It's not easy being green.
Space Hulk is awesome.
When the newest edition originally came out, I did not order a copy and it was sold out long before I even tried the game. A friend brought it over one evening and we played it with my sons...and it was awesome. I regretted not getting a copy when I could, but then Games Workshop announced they had a few copies left. I knew this was likely a returned copy, but it didn't matter. This game was fun and the big box so jam packed full of goodness that it was well worth the $99. I ordered one.
When it arrived, I opened the box and inspected the contents. Lots of awesomeness there, but also, unfortunately, one mini was broken. I emailed GW with a photo of the damage and hoped for the best.
Now when I ordered the game, I intended for it to be a gift for my sons at some point. So, as I waited for the replacement piece to arrive, it was stashed away in my hiding place for such things (shhh!!). There it sat. A few months later, I did receive a small package containing a replacement for the broken piece...sweet!
My intent now was to assemble and paint the minis to make the gift that much more awesome. Of course my painting skills were basically non-existent, and so I scoured BGG for helpful information, and found plenty, but it wasn't until I listened to the How to Play podcast's episode on painting miniatures that I decided to dive in.
But I didn't want to have my first painting experience be with Space Hulk. I needed something else to cut my teeth on. Browsing through my game collection I thought that HeroQuest would be just the thing. I intended to use the "dip method" and thought that starting with the skeletons and mummies would be an easy way to get started.
It was! The results were better than I expected:
Happy with my progress, I moved on to the goblins. There was much more painting involved with them and it took me a while longer to paint them. The results were good, but a bit too much "dip" had settled in some places, so I wasn't as happy with them.
Still, Space Hulk sat patiently.
I eventually began work on the orcs, and that was when I hit a road block. Painting had ceased to be fun and had become work. So, I put them away, half-painted, for a while. Several months. Recently, I pulled them out, and did some more painting. It was fun, but still tedious at times. My orcs are nearly done now, but what I learned painting them was that I was not going to have the Space Hulk minis painted anytime soon.
So, on to plan B. I'll at least assemble the minis. I even bought some Plano boxes to hold them in. Then, my oldest son's birthday arrived, and the minis were still on their sprues. Oh, well! I wrapped it up anyway.
He and his younger brother were both thrilled to see Space Hulk under the wrapping paper. The had both been clamoring for me to somehow get my hands on a copy...little did they know one had been hidden away for them for quite some time! We got to work on the minis. It took a few days, but we got them assembled and set up the first scenario.
We had played this scenario before, but it didn't matter. The game is just that much fun. My oldest took command of the Space Marines, while my youngest and I played the part of the ravenous Genestealers. Initially, the marines were having great success, rolling 6's and 5's and wiping out every Genestealer they saw. But soon, as they approached the large cross corridor leading to the room that needed to be flamed, things bogged down. It takes a good deal of courage to charge forward into that corridor knowing that the Genestealers will soon be upon you. If you don't charge in while you have the chance, you'll soon find yourself overwhelmed by slavering aliens. And that's what happened here.
It was awesome and I'm sure we'll be playing again tonight.
There are so many things that make Space Hulk a great game. Of course the components are absolutely fantastic. The minis are fabulously detailed and truly beautiful. The art on the map tiles is also excellent and very evocative. They would have been awesome without the glossy embossed finish, but that puts them over the top into very special territory. The game play itself, while very simple, is just tons of fun and full of tense and exciting moments. Genestealers charge in from every angle while Space Marines guns are blazing. There is also strategy there, and the Space Marines are going to need a good plan to have a chance to succeed.
There are other more subtle things that make Space Hulk awesome. I know...subtleties in Space Hulk? Well, they are there. For instance, my youngest is still grappling with having inappropriate emotional responses to things going on in games. But playing as the Genestealers (his favorite side to play) you have to deal with bad things happening to you nearly every turn. You are throwing units at the Space Marines constantly, and most of the time they are going to die. He got a bit frustrated in the middle of our game, as his brother was having fantastic luck early on. But I told him to just hold on and keep fighting...it just takes one lucky break and things can come crashing down very fast for the Space Marines. And of course, that is just what happened. So, Space Hulk forces him to deal with small losses constantly...something which I think will help him keep himself under control in other situations.
Now the bad news...after playing my oldest says, "We HAVE to paint these pieces, daddy!" Well...looks like I'll be painting minis for a long time to come!
It's not easy being green.
This is for those who don't know. The rest will nod and understand.
Gaming means getting in touch with an old friend and remembering the old times.
Gaming means teaching your son (or daughter!) something new and having a blast doing it.
Gaming means understanding the past and coming together to celebrate the sacrifices of those who got us to where we are now.
Gaming means reaching out to a total stranger, knowing there is common ground, and smiling.
Gaming means doing your best and shaking hands when you lose.
Gaming means getting together with old friends and new and just having some fun.
Gaming means there's something good going on.
Gaming means alot.
My son has been studying ancient history in school. When he mentioned he had been studying the Second Punic War, my eyes lit up. I've got just the game for that, I said. I pulled out Hannibal: Rome vs. Carthage and he excitedly began setting up the pieces. I thought that I could explain what I remembered of the rules as we set things up, but before I knew it, we were playing. It was a fantastic experience. For the gamers out there, this is a fantastic game and one I'm sure we will be playing again and again. For the rest, this was not only an educational bonanza, but a bonding experience neither of my sons are going to forget any time soon. It was fabulous, but not without tears. In what can only be described as a monumental catastrophe, my oldest son lost a battle in which Hannibal was killed. He had 10 CU with him, against Marcellus, who had a large amount of troops (forgive me as I forget the exact number). Hannibal had the advantage. But, as can happen, the battle swung back and forth and eventually Marcellus was victorious. Then true disaster struck. Through bad rolls on the attrition and retreat tables and a poor retreat path, Hannibal's large army was utterly destroyed, along with Hannibal. What else could result but tears.
The only remedy was for me and my youngest (who were together controlling the Romans) to cross to the other side of the table and give the Carthaginians a hug.
It was a moment I will never forget.
But that isn't the only reason I'm writing this.
I host a wargaming group. We have had many people come and go. There's a strong core group and I'm grateful to them all. There are also many who have only been once or twice. I'm happy to have played with them as well. In our next session, I'll be hosting two new members, one a brand new friend and one I've known for a long time. But both share a common interest in Fortress America. Both are excited at the chance to play this old favorite and I can only smile at what gaming means.
Gaming means alot.
I hope to write more about that here in the future. I hope you enjoy it.