Aliens vs Predator The Hunt Begins 2nd Edition is a board game by Prodos Games and is an interesting example of how board games are taking on elements of other tabletop games. The board game has enough components for one, two, or three players to battle it out using one of the three different forces contained inside. The game is expandable with purchases of other Aliens vs Predator products that then use a wargaming points system to produce the forces you will use in games. However, with purchases of more The Hunt Begins boxes, there is nothing stopping more players joining in with their own forces. We will discuss it in further detail, but each box contains a deck for each faction, and that deck and the miniatures is all that's really required to field a force, so with multiple box purchases, there would be nothing to stop multiple Alien players fighting each other. The only reason that the TechRaptor Tabletop Team still classifies it as a board game is that range and distance is still measured by using the map tiles, but this is much closer to something like Warhammer Underworlds Shadespire than a regular board game and certainly blurs the line between board game and wargame.
The world has always wanted to know who would win between different forces and in the growing multimedia industries, we are now seeing the battles people have only imagined. Aliens vs Predator has been approached in a variety of different mediums already, from video games, movies, books and comics and already in a 1st Edition tabletop game from Prodos Games. Aliens vs Predator The Hunt Begins 2nd Edition is an upgraded version of their original game.
The TechRaptor Tabletop Team haven't played the original edition, but the 2nd Edition has a more streamlined rules system with upgraded miniatures and contents, in a smaller box for a cheaper price. The first thing you will notice about the contents is the quality of the miniatures. There's no construction required for the miniatures; they are all single pieces with terrain bases and are all incredible. The tabletop industry is seeing a higher and higher quality of miniatures in boxed games and even with that, these miniatures are impressive. They are full of detail and personality and the miniatures alone justify the purchase, especially for an Aliens or Predator fan. It's also worth noting that the box comes with a foam insert, with images of the miniatures on the bottom so you can repack them very easily. Little details like this really set this box game apart from other premium products.
As for the rest of the box contents, the cards, counters, and map tiles are all also of a high quality. The map tiles are glossy and have their own character for different parts of the ship.
The three different forces in Aliens vs Predator The Hunt Begins all play very differently and offer interesting technical challenges. In the basic game included in the box, players have access to 5 Colonial Marines with a variety of weapons. The Marines excel at range combat and have the flame thrower to deal with large volumes of enemies at close range. The Marines need to keep their enemies at range, which is difficult in the close confines of the corridors, but letting the Aliens or the Predators get close never ends well for theMarines.
The Predators are hardy, with more armour and wounds that the other factions and they have a set of diverse weaponry, excelling in botgh close combat and ranged. They also have access to some false pings, which are used to confuse your enemy in the early game before you warriors are revealed. The Predators do have to be carful not to be overwhelmed as in the missions in the core set, they only deploy with 2 of the available 3 models. Movement has to be considered carefully, as leaving your units open and vulnerable can be costly, even against the lightly armoured Marines, as they can bring a lot of firepower down if positioned correctly.
The Aliens in the box game have no ranged weaponry (and outside of the box game are limited to the Acid Spit of the Warriors) and can take between 13 and 14 Alien units in the mission in the boxed game. Their warriors are split between Infant Warriors and Stalkers. Stalkers are lighter armoured, weaker units than the Infant Warriors, but have access to dodge and a movement ability that lets them move over and around other units. The Infant Warriors are deadly in combat and have access to a hide ability that makes it very difficult for ranged units to target them from a distance. The Aliens always outnumber the other forces by at least double and when playing against Predators can really bring their numbers forward. Using swarm tactics is very effective, but not a great long-term strategy against enemies that are well deployed or set up. The Aliens are able to move around the map through air-ducts to outmaneuver and flank enemy position, as well as being able to go for multiple objectives simultaneously. Doors are extremely problematic for the Aliens though, and they usually have a 1 in 4 chance of opening them through force.
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Games of Aliens vs Predator The Hunt Begins played out of the box are usually played using one of the ten detailed missions, with objectives set for each faction. During the game, players take alternative actions, which always results in the Alien player being able to activate a majority of their units after the other players have run out of available units to activate. There are also event cards that change every turn and have varying effects depending on the force you are playing. Gun Jam for example doesn't affect the Alien player, but an event like Life Support System Failure, that makes you roll for each unit, means that the Alien player is rolling a lot, increasing the chances the event will have an effect on their units.
Players are also able to set up games outside of the 10 detailed missions by using mission cards to randomise their objectives. During a non-detailed mission game, each player draws a mission card and reads the mission for their force.
There is also the option to play solo, with either the Predators and Marines vs A.I. controlled Aliens. The A.I. operates very well, with Aliens swarming towards your position in a mode aptly called, The Last Stand. The rules are also detailed for playing Aliens vs Predator The Hunt Begins as a wargame, by setting a points value for the game and each player building their forces from the army lists available. Further units can be purchased through the available expansions and included units like the Alien Queen, Predalien, Weyland-Yutani Commandos, and Predator Youngbloods.
During gameplay, each faction also has access to a set strategy cards of which a hand of five is drawn and up to two can be played each turn. The strategy cards are thematic for each faction, such as the Predator's Cloaking Field or the Alien's Swarm. They can have a high impact on the game if used correctly and in one of our test games, the Predators winning actually came down to the last strategy card used.
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Our only issue with Aliens vs Predator The Hunt Begins 2.0 is that despite it being the 2nd Edition of the Rulebook, it still feels unrefined. For example, some unit's skills are described during the rules and others are included with the unit information at the end of the rulebook, so until you know where they are, you can find yourself searching through several different sections to find rules during gameplay. The units and weapon stats are included on the units cards, so including the unit skills on a quick reference sheet, or on the unit cards would have sped play up for beginners. The onboarding process for your first game is also limited. There is a lot to take in for your first game, with the different units, options and cards, the rulebook is filled with great and very well laid out examples, but the first game is a little overwhelming if all players are beginners. The rules themselves are solid and work very well, but the rulebook just didn't feel as free-flowing as other products on the market. After your first few games, you won't even notice this as you refer to the rules less and less and learn the abilities of the units, but its a point to note for your first few games to take your time with the rules and set aside a fair bit of time for your first game.
The Bottom Line:
Aliens vs Predator The Hunt Begins 2nd Edition is full of theme and fast paced action. each faction feels unique and the missions played out of the box are very well balanced, even during three players games as players are sent around the maps to complete objectives. The miniatures alone in this release are worth the price, but having the options for the straight board game, the single player A.I. game and the options to build into a wargame make this release incredible value. The rulebook isn't as clear as we would like it, but the more you play, the less relevant that becomes, beginners will have to spend some time reading the rules and during their first few games. Overall a great quality release that has done very well to balance the forces.
Get this game if:
You want a solid boardgame, with great expansions and wargame elements.
You want a game with three very different factions and approaches to victory.
You love the Aliens or Predator franchise.
Avoid this game if:
You don’t want a in-depth tactical boardgame
The copy of Aliens vs Predator The Hunt Begins 2.0 used for this review was provided by Prodos Games.