Monday, 27 April 2015

The Depths Of Space - Two Space Hulk Battle Reports

Genestealers, Kettle Chips and Jelly Babies: Just the thing for a sunny Glasgow Saturday.

Blimey, that last blog post was awfully popular.  It seems quite a few Glasweigans were interested to read about The Dragon & George's demise.

Unfortunately, this post is a loss less inspirational and is a lot more "Me playing a board game".

Here we go again!

My old university chum Aaron found himself with an afternoon to spare, so he came round to mine angling for a game of the new Space Hulk.  He owned the second edition and has played it but not in a long time.  We decided to sneak two games in - first playing Suicide Mission again, then moving on to the second mission.

Aaron took the role of Space Marines, trying to break my streak, as we began our first game.

The first blips reveal.

Aaron started a lot stronger than either Sister Superior or I did with Suicide Mission.  He followed some of the advice of commentators from last time - he overwatched heavilly, spent some Command Points on the Genestealer turn to confuse me and generally advanced slowly but surely.

Kill one!
 Unfortunately, his rearguard had poor luck and he lost the first Marine quickly.

Kill two!
 ....and then the second one.  Uh-oh!  The back has collapsed!

Things go better on the other side.

Things went a lot better on the front side where his Sergeant lead the way, blasting through swatches of Genestealers and clearing a path while the Flamer snuck round the side.

The thick of combat at the crossing.

 Things felt overall a little more in his favour, partly because he had good luck (such as winning in a melee with Space Marines more than once!) and partly because he advanced more carefully than I did.

Excellent dice luck
 Even with the collapse of the rearguard, the final Bolter marine managed to hold the line with an astounding Marine melee win that is surely worth a promotion for this Veteran-Brother.

The end of the road.

 Alas, it still wasn't to be and with the target in sight his Flamer marine was surprised from behind by a Genestealer who snuck through the Sergeants overwatch.  His Flamer marine tried to lock down oncoming enemy with Flamer bursts, but he just didn't have the ammo to cover all angles.  Another Genestealer win!

Mission 2 on the floor

We then switched missions and roles, moving down to my floor because the board layout was so goddamn big.   This mission sees Space Marines starting spread out, one in each of the 3 x 3 rooms.  Victory is obtained by killing every Genestealer or by preventing the Genestealers from entering the table by covering all the entrance points.  There's also different kit - the Sergeant has a Thunder Hammer and Storm Shield for excellent melee but no ranged while the heavy weapon is the rapid-firing Assault Cannon.
First blood

The Assault Cannon and a Bolter were sent to the bottom of the map while two Bolters and the Sarge took the top.  It took a few turns for anyone to close in on each other wtih a lot of movement required to cover the larger board space.  Alas, the first Bolter marine up the top was quickly devoured the moment anyone got close to anyone - his gun jammed and he was easy prey.

The hero of the hour - the Bolter marine who headed down the bottom of the board
 Things down the bottom went much better though.  Both the bolter and Assault Cannon advanced as a pair on Overwatch - I expected the Bolter marine to die after a few Genestealers rushed him, his gun eventually jamming and the Assault Cannon having to hold the fort.  That never happened and his one hero Marine killed a good dozen Genestealers without breaking a sweat.  I had amazing dice luck rolling here and suspect that, not strategy, is why this worked so well!
Thunder Hammer Sarge slams his opponents down.  Excuse the Jelly Baby!
Not that things were going terribly up top.  Thunder Hammer and Bolter were putting up a valiant effort, with Overwatch and Guard chewing up enemies who approached.  The TH/SS Sarge is particularly brutal in close combat as he adds +2 to his combat dice when attacking to his fore and also removes one dice for the opponent in the same situation.  This means rather than the usual 1d6 vs best of 3d6 for a normal Marine vs Stealer fight, he gets 1d6+2 vs best of 2d6 = much more in his favour!

Mid-game progress  With the bottom locked off, only the top has any blips

My Bolter marine down the bottom got close enough to prevent Genestelaers arriving via the bottom sections - if he was within 6 squares of an entrance they were unavailable.  Therefore the last of the blips had to enter by the top.  Sheer numbers saw the demise of the Sarge and Bolter marine up there, but only after they'd claimed quite a few corpses leaving just 4 Genestealers left on the table.
Sarge finally falls: Attacked from the side he loses many of his bonuses
 The Genestealers advanced down towards the Assault Cannon marine.... but alas, he's a nasty customer, shooting with more dice and a better to hit target than the Space Marines normally have.  He may have limited ammo but he didn't need to worry about reloading to win this game and nab me some victory Jelly Babies.
Victory is sweet
 Finally, a Space Marine victory!  This game felt comparatively tight, with only some good luck on my part and careful maneuvering winning me the day.  Both the Thunder Hammer and Assault Cannon proved very good - the former is an excellent melee model as long as he isn't caught in a pincer movement, the latter will destroy anything he shoots at as long as he's in a good place to do so.  If my first Bolter marine advancing down the bottom had died earlier I'd have had to burn more Assault Cannon ammo and been further away from the action up the top which would have made my latter game much harder.

I'm still unconvinced that Suicide Mission is well made. I suspect the earlier edition rule of "one blip per turn" is enough - either that or drop some of the 3 blips so one doesn't end up as drowning in Genestealers.  To be honest, overall I do wonder if there's too many 3 blip tokens and if more 2s would be better for the game.

Despite losing both times, Aaron seemed to have fun and hopefully we'll play again.  After a few years out of Warhammer he's been bitten by the painting bug, so you never know - I might also have a new 40K opponent coming up...


  1. Yar - Suicide mission isn't a great mission by any means, but it is definitely possible to win - cautious can get you there sometimes, but balls out charging forward firing from the hip is the way to go, before you get (inevitably) overrun!

    1. A few people on Facebook have testified to winning it in the flesh, and I've won it on the computer, so I know it must be theoretically possible. Aaron did get fairly close!

      I think you may have a point, Wonderdog, when you say that charging forward might be better than moving cautiously. I think a big problem is how easy it is to get caught in the rat trap that is the corridors in the middle of the board.