Deathwatch: Overkill

We had a D&D session on Monday, but the session was cut short so I’ll be including the events in the next write-up, which means I finally get to talk about this sexy box of plastic.

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“KNOCK KNOCK XENOFUCKERS.”

Damn you GW. God damn you, God damn you, God damn you. It just wasn’t enough for me to pop in occasionally and pick up some odd Fantasy bits for Frostgrave, was it? You just had to release a big old fuck-off board game featuring the Deathwatch and a motherloving Genestealer Cult you sick bastard geniuses. What do you want next? You already got my money! What next!? My blood? My heart? MY FUCKING SOUL!?

Ahem.

Yeah, so. Deathwatch boardgame, with 11 sexy Space Marine sculpts, and the real selling point for nostalgic old grognards like me, a crapload of gloriously plastic Genestealer Hybrids. When I read the rumours online, I’ll admit, they got me hook, line and sinker. I started getting into Warhammer 40,000 during 2nd edition, and I remember reading about Genestealer Cults, with the hybrids and brood brothers and the sinister Magi and Big Papa ‘Stealer himself.

limo
There were limousines as well, because how else was the Patriarch going to get to prom?

Not gonna lie, if it had been Deathwatch vs. Orks or “normal” Tyranids, I would’ve passed. But man… a Genestealer Cult? I was sold.

Now, of course, we need to talk about the price. It’s £100. That’s a lot to drop on a boardgame. However! By GW’s standards – and I can’t believe I’m really saying this – it’s actually a pretty good deal. You get 50 models, all of which are the usual high standard we come to expect of GW, and the game itself; eight thick double-sided game boards, some dice (duh), character cards, and a deck of “Broodmind” cards.

Love that new game smell.
Deathwatch Marine sprues.
Genestealer Cult sprues.
The game boards.
Rules and scenario book, and the rogue’s gallery of characters.

So I spent most of Saturday and Sunday afternoon clipping and gluing. Normally I hate assembling models, but these guys all went together like a charm. If you follow me on Twitter (and if you don’t, maybe you should click that Follow button off to the right), you may have seen me posting pictures of the models over the weekend as I assembled them. Here’s a shot of the entire Deathwatch Kill Team;

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Cassius and the Amazing Genocidal Pub Crawl.

So, there’ll inevitably be some people who buy the box just for the models and never play the accompanying game. I can’t exactly blame them, but you know what? They are really missing out on a great gaming experience. I’m serious, the actual rules of Deathwatch: Overkill are really good, and makes me think of the ideal blend between Space Hulk and old gem Space Crusade.

I notice some similarities in the cover art…

The problem with Space Hulk is that it’s a total bitch of a game to set up; lots of long corridors that all need to be jigsaw fitted together… it takes ages. Overkill wins out in that it has the eight double sided tiles that just fit together depending on the mission layout; much faster. Each tile section is divided in several “zones”, which are large enought for several models to cohabit at once. In an interesting twist, movement is measured in zones, but combat ranges are still determined by way of a range ruler. At first I thought this approach was odd, but after playing a few games, I’ve really warmed to it and have to admit that it’s actually a pretty clever idea. Depending on the weapon you use, and the range you’re using it, you’ll roll a certain number of dice and try to get a certain roll on each; for example, Redblade’s boltgun, chainsword and knife rolls 3 dice at Assault range, each needing 3+ to score a hit, whereas at Combat and Maximum range, he rolls only 1 dice, needing 4+ to score a hit.

So, we have a classic Space Hulk style setup here; a small team of very elite, very killy Marines against an endless horde of disposable Genestealer Cult minions. There are nine missions, and in each one the Marines will be challenged as they are forced to complete various objectives; the Cult just have to try and kill a certain number of Marines. I was worried when reading the rules that things seemed very weighed in the favour of the Deathwatch Marines; they all have amazing weapons and armour and special abilities, get two attack phases per turn as opposed to the Genestealer Cult’s one, can instantly heal if they’re wounded… but I needn’t have worried. The Cult have a deck of Broodmind cards which is not only used to determine what reinforcements they summon, but can also be used for a variety of nasty tricks, such as summoning more guys, or buffing the the cultists, or hampering the Deathwatch; the cards really help to balance things out.

Ryan and I played the first two missions from the book last night. He took the Deathwatch and I took the Genestealer Cult.

In the first mission, the Deathwatch just have to kill 25 Genestealer Cultists before they lose two Marines. Seems simple enough. Ryan took Grytt, Sorrlock, Delassio, and Redblade (or, according to Ryan; Big Gun Man, Robot Face, Jumpytwat, and Space Viking), and the mission brief limited my Genestealer Cult to the weedy hybrids. There’s no specific limitations for the Deathwatch for each mission; the mission rules usually just set a number of how many you can take, not who. I really like how each Deathwatch Marine is an individual with their own special abilities and weapons; there’s shooty guys like Grytt and Donatus, choppy guys like Redblade and Setorax, and OMG WTF HOW DO KILL tanky guys like Branatar and Sorrlock. Picking the right mix of Marines is crucial for the mission!

Ryan managed to rack up a lot of kills with Grytt’s frag cannon, but my cultists began to make a comeback, gunning down Redblade…

And then dragging down Delassio! First game to the Broodmind! My opinion of my weak horde of cultists had been drastically changed. Yeah, my cultists need 5s or 6s to hit the Marines, and then they had their power armour to protect them, but I was bringing in guys faster than Ryan could kill them, and sheer weight of fire did the job.

On to the next mission, which was a bit more tactical; the Deathwatch had to disable a communications array. This time Ryan could bring in six guys, though he couldn’t use any of the Marines he’d used in the first mission. He picked Cassius, Donatus, Natorian, Branatar, Suberei, and Setorax (or if Ryan’s filthy lies are to believed, Casio Keyboard, Captain Shoot, The Notorious BIG, Tankman, Mr Zoom, and Birdyclaws). I laid my many, many Ambushes, and we were off again.

Things escalated pretty quickly; despite an early Fastball Special involving Suberei and Branatar, I managed to clog the board with hybrids while scaring Ryan shitless with two wandering Purestrain ‘Stealers. Setorax met an undignified end at the claws of a hybrid gang, Donatus got taken down by a hail of autogun fire (after I played a Broodmind card that let all my guys on a tile section of my choice attack twice), and Natorian was exploded by the combined assault of a mining laser and a psychic blast from the Genestealer Magus. Another win for the Cult!

In later missions, the Deathwatch can field more guys, but in response the Cult can summon more reinforcements each turn, and eventually bring out Papa ‘Stealer himself…

Who adheres to the time-honoured Broodlord tradition of “crouching on a thing and pointing at you.”

I can’t wait to play through all the missions; maybe I’ll have to convince/bribe Emma… I’m also trying to think of ways I can combine the models and gameplay with the map and awesome 3D terrain from Mantic’s Deadzone… and then I need to paint them all, and… gah.

Credit where’s credit’s due, Games Workshop; you gone done good, and got me to drop a hefty chunk of money on your stuff. Guess we know where the Genestealers got their hypnotic powers from.

 

Gareth

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