Friday, 1 February 2013

Coming up zeroes

I'm on my way through Space Crusade. I'm not sure this is the one we used to play at school, that might have been Space Hulk, but it's a very similar concept. Space Hulk (of which there is a computer game coming up) had a more complex turn system where your marines could go on overwatch, etc., whereas Space Crusade simply has you taking your turn (moving and attacking) and only responding to enemies if they melee attack you. There are three space marine teams you can take on each mission. I think this would make it quite fun multiplayer, but I find it's not worth taking them all out in single player because it slows the whole game down too much. So I find myself sticking with the Blood Angels in my campaign (your commander gains experience as you complete missions, so you want to stick with the same team once you've made your choice).

You control a squad of four marines and a commander. The marines only have 1 hitpoint each, while the commander has 6, so there's a bit of strategy involved with taking care of your expendable dudes while at the same time keeping your commander protected (the marines are ultimately expendable, the commander is not). The marines also have a choice of different weapon and equipment loadouts, and there are some event cards you can play to help you out on your missions. This does provide an extra layer of strategy, I guess, but I found myself using the same loadout every time once I'd found one I liked. There is some variety among the missions, but not enough variety that it makes me change which weapons/equipment I take with me.

It all feels very true to the board game but, as I say, this is an earlier version to the one I played, so I can't be 100% sure of that. A couple of terminology updates from last time - they're 'bolters', but there are also bolt pistols, no sign of bolt rifles, though. Also, in this game the aliens are called soulsuckers, not genestealers, which is weird. They must have not quite decided on the name at this point, as it's definitely genestealers in all later games. Needless to say, genestealer is a much better name! Anyway, back to the title of this post and one annoying (for me) aspect of this game's adherence to the board game; you have to roll dice to attack and defend. I don't know if it's just my usual board game dice roll curse, or if the computer cheats, but man do I roll a lot of zeroes! My commander has a power sword and power glove, which give him 4 attack dice in melee. I also have a piece of equipment that allows me to reroll one of those dice, so that's effectively five dice, and I must come up with all zeroes about 30% of the time. It really is quite ridiculous how often it happens, and it slows the game down a heck of a lot. Luckily (if you can call it that) it seems to come up much more often when I'm attacking than when I'm defending and counter-attacking, so I seem to kill the majority of the orks and gretchins when they attack me rather than vice versa. Ah well, gets the job done, I suppose. I'm making pretty good progress with the missions, so I reckon I'll be able to polish this one off soon, maybe even lunchtime today, but definitely over the weekend if I get a minute. The level of difficulty feels about right - it's challenging, but not impossible (even with the questionable dice rolls). My stupidest death so far was on a mission where I had to open an airlock and then escape. I ended my turn next to the airlock (with my commander!) and rather dumbly decided to open it. Needless to say at the start of the following turn my commander was immediately whisked out into deep space. Idiot!

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