Capn tries out Death Angel

Gotta chance to play Death Angel (the co-op card game from FFG) at Gencon this past weekend and really enjoyed it.

I wasn't allowed to take any pictures of it since it's still considered a new product. I don't recall anything being said about reviewing it, so i'll go ahead and take a stab at overviewing the game without giving up too much mechanical information.

Note: Since we weren't playing from the rules, the game was being directed by a FFG Imp, I can only speak to how it worked as a four player experience and I may get some details wrong as it wasn't heavily explained.

First you determine the number of players. This determines (like most FFG products) the level of difficulty you will face as you progress throughout the Hulk. Each player then picks a combat squad of 2 marines that they will control throughout the game. The starting marines are then shuffled and randomly placed on the board in a line. This is the initial positioning of your Blood Angels team as they move through and purge the hulk. Each card has a picture of the space marine, a note of their attack range, and is double-sided so you can flip to mark facing.

Then the 'terrain' is generated. You look at your location card and it tells you where in the line of space marines you place the terrain pieces. Each terrain card is the standard Space Hulk fair (ventilation shaft, long corridor, control panel, etc.) and each card is marked with a color (red, green, orange, yellow) to indicate how often genestealers spawn on those terrain panels. As you play event cards (more on that later) they will show you a "Major spawn on red" and a "Minor spawn on green" for example. You then pull from the 'blip' piles and place the appropriate number of 'stealers (again, determined by the number players) and place them on the appropriate terrain piece.

Each turn the players can discuss what action they can take: Attack, Move + Activate, or Support. Each combat squad has it's own unique powers for each standard action. For example, my squad could support and then put up a power field to block attacks. Attack is a single combat attack, move allows you to move the marines anywhere in the chain of 8 you want and/or swap their facing left or right, and support allows you to place support tokens on your marines. These tokens are then spent for re-rolls or certain special abilities.
What is really innovative about these actions is that they all have a number that you can consider to be their 'initiative' order. If Joe wants to attack and the number for his attack is 18 and I want to move him to get one of my marines in position, but my move action is a 4, then I could feasibly disrupt his attack as I would have to move him PRIOR to his attack action. This also comes into play as the person to go first in a round has to draw the event card at the end of that round.

Combat is fairly simple. The Space Marines go first each round and get a chance to attack any adjacent 'stealer they are facing (remember, the cards are double sided to mark facing). You roll the included die, if it comes up a skull then you get to pick one of the 'stealers out of the adjacent swarm (a stack of genestealers is considered a swarm) and kill it.
Now the genestealers get to swing. The attacked player rolls the dice, if he gets equal to or higher than the number of adjacent genestealers then he is fine. As the swarms can rapidly grow from a few bad spawns and the highest dice facing is a 5 (with certain numbers having skulls on them as well) then a swarm of 6 stealers will insta-kill any marine.

After combat, the person who acted first draws the round's event card. These determine the spawn locations and any special actions that occur for the next turn. The really innovative mechanic here is that most of the event cards have the keyword: Instinct. This means that the person who draws the card, reads it, and then pick a target for the card WITHOUT consulting his teammates. These can be anything from making free attacks to weapon jams or even player movement. This how they strive to keep it fresh as generally you are allowed/encouraged to discuss every action you take with the other players. Finally, the event cards show you how the stealer swarms move. Each genestealer is marked with a symbol (head, tail, or claw) and the event card will show "Heads move" and they track around the space marines in a set order. The worst is the dreaded 'flank attack' movement which means they jump over to the opposite facing of your unprepared marine.

You fight through each location until one of the two blip piles are empty, then you flip the next location card, generate the terrain, and proceed into the next 'room.' If you clear all four rooms then the space marines win. All currently active genestealers 'chase' you through the hulk into the next room, so it can get quite hectic very rapidly.

Again, just a high-level overview. I really enjoyed. My G-con buddy picked it up, so I look forward to getting a few more games in here in there. Hope this helps you decide on if it's a purchase for you or not!