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During our groups Winter break (we play 40k in a garage that gets too cold during the winter months to play in), we try to play alternative games. I will discuss the game briefly and then go over my gaming groups reaction and thoughts on the game.
Kingdom Death Monster
Yep this is the $400 board game which is marketed as boutique nightmare horror and comes with a Mature audiences recommendation.
First up, before we go any further, I will do a brief explanation of the flow of the game.
Games of KDM are split into lantern years. These consist of a settlement phase, a hunt phase, and a showdown phase.
During the settlement phase, you use the resources you have gathered from defeating monsters to create locations for your settlement, build gear for your survivors, or to innovate. In each settlement phase you also get a random event which may or may not horribly harm your settlement.
The Hunt phase is where you go hunting for a monster. You select the monster level and then proceed. The rulebook shows how you should set up the hunt board. You then walk along the board revealing a card and performing the action on it; usually rolling 2D10 one tens one digits and comparing it to a table within the rulebook.
Catching the monster in the Hunt phase triggers the showdown.
When setting up the showdown you take the AI deck and hit location deck for the monster. Each level of monster has a different number of AI cards (arranged into basic, advanced, and legendary categories) the monster level tells you how many of each you need. We have been dealing out the required number then shuffling them into an AI deck without looking at them as per the rulebook.
This AI deck is the monsters wound pool. Survivors and monsters move up to their maximum move in squares but cannot move diagonally.
In the box was a smaller box marked miniature assembly, a lovely hard cover full colour rulebook, over 1000 tokens and cards, a plastic organiser, record sheets and the game board.
In this game you have survivors and monsters. The core game gives you 3 quarry monsters, 5 nemesis monsters and 37 survivor models. None of this comes with instructions but Vibrant Lantern has full build guides for all the KDM models. I have added a Lion god to my set of models, which is one of the expansions.
Playing the Game & First Impressions
First up the introduction (prologue) does a good job of letting you get to grips with how the game is played. When we played this first encounter we had three of the four survivors left at the end. We then rolled for our settlements population getting a natural 10 on the roll.
We stumbled here as the rulebook required jumping between pages and sections. Normally going back to the index, and then to another page to look something up. We would have preferred that the piece in question directed you to the correct page.
Having struggled through our first two lantern years we learned a lot of how the game runs.
So, when another player joined in we then moved on to fight another white lion. Luckily, we drew the terrain card that gave us first turn and allowed us to start anywhere we wished. This encounter with the white lion consisted of us tearing it to bits as we started behind it and proceeded to beat it to death. The AI cards for the lion generally would have made it target something in front of it but we were behind it.
Through a combination of beatings, we felled the lion and gained one of its eyes as a reward. This allowed us to make an item that influences the hit location deck. This would prove to be fortunate as we fought the Butcher nemesis monster.
Due to our innovations (we have a shrine), we started with boosted armour values and kept our bone weapons intact by filtering the super dense hit location to the top of the pile, and then striking it with a weapon that lacked the frail attribute.
A quick rundown of one of our hunts and showdown with the phoenix.
KDM has become so popular with our gaming group that we are going to have an evening a week where we meet to play it when we go back to playing 40k on a Sunday.
GKR – Giant Killer Robots
This is a hex based robot combat board game designed by Weta workshop. (I backed this on Kickstarter)
The game gives you four fully painted robot models (contemptor dreadnought included for scale above), and three support units (washed rather than painted but still nice) per faction.
For this game you make a deck of weapon and support cards (1 primary, and two secondary weapons, then deploy and reaction cards) totalling 25 which then represents your mech’s HP.
The game flowed nicely and was easy enough to pick up the concepts for. In this game you either win when you demolish 4 buildings, or by destroying an opponent’s heavy hitter. I won by demolishing four buildings by which time my Hammer strike mech had reduced his King wolf mech down to Seven HP (I still had 15).
My fellow player was less than enthusiastic as he hates 6-sided dice with a passion, and as usual they abandoned him once again.
This game in general seems to have been balanced for four players playing, and as such we will give it another try when we have enough players.
Aliens vs Predator Board Game
A rare 3-way board game. During setup you place tiles down on the table (these are like space hulk tiles only double-sided) to create your spaceship interior. Then each player draws a card from the victory conditions deck. One victory condition is present for each of the three factions on the board on each card.
In this game, Predators are beastly and take some dealing with. Your units start out as blips and then are revealed when one blip can see another blip. Aliens can hide themselves in infested tiles preventing them from being forcibly revealed and the predators have some phantom blips.
There are some nicely sculpted models for this game, but they are made of that weird rubbery plastic which does not help the rigidity of the smaller parts – Predator wrist blades specifically.
The releases have been very alien orientated (6 compared to 2 predator releases and 4 marine releases), but seeing as they are the weakest faction (no ranged weapons and are mostly 1 W apiece) aliens cannot be said to be overpowered.
The predators with their stupidly high stats, ability to heal lost wounds, weapons that ignore armour, or force re-rolls of successful armour rolls, will easily kill anything they come across in a fair fight. If the mission favours the predator play style it can be very hard to stop them.
Marines are the middle ground. They struggle to outfight anything in close combat, but they have ways of throwing grenades, healing each other, spreading out wounds from important models onto less important ones, and they have the smartgun which is one of the only re-roll to hit weapons in the game.
You also get powerloaders, sentry guns and weyland yutani commandos (slightly superior marines). The APC doesn’t get used in normal games but has its own game mode. I have also managed to get a marine sergeant who was KS exclusive.
Note: I have the first releases of the models for each faction. Unicast versions came later and I do not have any of them.
Gameplay – D20’s
Despite the inbuilt faction imbalances, the random mission victory conditions make it so that any of the three factions can win (sometimes even simultaneously).
The game works on an activation model where one player moves and acts with one model, then the next player, and then the final player. This carries on until all the models have been moved and have acted. Unless you only have one model left, the last model you activate cannot be activated first during the next turn.
Also, for a board game you get a sizable rulebook which contains multiple special rules (Predator cloaking, alien acid blood, etc), and some cardboard templates that are not referenced anywhere in the rules (apart from vague references to AVP unleashed but this never materialised).