Saturday, 10 October 2009
Saturday afternoon saw Stu and I sit down and have two stabs at Space Hulk's Mission II, "Exterminate". In this mission the Space Marines set up dispersed so that each Marine starts within a room and on his own. Genestealers enter at both ends of a board that is roughly L-shaped but unlike most missions they don't get infinite reinforcements. The 3-strong and 1-strong blips are used and once they are depleted, no further Genestealers arrive. Marines win by wiping out all Genestealers or by getting within 6 squares of all Genestealer entry points. That done means that no blips can enter the board at these points and if the Marines get all entrances blocked they will immediately win the game. While it sounds a big ask, we worked out post-game that only two squares at either end of the board need to be occupied for the Marines to achieve these victory conditions.
On both games, Marines basically ignored the last option and went for massing everyone around the centre in overlapping "Overwatch" fields-of-fire.
I won an easy victory with the Marines by killing all Genestealers but then for the second one we'd worked out, after some discussion over hot drinks, that Genestealers need to hole up out of sight of Marines and wait for others - then attacking the Marines in large numbers rather than attacking in penny packets as they arrive and being cut to ribbons. This was happening in the first three games we played.
Adopting the new "wait for numbers" approach I took out 4 Marines by outflanking Stu's central position. In the smaller early missions where the Marines get only 5 models, an early removal of a model can hamper them badly and so it proved here. However things were turned on their heads when the last survivor (Storm Bolter/Power Fist - the vanilla SH Terminator in other words) retreated to a handy dead-end corridor. I swarmed with the remaining 15 or 16 Genestealers but the odds are dramatically on his side now and his last man wiped out all xenos and snatched victory from the jaws of defeat.
While it seemed unlikely at the time, as turns went on the inevitability of this result became more apparent and was due to the Command Points rules. The Marine with 4 Action Points could (once static) fire twice (no risk of jam) and go to overwatch for a total of 4 AP. He then shoots at every Genestealer taking an action in his sight (up to 12 squares) after that Genestealer has taken his move. A double six on Overwatch fire means the gun is jammed but it only takes 1 AP to clear this. The Marines draw between 1 and 6 bound Command Points a turn and now Stu was reduced to one model that wasn't going to budge off his square he could easily keep a couple back to clear a couple of jams and use the rest for interrupt fire or as bonus firing in the Marine turn. With a draw of 6 Command Points, the Marine could effectively shoot 8 times, go on Overwatch and then shoot "for free" any movement in front of him. Nasty!
With unlimited Genestealer reinforcements, his defeat would be inevitable if potentially incredibly time-consuming to play out but with a limit on Genestealer numbers he was in with a really good shout and made it tell. I managed to get one Genestealer into the facing square but he was shot down before being able to melee.
The £1 electronic kitchen timer worked well but with only 5 Marines, and those being stationary a lot of the time, it never really affected the game. It was useful being able to pause the clock during the Marine turn when the wind blew a fence panel over in the garden and Fiona was the only one holding it up until we got outside. :)
Jamie turned up later on his way to a party, and looked at the game approvingly, he is going to try and sort out a weekend to come up and play a few games.