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Subject: Is Space Hulk a strategy game, or a fancy toy? rss

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Ben Smith
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I am posting this here, rather than in Space Hulk forums, since I'm hoping to hear from a non-fan of Space Hulk or two.

At first, months ago, Space Hulk looked like the kind of game I don't like. I am mostly into Euros, although Twilight Struggle, Conflict of Heroes, and Commands and Colors: Ancients have been favorites of mine. To me, miniatures are utterly pointless. I don't like them for the same reason that I don't like 3D-rendered-anything, fantasy novels, or the art on MtG cards. I have a 21" CRT television, and sometimes I even read books. For me, the communication of ideas and emotions is best done with abstraction and simplification.

Anyway, such prejudices made me avoid Space Hulk like the plague. Then I read some reviews, and it sounds like it has a TON of good things going for it. I think I might want to buy it, despite the miniatures. The reviews didn't address my problem with Ameritrash style games, though. The worst thing for me, in a game, is when there are a lot of fiddly rules, a lot of thematic chrome to wade through, but without a lot of interesting strategic decisions.

The three wargames I love (TS, CoH, C&C:A) are FILLED with interesting decisions. Many, many different options/plans to think about, with little downtime and easy-enough rules to learn.

Some Ameritrash games have felt like a total waste of time: Zombies, A Touch of Evil, Descent, and D&D (not a board game, but it embodies the problem). With these games, there was a lot of theme, but there was also a lot of downtime or rules questions, but not a lot of strategy. I should say I enjoy Battlestar Galactica, since the traitor element makes it interesting. After all the cylons are revealed, I get bored.

So! Space Hulk seems to be a great game, and I might just fork over the inflated ebay prices. Is it free of the above-mentioned problems?

Thanks!

[edit: I had two AT games mixed up.]
 
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Yes.
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Robert Washington

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That's the kind of thing that's too subjective for me to want to issue any definitives, even though I've played tons of original SH.

The best I can do is gently point out that SH is really more tactical than strategic - most of the choices are about the specifics of movement, deployment and weapon choice/use and how you accomplish your goals, rather than the large-scale operations planning and more abstract planning that typifies strategy.

Also, while it's fairly simple and doesn't lead to a lot of rules issues at all, most missions are straightforward enough so that the tactical choices are the meat of the game - there's not a lot of different ways to appoach most of them aside from the specifics of which tactical approach you're using.

Additionaly, the advanced game, which adds in Psykers and potent psionic abilities, can be 'fiddly', by which I mean I played with them a few times and never quite figured out how to make them work in my favor.



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Magnus Karlsson
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Not quite an answer to your question, but I was a bit surprised by Blood Bowl the first time I played it which was this year, I liked it more than I thought I would.
 
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Ben Smith
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Outkast wrote:

The best I can do is gently point out that SH is really more tactical than strategic - most of the choices are about the specifics of movement, deployment and weapon choice/use and how you accomplish your goals, rather than the large-scale operations planning and more abstract planning that typifies strategy.


This is very helpful. I do enjoy tactical decisions, as long as they aren't easy decisions, and have consequences. C&C:A is also a tactical game, and the tactics are extremely interesting.
 
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Brian Thomas
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If there's a GW store near you they probably have it set up. They'd probably be more then willing to teach you the basics and lead you through the first scenario. Mine did, though I didn't have time to stay and play that night. Also, they may have some copies left and you won't have to pay the inflated Ebay prices. The Franklin Mills Mall location near me in Philly had 20 copies left.

...19 now...

Store finder:
http://www.games-workshop.com/gws/storelocator/search.jsp
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Ben Smith
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MikeDowd wrote:
Space Hulk is too much game for you to handle.


Are you offering me a CHALLENGE? (cue dramatic music)
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Geo
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Space Hulk missions play like tactical puzzles: you have to play them a few times to find the best approach to your objectives.

The Marine player is under time pressure so he must react quickly to changing situations (when for example one of your Marines doesn't hold a vital corridor for as long as you though he should!).

The Genestealer player plays differently: he has to bluff a lot (secret blips) and try to mass attack your most vulnerable area.

SH is not a wargame. It's a very good tactical game but you have to accept that 2 bad dice rolls in a row can make your mission impossible... In most wargames two bad rolls will usually not lose you the battle.


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T. Nomad
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LlamaFIL wrote:
It's a dungeon crawler in space.

That seals it: I can safely spend my pennies on something else. Thanks.
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Randy Schaub
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Space Hulk has strategy, but not tactics. I would not recommend it to a wargamer looking for something wargamey. It's a very specific battle situation--an unbalanced, simplified skirmish game set in a system of very narrow hallways. That being said, I rated SH a 10 because it just happens to do what it does perfectly. If, however, you want a Sci Fi theme with more of a tactical, thinking approach, I would recommend something like Squadron Strike (for space battles) or maybe Dirtside (neever played it). Ypu could also look into Warhammer 40k, but it'll cost ya!

Ran
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Necessary Evil
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You play space hulk for a simple well themed space dungeon crawl. If you are worried about models distracting from the game or if each game can be over analyzed to improve tactics you best stick to the cube pushers. SH is beer and pretzel fun in the 40k universe. 100 times simpler than 40k and considerably less time consuming and expensive but with most of the flavor.

I have to agree with Frank on this one, probably best if you left it to someone who has been waiting for it for years.

Also the suggestion about finding a GW shop and playing a demo is a good one.

-M

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Bobb Beauchamp
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I personally take offense at the use of toy just because a game uses miniatures for pieces. Toys are played with...but they have no rules. You make everything up as you go. The purpose of a toy is to use and expand your creativity.

Games are bounded by rules. At their best, they challenge your strategy and creativity within the confines and limits of the rules.

calling a game that uses miniatures for pieces and looks nice on the table a toy is an insult both to the game and to the people who choose to play it. It also indicates a significantly inflated ego of the person making the comment, as if your games are somehow superior to those other people choose to play.


***most of this is directed a my brother, not the OP, but they both share the bad habit of calling games that use miniatures toys.***
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Ben Smith
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Thanks to everyone for the replies. I think I found a solution. Apparently a number of people bought SH just for the minis, and are selling the cardboard of the game on ebay on the relatively cheap!

I figure I can make paper chits to stand in for the miniatures. Easier for me to look at, and just as fun? Plus I won't be depriving any of the ATers of there precious plastic.
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Belgand
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Even before that I'd suggest playing a demo or, barring that, just reading the rules. Fan made rulebooks for first edition are available online and with the exception of some of the fiddly bits with rubble and such are very close to 3rd edition. As they say in the rulebook for 3rd they mainly focused on making really nice components, not rules updates. Playing a game will be best, but this should give you a solid idea of what it's like.
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Todd Pytel
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There's definitely very little downtime. Rules? Well, you can see the various threads that have popped up, but mostly those threads cover 3-4 main issues, each of which has exactly two possible resolutions. In the absence of an official FAQ, just decide how you're going to play those cases ahead of time and you'll be fine. There's very little need to go rules-diving during play. As AT games go, SH is extremely focused on a few key game concepts. I think it does "abstraction and simplification" quite well, while still being evocative of its theme.
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ŁṲÎS̈
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Belgand wrote:
Even before that I'd suggest playing a demo or, barring that, just reading the rules. Fan made rulebooks for first edition are available online and with the exception of some of the fiddly bits with rubble and such are very close to 3rd edition. As they say in the rulebook for 3rd they mainly focused on making really nice components, not rules updates. Playing a game will be best, but this should give you a solid idea of what it's like.


Is there a direct pdf download? I really hate this scribd stuff. I don't want to create an account just to download the thing.
 
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Mark Crane
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Steven Wells
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I've played two games with my son. We're not SH experts by any stretch of the imagination. But I've read along the strategy threads with interest. We played Suicide Mission twice and both times the space marines won and not for lack of the genestealer trying, stacking up for rushes, flanking and wasting a number of marine.

With my win as SM's, I had one flamer ammo left. If I didn't draw a 5 or 6 for my command point chit, I would have lost. It was literally luck of the draw to win the game. I drew a 5....

With my son's game as SM's, he had one SM protecting the flamer take out 20+ genestealers and he sent a another SM back to help cover the first marine at the start which irked me since I had several 3 point blips and planned to overrun his position -- the first SM jammed three times and the second SM kept saving him. In the end, he had to charge forward with a bolter, turn, blast the door without missing, turn and move down the corridor to shoot at my last genestealer to make way for the flamer. If he missed the shot on the door or the genestealer, it was basically game over since he was using all of his CP's. He hit the door and the genestealer....

If you don't like luck in your games, then Space Hulk likely isn't the game for you. For us, it led to a lot of tension and a lot of frantic rolls. Your mileage may vary.
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Paul Dixon
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Space Hulk uses the Command Action Point mechanism for the marines, and in 3 ed, allows the marine player to spend these to take actions during the genestealers turn.

You like Conflict of Heros.
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Lance McMillan
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You wanted input from a non-fan? Here it is: Space Hulk is both.

Space Hulk is an overpriced fancy toy. But, buried beneath all the glitz and hoopla is a fairly decent (but not great) simple game. The rules for how to play are relatively easy to find, and you can throw together some low quality paper components to make yourself a test copy (doesn't take too much effort) so you can put it through its paces and see if it's something you might like. Alternately, if there's a GW store near you, you can drop by and ask for a quick demo (they're usually willing to show you how it plays in hopes of getting you to buy one). But given the $100+ pricetag, I'd strongly suggest you at least play a game or two to "test the waters" before you buy your own copy.
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Randy Schaub
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bents wrote:
Thanks to everyone for the replies. I think I found a solution. Apparently a number of people bought SH just for the minis, and are selling the cardboard of the game on ebay on the relatively cheap!

I figure I can make paper chits to stand in for the miniatures. Easier for me to look at, and just as fun? Plus I won't be depriving any of the ATers of there precious plastic. :)


You could also probably just kitbash a pseudo-space hulk out of 'Doom' or something similar. Even heroscape!

I sold my original Space Hulk several years ago (1st edition), but got desparate to play again and eventually cobbled a homemade version out of minis and homemade maps. The gameplay was the same! plus, my space marines were stormtroopers!

Edit: I post this suggestion because the full game of doom would probably still cost less than 1/2 a space hulk!
 
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bents wrote:
I figure I can make paper chits to stand in for the miniatures. Easier for me to look at, and just as fun?


I *HIGHLY* recommend this for pretty much any boardgamer. The genestealer miniatures don't really look *that* good unless painted, and, frankly, are a pain to assemble. They break easily, literally draw blood, and take, what, two hours to put together? You don't see the detail of the unpainted Genestealer figures unless you pick up the figure and look at them up close.

The rules aren't as fiddly as many Ameritrash games, and I wouldn't call it a dungeoncrawler (like D&D). I'd call it a miniatures combat game, crossing Warhammer 40K with the movie Aliens. It's a little less fiddly than Doom, but both games have the same tense feeling.

I see that you like BattleStar Galactica. While the games have little in common, the ruleset of SH is *MUCH* simpler. I guess the question I should ask is if you liked the movies Alien and Aliens...
 
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MikeDowd wrote:
Spacehulk is not a dungeon crawler for a few specific reasons.


I agree that space hulk is not in any way a dungeon crawl. Warhammer quest it is not.

Here is a link to a game of 1st edition hulk I wrote a while ago. It goes into a reasonable amount of detail and might help you get a feel for the game so you can decide if it is for you.

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/340064
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Russ Meyer
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If you don't like Descent, I don't see how you'd like Space Hulk. Even though Space Hulk is more comparable to DOOM: The Boardgame, albeit simpler. They're all the same damn thing anyway, dungeon crawlers. Fanboys trying to explain the intricacies of how Space Hulk is different or better than those other dungeon crawlers is funny to watch. "You can interrupt the Genestealers turn in SH!!" (you can't in DOOM?)

And before the rest of you Space Hulk fanboys chime in with your witticisms, yes I know Space Hulk is old and came before Doom. But we live in the now, and SH has been re-released in 2009.
 
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I had never played SH before my nephew bought it.

Having now played 6 missions, I cannot honestly say that I would have gone out to buy it (even if were selling at around £40). Why ? The simple answer is: it is, whatever anyone else says, a dungeon-type crawler and since I have Doom...why bother !

Another reason for my not buying SH: the price and the minis. I am sure you must have read quite a few posts about both.

If you are willing to part with the present asking price for an average game, your preogative. It is, afterall, a matter of personal choice and taste.

Why not find someone who has the game and try it. Just remember you will have to assemble the minis and hope you do not find them too flimsy (just do not drop one and accidently tread on it) for the asking price.

Regards.
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