Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Getting back in the groove!

For almost the entire summer, I just kind of let my miniatures and gaming go on the back burner. It's not that it was out of mind completely, but a nice break really helps me get excited to get back into the fold....And so onward and upward!

My latest thing, miniature speaking wise, has been to start assembling, basing, and priming as many miniatures as I can. I think having them 'RTP' (ready to paint) will give me more of an incentive as I move along: Here's a batch of freshly primed minis:

All kinds of goodies in there...Some Wyrd, some Void, some Cobalt, some resin statues, some bases, and I think a few Spugs....Believe me, this is the tip of the proverbial iceberg!

In "hey I wanna play a freakin' game" news, Games Workshop cleverly tricked me into buying the latest incarnation of SPACE HULK.

I thought I was done giving the Evil Empire my hard earned scratch, but I was wrong. Every time I get out, they pull me back in!!! Although I was aware of Space Hulk when it first appeared (back in the 'crazy 80's) I was only into 'fantasy' miniatures. I thought it looked interesting, but had neither the time nor the inclination. Now, having both those abstract qualities, I snapped it up. Some of the folks I speak to on the 'forums' have always waxed poetic about this game, and I was determined not to miss it this go 'round.

Plus the marketing geniuses did this (see pic to the right): That's right....they made it a LIMITED EDITION! You can plainly see that I was left without a choice. While Stocks Last. Smartest marketing move since the guy wrote Wash, rinse, REPEAT on the shampoo bottles.

The thought even occurred to me to buy two. What the hell? I swear they put some sort of magical trance on my cognitive abilities!

Anyhow, let me tell you a little bit about the game. I'm sure there is upteen kazillion reviews of it out there, so I'll add another.

The game is set in the 'dark future' of Games Workshop's Warhammer 40k universe, but is a stand alone game. Deep in space, and after several thousands of years, derelict space faring vessels have morphed and combined (through the magic of the 'warp' dimension) into massive floating relics. These 'Space Hulks' move about in space, mostly in the 'warp', but occasionally find themselves in the real dimension. Not leaving well enough alone, the evil Genestealers have decided these things make great hangouts, and have set up shop there. They breed and hang until the Hulk is close enough to infiltrate an unsuspecting race. Then, the little bastards really get medieval and 'plant their seed' inside a 'host'. The host then takes care of the offspring, and through progressive generations, the Genestealers Hybrids become part of the society...I'm sure there is a point to them doing this, but it's quite possible they are just after Low-Carb recipes. Either way, it's pretty hideous.

Enter the Space Marines!! The Space Marines are the toughest SOB's in the galaxy. They find out about these Space Hulks, and inexplicitly, decide to board the ships. I suppose if they just blew the ships up from a light year away, the game would be pretty boring....Well, the original Space Marines (the toughest of the tough) get their a$$ handed to them by the Genestealers, so on the next encounter, the Marines send in the toughest of the toughest of the toughest of the tough (these dudes are tough!) The Terminators. Terminators have swanky big armor and powerful weapons, and they have the ability to fight the dreaded Genestealers!

This is where our game comes in. One side controls the Terminators, the other the lightning fast Genestealers. Missions and objectives are laid out, and through the use of interlocking 'jigsaw' pieces a game board is created. In a creative use of game mechanics, the Marines move is 'timed'. This represents the confusion and pressure they are under, since if they don't complete their move before the time runs out, the player loses the rest of the turn! The Genestealers can take all the time they need to plan strategies, think about things, and generally torment the Marines.

The gameplay is very easy to pick up, but really is filled with tension and drama. For instance, the Marine player has no idea how many enemies he is up against until line of sight has been established. Before then, the Genestealers move around the board on cardboard counter BLIPS. It represents a radar motion tracker's signal. The Marines KNOW there is something there, but not how many (it can be 1,2 or 3 of the baddies).
Play progresses from there, with the Marines trying to accomplish a goal, and the Genestealers trying to stop them.
The game is incredibly well balanced, and has very good pacing. I've yet to get into some of the more complicated missions, so I hope it holds up to that.

As good and solid as the gameplay is, the quality of the components are what makes this game a good buy. The fantastically detailed board tiles are made of thick card that should hold up to gamer abuse. The counters are made of the same sturdy material and are very well represented.
The little hourglass timer is a let down. Why not have a digital count-down clock with sound effects and giggly-bobs? I can't imagine having something like that custom made would have been overly pricey. A quick check shows you can customer order a timer for the price of $1.35 (provided you order 5000) But GW could have done that easily. It would have been a great value-added feature!
Lastly, the miniatures. Games Workshop does one thing exceedingly well. Great miniatures. They also do great PLASTIC miniatures, and these are proof. Very well sculpted, very well molded. I love the fact that you can just snap them together (as opposed to their Warhammer models that always need to be glued). The Genestealers went together with no problems, the Space Marines I had to do some fiddling with....but all in all, no big deal. I'll probably even paint them, somewhere down the road.
If you buy this game JUST for the miniatures, I could hardly blame you. Compared to their plastic 'box sets' it's really a justified value. But, if you are buying it just for the minis, you are missing out on a fantastically well crafted game. It's quick, brutal, and loads of fun. All in all, I'd say a 9 out of 10.
Hey! I've clambered on for some time, I think I'll shut up for a bit. See you next time, thanks for reading, and hopefully I'll post more soon!
A quick look at the games I want to play and delve more into in the next few weeks/months.
Last Night On Earth....Halloween? Zombies? They go hand in hand!
Tannhauser.....FFG now owns this property, and is making new rules
AT-43....I'm starting to buy into the 'pre painted' fad...
Star Mogul...Space Salvaging never gets old.