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Space Hulk (third edition)» Forums » Reviews

Subject: Hi! My name is ***, I'm a euro gamer, and I love Space Hulk rss

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Eric O. LEBIGOT
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Introduction

Space Hulk has so much theme blended in the game mechanics that playing it is almost like watching a TV series. In this series, derelict vessels are the scene of hard-fought battles between Space Marines and Genestealers. The high quality game components (figures, tiles, doors, counters,…) do help getting immersed in the game.

Space Hulk drips with theme

There are dozens of episodes: the game offers 12 missions to boot, and you can alternate sides between plays. Custom scenarios can be created, if need be. Also, given the fact that there are a few different strategies for each mission (if only in the way you initially deploy your Space Marines) and that randomness influences the way the game unravels, Space Hulk has plenty of quality gaming time to offer.

The game is so full of theme that playing it can create a nice narrative, with scenes that seem to directly come from a movie (there are some great session reports here on the Geek). When playing this game, one witnesses desperate acts, beautiful sacrifices, and a lot of tense scenes, with Marines ready to fire at anything that moves, their back against a wall!

Thanks to the strong theme, Space Hulk is a game that can be played both intuitively and with pure logic at the same time. Other games, such as Chess, Agricola or Race for the Galaxy reward intelligence more than intuition, I would say. But when you don't have enough time to think properly, following your intuition is of great help, and playing Space Hulk gives plenty of opportunities for doing just that.

Because the theme is so present, this is one of the few games for which I would consider using variants: they would make sense, in terms of game mechanics. For instance, a scenario might give additional powers to a Space Marine, and this would easily be implemented by giving him a dice modifier. For other games, I would fear that changing the rules would make me create a defect that only tens if not hundreds of games could reveal.

I like the scenarios, so far, even though some seem to be weaker (such as Scenario 2).

One minor quibble: Sergeant Gideon (the hammer guy) dies quite easily (threads on statistics have showed this), but he's supposed to have survived hundreds of combats… I guess that the missions in Space Hulk are remarkably tough!

My wife, with two games behind her, does not like Space Hulk. She recognizes that there is a real challenge in playing the Space Marines, and she likes that (she loves the brain burning aspects of Race for the Galaxy). However, "Space Hulk is only about guys killing other guys in bloody fights". In other words, she thinks Space Hulk is yet another instance of male adolescent fantasy. This is the kind of things that turned her off from the wargame Conflict of Heroes: Awakening the Bear! – Russia 1941-42 as well… So, even though she is a board game geek and is very opened to almost any theme (she loves Race for the Galaxy, Netrunner, and Commands & Colors: Ancients, for instance), the basic shoot'em up violence turns her off. You have been warned: you may need to have at least a child or a friend, in order to justify getting this game!

Speaking of which, my 8 year old son loves Space Hulk! The spontaneity of children does help: they play fast, intuitively, and can have a great sense of cinematographic actions!

Space Hulk is tense

The timer! I love the timer! Almost absent from euro games. A great component of Space Hulk: the Space Marines have a limited time for all their actions, and this puts a lot of pressure on them, which is enjoyable… for both players: the Space Marine has a real challenge to face, and the Genestealers player can but rejoice if the Space Marine does not have enough time to activate all his Marines!

Randomness plays a role, in this game: one never knows whether these nasty Genestealers queuing up in the long hallway in front of a single Space Marine will eventually overrun him. This makes for some great action scenes, with, sometimes, surprising situations that add emotions to the game.

Attacks, in Space Hulk, are deadly: Space Marines and Genestealers die immediately on a single hit. This adds even more pressure: the slightest mistake may be your last.

The mission goals are very simple and clear, much clearer than the "maximize your victory points through one of umpteen means" from a game such as Agricola. The Space Marines will have to destroy a control room, rescue a war machine they sent in the Hulk, destroy all the Genestealers that dare coming in, etc. This also help players concentrate and enjoy a tense game.

Despite all this tension, Space Hulk incorporates a nice balancing mechanism: the more Space Marines got killed, the more time you have to plan for each one of them, and the fewer the number of Marines that have to share the precious Command Points that allow them to perform extra actions. This gives some welcome relief in difficult times, and gives some hope to the Space Marine player that he can still complete the mission.

Space Hulk makes you think

The randomness in Space Hulk forces players to adapt their strategy to the situation at hand. It does not mean that stupid moves will often be rewarded. In fact, mistakes are costly.

This means that players have to concentrate and think on their feet. Granted, the reasonings are not as involved as in my beloved Race for the Galaxy, for instance. However, players spend a lot of time judging the situation, thinking, and making plans. And no mistake shall be made! once a figure is done with its Activation, you don't have any choice but to spend precious Command Points to correct for any error and make the figure perform additional Actions.

The rules are relatively simple

The rules of the game are outlined in many reviews (I found one of the most enlightening explanations in a review of an earlier edition), so I won't go through them here.

The rules are quite simple and follow the theme closely, which makes them quite easy to remember. I find the rulebook layout to be very clear: it is easy to look for points you don't remember.

However, I had missed a few points, that I only noticed after playing a few games (thanks to BGG!)… However, thanks to the well-organized rulebook, it is quite easy to jump to a given section and refresh your memory.

Some ambiguities and missing points are still floating around, though. Hopefully, this will be soon resolved with an authoritative FAQ. In the mean time, some useful information can be found on BoardGameGeek.

I taught almost all the rules to my 8 year old by letting him play the game. In fact, he would be wanting to do something ("Can I quickly turn around in order to face my enemy and shoot at it?"). I would then tell him what he can do ("Yes you can: you first turn 90 degrees, then you shoot…"), and how to do it ("… and it costs you 1 Action Point"). My son can now play without any problem, and he creates situations that could easily make for nice action scenes in a movie; I expect any child with some experience with action movies to intuitively play nice moves!

Big and short (but handsome)

Some missions take up a lot of table space! A nice, long dining table is useful, for some scenarios. Fortunately, the space taken by a given mission is quite easy to estimate from the provided grid maps.

Space Hulk games have a relatively short playing time, since they take about 60 minutes, including setup and tear down. Given the fact that many gamers have a limited gaming time, and that evenings only last so long, I really appreciate this. Space Hulk is really like a TV series: it is easy to squeeze an episode at night, after work!

In order to speed up the setup, you can even use the mission manifest available on this site!

I found out that playing a first game while completely leaving the timer out can be a disaster, if the Space Marine player indulges in so much thinking that his turn takes forever ("Oh no, I did not want to do this: it's sub-optimal. Can I put all my Space Marines where they were at the beginning of my turn?").
This kills the ambiance, and a good part of the pleasure that the game has to offer. So, I would advise not to play this game as if it were a hardcore, analysis-paralysis prone euro game. Again, this does not mean that there is nothing to think about, and that's the beauty of Space Hulk!

It's one of the best games for two players

Space Hulk's Board Game Geek rank (8, at the time of writing) obviously places it among the best games for two players. Essentially all the games I play are two-player, and I consider that Space Hulk deserves to be ranked among the best games ever.

Space Hulk reminds me a little bit of Commands & Colors: Ancients: it is not too long (even though Commands & Colors: Ancients is longer), it is designed for two players, and has head-to-head fights with dice. Playing the Genestealers gives me a feeling similar to when I order soldiers in Commands & Colors: Ancients: your only chance to win is to go for hand-to-hand combat, but, on the other hand, doing so also augments your chances of dying, since your enemy is often also happy to come to terms with you!

The price

This review would not be complete without some remarks about the price of the game: this subject has sent too many electrons back and forth on the cyber highways to be neglected. I must say that I find the price tag (about 80 €) to be reasonable, if high. First, I find the game components to be clearly worth those of two 40 € games, in terms of quality and quantity (Race for the Galaxy, with its first two expansions, costs about 70 €). Second, one can measure the cost of a game by the price per hour played. In this respect, Space Hulk might be one of your best buys!

This was a confession from a hardcore euro gamer.

[Edit: wording, layout, one balancing mechanism added, comments about ambiguities in the rules added, as well as some other minor points.]
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Eric O. LEBIGOT
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cadamec wrote:
This is a beautiful review. I like the way you highlight the strongpoints with bold words. Makes for a well reasoned and easy to digest read.
Thanks! I'm glad you appreciated it.

As for the keywords in bold, I was wondering whether "paragraph titles" would be better, because the bold face could attract to much attention compared to the rest of the paragraph… People who were bothered by the bold face are welcome to write a comment to that effect or to thumb such a comment! I always appreciate feedback.
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Daniel Shultz
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Damn you! Now I have to find this game and give it a try!

Nice review. Edge of seat writing.
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Gordon Adams
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Well Eric, you got it cheap

Carry on playing and enjoying SH.

Regards
 
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Great review - and thank you for linking to my goofy little Session Report. I'm honored that you liked it so much. I totally agree with pretty much everything you have written about the game. I think you nailed it!
 
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Väinö Hirvelä
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Wow (and this is partly a joke!)
I did not know frence people came with this much intelligence!!! (I am sure mostly because of american propaganda has clouded my mind!)


But few rules questions really:

It seems that this "rob" guy who talks to the authors etc...is quite sure that you CAN infact react to with different marine when another marine witnesses stealer action?! Have I understood this right?

Also did you tell your boy that he can add turn 90degrees and shoot with just one AP! I got the idea from your idea that you did not tell him he can shoot for free when turning?!

 
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Eric O. LEBIGOT
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vhirvela wrote:
It seems that this "rob" guy who talks to the authors etc...is quite sure that you CAN infact react to with different marine when another marine witnesses stealer action?! Have I understood this right?

I'd say let's wait for the official FAQ… Before we get it, you are free to decide which arguments convince you the most!

vhirvela wrote:
Also did you tell your boy that he can add turn 90degrees and shoot with just one AP! I got the idea from your idea that you did not tell him he can shoot for free when turning?!
That's a good point. I did tell my son (or did I forget in order to gain some unfair advantage? I don't remember ), and I also updated the review. Thanks!
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David Knepper
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Perhaps there is a twelve-step program for you.
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Professor of Pain
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Nice review, but as a primarily eurogamer, I'm still not convinced. My friend owns the game so maybe I'll get to try it next time I visit...
 
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Eric O. LEBIGOT
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Elfbane wrote:
My friend owns the game so maybe I'll get to try it next time I visit...
As a eurogamer, I wasn't sure either I would like Space Hulk: it's a good idea to try it! I'm glad I did, because none of my other, mostly euro games have the same feel as Space Hulk (except partly for the Commands & Colors: Ancients wargame).
 
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Martin Jackson
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Very well-written, readable review thumbsup
 
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Branko K.
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lebigot wrote:
For instance, I had forgotten that only a Space Marine that witnesses an Action can use Command Points during the Genestealers phase (which speeds up and simplifies the game, as there are fewer possible Space Marine Actions during the Genestealer turn.


Actually, this seems to be wrong, at least judging by the general consensus here on the BGG. As it stands, ANY marine can use the CPs, but the witnessing marine will lose sustained fire if he lets someone else use them.

But I guess either way to play is fine. I still play the way you play, and I don't think the game really suffers for it.

Great review, btw!
 
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Eric O. LEBIGOT
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baba44713 wrote:
lebigot wrote:
For instance, I had forgotten that only a Space Marine that witnesses an Action can use Command Points during the Genestealers phase (which speeds up and simplifies the game, as there are fewer possible Space Marine Actions during the Genestealer turn.


Actually, this seems to be wrong, at least judging by the general consensus here on the BGG. As it stands, ANY marine can use the CPs, but the witnessing marine will lose sustained fire if he lets someone else use them.
Thanks for pointing this out. Curiously, the French rules are explicit and say that only the witnessing Space Marine can use CPs... I'll follow the consensus on BGG, from now on!

baba44713 wrote:
But I guess either way to play is fine. I still play the way you play, and I don't think the game really suffers for it.

Great review, btw!
Interesting! And thank you for the compliment!
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SGResu GPq
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In Italy it's 78 Euro.
 
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George Leach
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The game is european, why would a eurogamer be ashamed to play it?!

Space Hulk is an awesome game and I have neglected my first edition copy too long. I should try and pull it out some time.

BTW the game can easily be extended to 3 players whenever there are two squads involved in a mission. Let them move simultaneously and find some way of splitting command points between them. Perhaps sharing a d8s worth of command points.
 
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Eric O. LEBIGOT
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Jugular wrote:
The game is european, why would a eurogamer be ashamed to play it?!

Yes, the game is European, but it is not a Eurogame: Space Hulk clearly falls in the so-called Ameritrash category (boy, do I hate the "trash" part of the name!). The title of my review just echoes the dichotomy between Eurogamers and Ameritrash lovers; in practice, Eurogamers can enjoy some Ameritrash and vice-versa, without feeling any shame whatsoever!

Jugular wrote:
BTW the game can easily be extended to 3 players whenever there are two squads involved in a mission. Let them move simultaneously and find some way of splitting command points between them. Perhaps sharing a d8s worth of command points.
Never thought of it… I'll try that!
 
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George Leach
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lebigot wrote:
Jugular wrote:
The game is european, why would a eurogamer be ashamed to play it?!

Yes, the game is European, but it is not a Eurogame: Space Hulk clearly falls in the so-called Ameritrash category (boy, do I hate the "trash" part of the name!). The title of my review just echoes the dichotomy between Eurogamers and Ameritrash lovers; in practice, Eurogamers can enjoy some Ameritrash and vice-versa, without feeling any shame whatsoever!


Yeah I'm just getting at the fact that all the best "Ameritrash" seems to be British, and by GW for that matter.
 
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