Jason Novak
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A few weeks ago, I managed to pick up Space Hulk: Death Angel – The Card Game at Borders for $1.00 after giftcards and coupons. I was excited to get home and try this out. See, I've been a role-player for over 20 years, and while I've never played any Warhammer or Warhammer 40K games, they've always intrigued me. The imagery, especially in Warhammer 40K, is BRUTAL.

So I busted this thing out and...well, here's what I thought:

THE GOOD:

I was pleased that the solo game was so good. With some games, like Sanctuary, the solo version feels like an afterthought. This is not so in Death Angel. The solo feels like it was meant to be. I've played this solo about 8 times, and despite some issues I'll get to in a minute, it was awesome.

However, I've found that the muliplayer version is just as good. I played this once with my girlfriend, and we had coordinate as much as possible with the limited information you can share. It provided its own unique challenge, but the teamwork aspect was even more clear when playing with someone else.

The cards are high-quality linen textured cards, printed with that BRUTAL imagery I was talking about. The Genestealers are scary, the environment is ominous, and the Blood Angels look bad-ass. Also, the game set-up has you shuffling environment cards, so the rooms that you go into are different each time you play. Certain rooms have enviromental things you can affect, so your tactics might change depending on whether you can destroy the Promethium tank or activate a teleporter.

The way you lay the cards out makes for a kind of "board" with cards in the place of miniatures. Where cards are placed visually represents where your marines are in relation to the environment and their enemies. I like this card game/board game hybrid.

Each team of two marines plays slightly differently, making it feel like it really matters how you play each team. It would have been easy to just have "Attack, Support, or Move and Activate" as actions, but the cards' secondary effects really add to your options.

The game is easy to set up once you've done it a few times, but it is not easy to beat. Each game is a struggle against an unending horde of Genestealers. Even though you have lots of tactical options and the 'stealers do not, their numbers make up for their lack of abilities.

THE BAD:
Like I said, each game is a struggle. I've played a total of 9 times, and I've yet to make it into the last room of the Hulk, much less beat the damn game. At times, the difficulty seems too hard. If you go to my "played games" log, you'll see that I described each session as BRUTAL. All caps. Because it is all-caps BRUTAL. Most games ended up with one last marine surrounded by 5 genestealers on each side, which for reasons you'll understand if you play, is basically an unwinnable situation. If it ever gets to that point, you're just screwed.

Another BRUTAL thing about the game is the rule book. It's...not very well written. For the first five games, I realized something was ambiguous in the rules and had to check BGG when I got to a computer to see how the rules were being interpreted. It's also not organized well, making it easy to miss a rule when you read. Last night, in my 9th game, I realized I have been doing something wrong. It wasn't something that would have cost me the game in the previous, BRUTAL games, but it would have slightly increased my chances.

Really, though, those two things are my only problem, and the challenge of the game is a plus as well as a minus.

OVERALL:

Well, I've played this nearly every day that I've had it. It sets up easily, packs away easily, and is great for a little 30-minute solo game. The mulriplayer is great, too. I give it a 9 out of 10. It's one of the best $1.00 I've spent, but I'd be happy with it even if I had paid $20-$25 for it.





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Remi Letourneau
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Montrea
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I can't speak about the rulebook, but any Warhammer setting has Brutality at the Core... and in 40K it's just.. hum... piled higher

It's the Struggle of Humanity to *survive*, and at great cost (the Imperium is not a Happy Place)

It seems that the card game fits that part of the equation!

I mean, a game in a setting that bleak where you win 95% of the time wouldn't be that fun :/
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Silver Samurai
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Good review, and you're right about the brutality. i seem to go through phases - there is a strategy to the game and when you begin winning, you'll be able to repeat at least 50% of time. If you find the brutality unforgiving, try to select the teams you play better with rather than allowing the fun to go out of the game with random selection. You can almost balance the odds. ALMOST.

Everyone has their favourite teams, and folk really seem to like the Assault Cannon on here. Which i don't understand, as it just seems to bring me REALLY bad luck. Flamer is best IMHO.

I digress...agreed that the rule book is badly laid out but don't think it's ambiguous. There's just a lack of structure which makes stuff hard to locate.

This is the only game i've played where solo excels multi-player. Especially when my wife gets mad cuz i try to save my last marine and unwittingly sacrifice her entire squad. Doghouse.
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Jason Novak
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FOR THE EMPEROR!

Um...I just won. Killed the Broodlords with three Marines remaining.

Brothers Claudio and Valencio, as well as Sergent Lorenzo, made it out alive!

It was BRUTAL, but I did it.



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Rauli Kettunen
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TheFlatline wrote:
1. Always scout the event deck whenever you can. Always. Did I mention always? Pay attention to where the bad guys are coming from. If GS are spawning in a weak area of your battle line, bury it. Are GS going to spawn or move and create a massive wave that will auto-kill? Bury it. I'm actually convinced that the ability to scout the event deck is the single most powerful ability in the game.


Too bad this kinda works against points #2&3 laugh ! Purple IMO has three great Actions available (unlike Green, who have zero). Attack with Flamer covers your #2, Strategize (Support) needs another team in combo (Grey's Power Field or Sergeant Lorenzo with Counterattack) but helps with #3. Thus, I find I can afford to use Purple's Move+Activate only occasionally at best, some game maybe once of twice during the entire game, even if it goes to the last location.

Quote:
3. Defense is a good thing. Plot your defensive actions carefully. Work the door as hard as you can so that when you get through the location, you can murder-ate lots of genestealers.


Defense for me is bad, very bad. Less defense rolls you have to make, the better. Only Sgt. Lorenzo is the redeeming factor on defense, with his ability to kill genestealers. Rest are just rolling to see if they survive. Kill the stealers first, don't need to risk rolls just to survive.
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Ian Morton
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So far I'm 0-4 with this game so I can agree it is brutal! The event cards can be just plain evil sometimes. Tonight I had 5 out of 6 marines with support tokens and a marine in place to activate the teleportarium and the event card was Resupply!!!
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Bill Jones
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Nice review! Totally agree about the rulebook -- most of the rules are in there, somewhere, but the organization is terrible. Other rules are ambiguous like you said, and will have you scrambling for the FAQ and Rules forum here.

I've played the solo game a half dozen times, and have made it to the last location every time but once. My only victory came when I hand-picked the Purple (flamer), Red (cannon), and Yellow (claws) teams. One key is protecting the Marines who can kill multiple Stealers with a single attack (Brothers Leon, Zael, and Claudio) with Support Tokens or moving them away from swarms; otherwise your chances decrease quickly.

Even with the best strategy, a victory is still going to depend on some luck since there are so many bad things happening between Genestealer spawns and movements, and random horrible events. The one game I won could just as easily have been a defeat had 3 die rolls gone the other way.

Awesome, fun game though, despite the toughness. It's way more fun and tense than the solo Race for the Galaxy, in my book. The fun is in the playing, and since you can expect to lose most of the time, the occasional victory is a terrific and welcome surprise.
 
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M.C.Crispy
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Useful review, thank you!

The "unwinnability" (is that a word? it is now!) of solo/co-op games is often a matter of perspective and experience. If you look at it from the PoV of what your win proportion is for a new adversarial game, do you see the same proportion when you play a solo game? If you do, then there's probably nothing wrong with the game, you just need more experience.

If I think back to my experieces with cooperative games such as Pandemic, Arkham Horror, Defenders of the Realm, Castle Ravenloft, Last Night on Earth, I remember that I used to take a total pasting EVERY game. Now, with the exception of Defenders of the Realm, I win at least as often in a group as I would expect when playing an adversarial game. I reckon that's about right. I'm getting whupped at Ghost Stories at the moment, but I'm starting to see the light!

Sometimes when you do get BRUTALISED early on, it does seem as though it's all down to "the breaks", but later, as you develop experience, there seem to be more good breaks than bad breaks and the bad ones don't seem so bad. Except in Defenders soblue So I'd hold off thinking that the game's broken 'cos it's too hard and have faith in the designer and his/her playtesters; one day it'll all become clear. Surely. It will... right?
 
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