Thursday, December 5, 2013

This time it's war


I bought Leading Edge Games' Aliens board game new when it was originally published in 1989, and I've been dragging it around with me ever since. It's a terrific little game that served as my introduction to both cooperative board games and tactical combat games.

The game uses a simple action based combat system to recreate the action of the 1986 film. Players control the Colonial Marines and hapless civilians who find themselves under siege by hoards of bloodthirsty monsters. The Aliens themselves are controlled by simple system that places them in random squares on the map and has each one make a beeline for the nearest human. Victory in each of the scenarios is determined by the number of surviving humans.

It is interesting to note that, according to the game's victory conditions, the characters in the film lost.

The base game allows players to play through the Marines' initial foray into the Alien hive (3 survivors out of 9 in the film), and their escape through the air ducts towards the end (2 survivors out of 7 in the film, since Newt got captured by the Aliens). There is even a scenario that allows a single player to play through Ripley's powerloader battle with the Alien Queen, and an expansion adds a second map so Ripley can rescue Newt from a fate worse than death in the Alien hive. You can play each scenario with the characters that were there in the film, or play a campaign option that allows players to play through each scenario in order, keeping the survivors from the previous game.

We did quite well on the first scenario when we played, with only 2 Marines lost. However, we lost everyone except for Ripley and Newt in the air ducts.

Aliens is a great game that really does a good job of evoking its source material. The only place it falls down is in the poor quality of its components, paper maps and rough punched cardboard counters in plastic stands that don't always fit properly. The publisher did release a line of unpainted metal miniatures for the game, but I don't remember ever seeing them in my local hobby store back then. They're virtually impossible to find now, much like the game itself.

Rating: 4 (out of 5) A good, solid game with a lot of replay value. The only major drawback is the relatively poor quality of the game pieces.


Date played: November 28, 2013

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