Dylan Birtolo
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General Information
Number of Players: 2 - 4
Length of Game: 30 - 75 minutes depending on the scenario
Difficulty of Game:
Strategic Depth:
Fun Factor:
Popularity at local game night:

Overview
You’ve had your chance to storm an alien vessel and fight off the alien forces. But the forces of the genestealers are many and strong. What you need is reinforcements. But the space marines do not conquer their foes by sheer numbers. Instead, they use superior firepower. This expansion gives you the opportunity to show the true power of the Imperium. Not only will you have improved weapons, but the elite of the Imperium will join you in your fight as well.

Game Materials
This is an expansion to the original Space Hulk game. As such, it does not contain all of the materials necessary to play by itself, but it does add on nicely to the original game. The miniatures that come with the game are few and simply made. Even though the game includes rules for several new weapons for the marines, none of those weapons are modeled on the miniatures. There are several new board pieces included in the game which are of the same high quality and durability of the original set. If you enjoy the game materials of the original, you will enjoy the materials of this one as well. It keeps the same feel and is as dependable as the original game.

Play Summary
I will not go into the rules for the core game. This expansion adds several new options to the game which I will touch on, but the core rules are still the same. If you are reading this then you should be familiar with the original. If not, I would advise you to read up on it. The general idea is that this game is a turn-based strategy board game where all of your actions are determined by action points. And now, on to the new options provided by the expansion.

First and foremost, what most people love about this expansion - the new weapons. The space marines have the ability to arm themselves in many different ways now. New weapons include the assault cannon, the grenade launcher, the power sword, the chain fist, the thunder hammer, the storm shield, the force axe, and last but definitely not least - the lightning claws. Each of these adds new flavor to the game and you are sure to find some favorites depending on your own personal play style.

The assault cannon lets you rain down high volumes of deadly lead down corridors and into rooms. It is a chain gun that you carry around with you, and a vicious weapon the genestealer player should rightly fear. The grenade launcher gives your units the ability to clear out entire tiles without the long-lasting effects of a flamer blast. The power sword enables you to parry - forcing your opponent to reroll one die in hand to hand combat. The chain fist gives you no bonuses in combat, but it will allow you to cut through bulkheads, a new addition I will explain later. The thunder hammer grants you bonuses in melee combat, while the storm shield (usually paired up with the thunder hammer) enables you to parry as well. The force axe is usable only by the new librarian unit and allows the librarian to use psychic powers to increase melee effectiveness. And finally, the lightning claws - giant claws that go on over your hands that give you amazing bonuses in hand to hand combat. A single unit with lightning claws can often take on a full charge of genestealers without too many problems - provided they attack from the front.

In addition to new armament, the space marine player also now has access to captains and librarians. The captains get larger bonus than sergeants do, while the librarians are equipped with psychic powers. The rules for this expansion only enable them to use their psychic powers to increase the effectiveness of the force axe, but that is a huge bonus. Each librarian comes with a set number of psi points, and in each combat, the space marine player can spend any number of psi points to add a bonus to the next melee roll. This makes librarians also a force to be reckoned with.

The space marine player also gains the ability to build a squad based on a point value rather than using the preset squad determined by the scenario. In this way, there is some additional flexibility with missions you have played before. Did you have trouble making it through a mission using two standard squads? Well, what if you tried a single squad armed to the teeth with both close assault weapons and an assault cannon?

What does the genestealer player gain to support the forces of the aliens? The primary advantage, and in fact the only advantage that strictly lies in the domain of the genestealers is the ability to use ambush counters. Ambush counters allow the genestealer player to place a blip on the map without using a pre-defined entry point. Now, there is only a 2 out of 6 chance that the blip actually represents a genestealer, but even if it does not, it will force the space marine player to adapt plans. That alone can be quite useful. However, since the ambush counter is the only advantage given to the genestealer player, it should be clear why we reference Deathwing as the "space marine expansion" even if that is not exactly correct.

There are also a host of optional rules for playing the game over multiple levels. There are pitfalls that can drop you from one level to the next, and ladders that can be used in either direction. The marines now have the ability to secure an entry point. If the space marine player is willing and able to get a space marine directly in front of an entry point, that marine can seal it off so that no genestealers can emerge from it for the rest of the scenario. There are also a few new features that can affect game play or are pertinent to specific missions. There are bulkheads - impenetrable doors that cannot be opened. The only way past a bulkhead for either player is to use a chainfist to cut it open. There are disposal chutes, where a marine can drop in and emerge outside the ship. This is useful in games where you are playing multiple missions and the survivors of one are carried over to the next mission. Finally there are counters for rubble, crates, and cryogenic tanks. All of these have the capability to block line of sight or inhibit movement.

The final additions in this expansion are rules for solo play if you cannot find a partner to play with, and a new campaign made up of six missions.

Play Experience
This truly feels like the "space marine" expansion, and is named after one of the companies of the Space Marines. Most of the additions deal with new abilities or weapons for the space marine player. However, the addition of the point-based system for developing your squad still keeps things even. Doing the first mission from the original game with any fives marines would be much easier than it is designed to be. However, if you follow the point-based system, even if you develop your own squad, most missions still remain fairly balanced.

This expansion does include a little bit more book keeping on the part of the space marine player, but it is not a major effort. Most of the book keeping is in terms of keeping track of ammo and reloads, rather than just depending on the number of flamer counters you have left. The rule book does include a sheet that is designed for this purpose, so it is not a major concern, just something to be aware of.

One of the most interesting elements added in this expansion is playing over multiple levels. While the new weapons are fun for the space marine player and add a touch of flavor, the multiple levels often changes the way that the game plays and is something that both players need to take into account when developing and implementing their strategies. Ambush counters are also very useful in this way. They force the players to consider more factors when they are playing the game and trying to win.

Notable Praise
Deathwing adds a lot to the game, even if it seems like it is one-sided. The new weapons are nice, but even nicer is the ability to be able to create your own custom squad for missions if you can figure out how many points you would have to spend. This is very nice because as I mentioned briefly before, you will probably have some favorite weapons in the new rules. These rules for designing your own squad enable you to be able to make sure that your favorite marine or favorite weapon combination is always available, provided you have the points for it.

The new missions are a blast and, as you would expect, are tied together well. Playing all of them in a row, not necessarily in the same night, gives you a feeling of a real struggle between the space marines and the genestealers. To me this makes it a much more interesting game because even if the games have not changed, you feel a little more vested in the outcome.

It is not important to the game, but the rule book contains some really nice fiction that adds flavor to the game. Reading through it gives you a good idea of the story behind the games, and also what the Deathwing squad is about. This is something minor, but it adds a lot of flavor and is a nice touch.

Notable Gripes
The miniatures in this set are a bit of a disappointment, but it is not surprising. Games Workshop has a reputation for making quite a bit of money off of their miniature market, and that would be hampered if they gave you all of the miniatures in the box. Still, it is frustrating to have to constantly be going back and forth: "So is that the guy with the assault cannon?" "No, the guy with the tape is the assault cannon, the one that looks like a flamer is the guy with lightning claws." It would have been nice if there were some miniatures that had the optional weapons in the box, but as I said, it is not surprising they are not there. It’s a marketing opportunity!

Summary
While the original and this expansion are now out of print, if you do have the original and have the opportunity to get this, I would classify it as a must by. It is a huge burst of fun for whoever the space marine player is. In addition, it adds a fair amount of strategy to the board game and puts you in even more interesting situations. Or perhaps, it puts you in more stressful situations as that ambush counter appears out of nowhere from behind you. The new weapons alone would justify this expansion, but adding in the new strategy elements makes it a requirement if you enjoy the original game.
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Bryce K. Nielsen
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Elk Ridge
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EyesOfWolf wrote:
Notable Gripes
The miniatures in this set are a bit of a disappointment, but it is not surprising. Games Workshop has a reputation for making quite a bit of money off of their miniature market, and that would be hampered if they gave you all of the miniatures in the box. Still, it is frustrating to have to constantly be going back and forth: "So is that the guy with the assault cannon?" "No, the guy with the tape is the assault cannon, the one that looks like a flamer is the guy with lightning claws." It would have been nice if there were some miniatures that had the optional weapons in the box, but as I said, it is not surprising they are not there. It’s a marketing opportunity!


Which, honestly, why I was highly surprised when I saw that Space Hulk (third edition) included all the miniatures needed for the game!

Still, love Deathwing, even if I had to spend more money on minis than I did the game

-shnar
 
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Dylan Birtolo
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Lynnwood
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shnar wrote:


Which, honestly, why I was highly surprised when I saw that Space Hulk (third edition) included all the miniatures needed for the game!


I know! And the sad part is that alone made me tempted to pick up the new edition. But, I refrained... I convinced a friend to buy it instead.
 
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