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Subject: Hunt for the dreadnought rss

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Kris Vezner
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I wanted to introduce this game to my friend Gene, who is a Warhammer 40K fan like me. We flipped a coin to see who would play Marines and who the alien. I ended up playing the aliens. I decided that we would play the first mission, where the marine mission is to kill the dreadnought; the alien player is missing three androids; and the alien player gets no reinforcements.

One Marine chapter against the whole hulk seemed unfair, so I also decided that Gene would play the chapter of his choice until he won or I wiped him out. Then he would pick another chapter and re-enter the hulk with them the next turn and so on until he won or I wiped out all three chapters. I also decided that I would place eight random blips in each hulk section, instead of choosing the number and identity of the blips that I put in each section. I was concerned that the alien player had it too easy. But the dreadnought would be in the last hulk section that the Marines explored, like an end-of-level boss and a dramatic fight to cap the mission.

Gene chose the Blood Angels, giving his commander the power fist & power sword and giving his Marines an assault cannon and plasma gun for heavy weapons. He did not give his commander the power field, which now appears de rigeur. The first Marine moved well into the first section and scanned. I randomly drew the lone android, two Chaos Marines, two Orks and three gretchin. I mobbed the Ork and gretchin blips around a corridor bend to the left where no Marine could move far enough to shoot them this turn. I put the Chaos Marine and android blips together behind a door to the right, also just out of reach. Gene took the rest of his squad and moved up as close as he could get to the three blips of the Chaos Marines and android.

I drew suicide android as an alien event. You couldn’t ask for more than that. The android rushed out among the tightly-clustered Marines and exploded. He killed the three Marines around the commander and did two Life damage to the commander. He also incinerated the two Chaos Marines whom I had foolishly failed to move first. I imagined the Chaos commander deep within the hulk, laughing as he detonated the android and two potential usurpers.

The secondary mission to destroy the android came up later in the game and we gave those points to the Blood Angels.

The rest of the board was a sweep and clear, with the commander slaughtering the Orks and gretchin in melee as they relentlessly fired on him, chipping down his six Life. The Blood Angels used blind grenades one turn, but the aliens just withdrew down a corridor out of reach so they still blasted the commander before he could strike again.

The other surviving Marine had an assault cannon, but as he moved up a genestealer dropped down on him from an air vent and shredded him. I discovered that if you put a genestealer model in a square adjacent to a Marine, the genestealer’s outstretched claw fits naturally on top of the Marine’s head. I would use this knowledge many times in this game. The commander eventually butchered the genestealer and most of the Orks and gretchin. Two aliens fled his wrath into the next hulk section to team up with whatever was there.

The Blood Angels commander followed them into the next section. This time I drew the Chaos commander, plus I think three Orks and four gretchin. I put these blips just out of the Blood Angels commander’s LOS. They surrounded the Blood Angels commander and blasted him to pieces as he waded through them. I think that the Blood Angels commander pulled the Chaos commander down with him, a hero’s death.

The Ultramarines were up next. Their docking torpedo thudded into the hulk.

They would enter the same hulk section where the Blood Angels commander had just died. Gene chose the same weapons for this squad as for the Blood Angels. He did not take the medi-kit for his commander, which like the Blood Angels’ force field now seems de rigeur.

The Ultramarines charged in en masse, penetrating as far as they could. I threw my Orks into melee with the four regular Marines, reasoning that the Orks should have an even kill ratio with the Marines because they both roll 2W. This worked very well, I recommend it to anyone. The ability of models to move diagonally made it very difficult for Gene to protect his heavy weapons and he was soon down two Marines. The Orks moving eight squares each turn also helped their penetration.

A swirling melee erupted in the intersection near the Ultramarines entry point. Gene got a plasma gun lined up on three aliens, but the 2R dice came up two zeroes and even the gretchin survived. Another genestealer came up through the floor, shredded the plasma gunner and fled to where the Ultramarines commander couldn’t reach him. I drew an alien card that gave me some blips, more Orks and gretchin whom I happily threw into the fight.

As the Ultramarines advanced down the corridor, blasting and hacking, another genestealer appeared and gutted the last regular Marine before fleeing out of reach. I kept the genestealers out of the Ultramarines commander’s reach as the gretchin shot him down. The Ultramarines never even made it off their starting section.

Now the Imperial Fists had to go in. Their assault torpedo punched into a previously-unexplored section of the hulk.

The Imperial Fists were the last chapter and it looked bad for them. First, they had two entire board sections to hunt through plus the four alien survivors of the Ultramarines’ board section. Second, they were more geared toward long-range combat and I was reaching the conclusion that melee power is critical in this game. The previous two chapters had brought four heavy weapons into the hulk and gotten off one shot between them. But the Imperial Fists went in, giving the commander a power fist & power sword despite his equipment cards suggesting a plasma combi-weapon with a re-roll; and giving the regular Marines a missile launcher and an assault cannon.

I drew a Chaos Marine and a bunch of Orks and gretchin. I formed them all up in a mob down a corridor out of LOS. I would let the Imperial Fists get close, then rush out and engage them in melee before they could get a shot off. I figured that he had to come to me. I sent most of the survivors of the Ultramarines’ board section to reinforce them, but sent one genestealer sneaking around to flank the Imperial Fists and hit them in their rear as they engaged my main force.

The Imperial Fists took the bait, they had no choice. They moved down the corridor as the gears of the killing machine began to grind. I drew the alien elite card, which let me use one of my models twice. The genestealer in the back raced among the Imperial Fists, gutting both heavy weapons Marines in one turn. Then the battle was on.

Rather than falling back to the last hulk section, these aliens stayed and fought to the death. The battle raged back and forth and in the end the Imperial Fists commander was the last man standing, down to three Life. He would have to face the final hulk section and the dreadnought alone.

Fearlessly the Imperial Fists commander advanced into a large room in the final section. The other doors to that room slid open, revealing the Chaos Marine with a missile launcher; a few Orks and gretchin; and the dreadnought itself. The Imperial Fists commander just stood there as they opened fire on him, blasting him with everything they had. Rockets, assault cannon shells and bolter rounds smashed into his frame. Somehow he emerged unscathed from that storm of fire as the dreadnought stumped forward to squash him underfoot.

I figured that even if the Imperial Fists commander took some Life and weapons off of the dreadnought in melee, I would overwhelm him quickly with gunfire. I still had the Chaos Marine with the missile launcher. The commander rushed the dreadnought and slapped a melta bomb onto its hull. He rolled an amazing 10 for damage with his 4R2W and the dreadnought rolled a miserable 0 with its 2R2W. The dreadnought was instantly smashed to pieces, in the Imperial Fists’ first full turn in the hulk section. I just had to stare for a bit. Anticlimactic.

The other aliens moved forward, blasting the Imperial Fists commander and knocking him down to 2 Life. At the beginning of the Imperial Fists’ next turn, I was on my last alien event card. This gave Gene two more turns before the game ended, playing by the official rules. If it had come to that I would have kept playing, as I didn’t replenish the alien event deck for each new chapter. But with both the primary and secondary missions accomplished, there was no point hanging around to be shot to pieces. The Imperial Fists commander withdrew to the assault torpedo and the game ended.

Our conclusion was that Space Crusade is a fun and simple game. You really need to have multiple teams of Marines at once though. As Gene noted, with the alien player having to spread the bad effects of the alien event deck among three chapters it would get a lot easier for the Marines. Also the Marines could link up and help each other out, at least in theory.

Gene suggested that if there’s one Marine player, have the Marine player control two chapters simultaneously. The advantage from the two Chapters working in perfect harmony could offset the disadvantage from missing the combat strength of the third chapter. I wonder if two chapters could win even so.

We also got some idea which equipment is most desirable. Equipment that lengthens your commander’s life is a must, like the force field and medi-kit. The blind grenade order card underwhelmed me compared to other order cards, it just buys you a turn of no shooting as the alien player withdraws.

For tactics I feel that the Marines should consider sending the commander into the hulk alone on the first turn to draw out the enemy, then send everyone in on the next turn to back him up and lay down fire. It was too easy for me to place my alien forces just out of sight, where they could rush in and engage the regular Marines in melee or shoot them. A commander can weather that storm of fire for a turn, long enough for the other Marines and their heavy weapons to arrive. You want to keep your other Marines alive because once they’re dead, the commander’s just killing one alien each turn while all the other aliens blast him with gunfire.

I’m not sure what to recommend for the Imperial Fists commander. I think in another game I’d try him with the plasma gun combi-weapon with re-roll, just to see how it works out. But I’d expect a genestealer to run roughshod over them. Gene’s choice for the Imperial Fists obviously worked out well and I think the Imperial Fists even ended the game with the most points.

A good win for Gene and we’d play it again.
 
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Nathan Baumbach
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"The dreadnought was instantly smashed to pieces, in the Imperial Fists’ first full turn in the hulk section. I just had to stare for a bit. Anticlimactic."

Not really. Think of it as all these Marines fighting to pave the way for that one Marine commander who is getting blasted apart one piece at a time to deliver that ultimate meltabomb to achieve their mission.

Maybe it was rather anticlimatic for the aliens/Chaos player, but it had to be moment of sheer victory for the Marine player.

All in all, it's a great game if you play it with the right people.

 
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Kris Vezner
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Doing 10 Life damage to the dreadnought in one attack, yeah that's definitely sheer victory for a Marine player. You don't come back from that. Oh but as an alien player! From a dreadnought you expect more. You are right, it is a matter of perspective.

You are also right in that it is a fun game. Want to play again soon.
 
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