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Maik Wiechmann
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First time review on boardgamegeek, as I want to spread some Incursion-love Not a native English speaker, so bear with me in terms of awkward grammar and spelling mistakes. Also, wall of text.

It is the year of our lord 1949 and the world is in flames!

Incursion is set in the alternate universe of Westwind's "Secrets of the Third Reich". In this scenario, World War 2 never ended and the Germans, using the Vergeltungswaffe 4 that turns victims into zombies, has been victorious on all fronts.

In 1946 Axis forces consisting of Spanish troops, Brandenbuger Commandos and Fallschirmjäger Drop Armour conquer the British-held fortress of Gibraltar. Soon after, the Germans make it a huge underground complex used for weapons development among other things.

In 1949 the Allies take back the fortress under great losses in a grand scale attack. However, they don't manage to clear the complex as it's depths crawl with unspeakable horrors and abominations.
In order to keep casualties low, it is decided to seal off "the rock". Which turns out to be impossible, especially the underwater exits are too numerous and allied shipping is constantly under attack by zombie mines.
When the British MI-13 discovers plans for a german built Doomsday device that is developed deep in the tunnels of "the rock" it is decided that offensive action is needed. MI-13 commandos and elite soldiers of the American Lucky Seventh are sent into the depths of Gibraltar to find this device, destroy it and save the world. A race against time begins.

If that isn't one sweet b-movie plot, I have never seen one. As either the commander of German special weapons development (with lots of undead gribblies and other nasty things at your disposal) or as a heroic sarge of the Lucky Seventh in their Amoured Personal Exo-system or APE for short you can be a part of it all.

Incursion is the first full game of the relatively unknown company Grindhouse Games, however a couple of more or less famous people of the wargaming-scene are involved. Of course there are the Bailey brothers, who developed the rules for Secret Weapons of the Third Reich, miniature designer Seth Nash that has made sculpts in the past for "The Assault Group", "Enigma Miniatures" or "Hasslefree" just to name a few. And Agis Neugebauer who developed Battlefield Evolution: World at War and is currently developing a Gear Krieg spin-off for those rules. You can tell by looking at Incursion these people know what they are doing.

So, what's Incursion and how does it play? Basically, it's a mix of board game and miniature war game. Some parts of it can be compared to Space Hulk by Games Workshop, however, the focus is very different and playing those two games turns out to be an entirely different experience. More on that later.

Okay, so after picking one of the seven scenarios (making up the Vergeltungswaffe 5-campaign) in the rulebook, you get to pick your troops. This is already pretty cool, as you don't play with your vanilla "five guys squad" and "clone army of evil" every time you play - instead much like in most war games you get to pick your units within a point limit (called Requisition Points or RP for short). This point limit changes from scenario to scenario. For example you have 6 points to spend in mission 1, but once you reach mission 7 it's a whooping 26 points. Considering basic troops cost between 1-4 points, and characters costing 5 points, you can get quite a lot on the table. (okay, I have to admit - in Space Hulk Deathwing there was something like this as well, so it's nothing Space Hulk hasn't done before, BUT it's not part of the current rules any more so... and it was never as important there. Incursion wins this one )

German troops mostly consist of undead and nasty bio-experiments. You get Sturmzombies (your basic cannon fodder that usually flood the board as they constantly spawn) as well as Bomberzombies (undead sea mines that walk around and go BOOM! every now and then). And no cliché Axis-scenario would be complete without the Werewolf/Hund-type, we get this in form of the Blitzhund an amazingly fast close combat specialist.
Also, Germans have a lot of special characters. All are the children of Doktor Hugo von X, who is working on the Vergeltungswaffe 5 device. Basically, it's the good (Gretel, superhuman blonde bombshell) the bad (Ilsa, superhuman but with a horribly malformed face) and the ugly (Hans, giant behemoth with childlike behaviour who loves to harpoon things and collects heads of divers).

The American Lucky Seventh are a less colourful bunch, you get to field your basic grunt, a heavy machine gunner, a blazer (Flame-thrower) and your Sarge for leading your men. Only character for them so far is Slugger Murphy, cool bloke that goes Z-hunting with a .50cal revolver called Bambi and a baseball bat called Thumper. Go figure!

All of the units in the box come as cardboard-stand ins, however you can buy a bunch of lovely miniatures for the game (all somewhat 28mm true scale, not fitting your vast collection of Games Workshop stuff). I found it to be a bit tricky getting the stuff out of the cardboard sheets (4 of them) that come with the game, as it seems the lamination on the back isn't properly cut.
An exacto knife or scissors do the trick though.
And honestly, you have to play a game like this with miniatures and replace the tokens and what not with more "three dimensional" stuff. The cardboard is very thick and sturdy, and will get you going with the game instantly - but in the long run you want to add even more visual appeal to the game. I am pretty certain of that as it makes all the difference in the world - and people are already building 3D-boards of all kinds.
Litko is offering a wide range of tokens that will nicely replace most of the chits in Incursion, and Fenris Games is making resin markers for the Doors, Entry points and the items, so you are all covered (with a properly filled bitz box from other miniatures games you might play, you can even custom build many of the things yourself I'd say).

Once you have decided what units you are going to field, you will start preparing the circa 55x55 cm big game board. It's not modular, but has prints on both sides. Personally I prefer it this way, rather than loose tiles for rooms and intersections.

Gameplay consists of two phases. Maintenance and Action. In Maintenance you do most of the bookkeeping (replenishing command points, discarding and taking new battle cards) and the amazingly great turn bidding. Now, let me explain turn bidding a bit more in detail - basically, Incursion doesn't follow the classical "I go - You go" instead, it mixes things up a bit by letting you "bid" for going first each turn. Both players bid command points, the side with the higher bid wins "going first".

Right now, that might sound not very amazing - but believe me, it will become a moment of much drama as the game progresses. Why, you might ask? Well, because the command points you spend cannot be used for stuff like giving your troops that extra Action Point to complete important movements or attacks or to "card kill". Card killing has you spending Command Points and nullify event cards as well as cards that boost or weaken you and your opponents forces. It's a rather complex system (well, it's easy to understand and learn, but the results on gameplay and the decisions you to make that can completely ruin your battle plan are the hard part).
You can imagine your opponent becoming quite uneasy when you spent little CP in turn bidding and have that certain grin on your face... lots of fun psychological warfare going on here, I love it! There are a few events that can spice up things in turn bidding that add even more to the suspense of "holy sh... what's he planning now!?".

Next step is deployment, unlike Space Hulk, units available will be placed next to entry points simultaneously. However, just because they are there doesn't mean they necessarily have to enter the board. The whole aspect of fighting against unknown odds is more or less non-existent in Incursion. However, it makes for a more tactical game as both sides see what's going on.

Let's hit the Action phase now.
Basically, this is where the action takes place (duh... seriously?), it's all about moving, shooting, and interaction with doors and items. Each type of unit has a certain amount of Action Points or AP for short to spend on actions. If you run out of AP you can convert CP to AP, that is, if you still have points left after card killing and turn bidding.
During the action, you are free to play Battle Cards on your units, the board and your opponents troops. With enough CP at his disposal your enemy might decide to "card kill" those and you will be forced to discard your battle cards.
Personally, I absolutely love this - not only does it make CP a very valuable resource it also keeps your opponent on his toes during your turn. Further breaking the "you go - I watch"-system of classical boardgames.
Player interaction and communication is pretty high during the game (well, apart from those moments when you and your mate are both brooding over your next move and it's so silent you could hear a pin fall), which is certainly a plus in my book.
If played right and with some lucky card draws and little CP on your opponents side, these cards heavily influence the game balance and there is a constant shifting of power as both sides boost troops that usually can only act for a turn before they get card-killed and return to normal. It adds a whole new dimension to the true and tested Space Hulk formula.
Tinkering and experimenting with various card combos as well as the special abilities of your characters takes the gameplay to the next level. For example, Gretel adds an additional 4 CP per Turn that you may only use on Zombies, while the Lucky Seventh Sarge adds one CP to the general pool and also can transfer all unused action points to one of his soldiers if he doesn't use them.

Another interesting fact about Incursion is, that the gameplay is more evenly balanced than Space Hulk. Both players have to work for a victory constantly. Just because you got a Zombie into close combat doesn't mean much - as they are very weak. Now, swarming your enemy with a whole lot of them is a different matter (they get one additional dice in close combat if they swarm the enemy, first zombie = 1 die, second zombie = 2 dice, third zombie = 3 dice and so on).

However, Detroit Engineering has put in some VERY mighty weapons into the APE suits. Rolling 3 dice per shot and needing to hit 4 or more on most targets results in lots of chunks of now seriously dead undead meat flying around. Heavy Machine guns are even worse, as they fire two bursts of the 3 dice inferno. Considering wounding is just comparing the results of the dice used for shooting with the fortitude of a model, you can imagine that combat is VERY satisfying and fast.

Unfortunately for the Axis powers, Zombies don't have good aim... some of them don't even have arms, so they skip shooting entirely and just try to swarm their enemies in close combat, same goes for most other German troops except the von X sisters who carry Sub Machine Guns (which are pretty lame compared to the APEs weapons).

However, that's the only units that will get the German player "reaction fire". Reaction fire is the Incursion take on "overwatch". Once a model with a gun has activated (ended his turn) it goes into reaction fire mode, now any unlucky enemy moving into line of sight will get shot. Line of Sight is a matter of drawing a straight line from the center of your tile to the center of the tile your enemy is standing on. If that line goes through any wall sections of the game board, you cannot shoot. Personally, I think this is a bit more complicated than it needs to be.
Luckily, reaction fire isn't as strong as a normal shooting action, but makes up for that as you get free shots as long as an enemy does actions in your line of sight. To make things a bit more manageable, you can run out of ammo if you roll doubles... however, shotguns and pistols only roll one reaction fire dice making rolling doubles quite a bit difficult and makes these weapons a great choice to consider.

All in all, these are pretty much the rules - pretty straightforward and simple to learn, however, hard to master. Teaching this game is super-easy, and most people are "into" it within the first few turns.

The rulebook could have been a bit more streamlined in certain areas, because some texts are a bit more sketchy than they need to be (there is a whole paragraph about range, however, all guns in the game have unlimited range, the only thing that has only a 6 tiles-range is the grenade, and the flame-thrower works different altogether). However, as I am not a native speaker of English, things might be a bit more unclear for me than they are for everyone else who is. Good thing, there is a big community behind this game, and even the Bailey brothers speak with the fans and answer mails and such, so if something seems wrong people will be happy to help you out.

To sum things up, Space Hulk is the faster and simpler game - things are more killy here and it's over really fast. Incursion is the more tactical game with so many options to alter gameplay that you won't have a game that plays alike any time soon - even if you pick the same scenario over and over. Missions take more time though and at times can bog down as both sides don't want to make a crucial mistake.

As mentioned before, both sides have to work for their victory - you cannot simply Zombie-spam your opponent into submission. Control of Line of Sight and movement play a big role in Incursion, the ever shifting unit capabilities and certain events that change the board entirely (like cave-ins) will have you rethink your strategy and make you adapt to the new situation at hand or die trying. There is more player interaction, and interfering with your opponents actions in his turn is always nice.
As mentioned before, things are very different when it comes to atmosphere and intensity of gameplay when you compare Space Hulk and Incursion. Both games are really exciting, and the suspense is almost killing you - however, it's Incursion that will have you at the edge of your seat many times, as there are many more possibilities to shift the game in your favour and you need to think in advance what you are going to do, but you have to have a backup plan as well.

Just because you are doing great in the beginning doesn't mean it's a safe victory to the end - nothing is certain in Incursion - however, it's not because of random dice rolls or cards played, luck isn't such a big factor and you are really playing against your opponent (however, angry dice gods will make you suffer at times).
In Space Hulk, however you mostly reach a point when you know you have lost, even though there is still stuff on the board - you were either too slow to take crucial points or the board is flooded with Genestealers, you lost your only flamer-guy - stuff like that. In Incursion, you fight till the bitter end as their is always that glimpse of hope left... and if all else fails, you will go out in a blaze of glory!

In my opinion Incursion is the much more versatile game, and will be longer lasting than Space Hulk, especially if you invent new scenarios and maybe even units (a vast choice of miniatures from Secrets of the Third Reich is available, and even more 28mm pulp miniatures from other ranges). Sure, you could expand Space Hulk too - but as the Genestealer expansion has shown ages ago, you can easily break it as well.

Good thing is, the Incursion box already hints at a possible expansion, as there are no MI-13 Commandos yet, the stand-in for the "Drohne" has no rules and miniature yet, and the description of the Blitzhund special "supernatural" states that there are weapons that will affect supernatural enemies, however there are non of these in the game as of now.

All in all, I love both games, and I love the fact both play very differently which makes owning both a must in my book. The very reasonable price tag of 50 dollars for the basic set really makes this a no-brainer - especially since you get quite a lot of stuff (132 cardboard pieces, all sturdy and for heavy duty, dice, rulebook and summary sheet, 87 cards - all nicely laid out with cool illustrations by Keith Lowe), rules are even free if you want to sneak peek and using the beta PDFs you could even print it yourself for a test game.

I do believe you should buy it to encourage further games by Grindhouse Games and expansions. This one is a pretty hot candidate for "game of the year" in my book and will see plenty of game time at my house.

/ 5
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Liang Roo Wang
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really nice review, makes me wanna get my hands dirty!
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Maik Wiechmann
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meg2308 wrote:
nice review, i think your english is verry good.
i hope that some one like the spanish and french players trans late the game in german.
i got 1 copy and 1 self printed version of the game.
but the box game is a littel bigger than the printed version.

but the game board is not so colorfull like the self printed game.
even the blips are not good like the space hulk 3rd blips.


Yep, I was wondering why there was no german translation yet - I believe putting up a "quick play sheet" in german shouldn't be too hard to do.

Haven't got a self-printed version, and considering the printshops in town, it would look all CYAN - so I am pretty happy with a big, bad board even though it might be less colorful (then again, it's in the tunnels of Gibraltar, not the most colorful place in the world, I guess ;))

Out of curiosity, did you present your game "adventure rising" on Metalflirt at some point?
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Maik Wiechmann
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kang_a_roo wrote:
really nice review, makes me wanna get my hands dirty!


Thanks. Get 'em hands dirty, man! :arrrh:
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Steve R Bullock
United States
Palm Coast
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I have my copy pre-ordered and am eagerly awaiting the game. It looks fantastic! I am a Space Hulk fan, so the concept of armored figures moving through confined spaces looking for nasty creatures appeals to me.
As for it being nothing like S.H. - Good! I am looking for a different kind of game. And I love the WW2 theme!
This looks like the kind of game I will really get into - I have ordered the deluxe copy with starter metal figures, and I will be buying duplicates of some of the miniatures later on (at least one or two more APEs, along with some zombies). Later down the line I will probably create some custom units using the nazi zombies from Chronoscope.
This just looks like a SUPER good time! Can't wait to get it!

Thanks for the excellent preview- your English is better than a lot of my American buddies!
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Mark Crane
United States
Orem
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I feel really dumb, but I don't play Space Hulk because it doesn't fit on my table. This is only $38 at my FLGS, so I'm pretty tempted. It looks like Ameritrash paradise.
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Steve R Bullock
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craniac wrote:
I feel really dumb, but I don't play Space Hulk because it doesn't fit on my table. This is only $38 at my FLGS, so I'm pretty tempted. It looks like Ameritrash paradise.


I think you would like it - and it would fit on your table, too!
 
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Lucas Blackwolf
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Thanks for the informative review. This game is available for 30$ at the moment directly from Grindhouse and I'm really tempted. However, I also like what I've seen in Tannhauser and now I'm having trouble deciding; could anyone compare the two games please?
So in Incursion you get the cards and stand-ups for the US APEs and the Von X family and their zombie party crashers (plus their doggy) ... I see the M-13 on the game's page too, but are there game stats for other Secrets of the Third Reich figures out there?
Thanks for all the info.
 
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T.W. McLain 3
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Incursion-the awesome. tannhauser-the lame. My half penny.
 
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