A friend of mine and I just play-tested mission 1 extensively, and came the following conclusions:
- The models are beautiful.
- Much like any 3-player competitive game, the factions that fight first, tend to lose. The faction that saves their pieces and firepower for after their opponents weaken each other, is likely to win.
- The map layout matters a great deal, and greatly affects different races’ win chances.
- The three races (Aliens, Predators, and Marines) have completely different play styles.
- The best tactic seemed to be to advance slowly, let the opponents weaken each other, then wipe out the remaining opponents, and then take the objectives after most resistance was crushed.
The rulebook isn’t very well laid-out. There are pieces of information all over the place that really should be consolidated in one place, or at least cross-referenced. In the 1.2 manual that we were using, the table of contents was off by 2 pages. Not very impressed.
Things that were missing included:
- Weapon range: an explicit statement of weapon range needed (unlimited? 2 squares? we ruled “unlimited” unless the weapon said otherwise).
- Special weapons: all the rules for each weapon in one place, please!
- Air vents: a description of which models could remain, or move through them, in a single place in the manual. We ruled that 40mm bases and above could not move through at all.
- An explicit description of when the race cards could be played
- Better identification on the backs of the cards to show which race they belonged to.
The Race Cards
Although the play-order seemed to indicate that you could only play cards just before activating one of your own models, in practice we found that many cards seemed to be intended to be used as interrupts to other players’ activations, actions, or combat results.
We ruled that any card that stated that it affected a model in a certain situation (after moving, taking a wound, etc) indicated that the card could be used at that time. Otherwise, it had to be used before the owning player’s activation phase, on that player’s turn.
We would have preferred that the cards be more explicit about their type (interrupt, on player turn, only on opponent’s turn at time X, etc).
The Environment Cards
These added a bit of a twist round-to-round, but we felt that the effects were somewhat minor. They frequently favoured one race over another, and thus created yet another random element to the game. Depending on circumstances, this could be very frustrating, and could ultimately decide the game. If you don’t like extra random elements in your games, omit the use of these cards. The d20 dice provide a fair amount of randomness, anyway.
Few in number, but very strong. Each can take multiple wounds, and even heal a wound once per game. They can be brought down by massed firepower or masses of close-combat troops.
Lethal in close combat, but have few pieces with ranged attacks. They rely on number of attacks to wear down their opponents, and even though each attack isn’t that strong, eventually opponents will fail armor rolls and take enough wounds to be taken down.
Very weak in close combat, but can do serious damage to opponents if they manage to engage at range. The Flamethrower is especially effective against Aliens.
I would classify marines as a “defensive” race. You can’t just wander out anywhere and expect to survive. You need to make extensive use of Tactical Advance and Sentry Actions. If you fail to kill most of your opponents with ranged attacks, you will lose most of your troops.