down the hall and turn left--the simplicity gets lost very quickly as the genestealer start filling the hallways. It ends up being far more tense and exciting than the simple map would lead you to believe.

And now for Badelaire's take on the games:
Playing two games, one as Terminators and one as Genestealers, I can definitely see the fun in even a short and simple mission. Being able to use the different special rules, such as Overwatch or Guard, as well as the "blip" rules and the different sorts of weapons, gives you a variety of options. Just like Chess or Checkers or a lot of other very well designed boardgames, I can see Space Hulk to be a game that takes an hour to learn, but far longer to master.
A few random thoughts come to mind.
  • Even though some missions rely on a lot of movement on the part of the Terminators, sometimes it might be best to avoid advancing for a turn and instead focus on setting up Overwatch and hosing the Genestealers. Getting too close and allowing an assault is a bad idea.
  • Heavy flamers are your friend. Not only are they potent weapons, but their flame template works great to block the advancement down a passageway. Used carefully, a Heavy Flamer can definitely turn the tide of battle.
  • If you're playing Genestealers, use facing to your advantage. Coming at the Terminators from multiple directions that force them to position themselves so they are looking in different directions means they have to waste precious AP to turn and face you, and also allow you to move in on them "unseen" as well as allow for flank attacks (meaning a tie goes to the attacker).
  • It might not seem all that effective at first blush, but the Terminator's shooting can be really effective. You'll have to decide on a case by case basis whether the Move & Shoot maneuver or standing still and using Sustained Fire will be more effective, but with a little luck and a few Command Points, a Terminator can clear a corridor of several Genestealers in a single turn of shooting.
All in all, I really enjoyed the game, despite being the loser in both. I'd definitely be up for more games, especially trying out options like Lightning Claws, Assault Cannons, and the other Terminator goodies.


oni said...

Glad you like it. Space Hulk is a great game.

Nocturus said...

Nice, can't wait to see your painted models :).