Archive for August, 2017


Back in December, I – like so many of us – sat in the cinema watching Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, and being absolutely blown away by the way that the universe we all know and love was being presented in a totally different light.  It was dark, grounded, and (for the most part) lacking in The Force and lightsabers.  The climactic scene of the battle of Scarif had me engrossed in a way that a massive space battle hasn’t since The Battle of Endor.  Sure the Battle of Naboo and the Battle of Geonosis looked great, but they didn’t have the emotional hook that Scarif and Endor had.  

Watching the Battle of Scarif filled me with the desire to throw a game of Armada on the table.  


Now, as I’m sure some of you remember, there’s a really great moment in that battle where we see the Hammerhead Corvettes in action for the first time, crashing into a Star Destroyer, pushing it into the side of another Star Destroyer.  Now, here they are, ready to wreak their own brand of havoc on the tabletop.  So, how do they fare?  Do we have melee combat in Armada?

The models are back on form.  While they originally appeared in Star Wars: Rebels, they’ve been given an appearance closer to how they look in Rogue One.  I think this is a good creative decision, as most of the ships (except in instances where they have only appeared in Rebels or The Clone Wars) have a “movie” look to them.  The scale seems fine (with the usually leeway we give to Armada’s scale), and they look good on the tabletop.  So, what else do we get with them?


Well, just for starters there’s the option to have Princess Leia leading your fleet!  We’ve seen her before as a supporting officer, but this is her first appearance as a commander, a role she’s undeniable suited to.  For fans of Rebels and The Clone Wars, there’s also not the option to throw Honda in on the side of the Rebellion.  Hondo’s ability is based around buffing your own orders, and bamboozling the enemy’s chain of command.  A nice thematic ability for the pirate king.

Another of my favourite cards included has to be the boarding engineers.  I love boarding actions in any game, and basically the way these guys work is that if you can get up close to another ship, they leap aboard and let you flip facedown damage to face up.  A simple, yet suitably thematic way of replicating a devastating boarding action on the tabletop, without getting bogged down in minutiae and dice rolls.  

Similarly, the external racks are a wonderful addition.  The Rebellion has gradually acquired some big guns as the game has gone along, but nothing to compare with the Imperial Class Star Destroyer.  The external racks tweak that slightly, allowing you a one-shot additional two black dice attack.  Pretty punchy for a small ship.


Brad, this is all very interesting.  I can hear you cry.  But we wanna do the ramming thing.  Tell us how the ramming thing works.  

Okay, the ramming thing.  Sorry to break it to you, but you can’t just go ramming these boys into the enemy like it’s Thunder Road.  The ramming ability is unique to a ship name (“Garel’s Honour”), and basically it means that when you overlap an enemy ship, they take face up rather than facedown damage.  Yep, that’s it.  

I’m in two minds as to whether I like that or not.  I mean, the attack tactics they used at the Battle of Scarif were built on desperation and a spur of the moment attack.  It wasn’t something that the ships were actually built to the able to do, so why should every Hammerhead in the Star Wars universe decide to do it.  On the other…to get gamey…every player fielding these is going to want to do it.

I guess just go in knowing that’s not what they’re built to do.  For me, this pack is totally worth it just for the Princess Leia and boarding engineer cards.  The Boarding Engineers are just so much fun, and Princess Leia may not be the most powerful commander in the game, but, well, to me, she is royalty.  

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Alien and Predator are two universes that have been aching for a decent tabletop game for so long. The Leading Edge Aliens game from the eighties is easily one of my favourite games ever, and I absolutely love the Legendary Encounters versions for both monsters.  Prodos’ AVP: The Hunt Begins (in its first edition, at least) is a game I had a love hate relationship with from the start.  

Okay, so for this review, I’m not going to talk about Prodos Games, how they completely messed up their Kickstarter for the game leaving several backers without their base sets nearly two years after the game first hit shop shelves (some backers still don’t have them), the debacle with the supposedly faithful first version of the dropship, the complaints people had with the poorly mixed resin in the first batch of figures, or any of the other myriad problems people have with them, and instead look at the game itself.


So, let’s assume Prodos are a bunch of okay dudes, and that you’ve just seen this game on the shelf, you’re a fan of Alien, Predator and or AVP, and you want to know whether or not the game is worth buying.  The answer is, a little annoyingly, yes, it absolutely is.  

All the complaints I had about the first edition of this game have been completely resolved by this second version.  The holes in the combat system that previously you could drive a Colonial Marines APC through have been completely patched, leaving a combat system that is – while perhaps a little over complex by modern standards – perfectly good at reflecting corridor fighting between the three factions.  It’s also completely rectified the stupid errors that snuck in (like the Aliens being susceptible to their own acid blood splatter; seriously, what was that about?). 

The points build system now actually makes sense, as a quick glance at the first edition rule book would show you that the forces contained in the starter set were, in fact, completely unbalanced.  Lastly, the Predator Smart-Disc has been given a proper Nerfing, which is great, because that thing was ridiculously overpowered.  


So, the game is set about the USS Theseus, a ship that is being used by the Predators as a spawning ground for Aliens for them to hunt, and then some Colonial Marines show up, and the shit hits the fan.  It’s a contrived set-up, but no-one really cares about the story for a frag-fest, and you can always come up with your own background if you want.  It doesn’t change anything on the tabletop.  

In terms of components, the rule book – while still far from perfect – is light years ahead of the first edition, so I can’t not be satisfied with it.  Errors are corrected, stats are fixed, and you can (usually) find what you’re looking for while you’re playing.  Some goofs and ambiguities exist, but nothing that you can’t house rule, or find an answer to on the superb online fandom the game has, especially on Facebook.  


The board sections I’m not so sold on. The original were grim and dark, much lie the colony in Aliens. These are a lot brighter, which is partly a good thing, as the originals were sometimes a little too dark, but the upshot is that they look a little more comic book like by comparison.  
The minis are bloody superb. All single cast, so there’s no assembly required, and super easy to paint. As a bonus, the scenic bases they’re mounted on are simply excellent.


Players use the starting forces, or points build a force of either Aliens, Predators or Marines, set the map up, find out what their missions are, and then set to it.  The game, once you get it underway, is very fast paced, with players taking it turns to activate one model and acting with them, before passing onto the the next player.  In terms of action and pacing, it’s much like something like Heroclix, and fans of that game would be likely to enjoy this one, too.  

AVP: The Hunt Begins is a weird one, because in terms of complexity, it’s easily up there with a proper wargame, such as Warhammer 40,000.  The options available to you are just as varied, for sure, and it’s a game you can really sink your teeth into it.  Want to build a campaign?  You can.  Want a one off rumble with some Predators against an AI Alien force.  You can do that.  You can make this an RPG or a frag-fest.  The extra minis available are superb, too, and who isn’t going to want to bolster their force with an Alien Queen or a Power Loader?

Ultimately, if you been holding off until now, or want to upgrade your first edition set to its full potential, this is the game you want.