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Princess Ryan's Star Marines» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Review of the Cover rss

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Ken McElhaney
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One of the most interesting games to emerge from Avalon Hill before they were purchased by Hasbro was Princess Ryan’s Star Marines. An interest mixture of well crafted and designed cards that also uses a board to track the progress of the rescue attempt, in some ways this game was ahead of its time in terms of being basically a cooperative endeavor that emphasized exquisite artwork (particularly the site cards).

However, the game came off as more of a hybrid that is arguably a little more convoluted than it needed to be, although I must say that after playing it more than a dozen times over the years that it works very well and is enjoyable to break out on different occasions.

I was always fascinated by the cover art which manages to set the scene quite nicely, even though what is depicted may not be part of the action that occurs during the game. So, for what it’s worth here is a review of one of the most interesting covers for any game to spring from the Pre-Hasbro days of Avalon Hill.



The Scene
We have four soldiers and one civilian standing in front of a futuristic assault vehicle or tank located in a desert setting between two large rock formations. All five are peering at something which is just above “us” the viewer. Given how the soldier sporting the beret and sunglasses is appearing to ready his weapon this may be an indication of something menacing which is approaching the group. However, if that is indeed the Princess behind that soldier then it could be a transport ship or the Schenectady itself preparing to land to take the Princess aboard.

It is a potent scene that depicts no conflict, but the potential for something to happen which is actually quite effective. I particularly like the faux-3D effect of the nearest soldier’s right foot actually stepping out of the scene and onto the box itself which is a really nice touch.

Also, if you remove the hover tank from the scene there is very little to suggest anything that this is set in the future on a faraway planet. All the clothing, weapons and gear, save for the unusually designed computer that the soldier on the far right sports (a tricorder, perhaps?) definitely screams late 1980s/early 1990s.

The Soldiers
The fact that the same artist did the cover art as well as the cards is actually quite interesting, especially in this day and age of using different artists in an attempt to speed up the production of the game. The two soldiers on the left are Chris “Godfather II” Vorder-Bruegge and Eric “Ze Sanitizer” Sanne who pose in almost the exact same manner as their counterparts on their respective soldier cards.

However, the two soldiers on the right are something of a mystery. The one with the beret sports a Bowie knife, binoculars and sunglasses which are not matched by any of the character cards. The one next to the assault vehicle could be a beefier version of Charley “Ballistic” Hood based on his hairstyle, but he lacks the mustache and soul patch and appears to be a dressed-down soldier rather than a pilot. It could be that the two other soldiers were early drawings that were not used in the game.

Sanne actually looks a little like actor Gary Sinese, but “Forest Gump” was still a year away from opening at the box office at the time. So, this may be a somewhat altered version of Corporal Hicks (Michael Biehn) from “Aliens”.

Vorder-Bruegge appears to be based somewhat on Private Vasquez (Jenette Goldstein) from “Aliens” as she sports the same basic clothing and headband that is pure 1980s in style. Her form-fitting pants are certainly in stark contrast to the baggy trousers worn by the other three soldiers, but that is only “fitting” I suppose (insert groan here).shake

The Uniforms & Gear
The overall style is clearly derived from the 1986 film “Aliens” which featured a group of Colonial Marines who appeared to be dressed straight out of Vietnam War movies of the time. The sort of dressed-down appearance is certainly in stark contrast to the heavily armored Heartbreaker Scout Model who is actually quite in tune with today’s military of extensive body armor although the model’s lack of a helmet is certainly a retro touch…in a movie sort of way.

While their heavy gear may be inside the tank, the rest of what they wear and carry is pretty basic stuff. Bowie knifes, assault rifles and a pistol-grip shotgun make up the weapons while there are some doo-dads on each of the soldiers that may attempt a “futuristic” appearance.

Vorder-Bruegge is holding a 20th century map, something that you see far less of today thanks to GPS. However, it is something that at the time the drawing was made probably could not have been foreseen at the time…at least by the artist.

The Girl
It is widely assumed that the girl is Princess Ryan herself peering out from behind the third soldier. She is rather casually dressed though the long skirt is rather out of place. Still, she does remember to lean forward to show offer her “assets” and I suppose provide a reason why the marines are fighting to rescue her in the first place. At the very least she does not appear shy and was well treated by the Black Guard who allowed her hair and makeup products.whistle

If this is the Princess, then the scene itself is something that does not take place during the game as she has already been rescued. Once the Marines find her the game immediately ends so this is either the aftermath of the rescue or this is not Princess Ryan. However, I get the feeling that she is supposed to represent the Princess regardless of the actual setting.

All in all, a rather interesting cover that sports some interesting details which helps highlight the fun of the game itself, yet it rather reflects a great deal of the “sci-fi” culture of the time as influenced by films like “Aliens”.
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Jo Bartok
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Interaction leads to Immersion.
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Now the game is rated pretty low... and maybe rightly so, but maybe not.
Some comments read like "it is a cooperative game but is not" ... those comments are just meh, I am especially interested in real coop games where you don't just share jobs and workload but have some other mechanics that stops alpha behavior by mechanics. Cutthroat Caverns or Battlestar Galactica do that.

But other comments say it is very slow or that you can't even win and that it is damn hard until the very end where you suddenly go against each other and that this combination doesn't work well...

Other comments speak of really bad rules as written.

So: how is your stance on this, now that you played it? Is it worth purchasing? Can you read the rules and play the game or is it rather a deciphering?
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Juan Valle
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Hi Folks!

Hereby my 2 cents about this game...

First of all I recognized am biased towards it, since I ordered directly from AH and they shipped to me by the same time they got acquired by Hasbro, about summer of 1998.

Personally I enjoy to play this game in a solo/cooperative mode, using either 4 (easier) or 3 (difficult) teams of Marines against the game system. Perhaps due to I have some experience with this game do not find its rules so confusing as other gamers mentioned, and when you play solo/coop personally I find it thrilling when a different location from the one in the map board pops up or when you stack the Marines and their weapons against a foe of unknown strength, which could either be a local militia unit or the might Congress Guards...one of the Space Marine characters has the ability of checking which card will be played by the bad guys.

Also through the cards mechanism you can pinpoint (even if soloing the game) the Princess location and rescue her in time!

Last but not least, this game is not too long, taking about 90 minutes for completion.

Regards,

Juan
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Lance McMillan
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It's not a bad game, but definitely not great. To me, PRSM always felt as if it had been rushed into production, that development wasn't quite complete, in a push to get it out the door and onto store shelves before AH closed up shop -- it alwasy feels as if there's some final little touch that's missing for the game to have lived up to its full potential.
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Was George Orwell an Optimist?
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As an article, that would have been fun and entertaining. As a review, it's just another instance of GeekMod failure (too bad the game had no dice; we could have had a review for those too).
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Jim Marshall
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A review of a cover?!? Genius-level irony, he's gotta be kiddi .... oh .... ..
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Ken McElhaney
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Jim Marshall wrote:
A review of a cover?!? Genius-level irony, he's gotta be kiddi .... oh .... ..


Hey, people who post on BGG still have a sense of hu....oh wait...whistle
 
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