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Game #31 - Fresh Faces
I've finally decided to switch it up and try out the Death Wing expansion marines. There is definitely not as much to read on them here on BGG so I'm excited to make up my own mind about how good they are or aren't (although it's pretty indisputable that the grey squad is bananas good). This first game with the new marines was pretty easy (thanks to the extreme training that I got around games 15-20) so we'll see how it goes from here.
Game #32 - Raining Hellfire
Menelauis is good. As a side note, because more of the new attacks are "instead of attacking" types, support tokens don't get spent during attacks as much and make it so that I feel that I have more support tokens on defense, which is definitely interesting. There was one turn in particular (after "They're Everywhere") where I had 6 different swarms of Genestealers and wasn't able to play any attack orders the next turn. Thanks to having lots of tokens out, I didn't lose a single marine that turn. It was amazing!
Game #33 - Push Your Luck
Through a series of unfortunate events, I lost my entire yellow squad the first turn into stage 2. I decided then that if I had any shot at this at all, I was going to have to really push the envelope. So I hit the Teleportarium's teleporter and had everyone make it out just fine (avoiding 10 Genestealers in the blip piles). Then, in stage three, I had 5 Genestealers out, 4 of which were flanking me, so I had Uriel hit the Generatorium's generator and it worked. Things were going my way. But as soon as I flipped the Genestealer Lair, I knew that my window for finishing off the Brood Lords was small. I took the first one out on the first turn with a Deathwing Assault. The second Brood Lord was in a group of 4, but I missed with Charon. The next turn, Raphean would have a shot on the Brood Lord and had 3 tokens (would have been 4 next turn), but the Brood Lord got two more helpers that event phase. Brought him back down to 2 with Raphean, but the Brood Lord got 2 more helpers. Had a roll at the Brood Lord with Deathwing Assault at a 4 or 5 to win, but missed. Never was close again after that. So close.
Game #34 - Underwhelming Options
I have to say that I'm honestly disappointed by the Deathwing blue and red squads so far. The blue squad's attack is marginal; why would you want to repeat it?? Their movement would be great if it could also flip the extra marine you move, but as is, it's rarely helpful. Lastly, their support is interesting; that's the highlight. For the red squad, I love their support so much, but their attack is way too expensive (though the reliability is nice), and their attack rarely makes a difference (though it's a cool thematic idea). Don't know if I'm going to make the decision to slightly bump them like I did with the Blood Angel green and red squads, but it's looking that way. I'll give it a couple more goes with it the normal way first.
Game #35 - Offensive Failure
I've done a lot of reading on the expansion teams in the files section and through the boards here at BGG and I'm trying to get a better handle on the Deathwing squads, but I'm still a little unsatisfied with them. I'm going to give it five more games with the expansion squads unchanged and then I'll go ahead and make some variations (I've posted my ideas in the forums here so we'll see if they get any feedback before I implement them in this 100 play challenge). In this mission, Nestor ended up saving three marines with his medkit, but I couldn't overcome the terrible rolling that I had to endure. Made it to the very end by using the Teleportarium (completely successfully), but couldn't quite finish the job despite having two shots at Deathwing Assault against the final size 5 swarm.
Game #36 - Yikes
Without the ability to re-roll, Hellfire can let you down in a moment of need. Left 3 Genestealers after attacking with the grey and red squads and only being able to kill 1 enemy. Yikes.
Game #37 - One out of Two Ain't Bad
The squad was able to take out one Brood Lord, but with the second one protected by 6 of its minions by the end, there was little hope in finishing the mission. I'm getting more and more used to the new abilities and how to chain them together a little better. I'm getting excited for making a few tweaks to the expansion squads after just a few more games!
Game #38 - That was a Rough Way to Go
Things were going along so well; keeping the formation clean (despite losing Jericho in the Void Lock, but seriously, who cares about Jericho), building tokens, rolling decent on defense. But then, in the Pumping Station, when it was down to Zaltys (with 1 token), Raphean (with 3 tokens), and Menelauis (who spends his tokens every turn), things went so terribly wrong so fast. First, Zaltys fails back to back rolls against a single Genestealer. Dead. Second, Psychic Assault targets Raphean and his 3 tokens. Dead. That leaves Menelauis to take on the 6 Genestealers by himself with Hellfire, but at least there's a chance to win and clear the room if I get lucky; Menelauis rolls a zero on Hellfire and dies. I'm on quite the losing streak with the new marines. I'm beginning to wonder if it's me; I think I'm playing pretty optimally but how can I be sure??
Game #39 - Down to the Wire
I really enjoy some locations so much more than others. They're not balanced, sure, but some just give you the drive to keep going no matter how bad things get. Marine after marine was falling in the final 2 rooms, but since the final room was the Control Launch Center, I knew that victory was only 1 dice roll away, even in the worst of circumstances. In the end, I had only 1 marine left, punched the control panel for what feels like the dozenth time (first time put a token on, the rest were going for the win), and it finally paid off in the final moment. What a way to break the losing streak!
Game #40 - Extinction Event
Had three marines die all in the same turn; wasn't even really in trouble at all until missing with both red marines' attack as well as completely missing with Deathwing Assault on two size 2 swarms. Boom, everyone dead.
Okay, I've had 10 games with the expansion marines as released, and it really feels like they didn't playtest these squads very well (or somehow they got mixed up in the translation or on the way to the printers or something). Starting with the next game, I'm going to try implementing the following changes; one change for each squad:
1) Change Blue's attack to Precision Strike:
"If you only attack with 1 of your Space Marines this round, you may take this card back into your hand to use next round and you may shuffle up to 1 Genestealer from the defending swarm into the smallest blip pile."
Hoping it makes Arbalan feel like a sniper, watching others' backs as needed. Jericho still sucks.
2) Change Green's move & activate to Trail of Devastation:
"After resolving this card's action, you may choose 1 of your Space Marines that moved and roll a die. On a [skull], slay up to 4 Genestealers from his previous position. On a [zero], slay the Space Marine and up to 4 Genestealers in his previous position."
Hoping it removes the HUGE swing from luck here. If your buddy dies, at least the Genestealers go down in the blaze with him.
3) Change Grey's move & activate to Mind War:
"After resolving this card's action choose 1 swarm within range of Librarian Menelauis. Any space marine attacking this swarm may reroll the die once per attack (without spending a support token)."
Hoping to try to give just a slight bit more reason to break the Hellfire > Force Barrier > HF > FB loop that this squad gets stuck in.
4) Change Purple's attack to Deathwing Blitz:
"When attacking, each of your space marines may choose 1 adjacent or engaged swarm and roll a die. If the number rolled is equal or higher than the number of Genestealers in the swarm, slay all Genestealers in that swarm."
Hoping that changing it to "when attacking" and thereby allowing re-rolls will make this squad feel a bit more reliable like Zael from the base set. Even with re-rolls, it's still all or nothing, so it's still risky to count on it against 4 or 5 size swarms (like it was with Zael).
5) Change Red's support to Pugnis-class Servitor:
"After resolving this card's action, you may choose a Space Marine with at least 1 support token and roll a die. Kill 1 Genestealer engaged with the marine and on a [skull], discard a support token from that marine."
Hoping that making the luck part attached to the token rather than the kill makes the red squad a bit more useful until they build up Raphean for his Secrets of the Bretheren alpha-strike.
6) Change Yellow's attack to Terminator's Fury:
"Each time Sergeant Arbalan rolls a [skull] while defending, the attack misses and slay up to 3 Genestealers from the attacking swarm."
Hoping that this gives the Deathwings one more (much needed) reliable defensive ability. Still depends on Arbalan being in position, so shouldn't be too powerful I think.
Five minor tweaks and one major rehaul (yellow). These last games with the Deathwing were kinda terrible. It's not that I'm losing; it's that I honestly feel that depending on the combination of squads that I get stuck with can change the chance of winning from 70% down to 15% before I've even flipped the first card (i.e. if you don't get the grey squad, or if you *do* get the blue squad). I'm hoping that the next 10 games with the tweaks gets back to the fun with lots of interesting decisions!