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First Contact

May 8, 2010

I’m back from my little UK tour, and I’m happy to say that my uninspired mood towards miniatures has pretty much disappeared. Oh, I knew it would but it’s always a happy event.

I finally received my copy of Space Hulk, and proceeded to test the rules first by gaming solo and then inviting a few friends over for a game. The result? A very fun night spent blasting Xenomorphs and ripping Colonial Marines apart. The rules were easy and quick to pick up, and we were gaming in no time even with little to no previous Space Hulk experience. While it’s basically a two player affair, the game lent itself well to three-way gaming, as there are quite a few missions with two squads of marines and one player controlling the Genestealers, or Aliens in our case. We played using the Colonial Marines and Aliens detailed a few posts back.

With the corridor ahead on fire, a marine has time for a quick breather, not to mention death

One thing we really enjoyed was the movie-like feel to the game. The air was thick with Aliens quotes before long, and small fragments of narrative started forming. As the gun on a marine firing on overwatch jammed and he was soon after nailed by an Alien, we could just imagine the few seconds of terror experienced by our little imaginary friend. Such cinematic moments were frequent, as the Marines were in many games taken out one by one, either by luck or simply by way of numbers. Space Hulk’s rules capture the imagery and feel of the Alien quadrilogy – part two especially – beautifully. The rules also present the Genestealers as terrifying in close combat, capable of easily tearing through a marine. We observed that this is even more fitting for an Alien scenario, as there really is no doubt about who the favourite is in a hand to hand encounter.

Despite his overwatch, a CM sergeant is about to become the evening's white meat of choice

In addition to the cinematic feel and quickness of play, another thing in favour of Space Hulk is its unpredictability. This doesn’t mean that the games are totally random, but simply that you can never be quite sure that the plan you’ve crafted is going to work. Guns will jam, creatures just will not die, a marine will actually win a close combat encounter and so on. This leaves room for – and indeed forces – the tactician to actually think ahead a bit and prepare to cope with surprise situations. And this means the game becomes actually pretty hard to master, especially considering the 3 minute time limit the marine player has. All this makes for a very entertaining game with a high replay value.

"They're coming outta the goddamn walls!"

One thing that I tend to forget while concentrating on the modelling aspect of miniatures is that gaming is actually really fun once you get down to it. A couple of good friends, a ton of snacks and a few solid games with painted miniatures make for an excellent night. A reminder like this is really good every once in a while. It’s also great for motivation, since something is actually coming out of all of those big unfinished projects. In this case it was a night of gaming and spending time with friends, which left us all yearning for more. Not bad at all!

I’m also happy to report that the game prompted me to finish three HorrorClix Aliens, that’ve been half painted for ages, and I’m preparing to paint the remaining seven. As Ferro puts it in Aliens: We’re in the pipe, five by five.

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2 comments

  1. Space Hulk is sublime. It really is one of my favourite miniature realated pursuits ever.

    The mechanics are that often mentioned but rarely encountered “elegantly simple” layout, yet it also manages to be a hugely atmospheric experience.

    It really is a triumph of boardgame design. And to top it all off, its about Aliens. Best. Theme. Evar.

    Mommy always said that there were no perfect boardgames – no real ones – but there are.


    • You, my good sir, are absolutely correct on all counts.



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