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TS S. Fulk
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Space Infantry
Lock n’ Load Publishing
Number of players: 1
Time: 20–30 mins.

Space Infantry is a solo, squad-level, sci-fi wargame. Gottardo Zancani has tried to make a fast and easy game that simulates space marines on various missions against 6 different alien enemies. The game comes with 8 standard missions and 6 special Hive missions. Your squad is chosen from 14 different soldiers and specialists (e.g., medic, demolitions, scout).

The components have nice realistic illustrations that should appeal to people, like me, who find GW’s space marines too comic-booky. The game looks nice even if it only has cards, chits, tiles and paper. Most of the components are of very high quality, with glossy coating. However, the mission and enemy sheets are printed on low-quality paper.

The quality of the bits was tested by my 7-year-old son, Miles, when he spilled milk all over my Hive tiles and numerous chits. While screaming and cursing, I frantically cleaned off all the bits and pieces with a microfiber washcloth. Nothing was damaged due to the quality of the bits. I posted a comment about the incident on boardgamegeek.com and the owner of Lock n’ Load offered me a replacement. I declined his offer, but was pleasantly surprised to receive it. Since then I have laminated the sheets.

There are three ways to play the game. You can play a standard mission, a Hive mission, or run a campaign. For most missions, you have only 30 turns to reach your objective.

A standard mission feels like puzzle. You have the map with all skill checks (e.g., Advance, Science, Repair, Melee, Fire), resource caches and most of the objective information (depends on the mission) shown right on the map. After you randomly pick the enemy, all you need to do is study the map and enemy well before picking squad members and 8 resources. You should be able to plan exactly where you will go and what skills and resources you will need to reach your objective. Then it is just to play the game watch your plan unfold.

Hive missions, however, are much trickier, since there are many unknowns. The map is made by placing tiles as you explore. There are strict rules for tile placement that can force you to place a favorable tile far away from your marines. You need to prepare for different contingencies and be ready to backtrack to get to a different tile. Time is more of an enemy than the aliens during Hive missions.

When playing in campaign mode, you go through 8 different missions randomly chosen from both standard and Hive missions. Squad members earn XP that they can spend on special traits, becoming veterans or increasing skill levels. Before starting a mission, you can also choose to use up to 2 strategic options, like giving 2 marines power armor, recruiting a new squad member to replace someone who has died, and extra resources. You earn victory points for achieving the objective, saving resources, getting it done quickly, using few points worth of soldiers, and using less than 2 strategic options. You will lose victory points for aborting and failing (especially if everyone dies). The invested interest in your troopers and the risk involved in trying to get more victory points adds a great deal of tension to the game.

The game uses numbered chits that you draw from a cup to created a random number instead of using dice. There are 20 different chits for this: 1 zero, 3 of every number from 1–6 and 1 + that allows you to pick to more chits and add them together. “Okay,” you think, “they could have just used a special 20-sided die.” However, in the game, all numbers are unique and are placed on the squad member’s card or by the enemy on the enemy sheet each time a skill check or firefight is made. So during a battle between 5 troopers and 5 aliens, you take out 10 (or 12 if the + was drawn) chits and place them in order on your troopers and then the aliens. This is much quicker than rolling the die 10 or 12 times. Also if you draw lots of high numbers and the + for your guys, the enemy will have worse number to choose from (the reverse is also true). Having the numbers right there on the cards allows you to very quickly see how many successes you got.

So if you love solo games, Space Infantry is a fantastically fun game when played in campaign mode, in which you have an invested interest in your soldiers. You have to take risks by bidding low (fewer marines) and not using strategic options to gain victory points, but you don’t want your newly buffed-up vets to get wasted either. However, if you just play an isolated mission (especially a standard mission), the experience will not be as rewarding. This game has kicked Space Hulk: Death Angel out of my gaming shelves.
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Man thinks, the river flows.
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Riva
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    What controls the actions of the enemy? Is there a prefab movement algorithm, or do you play the part of your opponent as well, having them make rational decisions based on conditions?

             S.


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TS S. Fulk
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Sagrilarus wrote:

    What controls the actions of the enemy? Is there a prefab movement algorithm, or do you play the part of your opponent as well, having them make rational decisions based on conditions?

             S.




No movement. When you are at a location that hasn't had an event you must check for an event. Each location has a "string" like 4+/A (if the Random # is 4 or higher an A event happens) or Auto/C (automatically have a C event). The enemy sheets have tables for A/B/C events that determines how many and which of the bad guys you have to fight.

Once you fight there is abstracted movement in the sense of range (Fire vs. Melee). You can use the Squad Leader's Command points to affect the Random Number used to determine range a limited (+ or - 1) amount.
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Scott Lewis
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Sagrilarus wrote:

    What controls the actions of the enemy? Is there a prefab movement algorithm, or do you play the part of your opponent as well, having them make rational decisions based on conditions?

             S.



The enemies are "events" that happen in the various nodes; they don't move around. Combat is pretty straightforward, though there are rules about how you apply the damage to the enemy.
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Man thinks, the river flows.
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    Thank you both.

             S.


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Barry Kendall
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I'm not surprised to hear that Mark Walker offered you replacement components. He's a stand-up guy and bends over backwards for L'nL customers.

If I didn't already have four pre-order irons in the L'nL fire I'd have jumped on this, but I'll make do with the original downloadable version, though it sounds like L'nL spiffied it up considerably.
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