For those who have been looking at the front page of the website over November and December you will have noticed my posts in regards to a new product coming out: Alien vs Predator – The Miniature Game. To be produced by Prodos Games, they created a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the initial release of the game. They had a £35,000 goal which they smashed within days. At the end of their campaign they had reached £379,141.
In November 2013, Prodos Games invited their Kickstarter “pledgers” to travel to Lemmington Spa for a demonstration event. As one of the (then) 2094 “pledgers” I popped in my car and made the journey to get my early look at this product I was so excited for. I’m sorry it’s taken me this long to get the preview written up and as such some of what I experienced may have slipped my memory.
Whilst I was never able to get into Warhammer, I always saw the similarities to the Alien and Predator franchise. I once tried when I was in my early teens but it was a little beyond me at the time. I did, however, imagine just how amazing it would be to have a true Alien vs Predator wargame.
There have been attempts at similar concepts such as WizKid’s HorrorClix which featured an Aliens vs. Predator (the Paul Anderson film) expansion. There was also the Leading Edge Aliens RPG and miniatures but those are immensely difficult and expensive to obtain.
Though I was never able to get into Warhammer, I did used to play various trading card games in my teenage years. January 2013 I attempted to get back into these. I frequently got my ass handed to me at Magic – The Gathering. It wasn’t much fun. Then I found Star Trek Attack Wing, a miniatures ship wargame and I fell in love with the miniatures concept. And then Prodos Games comes and gifts the AvP community with this project.
The Alien vs Predator Miniature Game works in two formats, a self-contained story driven board game (similar to Space Hulk) and an open ground wargaming system. Both of these were on show at the preview event but due to how early in production the game was the mechanics weren’t finalized so much of what I report on here could change.
Both systems follow a turn-based mechanic, where players perform certain actions in sequence. You can see the instructions as we were playing in the picture below:
Players move a distance as based on their stats card and are then able to perform two actions per turn. This can include actions such as charging (to cover the distance), taking aim (to improve the chances of hitting) and making attacks. Attacks and defence are done using dice – in this regards it’s somewhat typical of wargaming mechanics. The flavour comes in in the unique abilities of the individual units such as cloaking and acid damage.
Flavour also makes an appearance in the general feel of the faction and units in question. The Predators largely work in small packs and as such their units are somewhat stronger and able to take more damage than the Alien or Colonial Marine units. They also feature a mix of close quarter combat abilities and limited range abilities.
In the future the Predators can be equipped with items to modify their stats – items that I’m sure we will all be familiar with from the various films and EU sources.
I know it’ll irritate some fans out there but the Aliens strength comes in numbers. The units available at the preview event were Stalker (Alien 3), Infant (AvP) and the Predalien. The Infants and Stalkers came in large number units and would be used to swarm the enemy units but they would generally pop easily.
That said, in the boardgame versions of the game, I witnessed Predators being downed by Aliens on all sides of him so the swarm mechanic doesn’t leave the Aliens underpowered. Aliens also demonstrated nice defensive abilities that were supposed to emulate their agile nature by being able to completely ignore hits if certain numbers were rolled.
The Predalien demonstrated that the Alien faction did come with sturdier units that stood up in strength to the Predators. This is a role I’m certain the Praetorian will also fill in. I’m very interested to see how they handle the Queen as well.
The Colonial Marines also came in squads of large numbers. Their strength was in their ranged attacks as would be expected. I didn’t really get to see too much of the Colonial Marines in action but I did see a squad holding their own in the wargame-style match taking place in which the Smartgunners were taking down several Aliens with single attacks.
In the final product the units will come with statistic cards but on the day we had A4 pieces of paper prepared pretty hastily and as such there were some errors as you may be able to see in some of the pictures in this article. I’m not terribly worried about those as I’m sure the proof-reading stages over the next year or so of development will clear away any such errors.
Many other standard wargaming mechanics were included such as line of sight. Line of sight is also important as it determines whether or not a unit could attack. Things such as cover also effected the number of dice rolled. What was mentioned was that you need to roll lower than your skill – a reverse of the typical rolls.
I was able to play a board-based game along with four other pledgers. I controlled one Predator, two other attendees controlled a further two Predators. Two further players controlled two sets of Aliens. Mark, from Prodos Games, gave us the objective of destroying three eggs and then the Predalien to win.
We played with the simpler board game rooms moving squares as opposed to inches. And the Aliens absolutely destroyed us. We all split up and managed to get an egg each but then the Aliens quickly overcame us.
I had the chance to speak to Jarek from Prodos Games. He told me that each expansion would also move the storyline forward and that Steve Perry has already written the second story – which sees the ship the initial release is set on crash into a jungle planet.
We also spoke about the possibility of dropships in the game. Whilst nothing is planned at the minute, Prodos is certainly open to the possibility – if it’s cool and people want it then the odds are good we’ll see it at some point.
Further community events like this are also a possibility in the future. It seems quite likely there will be a release party – similar to what Prodos did with Warzone – and possible tournaments or organized play events.
Also at the event were the Battle Systems Scifi Modular Terrain, another Kickstarter campaigner who was using his system for the boardgame version of the AvP game. Whilst it was disappointing to not be able to see the kind of stuff that was in store for us in the final boxed release of the AvP Miniature game, the Battle Systems board did look insanely cool. I’d be very tempted to pick up some of their stuff to use with the Miniatures Game as it looked very appropriate.
All in all I had a great time at the preview. I’m very glad that I pledged towards the Miniature Game and I shall certainly be increasing my pledge when Prodos Games give us the option. For those of you who missed out and want the Kickstarter-only polyurethane deluxe edition of the game, Prodos are also offering people a chance to “pledge” even after the campaign has been finished.
I’m very excited to see the final release. I’m seriously going to have to try doing painting now and I’m looking forward to further official Aliens vs. Predator – The Miniature Game events.