In the navy   Leave a comment

Yes, they can munch your brain with ease.

Thursday evening, my friend came over for a game of Space Hulk.

Just before this, the friend in Germany to whom I posted a package called to say she’d received it. Hurrah! Apparently she’d been away for a week, and her neighbour who picked it up didn’t tell her it’d arrived. Oops. Still, everything in it was OK (even the DIY caramel slices, happily), and she was pretty chuffed with the emergency packaging marshmallows. No report about her reaction to Wagon Wheels yet.

She also asked a question I pondered back when I was unemployed: “How do people with jobs get stuff done?” I still don’t know the answer. Maybe everybody else runs on a 36-hour day, or something.

Anyway, Space Hulk. Quick summary for the uninitiated: there are big, hard, gung-ho Space Marine Terminators with big guns. There are scuttly alien xenomorph Genestelers with big claws and teeth. The Space Marines frantically shoot at the aliens. They miss. The aliens eat the Space Marines. Game over, man, game over.

The game comes with a book of scenarios to play through, and as everyone had played Mission 1, I thought Mission 2 would be a good idea.

This was a mistake.

It was decided that I’d be the Space Marines. I’d played this mission once or twice in Games Workshop, so I had a bit of experience to work with, and the Marines usually have a harder time of it than the Genestealers.

I tend to be quite a slow, conservative and defensively-minded player. If the option to hunker down and let the enemy smash themselves to bits on my defences is a practical one, I’ll take it.

The problem with Mission 2 is that it rewards this style of play far too enthusiastically. There are two ways to win: block all the entry points, or kill all the aliens (it’s one of the few missions where there’s a limited supply). One of these means your good-at-shooting-bad-at-punching Terminators have to fight down corridors, with plenty of opportunity for being surrounded (they’re also bad at turning), towards the oncoming hordes of extremely-good-at-munching-faces aliens. The other means you have to set up some nice, long lines of fire, with no opportunity to be surrounded, and hope you roll lots of 5s and 6s and not many doubles.

Which one I chose should be obvious. Unfortunately, it’s also pretty dull; most of my turns were pretty much “Overwatch, baby!“, and most of his turns were watching me roll 5s and 6s and clearing jams with command points. The aliens barely got any chance to much faces, and they didn’t manage it even once.

Thing is, I made mistakes. I should’ve smashed more doors sooner, and sometimes I forgot to shoot things. But these mistakes never bit me in the arse face. The only mistake I think my opponent made was not saving up his aliens to form a proper wave for much of the mission, rather sending them at me as they turned up. This gave plenty of opportunity to mow them down without getting overwhelmed. OK, and maybe he pushed his luck on occasion; it often seemed to be the “just one more square” that gave the Marine time to pop the xenomorph, rather than stopping whilst he was ahead (or, at least, still alive) and using it to block line of sight in order to bring up more beasties behind the leader.

I also may have made a mistake with the rules regarding clearing jams with Command Points (and I’m not alone; it was also how it was played in GW. Games Workshop in both Ambiguous Wording and Not Knowing Your Own Rules non-shocker); it may be that the alien effectively gets a safe move after a jam, rather than being able to clear it immediately. We’ll try the other option on my next go with the Space-Nazi Super-Soldiers.

Next time, though, it’s Mission 3, which looks much more interesting. And I get to be the beastes. Mmm, Space Marine. Omnomnom.

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Posted 4 September 2011 by Colthor in Diary

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