By Eric Newland
“There’s movement all over the place” – Aliens
That quote says it all. This game with the right group of friends is very exciting! I picked this game up from Gen Con a week or so again. Here is my review.
The box contains a large amount of cards. The card quality is very good. No flimsy or cheap cards here. It also comes with a single red dice. The artwork on all the cards is very well done. The space marines look well drawn and the Genestealers are also very scary looking. There are 4 types of aliens, each with their different picture. The rest of the cards, like the location cards, event cards, and other random cards give you the feeling you are on a Space Hulk, which has a creepy atmosphere.
The rules are very easy to follow. They do a good job of laying out the steps of the game in an orderly fashion. There are also many examples of game play to help in some of the harder areas of the rules. When I was done reading the rules, I was pretty confident I knew how to play the game.
I’m not going to go real deep with the rule set. It’s better if you read those on your own. Basically, there are 4 steps in which your team of marines chooses actions, like attack, move or support another marine. Then you proceed with those actions and let it all resolve. After your team has a chance to play, the aliens then have their turn. Like the marines, they get to attack and move around as well. The cool part about the game is you know how many aliens you have to deal with due to the blip piles at the top of your formation. The part you don’t know is where they will spawn at and how many will spawn at those locations. Combat is easy. Rolling a dice and hitting a skull means you kill creatures. On defense, rolling a higher number then the swarm means they miss you.
When we first played, our team was all over the place. The key to the game is facing and maintaining a good formation. Let me explain. You can only kill creatures that you are engaged with, meaning facing them. If they are behind you, a marine can only defend and not attack. Later, we started to understand that we needed to cover the vents and other location cards where the most threats spawned. I could really visualize my marines, guns cocked, pointing at a vent waiting for creatures to rush them.
The event cards at the end of each round can either hurt you or help you. One example was the event changed the way our formation was facing and really messed us up. We took major casualties that round. Another cool thing about the game is you travel down levels of this ship. Each time you travel, the location changes and new things happen. So, the replay on this game is amazing. It changes every time. On our final level, we were swarmed with so many aliens, I though it was over. With some good luck and well planning, we exterminated the swarm and won the day. It could have gone either way and that is what makes this game so much fun. Knowing that your odds of survival are very, very low makes you want to play it over and over again.
I really like this game. It gets better with the more people you have. Granted, I could see a casual group of gamers not liking it. A lot of people don’t like co-op games. This is a hardcore co-op game. Everyone has to communicate and know what everyone is planning on doing. The moment that stops, it will be a closed casket for your marines. Every round is as tense as the next. There’s little down time, which is a good thing too. If you have a good group of gamers who enjoys a great co-op experience and likes to think three moves ahead, then this is the game for you.
Review kindly supplied by Eric Newland