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Space Hulk: Death Angel – The Card Game… Expansions!

Posted by Andreas Ludwig on March 29, 2011

Fantasy Flight Games recently announced that certain games will henceforth be supported with their new Print on Demand service. Games that normally would not have been supported with new expansions will get new game stuff called micro-expansions. The first two micro-expansions available are two card expansions for the game Space Hulk: Death Angel and here’s what the players who own this game can expect according to the FFG website:

Death Angel: Mission Pack 1 Expansion

Your mission is not over, and failure is not an option.

While you may have survived the harrowing challenges of Death Angel, the mission is far from over. The Mission Pack 1Print on Demand expansion brings twelve new Location cards to provide alternate missions for players. These cards are seamlessly incorporated into your Death Angel game – simply choose whether you want to use the standard Location cards or the ones found in this Mission Pack and build your mission as normal.

But beware! New terrors have emerged in the form of Adrenal Genestealers: deathly agile and relentless. These dangerous new foes will pop out from every dark corner, unleashing attack after attack.

Also included in Mission Pack 1 is an all-new Terrain card, that will threaten to thrust unfortunate space marines out into the cold embrace of space.

 

 

Death Angel: Space Marine Pack 1 Expansion

Rally your battle brothers with the Death Angel Space Marine Pack 1 expansion!

Space Marine Packs introduce brand new combat teams to your game, ready to blast their way into the carnage that is Death Angel.

The Space Marine Pack 1 Print on Demand expansion comes complete with two new Combat Teams and their respective Action cards. The deadly Chaplain Raziel brings his ironclad faith to the fight while Brother Adron readies his Cyclone Missile Launcher for absolute devastation. These new Combat Teams can be seamlessly incorporated into your Death Angel games to provide more versatility and more options.

Also included in the Space Marine Pack 1 are 8 Combat Team cards, which replace the original 6 Combat Team markers from the Death Angel game, making it easier to randomise and select your teams.

 

That’s an interesting idea and hopefully now good games that perhaps didn’t fulfill FFG high expectations regarding sales will now get cool new stuff for those players who own them and enjoy them. We would like to see Print on Demand expansions for example for games like Marvel Heroes – The Boardgame or Middle-earth Quest.

The Space Hulk expansions can be ordered here

 

Posted in Fantasy Games A-Z, News and Releases, Space Hulk:Death Angel | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

LOTR Living Card Game (FFG) – Rules & Video Tutorial

Posted by Andreas Ludwig on March 22, 2011

Well then, you heroes of Middle-earth, prepare yourself with all you need for the forthcoming journey of your life. Courageous folks gather, allies come to help, weapons are handed out while the Eye of Sauron is watching and a great evil is lurking in the shadows…

…and that you as a player might be well prepared for what to come, FFG has the rules online now for the highly anticipated Lord of the Rings – The Living Card Game.

In addition to the rules, the first part of the – again extremely well done  – video tutorial is also online now and new sections will be added over the next days to explain the game so that at the end of the week we should have the complete tutorial available.

The release of this solitaire/coop game is drawing nearer and although no concrete release date has been given by FFG so far, rumors say the game will be out in April.

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.

Posted in Fantasy Games A-Z, Living Card Games, Lord of the Rings, News and Releases | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Review: Lightning: D-Day!

Posted by Denny Koch on February 25, 2011

Game: Lightning: D-Day!

Publisher: Decision Games
Published in: 2004
Designers: Dan Verssen
Era: World War II, D-Day (Normandy invasion)
Game Type: Card game
Players: 2
Contents: 110 full color cards, Quick Play rules
Average Playing Time: 30 min

HFC Game-O-Meter: E


Our Rating (1-10):

Graphic Presentation: 7
Rules: 6
Playability:
9
Replay Value:
5

Overall Rating: 7.5

PRO Very short playing time, almost no setup time: perfect starter, filler, or closer game; nice historical photos, small box and quick gameplay = perfect travel game, strategically challenging, tough time limit, amazingly high simulation value, very short rules…
CONTRA …which may be too short and imprecise for some players, artwork somewhat boring, not too much variety

Introduction

A card game about the Normandy invasion 1944

Lightning: D-Day! was the first game of the “Lightning Series” by designer Dan Verssen, a game series consisting of five very small and fast card games. Other games in the series are Lightning: Midway, Lightning: North Africa, Lightning: Poland, and the contemporary Lightning: War on Terror.

We own the game for several years now and we also had a small review on our old HFC website, but we recently “rediscovered” it and decided that this game is cool and needs a new review in our ambitious Operation Review Reset.

The Lightning games are famous for their speedy gameplay, very short rules (1 sheet of paper!), and low setup time. They can be played within 30 minutes, but they still offer a strategical challenge and are a tough nut to crack. Lightning D-Day isn’t an exception from this rule; the Allied player fights against a brutal time limit while the German player tries to slow him down and to make his advance as costly as possible.

As the name suggests, Lightning: D-Day! deals with the Allied Normandy invasion on June 6th, 1944. One player controls the Allied forces (US, British, and Canadian units), the other player controls the German forces. There is no game board; the play area is defined by five beach cards which represent the historical landing areas (named Sword, Juno, Gold, Omaha, and Utah beach by the Allies).

Gaining control over Omaha Beach is much harder than controlling the other 4 beaches

Both players control a fixed number of units or Forces per beach (3-4) which represent the historical units from both sides, for example the Canadian 3rd Inf., the British 7th Armored, or the US I Corps on the Allied side or the 21st Panzer, 352nd  Infantry on the German side. In addition, both players have draw decks of Action cards which heavily influence the combat. Action cards can lower or raise the attack or defense value of units (by representing bunkers, squad cohesion, artillery, the chaos of battle) or add special bonuses to a beach, for example by placing the famous 101st and 82nd Airborne there. Stragglers on the Allied side and reinforcements on the German side can further fortify a landing zone.

A game is played over 5 turns, each turn representing roughly one hour. Each turn, the conditions for the Allied player improve, representing his successful landing and advance on the beaches. After five turns, the number of beaches controlled by the Allied player is counted. The game outcome or victory level depends on the number of beaches in Allied hands. The Allies have to control at least four of the five beaches to achieve the historical outcome; less than four beaches mean a draw or a German victory.

Because of the time limit of five turns and the limited number of actions each player can resolve on a beach, one game doesn’t take longer than 30 minutes which makes the game a perfect starter, filler, or closer game on a game meeting when there isn’t much time left for a larger wargame or for “warming up” before moving over to the more complex games.

Despite being a small and fast card game, Lightning D-Day is challenging and requires strategical decision-making and planning in advance for both players.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Games A-Z, Historical Games A-Z, Lightning Series, Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

New Year’s Gaming

Posted by Denny Koch on January 4, 2011

Happy New Year!

Dear fellow gamers!

Happy New Year – hopefully, a year full of new wargames (and old classics, of course!). Thanks again for keeping faith with the HFC and for your appreciation and great feedback!

Christmas provided us with new games, so we spent the prolonged weekend around New Year with unboxing, glueing, and counter-punching.

A Game of Thrones: Battles of Westeros (FFG)

However, before trying one of our gifts, I had to solve a problem I was occupied with since early December: Andreas’ House Stark armies were still undefeated in the Battle for the Kingsroad in FFG’s A Game of Thrones: Battles of Westeros board game. This Friday, my House Lannister forces challenged House Stark to a return game!

 

The Battle for the Kingsroad, as seen from the Lannister POV

The game started as bad for House Lannister as the last game had ended. My armies were crushed under Stark’s bowmen, infantry, and cavalry. In the final turn, I didn’t have anything left besides my two leaders Kevan Lannister and Adam Marbrand and one lone 3-step Casterly Rock chevalier unit. My objective was to cross the River Trident and to occupy two strategic hexes which were heavily defended by Stark’s bowmen and Richard Karstarks cavalry. We discussed whether it was possible to fulfill the victory conditions with my poor, lonely units, but decided to play it out.

And, as every experienced A Game of Thrones fan knows, things always turn out differently and with a big surprise you didn’t expect or see coming. This was also true for my game I had thought lost.

My cavalry unit managed to lure Andreas’ infantry over the Trident, so that they couldn’t reach and defend the objectives in time. Kevan Lannister (without any accompanying men) escaped an engagement at the ford and rushed into one objective hex where he stood adjacent to Stark’s archers. Since he was a sole leader, he couldn’t be killed but had to be captured, but the bowmen were incapable of achieving enough hits to capture him.

Kevan Lannister and Adam Marbrand, defending the objectives!

Simultaneously, Adam Marbrand remembered his strength – riding through any terrain, even impassable, even a river, as long as his move ended in a legal hex. And so he galloped into the Trident, followed the river until he reached the objective and occupied the hex – again, adjacent to the bowmen who couldn’t capture him either.

Richard Karstark then attacked Kevan Lannister because it would ensure his victory if he captured at least one of the two leaders, but the attack failed. In the nick of time, House Lannister won the battle (for the first time), by utilizing typical Lannister tricks and strategies 😉

War is Hell: The Hell of Stalingrad

We then tried out Andreas’ Christmas present: The Hell of Stalingrad, a card game by Clash of Arms Games.

This game proved to be an absolute blast, we got the hang of it really quickly, despite the fact that the structure of the rulebook isn’t optimal and you have to do a lot of page turning.

The game certainly requires some table space...

We were immediately thrilled by the innovative and very cool mechanics, the impressing and quite explicit artworks, the historical photos, and the overall look and feel of the game.

In our first game, I played the Germans and Andreas played the Russians. In the game, you have to fight for single historical buildings and locations (for example, the Tractor Works, Red October). It’s the German objective to capture the buildings and reach the Volga and it’s the Russian job to hinder them and to fight for each building. The combat system is extremely bloody and gives a very good impression of the chaotic, bloody, and desolate battle for Stalingrad.

In the evening, we supplemented our game by watching the German 1997 movie “Stalingrad” which depicts the Battle of Stalingrad from the perspective of four German grunts and their Lieutenant. The movie is quite visceral and realistic, showing heavy fightings, tanks and overruns, fanatic Nazi officers, arbitrary executions, desertion attempts, as well as (forbidden) contacts or cease-fires with the Russians in order to retrieve the wounded, catastrophic conditions on the battlefield hospital next to the airfield within the cauldron (where, in real life, my mother’s cousin, 18 years old and from a miner’s family in the Ruhr region, died of a shot in the belly. I still got pictures and the letters to his mother from his superiors and the army chaplain.)

Heavy fighting in the Red October steel works factory

If you are interested in this movie, there is a dubbed version available, but I have read that the dubbing is terrible and completely destroys the atmosphere, so you should  do yourself a favor and watch the German version with English subtitles!

The problem is, even if you know some German, you will have a hard time understanding it  without subtitles because most soldiers speak in various local dialects from Northern German to Prussian to Bavarian or Swabian or are shouting while under heavy artillery fire. In addition, working-class slang of some soldiers in contrast to the educated speech of the officers gives valuable insights into the background of the characters.

More games, more fun!

A game I got for Christmas was the strategic board game “Zombie State: Diplomacy of the Dead“. This isn’t a wargame and you don’t shoot zombies either, it’s a strategic game where states have to deal with a zombie pandemic by sending the military, doing research to find a cure, or developing other technologies. We didn’t try it out yet, but it looks very promising and certainly is an unusual approach to the zombie topic.

Another zombie game which found its way to us was the dice game “Zombie dice” which can be played within minutes – very quick, very funny. You roll dice with symbols which symbolize close combat against attacking zombies. There are brains, there are shotguns, there is escape. If you need a game which doesn’t need table space and which can be played on the train or on a party by 2-99 players, check it out 🙂

A game you certainly won't find on the HFC website: "Monopoly Junior"... played by Denny with niece and nephew 😉

Last but not least, the brand-new Hornet Leader: Carrier Air Operations by DVG  reached our HFC test lab after being delayed by German customs. The box is very impressive with cool artworks and even the customs officer was impressed and couldn’t believe that this was a board game (he thought it was a PC game because it looked so modern and stylish). Hornet Leader is a Solitaire Game like its cousin Thunderbolt / Apache Leader, but like TAL, it can also be played with two players cooperatively. Watch out for our review where we will take a special look at the cooperative aspect of the game!

We are also looking forward to the new cooperative The Lord of the Rings LCG by FFG which will (according to unconfirmed rumors) be published February / March 2011.

2011 will be a great and interesting gaming year (as was 2010), so stay tuned and visit us again for more information, reviews, and stuff!

Posted in Gaming this weekend, Wargaming in general | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

New experimental Wingmen rules for DiF – Aces High (DVG)!

Posted by Denny Koch on November 11, 2010

One of the new wingmen cards

Our review of Aces High inspired game designer Dan Verssen to experiment with new wingmen rules. One of our major complaints was the elimination of wingmen rules from the new Down in Flames game (which were a vital part of the original Down in Flames series by GMT).

Dan Versson developed experimental rules and Wingmen cards for playtest purposes and published a sample dogfight game between two leaders and two wingmen, showing the new rules in action.

“My goal is to return wingmen to the game, while keeping the rules as simple as possible. From what I have heard, almost everyone likes the idea of wingmen, but many people were turned-off by the old rules. For those of you who never played the old game, the wingmen rules were filled with complexity and exceptions. Basically, you had to learn/teach two seperate sets of rules, one for Leaders and one for Wingmen. My goal is to make the Wingmen rules as much like Leader rules as possible, while still retaining their flavor.”

If you are a wingmen fan and want to participate in testing the new rules, you can simply download the rules and sample cards and integrate them into an Aces High dogfight.

Feedback, comments, and suggestions are highly welcome, please leave any comments in the DVG forum on Consimworld!

Posted in Down in Flames, News and Releases | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Review: Down in Flames: WWII – Aces High (DVG) and comparison with DiF (GMT)

Posted by Denny Koch on November 3, 2010

Game: Down in Flames: WWII – Aces High

Publisher: DVG
Published in: 2008
Designer: Dan Verssen
Era and Topic: World War II / ETO and PTO / Air combat
Components: 110 Full color Action Cards, 110 Full Color Aircraft Cards, Full Color Rulebook, Full Color Counter Sheet (88 – 5/8” counters), 6 Full Color Campaign Sheets
Game Type: Card based wargame

HFC Game-O-Meter: D


Our Rating (1-10): (Rating for experienced DiF players / Rating for casual gamers who don’t know the original)

Graphic Presentation: 9
Rules: 6
Playability:
6/8
Replay Value:
3/9

Overall Rating: 5/8

PRO Great artwork; very modern design; high production quality;  strong glossy coated full-color cards, counters, and rules; fast gameplay; new actions cards; new fighter ratings (firepower, two Horsepower ratings); PTO and ETO; new maneuvering system with speed and action cards; tactics cards; almost no setup time; fighters can attack in chains and be attacked by several other fighters which provides dynamic dogfights…
CONTRA …which are more ahistorical because of the removal of wingman rules; campaign extremely simplified; elimination of almost all simulative aspects of the classic campaign game; only one bomb mode (no more level, saturation, torpedo bombing etc.); simple hit system; simple bombing system without random element; no more variable mission length; no ingress / egress / target / home bound turns; simple Flak rules; no crews; rules describe only 1 vs 1 dogfights for simplicity – but are raising questions for 2 vs 2 (or more) dogfights; ambiguous rules and wording; some rules only mentioned in examples

A preliminary note or warning:

This is not only a review about DiF – Aces High, but also a detailed comparison between the “new” DiF series and the “classic” DiF series by GMT Games. Many wargamers who enjoy the classic GMT series (and own several modules and expansions) are wondering whether they should “switch” to the new system. Information about the differences and about who should switch – and who should not! – are sparse and scattered all over the internet.

Our intention was to review the new Down in Flames series from a wargamer’s perspective who played and enjoyed the classic series, especially the campaigns, and to give you veterans an overview over what to expect from the new system – and what not!


Introduction

Shoot down your enemies… out of the sun!

In 1993, GMT Games published the first module of the Down in Flames series, “Rise of the Luftwaffe“, depicting WWII air combat in Europe, designed by Dan Verssen, Gene Billingsley, and Rodger McGowan. In 1995, the second module, “8th Air Force” was published. The game series was then further supplemented by two Pacific modules (“Zero” and “Corsairs and Hellcats“) as well as several smaller add-ons published in GMT’s C3i magazine.

The first two modules are out of print by now and there are no plans of reprinting them. Instead, GMT announced a new game which will replace the first two modules and serve as a modern update: “Wild Blue Yonder“. This game is still in P500 status and when (and if) it will hit the market is unknown.
Update 2017: The game is available  now!

If you want to get into the classic and very popular “Down in Flames” series, you have to search eBay or other marketplaces for Luftwaffe or 8th Air Force, and you can expect that it will cost you a nice amount of money. The Pacific expansions are still available at a reasonable price, but if you want to “own them all”, it will require some dedication (and money) to become a “Down in Flames” pilot.

But wait… what about the relaunch of “Down in Flames” by game designer Dan Verssen? Why should I bother collecting the “old stuff” when there is a brand-new, revised, modern version available?

In 2008, Dan Verssen published his own new version of “Down in Flames” in his own company, DVG (Dan Verssen Games). The first game was “Aces High“, supplemented in 2010 by “Guns Blazing” and several smaller card expansions. The new version is not compatible with the old GMT Down in Flames series, but was announced as an advanced, revised new game which improves many aspects of the old game while streamlining the Campaign game (which was quite simulative and of moderate complexity in the old games, so the designer felt the need of making the Campaign more accessible to casual gamers).

WWII air combat on your gaming table!

But should you really sell your entire GMT DiF collection and switch to the new, improved version of Down in Flames with modern and stylish graphics, more fighter abilities, more and different action cards, more maneuvering options, more color, more fun?

The answer is: you could – if you are a casual gamer or a gamer who enjoys playing the basic dogfights variants of the original game and who never touched the campaigns because they were too complex for you, or who always thought the wingmen rules were too static (disregarding historical leader and wingmen tactics which were even more static, so that the RAF pilots were actually dubbed “Idiotenreihen” (rows of idiots) by German fighter pilots due to their rigid and static formations). You will get improved graphics and a more dynamic dogfighting system than in the original game and you will certainly enjoy the new look and feel.

But beware – if you are an experienced wargamer who loved the GMT DiF series, and especially the campaigns, you should avoid the new game system! While the dogfights and several basic mechanics benefit from the new rules and action cards (reducing historical accuracy but enhancing gameplay), the Campaign game is simplified beyond recognition and won’t satisfy you if you loved the old Campaigns – on the contrary, we were heavily disappointed by the dumbed-down Campaign rules.

Aces High: the components

Besides this, the original rules (which consist of two 22-pages-rule books in 8th Air Force) are now condensed into one 24-pages rulebook. The campaign rules, formerly filling a rulebook of their own, are now drastically shortened and integrated into the basic rulebook. The shorter rules are not only caused by a reduced complexity, but also by a new wording which is more ambiguous and less extensive than in the old rule books. They certainly aren’t sufficient to please a classic-GMT-DiF-player, so read this review before considering to sell your old games on eBay!

As we stated in the initial warning, this review of “Aces High” gives a general overview over the DVG game, but also serves as a comparison between the old system and the new system from a wargamer’s point of view, because many wargamers are interested in the question whether they should sell their old games and switch to the new system – or whether they should stick to the GMT games.

Hopefully, our review will help them to decide whether they would enjoy the new game (a more casual gamer with a preference for simple dogfights who loves exciting graphics and thinks the old system to be too static and old-fashioned certainly will, so no game-bashing is intended!) or be disappointed.

What is Down in Flames anyway?

“Down in Flames” is a card-based wargame about Air Combat in World War II, WWI and post-war. Players control single fighters (German, British, Polish, Russian, US, Japanese) and conduct dogfights against other fighters. Fighters maneuver against each other, trying to get an advantaged position from which they could shoot down their enemies. The best position is tailing the opponent, but since each player wants to tail the enemy, there’s a lot of maneuvering until one fighter is behind the other and that’s what makes these dogfights a thrilling and fun experience.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Down in Flames, Games A-Z, Reviews | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Review: Space Hulk – Death Angel, The Card Game

Posted by Andreas Ludwig on October 26, 2010

Game: Warhammer 40k: Space Hulk – Death Angel, The Card Game

Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
Published in: 2010
Designer: Corey Konieczka
Topic: Fantasy / Sci-Fi (Warhammer 40k universe)
Game Type: Card Game
Contents: 1 rulebook, 18 Action Cards, 2 Brood Lord Cards, 30 Event Cards, 36 Genestealer Cards, 22 Location Cards, 12 Space Marine Cards, 8 Terrain Cards, 12 Support Tokens, 6 Combat team Markers, 1 die

HFC Game-O-Meter: E


Our Rating (1-10):

 

Graphic Presentation: 9
Rules: 7.5
Playability: 9
Replay Value: 8

Overall Rating: 8.5

PRO Easy game with interesting mechanics, captures the Space Hulk atmosphere, lots of tactical decisions, can be played solo or with up to six players, good artwork, can be played quickly…
CONTRA …but can also be quite long sometimes, possible quick elimination of players, rules suffer from necessary back and forth flipping, a few points not well explained

 

Introduction

Space Hulk – Death Angel, The Card Game (SHDA) is a new game published by Fantasy Flight Games. It is set in the Warhammer 40.000 universe created by Games Workshop, also known as Warhammer 40K or simply 40K. This is a huge sci-fi gaming universe in a far distant future and several tabletop systems and roleplaying games as well as books are based on this specific setting.

Game components

Space Hulk is one of  the many spin-offs within this universe and a board game published by Games Workshop which deals with  the battle of the Space Marines (a Templar-like order of genetically enhanced super-soldiers who act as a special guard in the military ranks of the Imperium of Man, one of the factions in the 40k universe) against the Genestealers, an aggressive culture of aliens. Generally, the Space Hulk theme is very close to the story of the Alien movies, which are also about a troop of humans dealing with aggressive aliens infesting a space station. A Space Hulk in the 40k universe often is an ancient starship and it is supposed that many of these are drifting around in the far dark corners of the universe. Sometimes, such a vessel is found when it drifts through the territory of the Imperium, and the technology that can be found in these relics is often something that the Imperium is interested in, so when such a space station is found, squads are sent in to gather information, technology blueprints, or similiar things of interest.

But it seems that these old vessels make for a great breeding ground for the Genestealers, so such a trip into the Hulk  usually leads to some serious fighting before the Marines can find the secrets they are after. The aliens reproduce themselves by introducing their genetic code into a host of a different species which eventually leads to the birth of hybrids. More detailed information about the Genestealers can be found in this article.

The board game Space Hulk is actually quite expensive and hard to get (it contains 64 board sections or room tiles, doors, plastic Citadel miniatures and much more stuff ), and we don’t own it. We never played any game based on the 40k universe before and the only game in our collection that comes close to the topic is Doom – The Boardgame. From what I have read so far, it seems that Doom is quite similiar to the theme of Space Hulk, but is not as detailed and rich in gameplay.

Lately, we became very interested in the new LCG format of several card games published by FFG and when Space Hulk Death Angel was announced, we followed the game development very closely because it was announced as a cooperative game – which is something we like in both video games and board/card games. It turned out that SHDA was not another LCG but a ‘normal’ card game, so there’s no starter set followed by several expansions and no deck building involved here. Instead, it’s a stand alone card game, so you get everything you need in the box (although FFG is known for publishing expansions to many if not all of their games, so it might be possible that we will be seeing some add-ons for this game in the future).

Presentation

The game comes in a small box that contains a 31-page full color rule book in the size of the game box, two shrinkwrapped packages of 128 playing cards, a counter sheet with 18 game markers and a red die that has the numbers o-5 and 3 skulls printed on it. There’s no map included since the game uses a more abstract way to create the environment of the Space Hulk.

The strong cards are made of glossy coated cardboard - very good quality

FFG often uses big game boxes where the package is quite spacious compared to the content, probably making room for possible expansions which will follow the basic game, but the SHDA box is exactly of the size the content needs and that may be a sign that no expansions are planned.

The artwork of the box is great and shows the formation of Marines fighting their way through a horde of aliens in a tight corridor. The quality of the contents is very high as well, the cards being thin but nevertheless sturdy and their surface is somewhat roughened so they don’t stick together as it is often the case, especially with new cards. The cards have a good feel right from the start and are protected by a form of glossy coating.

The cards are divided into several card types (actions, Brood Lords, events, Genestealers, locations, Space Marines, and terrain) and they are richly illustrated, so they are able to evoke the specific environment and atmosphere where the game is supposed to take place. The markers, divided into support tokens and combat team markers are also of a good quality, using thick cardboard and nice artwork, too.

Great artworks and top-notch quality is something we actually expect from FFG by now, since every game we own by this publisher is of an excellent production quality – and that’s really where FFG gives you a lot for your money. Of course, a good-looking game doesn’t have to be a good game, so let’s start with the rules to get an impression of what to expect.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Fantasy Games A-Z, Futuristic Games A-Z, Games A-Z, Reviews, Space Hulk:Death Angel, Warhammer | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 10 Comments »

Gaming this weekend: Entering the Space Hulk…

Posted by Andreas Ludwig on October 4, 2010

The game box is rather small, but the contents of a very high quality and with an attractive artwork

Because I had a rather bad cold, Denny and I couldn’t actually meet and play for the  last 2 weeks (except online on XBox Live for extensive Halo Reach sessions…). This weekend was the first time for us to sit down at our gaming table again.

The week before, we had ordered the new Warhammer 40k game by Fantasy Flight Games: Space Hulk: Death Angel – The Card Game which is already out of print as I read recently (surely FFG will re-print  it again rather sooner than later, since it seems to be such a huge success). This weekend’s focus was to learn and play this game. To get into the mood of monster hunting, we also watched Starship Troopers on DVD in the evening, which kinda seemed to match the theme of the game nicely – elite soldiers hunting nasty aliens 🙂

So let me give you just a few thoughts about the game, the review will have to wait until we played a few more games, so stay tuned!

Death Angel is the card based version of the board game Space Hulk (which we haven’t played so far, it’s hard to get for a reasonable price and since we already own Doom – The Boardgame, which seems to be very similiar gameplay-wise, we didn’t have Space Hulk on our radar) but contrary to the latter, Death Angel is a cooperative game. Each player commands one or more teams of Space Marines (depending on the number of players, the game can be played with 1-6 players) which form a military formation that enters a Space Hulk (a term for the remains of an ancient starship or space station) to investigate what’s up in there and to reach and check out a certain location. Players form their formation, they start in a preset location and try to make their way through the Space Hulk, which isn’t as easy as it sounds.

a Genestealer swarm

The station is not empty but filled with aggressive aliens called Genestealers and indeed watching the movie Alien gives you a pretty accurate picture of what the Space Marines teams can expect to find in the confined rooms and corridors of the space station.

The game is a bit tricky to learn at first, because the 32-pages-rulebook is often explaining things on several pages, referring to other paragraphs, so you have to flip through the RB  back and forth to get the hang of the mechanics. After the first game, though, you realize that the game is quite easy and not really complicated and you can enjoy the often tough decision-making required to keep your men alive without further referring to the rulebook. If you are curious about the game mechanics, the rulebook can be downloaded here from the official FFG support website (PDF, 1.9 MB).

Setup. The game certainly requires some table space

As you fight spawning swarms of aliens, which tend to come out of the usual ventilation ducts, doors, and dark corners or even sneakily flank you and attack you from behind, you try to make your way to the final location. In this destination location, there’s something you have to do, like activating the launch procedure of a space vessel to get out of there or whatever (usually a task that needs some time to accomplish…) and in the mean time, your number one priority is actually to stay alive.

Each team has 3 Action Cards, but no Action Card can be used twice in a row, so you have to plan ahead

Each player has 3 Action Cards (Support, Move & Activate, Attack) for each of his two-men-teams, and some of the Space Marines have  special abilities as described on the Action Cards – which often come in handy when the formation is in a desperate situation (and there will be many of such situations before you reach your destination…). But be careful – once you used one of the three possible actions, this action can’t be used again in the next game round. So everybody going with guns ablaze when some aliens get in the way isn’t such a good idea because then no one will be able to attack again in the next round – players are required to plan ahead.

The Genestealers spawn in the Event Phase, depending on the location card you are currently in and the terrain cards in play, so the players have to discuss their options and try to support each other  in order to keep the enemy off and to minimize casualties.

Combat is brutally short and simple – the Space Marines hit when they roll a skull on the die (the game uses one  special six-sided die with numbers ranging from 0-5 and 3 skull symbols), killing one alien card of a ‘swarm’ (one or more Genestealer cards in a specific position) – 50% chance of killing one swarm with the attack… Then the Genestealers attack and they will hit when the die is equal to or less than the  number of cards in the attacking swarm – and since the die ranges from 0 to 5, the larger the swarm, the larger the chance of a successful Genestealer attack, and even a lone swarm has a 1/3 chance of success because of the “0” side. Any Space Marine who is successfully attacked is… slain and out of the game immediately! No health bar, no hit points.

A Space Marine card

A swarm can easily move around the formation of Marines or follow the group to a new location, different swarms can merge into a larger swarm or flank a Marine, so it’s quite a task (but essential!) to make sure that such a swarm doesn’t grow too large. A swarm with 5 Genestealer cards will hit – and instantly kill – a Space Marine with every number rolled on the die. Even a swarm with only 3 cards will hit and kill on a 0,1,2 or 3…

Although combat is very brutal (and the game can be short because of this, but doesn’t have to, we played a good deal longer than the 30-60 minutes mentioned on the game box), luckily some Marines have some cool weapons or special abilities which modify the combat in their favour. For example, there’s  the guy with the flamethrower who doesn’t  hit on a skull but uses the actual number rolled to kill a corresponding number of Genestealers, the one with an auto-gun, someone with psychic abilities, or a Marine who is stronger in the defense than in the attack and so on.

If the Event Card has the keyword "Instinct", the current player has to decide alone which Space Marine will be the target of the card effect

Then there’s the Event Card deck which is the “AI” of the game, providing events and spawning and moving aliens. Events most often make the situation worse, but sometimes allow the players a bit of relief in all the tension by giving them more options to get rid of these nasty aliens.

So the formation of battle hardened Space Marines makes their way through the dark corridors of the Space Hulk killing aliens, supporting each other, discussing what to do next, while the players get silent when another brave soldier is ripped apart or they cheer up and laugh when that big swarm actually misses and Brother Claudio gets into berserk mode and kills the entire swarm with his claws.

The game plays very smoothly, has interesting mechanics, requires lots of decision-making  and coordination between players. All players can only win if they are working together and they must make good decisions to achieve that objective. The game provides a good atmosphere, especially if you are a fan of the Warhammer 40k  universe (but knowledge of this universe is not required). If you are able to get a bit “in-character”, it’s a great game experience you can find in that rather small (and inexpensive) box.

Our first impression is very positive and you may wait for our review of the game to learn more – or just go and get it yourself 😉

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