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Space Hulk: Death Angel – The Card Game» Forums » Reviews

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Justin Howard
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So I picked up a copy of Death Angel while I was at Borders of all places because 1) I like Fantasy Flight games and 2) I love the Battlestar Galactica game, so I wanted to try another game Corey K made. Unfortunately, this title is nowhere near as entertaining as BSG.

First off, the good stuff. The game itself is very high quality; the cards have a good feel to them and the artwork is nice. Everything also fits in the box handily, something I felt BSG lacked (too much stuff clanking around in the box, I had to get tons of extra bags and rubber bands to keep everything in order). Aside from the physical components, the universe is interesting. Warhammer is popular for good reason and the concept of commanding space marines against "zerg-like" alien forces is cool.

Now on to the bad stuff. Basically, the game bills itself as a strategy card game, but in truth strategy has very little to do with it. The majority of the time your best laid plans are wasted because of bad dice rolls. The game has a mechanic where you can spend tokens to reroll attacks and defends, but it is not something to be relied upon. Even then, the extra reroll isn't much solace. Now, I understand that dice rolls and luck are a part of most board games. However, in a game like this, where you probably only have 2 characters, and 1 failed roll means death, dice rolls lead to extreme frustration, especially if you then have to sit out for the rest of the game because two lame rolls wiped you out in 1 turn.

To sum up, the game is of high quality and has a great concept, but it is marred by unforgiving dice odds combined with 1 hit kills to the marines (having to sit out because of bad rolls is NOT fun). The dependence on the dice makes it basically a crapshoot and leaves it with no more strategy than Solitaire. Maybe an expansion will fix it, but as it stands for me now, Death Angel fails to live up to expectations, even for a Silver Line game.
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Big Tom Casual of Orange Nebula
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Wow, I feel like you're really underappreciating the strategic value this game has and convincing yourself too strongly that the dice rolls kill the fun for ya. I have played this game around 30 times with random assortments of one to four players, and no one has ever had to sit out more than the last five to ten minutes of the game which, by that point, is usually tense enough to be fun to watch or so close to over that you shrug and make a quick trip to the kitchen. if you guys are consistently having players sitting out large portions of the game then I would say there's a problem with your team strategy, not the game. I think you should give it a few more tries and REALLY work as a team, discussing EVERYTHING as a group, and totally get over thinking of your space marines as 'me/i' or 'my guys/my teams' etc...
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Mike Ditchburn
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Dice?! In a Warhammer game?! Crazy!

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Brad Cummings
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I am not saying the game is perfect, and it is not for everyone.

But I think you were disappointed because you were expecting something that Death Angel was not meant to do.

You say you like BSG. BSG is not pure co-op, it is team game with hidden teams.

On the other hand Space Hulk: Death Angel is pure co-op. The game is meant to kick your trash. Also Death Angel, in my opinion has more luck based than other pure co-ops. For example Pandemic in many ways is a puzzle, there is luck but you can control it more easily. Death Angel is also about controlling luck, with support tokens for example. But if you get many bad dice rolls in a row, you will probably lose, but hey, that's part of the fun. Also enough of the characters have abilities that make dice rolls less random or increase your odds. The trick is to avoid rolling the dice whenever possible.

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Rauli Kettunen
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jvdv wrote:
Losing both Marines from the same team on the first turn? Impossible, if you ask me.


Hey, just give them both a Support token and reroll if they successfully avoid the GS attack . Oh, and if it's the Green team, no harm done devil .
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Alex Martinez
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There are players who just HATE dice. They hate them and they will always hate them. So the review is fine for players like that who don't want to play a game with a luck factor.

But,like most complaints of this sort,it exaggerates the effects of luck. It's true that,as in any game with random elements, you will occassionally fail even if you do everything right. But unless a game is entirely luck based, games like this are about mitigating risk and evaluating strategies based on probability and a risk / reward system.

I have found, personally, that everyone I know who hates randomizing elements in games dislike taking risks. They would rather go with the most reliable outcome and take the easy reward. There is nothing wrong with that, but it's a very specific way of playing a game.

A game like Death Angel is all about careful planning and big risks. As the game progresses, it's important to take chances that you know might not work but if they do...they can turn the tide. That's the thrill of it.

When I play Death Angel, I groan when I miss an easy shot, but I realize this is soon to be accompanied by the thrill of a risky move that saves my bacon. The excitement is in the strategy and adapting that strategy as your best laid plans crumble around the edges.

Nothing wrong with hating dice. But it's less a criticism of Death Angel than a criticism of a style of game that some just don't enjoy.
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Cracky McCracken
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McRae wrote:
Basically, the game bills itself as a strategy card game, but in truth strategy has very little to do with it...


Nowhere on the box does the word "strategy" appear. The box says...

Quote:
Space Hulk: Death Angel - the Card Game is a cooperative game... through teamwork, bravery and raw firepower, players must survive against overwhelming odds to eliminate the Genestealer threat.


the game is exactly what it says it is. maybe you should avoid games with player elimination in the future.
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Johan Rising
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I thought it was a pretty good review. It told me exactly what kind of people would hate the game; and I agree that for those people this game could surely be very frustrating. Fortunately, I'm not one of them.
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Mick Sullivan
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My favorite part of the game's strategy is deciding which marines are expendable, and which are not. It's not a question of if you will lose marines, it's a question of when. Losing one is not a huge deal. Losing two is not a huge deal, as long as they are from different teams. The biggest concern is losing the chance to play an action card each round when both members of a team are eliminated.

Once a marine is killed off, the players have to do their best not to lose the other one in the combat team. Losing the ability to play an action card is devastating, especially early in the game. Based on this, you are virtually forced to keep each other alive -- if the group allows a player to be eliminated, they've severely handicapped their chances of pulling off a victory.

How do you keep a particular marine alive? Position them in low-risk positions on the formation, give them plenty of support tokens, play special abilities such as power field or intimidation that will save their bacon, and be willing to sacrifice one of your own marines for the good of the team. Bad dice rolls will happen (as will good ones), but strong teamwork will often allow you to overcome ill-timed setbacks.

True co-op games need everybody to be involved, and the only way to do that is through very careful strategy. If I can't keep my friend from being eliminated until absolutely necessary for the good of the team, I don't deserve to win.
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David Stahler Jr.
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One aspect of the game that I think sometimes gets overlooked--and what makes it such a marvel to me--is what a great job it does emulating the feel of Space Hulk. In a very clever way, it captures the tense, deadly, chaotic, against-all-odds experience of the boardgame using graphically appealing components that can fit into a tiny box for less than $20. Pretty cool.

That doesn't mean everyone who's played regular Space Hulk will automatically love this game, but I can see how it might be harder for someone who hasn't to appreciate why the game is designed the way it is.
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I mostly agree with the Reviewer's final assessment. Just not enough strategy here, by any means. But that's the case with nearly all co-ops save maybe BSG, which rocks. Disappointing game but Corey almost always delivers great games so I'm sure he hasn't lost a step.

And yes, I'm aware that it's a co-op game and doesn't have aspirations to be the next Agricola or Power Grid. I'm also happy to have luck play some roll in a game's mechanics. This game just felt like a wimpy mini-game at best. Far better to just play the real Space Hulk.
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Justin Howard
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Well, thanks to everybody who provided some discussion to my post. To those who seem to be mad at me for not liking the game, it's just my opinion. Sorry. Anyway, I stated my main reason for disliking the game was the randomness and lack of strategy, and I just wanted to elaborate a bit.

I felt there was a lack of strategy because in any given round, you are given basically only 2 options (the two you did not choose the previous round). Yes, I understand that the strategy is in working your action in with your friends, but within your team it felt restricting to have only two things to do in a given round, and on top of that, only one member of your squad has special abilities. The other marine is basically fodder with a range 2 attack. I think it would have given more variety and flavor to the game if there were 4 actions available instead of 3. If not that, then even just making the second character more than a redshirt would be nice; for example, have 1 action be Marine A specific, the 2nd action Marine B specific, and the 3rd action apply to both marines.

The randomness really bothered me not JUST because I dislike randomness in games. What bothers me is that the randomness has bigger immediate impacts, i.e. death. Something as simple as being able to take 1 wound before dying would do wonders. If you didn't die from 1 hit, then flubbing rolls wouldn't seem so bad.

Anway, thanks for the discussion. On a side note, I have always been interested in the Space Hulk board game, and I just discovered TODAY that they rereleased it last year. Is it still being printed, or did I basically miss the boat on that one?
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Tristan Hall
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The boat.




























































































You.
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Cracky McCracken
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McRae wrote:
On a side note, I have always been interested in the Space Hulk board game, and I just discovered TODAY that they rereleased it last year. Is it still being printed, or did I basically miss the boat on that one?


oh yeah, Space Hulk (third edition) release was a big deal. if you get a chance to play, go for it! Great game. i think you would be surprised how well Death Angel captures the essence of Space Hulk.

 
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Anders Pedersen
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I like dice in games. There are actually a couple of FFG titles I have not bought due to them being card based.
With that being said, I do agree with the OP. The result of a dice roll can have such a big impact on the game, it can be hard to have a feeling of actually making tactical choices that matter. In most games with dice there are ways of manipulating the odds, in SHDA those ways are fairly limited while the outcome of the roll is a matter of life or death.
I don't feel the balance between tactical choices and luck are that well done in tis title.

The Silver Line series has always left me with a feeling that something is missing. It is as if good ideas that can't get fully realized end up in this series of games. SHDA leaves me with the same feeling.
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Julian Wasson
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I totally understand the frustration of randomness producing seemingly disproportionate effects. This is one of the reasons I don't really like Descent, for instance.

But in this case I think the shortness of the game mitigates the frustration factor. It plays in less than an hour so if you flub a roll and lose a marine, it's not like you're stuck with it all night. Each player has two marines and it's usually pretty important to the group to keep each player in the game as long as possible. Two players each with one marine is strongly preferable to one player with two, both for the versatility of being able to take different actions and for the effects of their action cards. Even just sitting off to one side and spamming Support every other turn is a big help.

The other thing about the luck is that it cuts both ways. Sometimes you lose a marine by rolling a zero three times in a row. In its own way that's exciting in my opinion, but that's not even what I'm talking about. It also means that when you're down to one marine left and you need a 1 or 0 to activate the launch control AND YOU MAKE IT, everybody's excited.

As a relatively light game, and as a co-op game, the high luck factor increases the drama of the game. I have never ended a game of Pandemic cheering. I've had two-turns-left-7-outbreaks-on-the-board close calls and even that completely failed to create any tension at the table. In Death Angel, on the other hand, we're holding our breath at multiple points in each game. The randomness creates lower lows for sure, but it also successfully creates higher highs when you pull off a risky maneuver.

That's my $0.02 anyway. I totally get that this game isn't for everybody. It's swingy. It's light and short. It's tense. I'm just trying to explain why I think those are good things.
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Bobb Beauchamp
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ninjadorg wrote:
The boat.

(snip)

You.



Slow. Clap. Of. Appreciation.
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armagan tuzcuoglu
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Maybe the OP should try a solo play.
For example Chess is a strategic game, but if it was played by ten players and every one of them was controlling just one pawn and one strong piece, then the feeling of the game would drastically change.
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IMO it is more a tactical game (short term decisions), you don't have a chance to plan for the long term (which defines for me what is strategic).

Luck is an issue (too many bad rolls will always mean defeat), but this is the same in BSG.

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Eduardo Soeiro
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I agree with the review that the luck on the dice roll is heavy and the slain with one hit is frustating.
But, i have to say that i like very much this game.. i only play solo.
I don't understand some boardgamers about what they think about these games.
When i buy a game like Space Hulk, i know that i will find dice luck, randomness, etc.. and i play the game trying to control these factors, not pushing the luck very hard.

The big complaint about the game is the cards.. i am color blind ( without red receptors) and i lost some time with the choice of the cards. I send a message to FFG, if on a reprint is possible to put the small black icon of the backs of action cards, in the 2 faces of marine cards and action cardskiss.
Sorry for poor english.

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Diz Hooper
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McRae wrote:


Anway, thanks for the discussion. On a side note, I have always been interested in the Space Hulk board game, and I just discovered TODAY that they rereleased it last year. Is it still being printed, or did I basically miss the boat on that one?



Just to give you a heads-up, it's mostly dice rolling. A lot of us like it, but given your criticism of dice rolling in Death Angel, I don't think it's your cup of tea.
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