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Space Hulk: Death Angel – The Card Game» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Space Hulk: Death Angel - Review rss

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Johannes Battenberg
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Space Hulk: Death Angel - The Card Game (or short SHDA) is a cooperative card game for 1 to 6 players.

That being said, most games I played were solo games.

Scenario
Space Hulk: Death Angel is set in the Warhammer 40K universe, which I don't know that much about. The players take control of a team of heavily armed and armored Space Marines who explore an alien infested space hulk, a huge drifting conglomerations of ship wrecks.

The goal is to reach the final room in the space hulk and fulfilling the victory condition before the Marines are ripped to pieces by the alien genestealers.

Gameplay

Although this is a card game, it plays more like a board game. Most components could be replaced by tokens/minis without changing the gameplay in any meaningful way.

The space marines are put onto the table in a single column, this is the formation in which they walk through the space hulk.
On either side of the Marines terrain cards are placed, these represent the notable parts of the current room. They are also where new aliens spawn.

A round starts with the players chosing the actions for their marines. Each team consits of two Marines and has three action cards, one for each basic action: Support, Move + Activate and Attack.
In addition each card has a special ability unique to that team. Because of this, every team play quite different.


The basic actions work as follows:
Support: You put a support token on any marine, these can be used to reroll attack and defense rolls.

Move + Activate: Each of your marines may switch position with an adjecent Marine, change his facing and/or activate a terrain card (like a control panel). Each Marine is either facing left or right, he can only attack in the direction he is facing and may only use support tokens on defense, if he is facing the enemies.

Attack: Each Marine of your team may attack once. To attack he rolls the die, on three sides of this die is a skull in adition to the number. If a marine rolls a skull, he kills one genestealer.

After being played, the action cards return the the respective players hands, so you will play your actions over and over. There is one exception though: You may not play the same action in two consecutive turns.


The action phase is followed by the genestealer phase. Here the genestealers will attack the marine they are adjecent to. Genestealers attack in swarms, to defend a Marine must roll higher than the number of genestealers in the attacking swarm. If the Marine fails, he dies. Unlike a regular die, the one included in SHDA shows numbers from 0-5 instead of 1-6. This means (without special abilities or rerolls) that a single genestealer has a 33% chance to kill marine and a swarm of five or more genestealers means certain death.

 

The final phase of the round is the event phase, in which an event card is drawn. The players must then resolve the event, but the event card also tells where new genestealers will spawn and how they will move.


Each room has a limited number of genestealers which are in two blip piles. One on the left, one to the right. Once at least one of these piles is empty, the Marines will advance to the next room, followed by all genestealers that are currently in play.

When the Marines advance, a randomly selected new room card is revealed, the appropriate terrain cards are placed and the blip piles are refilled. Some rooms trigger special abilities on entering the room, others have control panels that can be activated by the players.

The game is over when the Marines fulfill the victory condition of the final room, kill all genestealers in the final room or when all Space Marines are dead. Mostly it's the latter.

The Bottom Line
I like this game a lot. This is a hard game: you need a good strategy and some luck to win. The game is very unpredictable and you mostly plan round by round, since it's impossible to craft a master plan for the entire game.
The card design is superb. I read this in reviews before I bought the game and thought: "They look quite nice, but not that incredible." Once I played the game I understood what was meant. The cards feature a very clear symbolism and you really just need to take a quick look at most cards and you know what's going on. No need to remember much or consult the rules all the time.

I just said this game is high luck and that is true: A few unlucky die rolls can be your downfall. But without a good strategy, you are doomed from the start. With a good strategy you can turn the odds to your favor. You have to choose wisely where to put your support tokens and which action you want to play this turn, since you may not use it the next turn again.

In my opinion the game has high a high replay value, as the rooms are randomized and the teams in play will always be a little different.

The rooms have a little downside though: half of the rooms will never be used in solo games and even with more players there are rooms you won't see, as they only appear for a specific number players. With some house rules, this can easily be changed.

The Marines have an issue as well: If you play with 3 or 6 players, all teams will be in use, so in these games, only the starting position of the Marines changes.

8/10
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Matt Connellan
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I agree with most of your points, including the one regarding never getting to see certain rooms with certain player counts. Personally, I just vary the number of teams I play with game to game so I can see more scenarios, but then again I only have ever and will ever play this solo.

I do feel, however, that every review should include this one caveat: the rulebook is total ass. It's okay for learning the game, but if you ever have a question or something that you need clarification on, it's nearly impossible to find, as the rule you are missing/looking for is a single sentence in a paragraph that usually has nothing to do with the rule you were looking for.

Other than that though, great game and good review.
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rajae aree
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Ditto on the rule book, I watched Rhados walk though to get a grip on it...

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Johannes Battenberg
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Yeah, I forgot about the crappy rulebook. It's ok if you read it front to back without following any references, but that's it.
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Mo
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Pintsizepete wrote:
I agree with most of your points, including the one regarding never getting to see certain rooms with certain player counts. Personally, I just vary the number of teams I play with game to game so I can see more scenarios, but then again I only have ever and will ever play this solo.


Just shuffle all of the Locations together, draw them randomly during setup (except for the Void Lock and Location #4), and use this handy dandy chart:

Location Substitutions

Works great!

Mo meeple
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Aaron White
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The way the rule book is written makes sense if you know how to play the game. I know this sounds obvious, but I think this is the hurdle the designers had when writing it - could not write it from the new player perspective. blush
 
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Sergei Chavo
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Thx, good review for good game! I think rulebook isn't crappy at all, its very small and give the answers for basic questions.
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Mark Campo
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the rule book isn't bad its the dice that evil evil dice from the bottom of the darkest crevasses in the abyss
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