After lots of anticipation and wait, I finally received my preordered copy of Space Hulk´s rerelease. Most of out readers should know what Space Hulk is, but for those who might not know, we´ll travel 20 years back in time.
Back in 1989, Games Workshop hadn´t turned into the “evil miniatures empire” gamers tend to know they company as, and it still would publish boardgames that people still remember fondly. Heroquest, published together with Milton Bradley, was probably the most famous of them all. However, despite of that popularity, there is one game that most gamers remember for its apparently simplicity, but high tactical complexity, tension, and sheer fun. Space Hulk.
Space Hulk pitted a small squad of five Space Marine Terminators against a host of deadly Genestealer aliens. The game itself involved lots of tactical decisions in a very short expanse of time, since the marine player had a limited timer, and the odds were heavily stacked against him.
To celebrate the 20th anniversary of its release, Games Workshop has put together a limited rerelease edition of Space Hulk… And boy, did they deliver.
It is hard to describe the sheer impressiveness of this package. Even describing all the bits and bobs inside it doesn´t do it justice. However, to give you a rough idea of it, I´ll mention the stuff that impressed me the most (and refer you to check out Games Workshop´s webpage for images of the actual thing).
For starters, the one thing that you notice is that there are a few sheets of cardboard, packaged together inside a plastic bag. Those cardboard sheets hold the various tiles for the game, the doors and bulkheads, and the counters for the game. Every tile is made of very thick cardboard (about 3 mm. thick, which is approximately twice as much as they were in the original game), and they come out nicely of the punched sheets. They´ve also included 4 small plastic bags to keep the counters in, which is a very nice touch, in my opinion.
The second thing you notice is two very beautifully illustrated booklets, the rulebook (which sports a terminator´s head on its cover) and the mission book (which has a genestealer´s head. Lovely detail, isn´t it?). The rules are decently explained, and they mostly mirror 1st edition´s rules, with a couple of minor touches (the addition of the broodlord, and a couple of balance changes and clarifications, mostly). The game also includes most of the new stuff in the Deathwing and Genestealer expansions, only leaving out stuff that´s ended up mostly outdated due to fluff reasons, like the genestealer magi.
Finally, and I suppose this is Space Hulk´s most impressive part, you get to the miniatures. Oh boy… I´ll let a couple of images speak for themselves.
A Space Marine Terminator:
Another Space Marine:
That should give a good indication of the quality of the stuff they´ve put in there.
So, is the game only a pretty display feature? No, not at all. The game plays just as well as it did 20 years ago (or maybe even better), and even though I still am not sure one or two things aren´t errata (the storm shield, in particular, seems ridiculously powerful, for example, and the rules for it are a tad awkward), the marine player keeps having that oppresive sense when the genestealers are coming close and time is running short, as well as the feeling of achievement when you get to finish mission nº 1, suicide mission (yes, that´s the actual name of it, and I have to say that it´s far harder to beat than some of the ones that come afterwards in the campaign).
Finally, for those that love to critizise Games Workshop, I have one thing to say. In this case, GW are offering a very high quality product for a hefty sum (78 euros for the box in spain, nearly $100 US), but the game is well worth it (might as well point out that 5 terminators cost $50, right now, and the box includes 10, plus 22 genestealers, and a whole bunch of other stuff). In fact, the box´s content is so massive that once you open it, there´s no real way to put everything back in it. Pandora´s box, anyone?