Michael Eckenfels, 15 October 2020 ~ #UnboxingDay
The impact that Acheron has had on science fiction, as a place where the Alien franchise got its start, is immeasurable. Countless movies, some good and some awful (we won’t go into that argument here – that’s what the Armchair Dragoons forums are for!), and plenty of games from board to electronic have paid homage to this classic sci-fi/horror fusion.
I am happy to show off this newest iteration of the Alien franchise, Aliens: Bug Hunt. This is a cooperative game for one to four players where you play as the Marines entering Hadley’s Hope, the colony overrun by Aliens in the movie of the same name. This one appeared on my radar quickly, and it didn’t take much to pique my interest as I loved that film. With sparse info on the game, though, I asked the fine folks at Stone Valley Games to provide a review copy to myself and Martin Gonzalvez, for our Solosaurus podcast.
click images to enlarge
However, given the potential awesomeness of this game, its relatively low price point, and believing that no doubt this would be appealing to the Armchair Dragoons audience, I’m happy to provide you with this unboxing article. Once we do a full review episode and it is posted, I’ll be sharing the link in the forums.
The box arrived! The USPS is struggling though and COVID has really impacted them. This box took more than a week to get to me, whereas Martin’s copy got to him in two days. I guess California is good for something. 🙂
The first thing striking about this is the packaging. Eric Strach, owner of Stone Valley Games, told me he originally packed that way for overseas military customers (Stone Valley Games ships free to military personnel around the world, FYI), and those packages tended to receive rough treatment in shipment. Now, he ships everything like this, which is great.
The bubble wrap is admittedly a nice touch. You don’t see much poppable bubble wrap these days.
Besides siding in the box, the game is wrapped like a mummy in the stuff.
A hand-written note was enclosed as well; this is something he does for everyone, including paying customers.
And here’s the box in all its glory. It looks like an ammo can, something Eric mentioned to me and I wholeheartedly agree with. I had one as a young teen, thanks to my Marine dad. It’s a pretty cool and subtle design choice.
The art on the box is pretty good. If you’re a fan of Aliens, this would look great on the shelf, I think.
The theme bleeds out on the box, from the text to the content and movie references. This will play within the box as well, as you will see here in a moment.
Opening the ‘ammo can’ gives you a view of a box that’s packed full of bug huntiness.
A pretty nice intro to the game. If you’re not familiar with it, as I said up to 4 players can take squads into the Hadley’s Hope complex; the game provides four separate rule books, which you’ll see in a bit.
Some of the game pieces – objective (white) tokens, breach (dark) tokens, Wound (skull) tokens, and also a mesmerizing Queen token…
The game components are well-packed in the box; this insert has two Marine figures (each representing one squad), colored bases to differentiate each player’s squad figure, and lots of Xenomorph dice.
A close up of these two included figures.
The Rules Dossiers envelope, which contains the four sets of rules.
The envelope concept is nice – a simple thing to organize multiple documents.
And here are the four rulebooks. The idea is to cut down on learning time by giving each player a slice to learn, to teach everyone else. This is a great concept, assuming there are four players. If you’re a solo player, this is annoying. Fortunately, BGG has a condensed rulebook PDF in this game’s Files section, should you be interested.
These are the player boards, each representing a squad of three Colonial Marines. The rightmost Marine is always the Point Man, who will catch Alien claw and tooth first.
This board covers a lot of things. First, it defines sectors for tiles laid out to the left. The entrance to Hadley’s Hope is in sector 3, by the APC. Then, the egg-shaped numbers at left is the Alien Hive Track. The marker on this track increases as the Xenos get more uppity, which can be a bad thing.
A close up of the APC. The art is commendable and conveys the feel of the movie Aliens very well.
Another close up, showing off the detail in the Hive Track’s egg spaces.
Another insert! This one has the other two squad figure markers, as well as the tiles that make up the interior of the colony, and many more cards.
A close up of these last two minis. Pretty sure the one on the right is supposed to be Hicks, armed with his close encounter weapon.
Here are the Grunt cards. These are generic Colonial Marines.
And here are the ‘main’ Marines. It looks like the gang’s all here. Of note is that the artwork looks to be original stuff; it’s nice to see they didn’t just take screen captures from the movie and throw them in there. Each character’s art is unique, too.
More cards! These represent the various Phases of each turn. The color-coded cards at bottom correspond with certain squads, and the Xeno cards up top correspond with your favorite banana-headed love machines.
And more cards! Very thematic are the Tracking cards, which show where new Aliens appear on the board – I love these, as the motion tracker from the movie just exuded tons of tenseness. The other cards are Missions, three of which must be accomplished in a game before victory can be declared. I believe you lose the game if too many Xenomorphs escape into the wilds, or, of course, if you get your whole squad killed (nice going, Gorman).
Thanks for joining this month’s #UnboxingDay with the Armchair Dragoons and we hope you enjoyed our recon of our recent acquisitions.
You can always leave us your feedback in our #UnboxingDay thread, or in the comment area on this article, below.
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