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D. Patton
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Myrtle Creek
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The original Avalon Hill Starship Troopers game (1970s) is based on the original Heinlein novel. Just as the movie version differs from the novel, the two incarnations of the game differ radically from each other. This review is for the 1970s version.

The AH game is a hex-map game that uses square chit counters to represent units on the game board. The board is three separate sections that each fold in half for storage. The gameboard is pre-printed with terrain that is used/ignored as scenarios for the game dictate. Combat in the game is resolved with the stereotypical odds ratio chart and a single six-sided die.

Players can play three different forces in the game: Terrans, Humanoid (Skinnies) and Arachnids. Terrans are the Mobile Infantry, power armored spacesuit wearing grunts, and supporting human troop types. Skinnies are an alien faction introdued in the novel and are represented as civilian workers or military warriors. Arachnids are likewise broken down into warrior and worker castes.

The 23-page rulebook presents the rules in programmed format, teaching additional, more complex rules with each progressive scenario. By the end of the final scenario, players should theorhetically be able to play the game with all the rule nuances that help simulate the book quite well.

ST has some really neat (IMO) concepts that set it apart from many other similar games. First, MI troops have the option of entering most scenarios via orbittal drop pods (ala parachuting from the ionosphere). This helps give the MI player the mobile feeling of the MI and the chaos that results when the dropzone gets missed.

Another really cool concept is the alien control pad. Basically, the arachnid player has the ability to construct underground tunnel systems (certain construction rules apply). The tunnel systems hide bug movement, speed bug movement beneath the surface and generally make the MI's job tougher.

Atomic weapons are available for limited use. They level anything in the hex they target and leave radiation. There are even subterranean munitions and heavy density nerve gas to flush them nasty bugs out of their holes. Arachnids are not the mindless bugs from the movie, though. They also have munitions including atomic weapons---and they have a lot fewer qualms about where they use them.

The first scenario (once you go back and incorporate all the rules) is one great example of how AH adapted their game to the novel. This scenario requires the MI to wipe out key public works (water, power, etc.) for the skinnies while minimizing civilian casualties. The MI also have a time restraint as they have to complete the mission and make it to a rendezvous point or be stuck on the planet with an angry populace. Later scenarios do a similarly good job of covering various combat missions in the book.

Overall, the game has some neat innovations (the underground tunnel map is probably the most unique) that really convey the flavor of the books. It's nice to see a high quality adaptation made into a high quality game. If you like the novel and you like wargaming, I recommend checking it out.






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Rob M.
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Re:User Review
privateer4hire (#35564),
Excellent review. I would also mention for the Troopers it is not simply a matter of dead-or-alive. The MI units can be wounded, reducing their speed and requiring assistance to evacuate the board, which also adds to the game's replication of the feel of the book.
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D. Patton
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Good point that I forgot to mention. The MI are capable of being negatively affected by enemy attacks at a lot of levels. From just being temporarily stunned to having a hole ripped in their suit, to being taken out all together. The mission requirements that prevent the MI player from leaving wounded comrades behind adds another layer of challenge and as you said a level of similarity to the original novel.

Most of the missions I've lost (as MI) have been due to failing to meet the dropship, usually because I was having to get a couple of apes to help one of their injured comrades.
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