The Aliens Vs. Predator game from Prodos games, still languishes in Kickstarter hell. With Prodos apparently still having Wave 1 and 2 sets to send out, and trying to get Wave 3 approved. They have gone very quiet recently, with no real updates to speak of, and the thought of seeing the rest of my kickstarter have pretty much been pushed to the back of my head.
At least I have received my copies of the boardgame and a lot of the extras so I consider myself lucky, as there are some who have yet to receive anything.
The first edition of the games rules were quite entertaining, if just a little unbalanced and poorly written. Prodos recently commissioned a few of the games more devoted fans to update the rules, and the V2 rulebook is the result of that. It has been released as a PDF, with a V2.1 to come out shortly.
The main changes to the game have been to clarify a lot of the badly explained rules, and try to balance the forces included in the game to give some kind of internal balance. The main changes were as follows:
The marines were pretty much unchanged
The Aliens gained an additional tail attack to beef them up a bit and were ruled to be immune to their own acidic blood (well, duh!!!!!).
The Predators were hit the hardest, with the Smart Disc being downgraded a lot (thanks goodness!) and the number of Predators in the campaign scenarios in the ruled book dropped from 3 to 2. This was a good change as previously the Predators were never under nay kind of threat.
The other changes were to the campaign missions, with new objective for each side in the missions, all of which looked pretty achievable.
We tested out the new rules on Monday night, with three players that had all previously played the game, with me on umpiring duties. We went back to the start and played Mission 1.
The Marines had three objectives:
Close the Vent just outside the cryo chamber
Get to the control centre and retrieve the command codes
Scan the Predator Pod.
These were all pretty achievable as all three objectives were on the Marine side of the board, which meant that they did not need to try and fight their way through the Aliens and Predators.
The Aliens objectives:
Damage the armoury
Kill four models
Impregnate the passengers still in cryo stasis by carrying out 3 interact actions in the cryo-chamber (this is where the marine started out).
These were also pretty achievable as there was not to far to go on the board to achieve them.
The Predator Objectives:
Gain four Trophies
Eject the escape pod to prevent anyone escaping
Damage the engine room.
Again all pretty achievable.
The game started of pretty quickly, with everyone advancing to try and achieve their objectives, and everyone succeeding in their first one pretty quickly. Tim's Aliens had a pretty terrible time of it as he could not pass any armour saves early game and lost a lot of models quickly putting him on the back foot. The marines were pretty much ignored, and apart from a few Aliens approaching and then being quickly toasted by the flamethrower they were left alone to get on with things. Douglas and his Predator's found themselves swamped by Liens and never managed to move very far throughout the whole game. In the end the Aliens had a pretty terrible time, with a lot of them dying to the high rate of fire form the Predator weapons, and the rest failing to have any impact in CC, even with the benefit of their CC attack.
By turn four there were very few Aliens left on the board, and Tim had pretty much abandoned any hope of achieving his objectives and just wanted to actually kill something. John and his Marines had achieved two of their three objectives, and were just waiting for the right time to make a run for the Predator Pod and complete their last objective. The Predator's were still bogged down fighting the Aliens, and hadn't really moved anywhere.
This is where the randomness of the environment cards had a massive effect on the game. In an earlier turn of the game the player with Initiative had gained the option to place a random door anywhere on the board, and he opted to place it just next to the Predator Pod tiles, so that it would provide cover for his advance and stop his marines being shot to pieces by the Predator shoulder mounted plasma caster and the dreaded Smart Disc. After the door was placed John advanced his squad round the corner, ready to open the door, rush forward and carry out the scan action required to win him the game. it looked like a sure thing. Next turn arrived the environment card turned up and it was the door malfunction, meaning that the marines were unable to open the door they had just closed for the rest of the turn. Douglas couldn't believe his luck and polished of the last Aliens he was fighting and advanced one of his Predators to right behind the closed door.
Next turn and the environment card opened all the doors, exposing the Marines to a fierce and slightly smug looking predator. To add insult to injury Douglas rolled a 20 for initiative and proceeded to tear the Marines to pieces.
That pretty much ended the game, with the Predators left standing on the board, with plenty of time to achieve their victory conditions.
So was V2 any better? I would say yes very much so. Two things played a big factor in this game. the Predators only failed one armour save in the whole game (and they had to make a lot of them!) and the environment cards really ruined the marines night. Apart from that the game seemed to play a lot better.
The Aliens still felt slightly underpowered, but that was probably because of the impervious Predators and some terrible saving throws early game. The marines felt about the same, capable of dealing with the enemy as long as they are prepared from them, but if caught on the hop they quickly fold. The Predators were quite interesting though, as with only 2 on the board you have to make some decisions. You can either stay together and concentrate on one enemy, in which case you run the risk of the ignored faction achieving their objectives while you are fighting off the other, as almost happened in this game or split up and have a slightly harder time dealing with the enemy but also a better chance of achieving your objectives. In the end it was hard to tell and the Predators punched well above their weight, while the Aliens well below it, with the marines largely ignored until the end.
All in all v2 is much improved, and everyone enjoyed themselves, which at the end of the day is the main objective of this sort of thing. I will run mission2 in a month or so and see if we can get some more even results, as so far this game has had some pretty extreme results happen every time, which makes it difficult to come to a proper conclusion about it.