I’ve been trying to get back on the wagon with hobbying, so I’m trying to steer game nights in the direction so that I actually get to play some 40k. I’ve had very little success in that arena as of late, but I’m making small progress. This week, we at least played games that were themed in the 40k universe: Conquest & Assassinorum: Execution Force.
I’ve played Conquest before, and even done a bit of a “review” on it before, so I won’t say much on that topic other than to say that Kurt brought it over along with some expansions and we played a game of it. He won due to a combination of good play on his part, and bad play of my own. It was refreshing to see the new cards/themes in the expansions, but we eventually put it away when Brandon showed up to play the new board game.
I should say that I always categorize these sort of posts as “product reviews,” but I don’t really do any sort of detailed review in them. I don’t figure anyone is coming to this blog for a detailed review, and there are already a load of them elsewhere on the internet. So, I’m really just giving my opinion on things at a high level perspective.
The component quality overall was quite high. The obvious winner here is the sculpts of the assassins themselves: they’re very dynamic and a vast improvement over the older models. In particular, the Eversor is amazing. It’s really a shame that GW has yet to release these as the new defacto standard for assassins moving forward.
Aside from the Assassins, the other models weren’t very impressive. The cultists are the same as you’d get from the Dark Vengeance boxed set, so they’re fine quality and it makes sense that they’d reuse the sculpts/molds that they have on hand. For whatever reason though, for the three chaos space marines, they didn’t use the cool ones from Dark Vengeance but packaged in some goofy looking static posed models from the late 90’s–which seemed like a real loss. The chaos sorcerer seems like a simple conversion (also a static pose) of the CSM: Terminator Lord. So, he’s pretty grand, but also a tad bit on the dated side.
Overall the rules were fairly good. Each assassin really seemed to have the rules you’d expect when translated from 40k, and they were simplified to be easier to grasp in the short amount of time expected when you play a board game (for instance, you no longer roll to wound by comparing strength against toughness: instead, each model has a “resilience” rating that indicates how difficult they are to wound: cultists have a 4+; CSM’s have a 5+; and the lord/assassins have a 6+. Some weapons give you additional dice and/or modifiers to that roll).
One of the misses we found in the rules were that the eversor has to voluntarily give his own life to explode in the game (I guess this is so that you don’t inadvertently blow up your friends). I wish they would’ve just said that when he dies, he can choose to explode or not to.
There are also issues with chaos models going on Alert due to the way line of sight works. For instance, if you have two cultists side by side and one is killed, it doesn’t automatically alert the next cultist, as he’s not in his line of sight. That seems like it should be changed.
Otherwise, there was some wonkiness with models that spawn in a room but don’t have directional arrows indicating how they exit. We ran into situations where a model would spawn in a room, but not be in line of sight of an assassin, so he wouldn’t have clear guidance as to where he was supposed to patrol when he started moving (although, in hind sight, I’m thinking that they start stunned, and there’s another rule that says once a model loses stunned, he automatically goes on Alert: so maybe this isn’t a problem after all–perhaps we just played it wrong?)
The game really seemed too easy until we made it into the final lair. We all had separated and dashed through the larger board quickly, killing basically everything in our path. It was rare for us to draw multiple event cards, as most cultists died shortly after they arrived (And certainly shortly after they went on alert). We didn’t find the control room until the very last room (the game has a mechanic to make it likely that you don’t find them quickly), so then we ran into the inner sanctum to fight off the chaos lord.
At that point, the level of difficulty swung dramatically to the difficult side. Immediately we had three space marines in our faces, and started spawning a number of cultists. The board was smaller, so they started chain-reactions of alerts, and we were drawing 4-6 event cards per turn. I was playing the Callidus, and darted into the summoning chamber, but didn’t pester the lord, until my crew had arrived. Sadly, all except the culexus had perished without making it into the chamber, but I somehow managed to do two wounds to him before the timer ran out (without taking a wound myself–as he kept getting stunned). I would’ve killed him had the game gone to turn 17, but that’s not how it works… and we lost the day.
Overall, I’d say the game is fair. The assassins look fantastic, and the game was moderately fun to play. If I owned it, I’m sure I’d play it a couple of more times, but I really feel like I’d grow bored of it before too long. GW did include a list of “Achievements” which are supposed to give it some replay value but, based upon my MMORPG experience, I’ve learned to view Achievements as a thinly veiled attempt to justify the grind.
With a sticker price north of $100, I’m glad I didn’t buy it, but I would love to own the models. Of course, if GW releases them separately, you know they’re going to be $20-30 each anyway. Oh well, not like I need more assassins… If you’re looking for a great board game, I’d look elsewhere, but if you want those assassins, the price is pretty steep, but a couple of evenings of board gaming might justify the cost for you.
Image Credit: Games Workshop