Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Aliens vs Predator: The Hunt Begins

Hi folks,
I'll be honest with you, I love Aliens. It is my favourite movie and I would suggest it to anyone (seriously, if you have it, watch it tonight), with the following suggestion: it is best watched in conjunction with the original Alien film. Make it a movie marathon, or split it over two sessions, it doesn't matter. The two movies compliment and contrast in ways that make both better than the sum of their parts.

Predator is a fantastic creature film as well; a lot of fun to be had there.

The original comic book crossover was a big hit when I was in highschool, introducing a very cool mythology. This carried on into the PC game, which my friendship group at school played with almost religious fervor. The AvP movies that tried to cash in on this... well... follow my original advice: go watch Aliens.

Sooo, when Sgt Waz suggested that we try out the boardgame Aliens vs Predator: The Hunt Begins I was pretty keen. "Stop your grinnen and drop your linen" keen. I had a pretty big wishlist of things I wanted to see in the game: a claustrophobic board, sneeky alien movement, environmental effects ("What do you mean they cut the power?"),  iconic weapon effects, characterful representations of the species and their traits and the opportunity for some heroic, cinematic, "You always were an a$$hole, Gorman" moments.

KuriboGoomba (who made his own Aliens game, based on the Space Crusade rules back in highschool for a Design and Technology project) teamed up with me as the Alien player. Our objective was to get a certain number of kills. We got our first look at our horde of troops and SKREEEE! Fanboy heaven:

The Trooper gladly took control of the Marines, which included a Medic and a Smartgun Operator. He had to get into a room and activate something (an elevator?), then make it to another room to escape. Sounds safe...

"MmmmHmmm: absolute bada$$es."

Sgt Waz was left with the Predator hunting cadre, which is the smallest force in number but capable of incredible damage output. They included a Predator armed with a spear, a disc and a plasma caster. To win, they had to scan a few rooms then escape to their ship.

We set up the board and it looked plenty claustrophobic: very Space Hulk. Additionally, until line of sight is made, everyone moves as "blips" around the board. The Predators get extra blips to mask their true movement to an extent, which can be downright creepy. Air-ducts join some of the corridors and rooms, for some excellent Alien movement/human desperation action.

"Well, you're not reading it right."

Two Predators revealed themselves early and got stuck into my Aliens. The Predator with the disc was able to throw it around corners and kill multiple Aliens at once. Thankfully, Goomba and I had heaps of them to spare! With the help of some cards we were able to put some wounds on the Predators before running out of bodies.

Before long, the Marines were opening up lanes of fire and trying to take out the Queen. She soaked up an awful lot of fire, forcing the Marine player to waste card after card to take her down. One round of close combat and the Aliens would have had enough kills to push for an easy win, but they took her down at the very last possible moment.


Ominously, one of the blips flanking the Marines turned out to be a Predator, which sniped the Smartgun Operator.

[Turn Around...]                               [Over Here...]

Everyone was getting stuck into everyone now. A marine sacrificed himself with a grenade, taking out himself, a bunch of Aliens and the Predator with the disc. The other Predator was savaged by my remaining Aliens, while a lone marine managed to kill his way to the first human objective.

The last marine made it to the escape room by crawling through an air-duct and killing a skulking Alien. He was just about to win when the Predator with the plasma caster took him out from across the other side of the board. Meanwhile, I snuck my last Alien into the Predator ship...

The last combat was epic, playing out over a few game turns. Every turn a new environmental effect was drawn, which completely changed the prospects of victory. Finally, the Predator got the upper hand and killed my last Alien to win the game, but not before being brought down to one wound.

This game ticked all of the boxes. The gaming board and environmental cards depicted the setting well, the different races and species of Alien were well characterised by their stats and special rules. Additionally, the cards that you can use to provide special rules added great variation and uncertainty to combat and there is abundant space for expansion. The only thing it doesn't provide is character progression, though, let's face it, nobody survives for long in this Universe and the force choices themselves differentiate for experience, i.e. Predator Youngbloods are an option. Sod it. 5 out of 5. I would play it again tonight, no questions asked, if I wasn't already watching Aliens...

See you across the table,


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