Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Somebody wake up Hicks!



My second chance to play Alien vs Predator: The Hunt Begins yesterday with the ill-fated Colonial Marines tasked with putting out fires on the dilapidated USCSS Theseus






The first time I played AvP back was back in March so I was quite looking forward to revisiting the claustrophobic confines of the dilapidated, alien-infested corridors of the USCSS Theseus. We're gamers, we like that sort of thing! Fellow club member, Kevin McCusker of Double Six blog, once again brought along his Prodos Games kickstarter, and this time the miniatures I admired from the previous encounter had been painted.

Now, I'm going to state here that Kevin is a talented amateur miniature painter. Even when he casually states the 'miniatures are just painted for battle-readiness', what he actually means is that arms-length bodgers such as myself just wish everyone else's arms were just bit longer. He came 1st in the 'Club Open' category at Carronade this year too. There was a marked difference in tone this time, the raw miniatures from the first adventure upgraded to more distinctive, painted factions. Although Kevin is still pondering how to base them. I say go for transparent.

I covered pretty much all you need to know about this game in my original post, so this is just a quick look at the follow up game. Joining me were two club members (Xeno-D and Predator Pew) who'd never played, so with me being a single game veteran I once again took on the squad of five walking-fodder that are the Colonial Marines. And I was still getting my Smart Gun and Flamer mixed up - much to Kevin's amusement!

Its mission two, and they are a tad concerned about fire alarms in the ship's Engine room, Armoury and Hibernation Chamber...Pvt. Frost: "Hot as hell in here." Pvt. Hudson: "Yeah man, but it's a dry heat!"  I apologise in advance. Aliens movie quote site is open on my browser and there is nothing I can do about it.

The Aliens are wanting to renovate their Hive so a trip over to the apparent inferno that his the Hibernation room (don't ask!) to collect a few stasis-sleep human popsicles is the order of the day. And maybe collect a few trophy 'samples' from anything else they find, which are to be unnecessarily dragged through the air vents. The Hive does have an image to maintain you know!

Meanwhile, three tooled-up Rastafarian-like Predators from outer space are trophy hunting too. For no particular reason, other than brag potential amongst their Predatory mates. It's what they do. They've got a competition going. The loser has to use a face-hugger in the space-toilet. Egh. Now that image is in my head!

So off the Marines went, heading to the Armoury first as it was closest. However, a few turns in and the dreaded Environment cards were playing havoc. Sprinklers going haywire reducing visibility, gravity or stasis-field type thingies misbehaving, reducing movement. That sort of thing. The Colonial marines soon found their options reduced by a disturbingly large set of 'pings' coming from their second objective, the Engine room. And sightings of one of the Rasta-predators approaching from the direction of the Hibernation chamber had them bottled up at a corner junction. Pvt. Hudson: "We're on express elevator to hell, goin' down!"

And they sure were. All the marines could do was bring as much fire-power to bear as they could, staying together and slowly advancing utilising spare 'sentry' actions. The plan was to somehow dampen the fire in the Armoury and possibly use the air vents to bypass the Alien hoard about to rush the main corridor. Hopefully the aliens and Predators would get themselves all distracted allowing the marines to slip by.

That was the plan. Not a great plan but no' bad either. Of course, it didn't work. However, the general post-match consensus was that the Colonial marines were pretty much screwed from the outset. If they could have got moving they maybe would have stood a chance. A totally invincible Predator was the other reason. This one leaned against a bulkhead, nonchalantly preening as the Marines shot it with first a Pulse Rifle, then a Flamer and finally a Grenade Launcher! It continued preening.

Pvt. Hudson: Game over man, GAME OVER!!" 
Aliens to the front, Predators to the side and nowhere to go. The outcome was inevitable really. One of the marines did mange to take out one of the Aliens - unbelievably with a combat knife. More complete desperation really. And two of the alien 'doggies' (as the Alien player was calling them!) were put down. But, by mid game, the Colonial Marines were no more.

The Aliens, confident after munching on Colonials, now faced the three lurking Predators. And they got pretty much the same treatment! Predator Pew didn't fail a single Armour roll throughout the game! It became a bit of a duck-shoot for them - albeit, a mucus-ridden, slithering, razor-toothed acid-for-blood type ducks, but nonetheless. The Predators quickly decimated the Aliens, collecting all five trophies.

There was much post-game discussion about the apparent power discrepancies between the factions. The Colonial Marines were pretty much on the back foot from the start, being sandwiched between two faction looking for a quick kill. That said, the imbalance in this game is more likely to have been our unfamiliarly and inexperience playing to each faction's strengths. That and the extremely favourable Predator dice. And they weren't even club dice!

Kevin is hoping to start introducing yet more options within the factions and more games will be needed before the players get used to the vagaries of the system. It's not a difficult system, it just has some quirks. I for one wouldn't mid playing AvP on a regular basis. Maybe the Marines will even manage to shoot something. Either that or [Ellen Ripley]: "I say we take off and nuke this entire site from orbit...it's the only way to be sure."