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Alien vs Predator: The Hunt Begins» Forums » Reviews

Subject: The Hunt begins - is this a trophy? rss

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Konstantin Lubsky
Germany
München
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Being a huge fan of the AvP franchise and having heard a lot of feedback about „The Hunt begins“, today I finally found the time to try out my copy by myself. Naturally, my expectations were very high (like the ones of many other fans, too), so let’s see if they were fulfilled.

Rules & Components
In my reviews, I usually don’t write much about rules and components, but here I’d like to make a few remarks.

In the quite large box you get about 100 play cards, about 60 tiles out of which you’ll form your gaming area and about 150 tokens. And of course 23 figures (5x Marines, 15x Alien and 3x Predator), which is most interesting, so let’s start with them. The sculpting of the miniatures is high quality since they are very detailed and elaborate. However, they are in my opinion more suitable for vitrine display and less for actual gaming because they appear so fragile. Some details like the tails of the aliens are so tiny that I am always afraid of breaking something of when I touch them. Moreover, you don’t get the miniatures in one piece, so you’ll have to assemble them first. However, to do so, you really require advanced modelling skills and some devices like model making glue and knife. You should really keep this in mind and if I hadn’t been a fan of the franchise, this would definitely have turned me off! Fantasy Flight Games has done it in their “Star Wars: Imperial Assault” game (which I like a lot and I might keeping to draw comparisons to it) much better.

The quality of the rest of the components is quite ok. The tiles which represent rooms and corridors are kept in a dark style which catches the atmosphere of the setting quite well. Of course, there could be more details and when I looked at them for the first time, I couldn’t tell the difference between infested and half-infested tiles, but all in all, I can live with them. Like the tiles, the cards are also quite solid. They have different backs for the different decks (strategy cards for every faction and a random events deck) but when you look at the graphic design of the decks (and the graphics on the front side), you can’t really tell which deck belongs to which faction! I mean, aliens, humans and predators are three totally different species and the designers couldn’t find appropriate graphic layouts to tell them apart?! I think that here one should have done a much better job.

Having heard a lot of complaints about the original rules found in the box, I simply waited for v2.0 and read only it, so my review is entirely based on this version. Some quick checks revealed that there are quite a lot of changes, which indicates that the original version wasn’t fully developed and needed many adjustments. Now most things are more or less understandable, but when I read the rules for the first time, I really had some difficulties to imagine how the whole thing would finally work. As you would expect, each faction has a variety of actions which only it can perform and the designers decided to describe them in the different sections which deal with the appropriate point. E.g., all the move actions under “movement”, all the combat actions under “combat”, etc. Generally, this is a reasonable approach, but here the result is that all the actions are scattered throughout the whole rulebook, which is over 40 pages long! E.g., if you want to know how an alien can open a door, you have to go back to the very beginning where the general concepts are explained and look under “doors”. An index wouldn’t have been a bad idea, I suppose. Nevertheless, what this game really needs are reference sheets for every faction where all their abilities and modifications are summarized. Because when I started to play, I had really no idea out of which actions I can choose for the respective faction! Fortunately, there are some fan-made reference sheets available online now.


Gameplay
Ok, you see, the beginning of the hunt is quite difficult, but now the most important question: how does it play?
A turn in AvP: THB goes like this:
First, every faction rolls a d20 (this game is entirely based on d20) to determine the initiative. The outcome will decide the order in which the players will act in the current turn.
Then a so-called “environmental card” is drawn. It describes a random event, which affects the current game turn. E.g., close combat or ranged attacks are made more difficult; doors might open automatically, etc. The idea behind it is that the whole action takes place on a spaceship, which systems are getting out of control. Being a convinced supporter of random events in games, I really like it because it makes every game unique and lively and opens unexpected opportunities.

Third, the real action begins: players alternate in activating their models one by one (you get to activate your second model only after everyone is finished with his first one, etc.) until everyone is finished. When the game is set up, not the models are placed, but tokens showing their back side, so only the owning player knows which actual unit is represented by the respective token. When tokens get into line of sight of each other, they are revealed and replaced by the actual miniatures.

Usually, this is the moment, when the action - and game fun – come into play. But first, a few words about the game board, where everything takes place. For every scenario (there are 10 of them in the rulebook) you compose a peculiar area of different tiles, which you put together like a puzzle. But unlike “Imperial Assault”, the tiles aren’t subdivided into squares which means that the whole tile is considered as one gaming space. This makes combat some kind more abstract and less cinematic, so I would have preferred squares. But this is a matter of personal taste, obviously.

As already mentioned, there is a formidable range of different actions available to each faction. Each figure has 2 action points and can generally either perform 2 actions which cost 1 action point each, or just one - more elaborate - action which costs 2 action points. You can do many of the things you know from the movies and video games, like burning enemies with a flamethrower, crushing doors, crawling through vents, firing plasma guns, throwing smart discs and much more. Some of the options become available through the tactical cards every faction draws from its own deck. If used wisely, these cards can give you a real advantage in a critical moment.

Combat
And of course we have to talk a bit about the heart of every combat game, the combat resolution. There are two types of combat: close combat and ranged combat. When figures from different factions occupy the same tile, only close combat can take place between them (I don’t know if there are any exceptions to this) and if you want to attack a hostile figure on another tile, you make a ranged combat attack. In general, both work the same way: first, the attacking player has to pass a close combat or ranged combat test. You roll 1d20 and compare the result to your ability value for this type of attack. Therefore, if your ranged combat skill is 12, then you have to roll a 12 or less or your shoot misses. If you hit, the defender has to make a save roll based on his armor value proportional to the strength of the weapon (not the same as close/range combat skill). Let’s say that the strength of the weapon is 14 and the armor value is 13: then the armor value is reduced for the current test to 9 (a strength of 8 adds 2 to the armor value; 10 doesn’t modify the armor; 15 reduces the armor by 5, etc.). Now the defender has to roll “9” or less to avoid a hit. Otherwise, he’ll suffer a wound. Aliens and human figures are usually eliminated after taking one wound and predators only after taking their third one. In addition, every weapon has a range of motion. This is the number of attacks a figure can make using this weapon per action. So a range of motion of “3” means that you can shoot 3 times during one single action, but only once with a range of motion “1” weapon, etc. Of course, under certain circumstances, there might be modifications for all these rolls and values, but this is the general outline. Ok, I now it’s me who might sound overly complex, but combat resolution itself isn’t too difficult once you start playing.

And this is how it goes until all figures on the board have been activated.
Then you can draw new cards from your deck and the next turn begins. And the whole process continues until one side has met her victory conditions as described by the mission briefing. These are usually destroying certain rooms, activating something, killing enemy units, etc.

Conclusion
So is this hunt a success? Well, if you are an AVP fan, if you like miniature gaming and if you aren’t deterred by all the obstacles described in the beginning, I tend to affirm. Ok, this might not sound totally convinced and I have to summarize my complaints: a big issue is the lack of reference sheets. Because of this, there were so many things I overlooked or played wrongly during my first game, it’s really a shame. And when I buy a board game, I don’t want have to do a model making course to be able to play it! Another minus is that all the missions in the rulebook are only for 3 players.

However, once you start playing, the variety of options create a really interesting and unique challenge for each side. Moreover, all the cards not only add a lot to the atmosphere, but also to the tactical depth. Admittedly, there are some design choices which I find strange (like the ability of shooting a flamethrower around a corner under certain conditions, grenade launcher making damage only to one hostile figure or the marine ability of taking a wound in place of another marine) but I think that I have to play this game a few times more to judge about it. And only then I’ll be able to say more about game balance.
So all in all, if you are a real hardcore fan who won’t be stopped by anything, you can declare open season on Marines/Aliens/Predators (please check all that apply ;)!
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Brandon C

California
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Ok I have to respond to this one.

To begin with I own both imperial assault + expansions and AVP the hunt begins (I like them both I think they are great).

1. Why would you read 2.0 and then 1.0 before even playing enough to get a good grasp on the game? I find it likely you mix/ed stuff up due to this approach). ref sheets would not have taught you how to play.

2. Imperial assult isnt a great game to comapre AVP to. They share cards, dice, models, and tiles in common and not much else. Imperial assault is much more rpgish and character story driven. AVP especially under 2.0 (which is free to download) is a solid wargame that I feel sucessfuly puts you in the setting both visually and with game mechanics.

4. Sorry, but comparing the mass produced unrefined softish plastic figures in imperial assualt to the finely detailed models in AVP is like comparing masonry bricks to engraved marbel tiles. The box warns you that they are resin. I do agree that becasue of this quality they will not be as rugged as the mostly single cast plastics found in imperial assault (do not assemble and then just toss them all back into the box you will be sad when next you open it).

AVP the hunt begins is a gateway to PRODOS table top wargame for AVP. Which if you learned to play the boardgame will take you 5 minutes to adjust to. So a lot of potential for expansion in the boardgame itself and for when/if you want to play something more grand in scale.
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Konstantin Lubsky
Germany
München
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Dear Brandon,
thank you for taking time and effort to read my review and write a comment.

To your questions:

1) You are right that I haven't played AVP much yet; however, most reviews I found on the internet were written by people who haven't played the game at all, so I wnated to give interested gamers something more substantial. And I think that I am not the only one who finds the rules confusing. After having read them, I was quite overwhelmed and had no real idea what the different factions can actually do. This is why I think that reference sheets, where all the possible actions are summarized, would have been a good idea.

2) Maybe there are more differences between IA and AVP than similarities, but these are the only miniature games I have and they are totally different to all the other games I usually play. This is why from my point of view they are comparable.

3) In my opinion, the quality of IA figures is very high and I like them a lot. And I definitely prefer this aparoach much more to the necessity of assembling and glueing everything together because I have neither the tools nor advanced modelling skills to do it!

Will there be an AVP tabletop system based on the boardgame? This sounds really interesting! Could you please provide me a link to the source you got this info from? Thank you!
 
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Shirley T
United States
Virginia
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Irish1983 wrote:
2. Imperial assult isnt a great game to comapre AVP to. They share cards, dice, models, and tiles in common and not much else. Imperial assault is much more rpgish and character story driven. AVP especially under 2.0 (which is free to download) is a solid wargame that I feel sucessfuly puts you in the setting both visually and with game mechanics.
I disagree, he has a good argument for comparing the two because... 1)They are both advertised as puzzle-tile tactical board games 2) that use detailed miniatures, cards, and dice in their game mechanics 3) based on popular sci-fi franchises 4) that are both more wargame than boardgame. 5) The games also feature miniature-based expansions/add-ons as well. They are more similar, then they are different.

However, FFG pushes RPG-lite story with pre-built miniatures of good detail and sturdy build. While Prodos pushes wargame heavy mechanics with unassembled minis of extreme detail that are inherently fragile. The problem is, where FFG crafts a game that strikes a balance that all players can enjoy (or at least live with happily)... Prodos created a wargame that masquerades as a boardgame. This has a potential to alienate both audiences: wargamers pan the poorly written rules, and boardgames are turned away by the "hardcore" and fragile miniatures. That's why they may be abandoning this game for AVP: The Last Stand, in an attempt to be more boadgamer friendly.

Irish1983 wrote:
AVP the hunt begins is a gateway to PRODOS table top wargame for AVP. Which if you learned to play the boardgame will take you 5 minutes to adjust to.
A gateway into a set of rules that don't exist yet? Am I missing something? How will it take 5 minutes to learn how to play a game whose rules have yet to be released?whistle

I do not fault the OP for confusing these rules: they are an unclear mess that are still poorly organized and difficult to reference (even under 2.0). To be clear, the actual mechanics are straight-forward and fast-playing; but learning the game can be daunting based on how the rules are written. I found at least a half-dozen inconsistencies or out-right contradictions within the rules based on the careless writing style and organization the authors took.

Konstantin wrote:
a big issue is the lack of reference sheets.
AGREED! That's why I made this: https://www.boardgamegeek.com/filepage/138161/avp-reference-...

My 2 cents:
I think this review is pretty spot-on! You obvious like the franchise, and see the potential in the game, but are not happy with it's shortfalls.

Here's how I see it
-Boardgamers: SPEND YOUR MONEY ELSEWHERE, THIS ISN'T WORTH IT.
-Wargamers interested in the franchise: It's worth the plunge as long as you understand the rulebook is still deeply flawed and you understand Prodos games checkered past (see: any post mentioning Prodos and/or Kickstarter).
-Everyone else: Skip this one.
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