Brought out Death Angel the other night for a few solo games, wanting to try out the Deathwing expansion I'd picked up cheap (see here and here.) I thought I'd put up a summary of one of the games and try and show off some of the hooks that keep me coming back!I chose to play the game almost straight from the book, leaving out most of the changes I've made to the game. This meant choosing three pairs of Terminators at random, then drawing their formation at random. If I want a more tactical game, I choose both the squad and their formation myself, which I think is a sensible enough change. The object of the game is to move through the four, randomly chosen locations and complete the objective on the final card.
So we entered the Space Hulk with a force of Techmarine Hephaestus (Red Team,) Sergeants Arbalan (Team Yellow) and Zaltys (Team Blue,) each accompanied by another Terminator for six in total. Each pair have different special abilities they can use, but they only apply to the three guys named above - losing them hurts a lot more than losing their "goon" as we shall see.
The squad emerged from the Void (air) Lock to be immediately attacked by four Genestealers (GS.) I'm not going into the mechanics too much here, but quickly, the Marines have a choice of three actions in a turn, move+activate, support or attack and they can't do the same action two turns running. Combat is very simple and brutal, with only one dice roll determining life or death and the key thing to remember is that getting attacked from behind is waaaay worse than from the front.
Team Blue Supported the squad by placing a support token on him. This lets him re-roll attack or defence rolls, but his special ability lets any marine use that token instead of just him. The other two teams attacked, each taking down one GS. Zaltys support ability was immediately needed to keep Hephaestus alive. At the end of each phase, an event card is drawn that adds a random event, spawns more GS and moves the GS already in play. This turn, we had a gun jam meaning Team Zaltys wouldn't be able to attack next turn. Damn.
This turn saw two Support tokens enter play and Techmarine Hephaestus Activate the door. Doing this lets you kill a number of GS when you move to the next location card - imagine the squad sealing a door behind them, cutting them of from the pursuing GS. Lots of GS attacks this turn, as we couldn't thin their numbers this turn, one of which took out Sergeant Zaltys (and his handy ability.) Brother Gabreal, Arbalan's goon, was then surrounded by all the GS in play.
So some sneaky manoeuvring needed this turn. Gabrial moves and uses his ability to take one of the swarms opposite with him, leaving him facing four and Raphean against two. Red team then attacked but both missed. Team Yellow put another support token on the door. At this point there was only one GS card in one of the spawn piles. If it came into play at the end of the turn, we would instantly move to the next location.
The GS attack, Gabriel surprisingly survived (needing a 5 on a 0-5 sided dice) but Raphean was killed. The "Out of Thin Air" card put two GS behind Arbalan and, with no more GS cards left, we moved to the Black Holds. Immediately another two GS appear behind Brother Jerico, but we manage to seal two of them behind us.
With all the GS spawned already, the squad should be able to move to the third location in two turns at the latest. Red team then supported Jerico, who was up against four GS, and triggered Hephaestus Gun Servitor attack. Unfortunately, it missed. Jerico kills one GS while Gabriel missed. Jerico dies and Gabriel moves into his position, only to be killed in turn by a second swarm of GS behind him!
A secret route appears, letting the marines evade some of the GS attacking them. The remaining squad members, Hephaestus and Arbalan, enter the Hibernation Clusters. Not many GS to get through to the final location, can we hang on? Following the rulebook word for word, the two marines would be overwhelmed by GS in a turn. I use a little house rule to keep four "slots" in the formation; meaning that although there will be GS everywhere, the marines are never in a position, however unlikely, where they can't survive. This turn Arbalan puts a support token on himself, triggering his ability to try and stop and GS spawning on him (he fails.) Hephaestus manages to destroy the spore chimney, reducing the places where GS can appear this turn. With his Quick Instincts, Arbalan attacks a swarm, but doesn't do any damage. Only two GS appear, but that's enough to take us to the final location.
The Genestealer Lair. Bugger.
No more GS will appear this game, but two Broodlords do. They draw all the GS in play to their location, fortunately the big swarm wasn't facing either marine. Both attack, but only kill one GS. Arbalan is then killed, leaving Hepheastus alone against thirteen Genestealers. I'm sure he went down swinging!
We were put up against the hardest possible final card. The other two can both be one on dice rolls. The card we had here actually penalises you for rushing through the game. Maybe if we'd thinned the numbers against us a bit, we might have had a fighting chance.
Even with all the GS against the squad at the end, there was still a chance to win. The way the GS move around relative to squad means that the Broodlord may have been isolated and vulnerable. That didn't happen, but there was a chance it could!
The Deathwing expansion is well worth taking. It certainly appears that their abilities are much more effective than the Blood Angels from the base game. In fact, I think I drew two of the weakest teams from the Deathwing; the Assualt Cannon and Librarian teams are both capable of taking out whole swarms at a time. Next time I think I'll play with all six teams in a single game.
Well, I hope that made sense to those of you who've read this far. You should get this idea that the game is very fast paced, very brutal and very difficult. There's probably slightly too much random in there for some gamers, particularly when attacking, but I don't think that the game is ever decided randomly. One of my favourite games, hope you enjoyed reading about it.