It’s no secret that sci-fi is kinda my thing. Lasers, aliens, space ships, it’s all good by me! So when efforts to combine two of my most beloved franchises are made I’m typically keen to check them out. In this case, it’s Aliens versus Predator. Don’t worry, it’s not the movies! It is, in fact, the 2nd edition of the action board game from Prodos Games. The first edition received some flak for a number of reasons but I decided to check out the 2nd rendition to see how it fared.
They’re coming outta the walls!
Firstly, I’ll say this – the board pieces are very, very nice. They have a strong glossy finish with some may or may not like but to me it really helps to exhibit a sense of quality. They slot together end-on-end very nicely and by the end of it you have a board/map/play area that looks cohesive and is stable. No slipping or sliding to be concerned with!
Next up, the miniatures are of particularly impressive quality. The details on these models is notably impressive. You can see the netting on the Predator bodies, the ridges on the Xenomorph’s tails, the individual weapons held by the marines. It’s possibly my favourite element of the models. Sadly, they are not perform. The material they are made from is quite fragile and thus damage is a real concern. The end of the combi-stick on a Predator model snapped off in the box which was somewhat heartbreaking.
(Chest)Bursting with content
There are a tonne of pieces within the box. Doors, counters, corridor pieces, etc. When you open the box and first gaze upon all that is in there it’s truly impressive. Once you lift the foam insert for the models and see there’s yet more pieces, it’s almost overwhelming! This helps to fuel the preset missions within the rulebook but also can be used to create your own missions. This is something I particularly want to sink some time into. There’s even the option to create a campaign-esque setting where your characters level up, gain perks, etc.
The replayability within the box is apparent almost immediate with the amount of pre-defined missions, the ability to create custom mission and that’s not even counting Last Stand. Last Stand is a game mode that has players fend off against waves of Xenomorphs that can either be player-controlled or played via “instinct”. This means you could even play solo, should you wish.
It’s all just a game to them…
The gameplay strikes a fair balance between being fluid whilst having a little complexity. The general premise is fair enough to remember. You can perform two actions with each model, some actions are extensive and require the whole activation to perform. Each player alternates until all models have acted and then the turns refresh. Depending on the mission you are undertaking the objectives for victory could be as simple as destroying an enemy faction or completing specific objectives such as destroying equipment or carrying an item to a specified location. There are Strategy cards and Environment Cards that help to keep things somewhat fresh. The Environment Cards add an element to the mission each turn that could benefit or deter players such as decreased visibility or cramped conditions that impact close combat.
Combat itself is quick to pick up and understand too, which helps. You have a corresponding statistic for each model that determines how good it is in close combat or ranged combat. To successfully attack you roll a D20 and attempt to score below your skill rating. You can get Strategy Cards that modify stats for your models or enemy models so these can add a further layer of depth and surprises when it comes to getting in a scrap.
Game over, man. Game over!
There’s a few little bits and bobs which you need to try to remember when playing though. You can only use 2 Strategy Cards per game turn. In your game turn you cannot first activate a model that you activated last in the previous game turn. Cards that refer to “deactivated” models are in fact models that have been activated already. These rules and terminologies along with some other niggling ones likely exist for good reason but they are very easy to forget or potentially misinterpret; especially in your first game or two.
Overall the game is very enjoyable, especially to those who enjoy the source material. Having a small number of Predators, a handful of Colonial Marines and a swarm of Xenomorphs all over a board certainly looks spectacular. The objectives/predefined missions tend to conform to the source material and give a nice balance between wanting to complete your own objectives whilst stopping the enemies from accomplishing theirs. With the sheer amount of stuff in the box it can take a bit of work to set a game up but then it’s hard to moan about getting a load of content within the box.
Whilst I can’t say I’ve got first hand experience with the first edition of AvP, I can say that my experience with the 2nd edition has been mostly quite positive. I’m certainly eager to play more and maybe even generate a few missions for myself and my friends to enjoy. Worth picking up? Sure!