Last year, Games Workshop released a few board games that were exclusive to certain retailers in North America and Germany. These were designed for non-hobbyists as an entry-level experience and introduction to the broader Games Workshop hobby. One of these games was a call back to classic dungeon crawling adventure games like Space Crusade and Warhammer Quest, which pitted a small band of heroes against an overwhelming horde of enemies. It was called Space Marine Adventures; Labyrinth of the Necron, and recently it became available here in the UK.
Now one thing you should probably know about me is that I love dungeon crawler-style games. I grew up playing games like Dark World and Hero Quest with my family and friends, and it is in large part thanks to these games that I am such an avid war gamer today. So, when I discovered that Space Marine Adventures was going to be available over here, I decided to pick a copy up to help introduce my children to a style of game that I love. Unsurprisingly they loved it too, as they take after me and we have already had many games battling against Necrons and slaying the Overlord.
But what if you aren’t as keen on dungeon crawlers and are instead a hardcore Warhammer 40,000 aficionado. Does Space Marine Adventures hold any value to you?
What’s it all about?
A Necron Overlord has arisen and seeks to take over the galaxy. You and up to three friends take command of five Space Marines, who have sworn to halt his evil plans.
A simple narrative for sure, but simple doesn’t mean bad. What is a little strange is that all the Space Marines belong to different chapters. This is obviously done to distinguish each character, but veteran players will be more than a little confused to see a non-Deathwatch Space Wolf taking orders from an Ultramarine. Still, an easy to understand premise that anyone can understand and get behind.
What’s in the box?
As well as a ton of cards and some dice that you will use to play the game, Space Marine Heroes contains three double-sided gaming boards to give you more variety and replay value. The Necrons are represented by coin sized tokens, each with different art to show if they are a Warrior, an Immortal, or a Lychguard. But the main insentive for picking up this box is the five Space Marine sculpts that represent the adventurers.
The keen-eyed among you will already have noticed that these are from series one of the Space Marines Heroes blind boxes. Some of these are the more saught after sculpts, such as the Sergeant and Heavy Bolter miniatures. Each is a coloured easy build plastic model, making them easily identifiable on the tabletop without any need for paint or glue. You can snap them off the sprue and fit them together nice and quick, leaving more time to go Necron hunting.
How does it play?
The game is spilt between three levels of play, which can be tackled in isolation or back to back as part of a campaign. The missions are fairly linear, simply revolving around completing a set objective and then escaping via the revealed stairwell.
The player sequence is decided by an activation deck. When a player’s Space Marine symbol is revealed, they get to perform actions such as moving or attacking the Necrons. When the Necrons symbol is revealed, however, the players flip over the top card of the Labyrinth deck. This will either bring more Necrons onto the board, hinder the Space Marines’ ability to perform actions, or throw other spanners into the players’ plans for victory.
The Necrons don’t directly attack the players, but if a Necron would be placed on a space a player’s character is currently occupying then that player’s Space Marine will instead suffer a wound. If a Space Marine suffers an additional wound, then they are killed and removed from play. As a result, planning out your turns and positioning on the board is vital to your success.
To make the job slightly easier for our protagonists, they have access to certain upgrade cards that convey particular benefits such as new abilities and weapons. However, most of these are one use only, so you better be sure you’re getting your money’s worth when you throw a frag grenade down the crowded corridor.
If you have an hour to kill during a gaming day and fancy something quick and easy, then you could do far worse than Space Marine Adventures. While the game itself can suffer from been a tad bit repetitive, the multiple double-sided boards and additional advanced rules included do offer a fair bit of replayability. It’s no Blackstone Fortress, but it’s an entertaining romp through the grim dark future that is the 41st millennium.
If you are wanting to introduce a friend to 40k proper, I would recommend playing a small game of actual Warhammer 40,000 or Kill Team. If, however, your friends are more into boardgames than tabletop battle games, or you have younger children that might not be ready to tackle the main game, then Space Marine Adventures might just be up your alley.
At £35 it not too much of an investment and considering it contains five of the rarer £10 series one Space Marine heroes, it actually holds a bit of value to collectors. If you fancy trying it out for yourself, you can pick up your copy from Game here in the UK, as well as Barnes & Nobles, Target, Bam, and EB Games in the countries that have them.
Have you tried, or are considering trying Space Marine Adventures for yourself? Why not let us know about it in the comments below. While you’re there, you could like and subscribe to keep up to date with all we do here at Master of Magics.
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