Friday 25 March 2016

Deathwatch Overkill Review

Hi folks,

Last weekend I got together with Sgt Waz and Wade to have a krak at Deathwatch Overkill. I was interested to see where the game sits in the pantheon of GW boardgames. The miniatures are exquisite and, whilst expensive at $280 AUD, worth the price of admission considering the cost of other kits. I was after something more, though; a "come for the miniatures but stay for the game" kind of deal.

Ordo Xenos was the last Ordo to get a "look" for itself. I can remember the days when Grey Knights were old news and the Sister's of Battle were the flag bearers of Hereticus but nobody really had an idea of how Ordo Xenos would operate. When the concept of the Deathwatch was unleashed it was attractive for a number of reasons: it involved MOAR Space Marines, they had access to interesting ammunition types, the squad had a dirty dozen feel to it and you got to enjoy using other Chapters for once (...and didn't that feel just a little decadent). Deathwatch marines brought a strong narrative with them unto the tabletop or roleplaying session, which struck a major chord with me.

Opening up GW's new game Deathwatch Overkill I instantly gravitated towards this guy:

Each marine has a special ability which reflects his Chapter; in this case Gydrael can be killed early in the turn but he still hang around until the end, potentially allowing the Deathwatch Kill-team to complete its mission. Overall, each character seemed to be a convincing representation of their Chapter, which I think is vital to the success of a Deathwatch game. Dirty-dozen feel: check.

We deployed for our first scenario and played out the first few turns. I experienced my first twinge of misgivings:

The board is very simplistic and open-plan, providing uninterrupted lines-of-sight. Whilst this is great for mowing down the enemy in large numbers every turn ("Overkilling"), which is vital for surviving, I missed the room-to-room/cramped corridor battles of Space Crusade or Space Hulk.

We quickly realised that each marine was capable of doing horrific damage to the enemy and heroic, cinematic deeds; here is Cassius wiping out three Hybrids then leaping across the gap in the playing board to support the right flank.

We managed to wipe out the requisite 25 hybrids in the first scenario, whilst only losing a single Marine of our own. Another turn and I think we would have failed.

In the second scenario we each played two Marines and I put together this tag-team:

This scenario was a very different beast. The board was rapidly flooded with Hybrids and Genestealers appeared out of nowhere to bolt in and kill marines in one turn.

We lost our Ravenguard and White Scars Marine in quick succession. The White Scar is a beast in the game, with the ability to blast 5 or 6 enemies a turn at 3+ and block squares to prevent ambushes. He also has a teleport homer which we were relying on to move the Salamanders Terminator into position. Without it, the Salamander had a long walk to the generator room. We needed all four remaining Marines up there, standing in the right spots, to win the scenario.

My Space Wolf and Dark Angel hacked there way up the right flank and got into position, along with Cassius. Frustratingly, the Salamander was one move away from victory when Sgt Waz launched a terrific ambush that wiped us off the board; so close!

Feeling confident... a few minutes later every square was filled with Hybrids.

Overall, Deathwatch Overkill was great fun. The miniatures are wonderfully detailed, the characters are convincingly depicted through special rules and the Genestealer capabilities are suitably challenging. There are also plenty of scenarios to try and scope for expansion.Where the game falls short is in board design and a lack of customisability/character progression. My first thought was to try the game again, but use the Space Hulk boards. I can also see the game combining well with Assassinorium Execution Force. If we get around to it I'll post some alternative scenarios for people to try. At this stage I give the game a solid 3 out of 5, with plenty of room for improvement if you are willing to invest the time.

See you across the table.


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