Space Hulk is one of Games Workshop’s most iconic settings, and it should probably be of little surprise that there have been 4 games in recent memory bearing the title. But after the disappointment of Vermintide-style Space Hulk Deathwing, does the return to the turn-based Tactics mean a return to form?
One of the most interesting aspects of Tactics is the fact it also presents a Genestealer campaign, albeit presented as a historical set of memories by the Inquisitor protagonist who also pops up in the Blood Angels campaign.
Whilst it’s a decent bit of backstory (that should probably be played through first), I do wonder whether giving it from the perspective of the broodlord or some other part of the Tyranid Hive Mind would have been even more interesting. The Blood Angels side is a bit more of a generic 40K romp, although it still has its moments.
Space Hulk Tactics will probably look a little bit like a claustrophobic version of XCom to most players, although in reality it shares far more in common with the Games Workshop boardgame of the late 1980s (the rules here are based upon the most recent incarnation of the tabletop version). You’ll be exploring the tight confines of an ancient spaceship, lost for millennia, drifting in space as a group of heavily armed and armoured Terminator Marines. The disadvantage is that these genetically boosted super warriors are slow to move and manoeuvre in the tight confines, whilst the Tyranid Genestealers are more numerous, quicker, and more stealthy.
All the combat is resolved via dice rolls, which can make for some frustrating incidents when it just seems like sometimes you can’t catch a break. But the rules have been honed over many years, and it’s generally a tough but fair ruleset. Tactics introduces a number of new features to the rules, the most interesting of which are combat cards. You build up a hand of cards, which can allow you to either play them to get a special ability (which normally lasts just for one turn), or convert them into extra “command points”, which gives your troops additional actions for the turn. It’s a tight balance and one that will often leave you pondering as to what the best strategy is – it’s a good conundrum to have.
Space Hulk has always been pretty brutal, and this is certainly a hard game – I started running into difficulties from about the third mission in each campaign. It is possible to save scum, but the load times are fairly lengthy, so it’s not exactly an easy process. There’s also no quick save, so you do need to remember to save too.
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