50 Games in 50 Weeks: Space Hulk: Death Angel

Jan 23 2012

Space Hulk: Death AngelYou are a space marine, a heavily armored and incredibly powerful warrior searching an abandoned ship for deadly, xenophobic aliens. Unfortunately, they will find you.

This is represented in a card game.

And that’s the yin and yang of Space Hulk: Death Angel. The basic idea–marines assaulted by aliens as they traverse a space ship–captures the imagination, but it’s complex and awkward to represent with cards.

The players each control a couple of marines, all of which are in the same squad. Other cards represent the ship corridors that the marines are exploring, and the aliens attacking them. Special dice are rolled when marines attack; each marine attacks in his own way.

Explaining the mechanics in detail would be dull and futile. It took me and a friend over an hour to understand the rules, and he’d played the game before. In particular, we scratched our heads over the rules for navigating through the ship and finishing the mission.

That said, Death Angel captures the claustrophobic terror of its premise. Several moments drew apprehensive groans from us both. I felt myself breathe stale air, smell fear, and feel the butt of my rifle jam into my shoulder.

I just wish I could figure out where I was on the damned ship.

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