Kevin Shaud
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This is my first review, so please be gentle. There are already a few other reviews that have touched on the components and basic gameplay of Warfighter so I'm going to focus this review on a question that I saw posted on one of the Warfighter BGG forums: how does Warfighter compare to Space Hulk: Death Angel? It is a natural comparison as both games involve combat against a superior force of enemies while navigating through hostile terrain. They're also both designed for solitaire play (solitaire rules aren't bolted on or adaptations of the regular rules), and they both attempt to evoke a thematic play experience.

I suppose that I should start out by providing a quick bit of my gaming background. I play and enjoy all kinds of games, but am particularly enamored with games that provide an immersive and richly thematic experience. I always like a game better when it doesn't feel like the theme is "pasted on" as we gamers like to say. I also like a feeling of tension in a game. I want winning to be a challenge so it feels like an accomplishment when I'm able to pull it off successfully. One last thing that I look for is the creation of a narrative as the game unfolds so that it feels as if your play experience becomes a story; almost like reading a good book. So these are the facets that I'll focus on in this review:

1. Immersion
2. Theme
3. Tension
4. Narrative

For each of the above items, I will give my opinion on whether WF has less, more, or the same amount of that characteristic and why I feel that way.

Before getting to that, I suppose that I should give a quick synopsis on my opinion of SH as a basis for comparing it with WF. In short, I am a big fan of SH. I greatly enjoy it solitaire and have found it to be just as rewarding in a two-player game. I haven't played SH with more than two, so I can't comment as to how well it plays with more. I currently have SH rated as a 9. Okay, on to the heart of this review.

1. Immersion: SH does a solid job of making you feel like you're wandering down the creepy, darkened corridors of a drifting spaceship filled with enemies bent on destroying you. From the artwork on the terrain and location cards to the hideous images on the genestealer cards, it's easy to lose yourself in a desperate battle against a relentless enemy. How does WF compare? I feel that WF does an even better job of immersing you in your mission. Primarily because there are more details in WF than in SH. It's not just another genestealer on your flank, it's a two-man rocket team targeting Giacomelli one location over that could blow him into next week. It's not just I need to find a way to get that genestealer off my six, it's do I attempt a shot from two locations away with the M14 sniper rifle or try to move Thomas in and take them out with the AA-12 shotgun? Advantage: WF

2. Theme: In SH, the primary drivers behind the theme are the special effects of some of the locations, the action cards of the combat teams and the event cards. They add up to a highly-thematic experience. The differing talents of your Space Marines is represented by the special effects on their action cards. The cunning and relentless nature of the genestealers is brought to life by the event cards. Just when it seems like you have the upper hand on them and are about to be victorious, all of them flank you. How does WF compare? I would give WF the nod over SH in the theme department. There are similarities such as the locations and events and how they can affect game play. The soldier skills in WF are much like the Space Marines action cards in SH. Where I think WF distinguishes itself is again in the details. The variety of weapons and equipment and how you can use them to your maximum advantage takes the theme up a notch. The biggest difference that WF brings to the table though is the use and management of the soldier action cards. The array of effects these cards have and the fact that you often need to sacrifice them to pay entry costs or to play a location adds a whole other element to gameplay. The timely play of an action card can mean the difference between a soldier surviving or not surviving. Advantage: WF


3. Tension: If you have ever played SH, which I'm assuming you probably have since you're reading this review comparing it to Warfighter, you know how tense that game can be. You're marching along, almost ready to advance to the final location with most of your team intact and then BLAM! two Space Marines die and you're suddenly struggling to hang on and win the game. You are rarely ever comfortable in that game and if you are, it doesn't last for long. How does WF compare? Before answering, I'm going to qualify my answer by pointing out that I have not yet played any missions using the Middle East Military, which are the most difficult enemy forces. When it comes to tension, I would give a very slight edge to SH. Not that WF isn't tense - it very much is - it's just that in my first two missions, there were more times when I felt relatively comfortable compared to when I'm playing SH. I fully expect that this will change once I play more missions and tangle with the more difficult enemies including those in the upcoming Wave 2 expansions that are on Kickstarter now. I can only speak to my experience thus far. Don't get me wrong, when you need to pull an XP total of 7 hostiles for a location and get 0, 1, 1, 2, and 3, the tension definitely gets ratcheted up a notch. WF has tension aplenty, more than probably 90% of other games that I've played, but I just feel like SH may have slightly more.
Advantage: SH


4. Narrative: Of the four elements that I have covered in this review, I think this one is where SH is weakest. Not that I don't fall into despair when Brother Leon gets killed in SH and I lose his awesome 3-attack ability, but aside from the fate of the Space Marines and whether they win a dashing victory or go out in a blaze of glory, I don't feel that there is much of a story in SH. There are definitely some memorable moments that really stand out, but the narrative pales compared to the immersion, theme, and tension of SH. How does WF compare? This is where I think WF distances itself from SH the most. Yes, the Space Marines in SH have names, but in WF, the guy on the card could be your neighbor or your buddy from college or your coworker. His name and picture are on his soldier card for crying out loud! You feel a human connection to the soldiers and can imagine yourself winding your way through enemy territory with them. In WF, there are so many "YEAH TAKE THAT!" moments when you move in close and take out a bad guy with a stealth attack or pick him off from a distance with a well-placed shot. You can imagine Thomas nodding to Giacomelli for taking out the gunmen on his six as they move into the village. The narrative of WF ties beautifully into the theme and immersion of the game. When you activate the final objective, you can almost see the members of your team meeting each other's gaze before heading into the fray. This is one of the things that I love most about WF.
Advantage: WF

Summary: If you like the theme, tension and immersion of Space Hulk: Death Angel, you should definitely check out Warfighter. It has all of those elements and an even stronger narrative. Also, the already available and upcoming expansions to Warfighter seem that they'll enrich the game experience even more than the expansions available for Death Angel. Again, this is due to the richness of the details in the game and how those details tie seamlessly into gameplay. Bottom line, Space Hulk: Death Angel is among my favorite games, but Warfighter kicks up the experience to a whole new level. If you love Death Angel, you will likely love Warfighter even more!

Thanks for reading,

Kevin
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Thanks for this great write up!

I love Death Angel as well and it's a solid 9 for me. I play it often (thought not in the last month since Warfighter hit the table)

kevinruns262 wrote:
3. Tension: If you have ever played SH, which I'm assuming you probably have since you're reading this review comparing it to Warfighter, you know how tense that game can be.


I think what makes SH;DA so much more tense (artificially inflated tension I think) is the fact you cannot choose the same action twice. It's a little gamey, but I appreciate that abstract restriction because it's the meat and potatoes of that game for me and forces me to make really hard choices (how/when to use support tokens is second runner up)

Can you imagine not being able to take attack actions twice in a row in Warfighter?

When playing SH, I get sick to my stomach on those days when 2 of my 3 teams are forced to attack one turn, clearing out all the Tyrannids, only to draw "They're Everywhere" during the event phase shake
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Kevin Shaud
United States
Landisville
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xBino wrote:

I think what makes SH;DA so much more tense (artificially inflated tension I think) is the fact you cannot choose the same action twice. It's a little gamey, but I appreciate that abstract restriction because it's the meat and potatoes of that game for me and forces me to make really hard choices (how/when to use support tokens is second runner up)



Totally agree with you. It does feel a bit gamey and artificial. I imagine that while they were play testing, they realized that the game would be too easy if all your teams could attack every turn.
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