After watching Radho Runs Through and Board Game Brawl’s top 10 solo games list, I ordered Space Hulk Death Angel: The Card Game. When it came, I opened the box and started to read the rules. After not getting very far at all, I stopped and looked to the interwebs for answers. Radho had a run through that explains things very well, but since I have three children, I couldn’t pay attention to it as much as I needed to be able to play. After attempting to play four or five times, and ending each play feeling like I did everything wrong, I shelved it. So, months later why am I talking about it now?
This week at work, I had to work with a few people to install AutoCAD and other software on a computer lab of 40 plus computers. Without going into details, we could only start 10 computers installing each software at a time, so we had to repeat the process many many times, and it took four days. To put it bluntly, there was some downtime. I brought a bag of games, and they saw a lot of use. Death Angel was one of those games.
Colin, whom I have written about previously, and I were in between installs and taking a lunch break. He is a big fan of the Warhammer 40k universe and of Corey Konieczka, so we gave it a shot.We spent quite a bit of time going through the rules and set up, reading through all our action cards (three per team) and then began the game.
I’m not going to try an explain Death Angel’s rules, because, like the author of the rule book, I would do a bad job. The premise is that a squad of Space Marines have been ordered to breach an infested Space Hulk via boarding torpedo, and destroy the forward control rooms.
The Squad is split into combat teams of two marines. In solo games, you control three teams (6 marines), 2-3 player games each player controls two teams (4 marines each) and games of 4 or more each player will have 1 team (2 marines). The squad has to work together moving from room to room until they reach the control room and explodify it. In each room are swarms of genestealers (aliens) attempting to kill you. Players must chose whether their team or teams will take a Support action, Move/Activate action, or an attack action, never repeating the same action two turns in a row.
We started with the first location and spawned the genestealers. The first two turns passed slowly, as we were still working out some of the rules. This is where, in past solo plays, I would get confused and wander off to something else. This time though, since there we were counting on each other to continue playing, we persevered. We when blasted through the first room, I was actually thinking we were doing pretty well.
Before too long, I was down to one Marine. I had been rolling very unlucky, and lost my last Marine soon after. Now I just sat back and watched. Colin pushed through and was on the second to last room with three Marine’s left. An event came up at the end of a turn, which allows Colin to revive one Marine, as long as the other Marine from that team was still alive. Now, in walks Derron. He was hoping to catch us on lunch to play Cthulhu Realms (look for a follow-up on this game soon). Of course this meant he would harass Colin at every turn, to speed the game.
Colin was in the middle of half-playing half-talking through his turn, and realized he had targeted the same swarm to null their attack, and to remove from play. I urged him to change the target of the null attack. Derron of course, had other ideas, muttering something about a cheater.
Colin accepted my advice, and was able to move into the control room, which is the final location. At that location, you don’t need to clear the room, simply activate the control panel, place a token on it, then roll a die. If the roll is equal or lower than the number of tokens on the panel. On his second activation, he won the game.
Of course, being a good sport, I claimed victory with him, since we the combat teams were in it together. After making it clear I was part of the win, I immediately switched sides and joined Derron in claiming the victory doesn’t count because he cheated. Since the cheating happened after all my Marines were dead, my victory was not tarnished, but Colin’s record, according to the pair of his “friends” was 0 – 1.
The next day Derron and I played together. Upon entering the first room, I lost my first Marine. I was having flashbacks to the day before when I lost all my Marines. I started playing with greater caution, and we successfully activated the control room. Since the setup of rooms is random, we saw some rooms that I had not seen in the previous game, and actually saw an artifact, that let you save a Marine after being hit (we picked it up, but didn’t need to use it.) As soon as we achieved victory, we texted Colin (who was off that day) and let him know it was possible to win without cheating.
Hopefully Colin accepted our jabs in good fun, because if it wasn’t for him, I don’t think I’d have ever learned to appreciate, let alone play this game, and I’m looking forward to giving it a try solo, and also with a full complement of six players. While this isn’t a game I’d want to play back to back, I recommend this to anyone who has the patience to learn this game. There are also micro-expansions available that I’m looking into adding to my collection.