Friday, May 10, 2024

Aliens: Another Glorious Day in the Corps: A review

For fans of the Alien franchise, there are really only two candidates for the best movie: Alien (1979) and Aliens (1986). Fans of the second movie now also have a board game.

Aliens: Another Glorious Day in the Corps was created and released by GaleForce9 Games as a cooperative board game for 1 to 6 players. Players step into the shoes  of the characters from the movie. They are all represented, when you also collect the expansion sets: Ripley, Newt, the Marines, the android Bishop, the untrustworthy Burke and of course the Aliens including their ferocious Queen.

The game is based on scenarios of which the basic game provides three, along with miniatures  of Ripley, Newt, and 5 Marines. You can also play "bug hunts" in between or buy the expansion sets that give you even more scenarios plus the rest of the characters, more Aliens and expanded rules. The scenarios can be played as a campaign. Then you have to be very careful not to get marines killed too early. Otherwise, you will quickly run out of man- and firepower further down the road....

The mechanism

The Aliens game is all about the Endurance Cards. They perform multiple functions  in the game such as Events, Equipment and Weapons, ammunition, and action items. Shooting, for example, costs a card. If your entire deck of cards is in the discard pile, your characters won't be able to do anything. So be careful with it. You can equip your characters with anything and everything by giving them cards as equipment and weapons, but you can't use those cards for actions anymore. You can get cards back by resting, but well; there’d better not be Aliens heading your way then.....

In a turn, players take turns first performing two actions of their own characters (the Heroes), then the two actions of the "grunts" (the other characters played by all players collectively) and then the actions of the Aliens.

Each character can be played as a Hero or Grunt with Heroes having higher stats (better shooting, better hacking etc). The Heroes and the Grunts use cards in their actions (and try to get as many of them back as possible). At various times, Heroes can be given cards to add to their equipment or hand or to play as an action.

Fighting is quick and simple. Shooting is done with a card and a D10 roll. A result equal to or below the Shoot skill is a hit. But the Shoot skill drops one point with each shot..... Hand-to-claw combat with an Alien also happens with a D10 and a  roll aiming below the Character’s Defence Skill. If you lose and you're lying next to an Alien at the end of the turn? Game over, man. Game over.....

The Aliens' actions consist of movement and possible attacks from the Alien miniatures on the board, then the random movement of the blips representing an unknown number of Aliens outside the players' field of vision, and then the appearance of new blips. Aliens usually blip along in a blood-curdling pace..... There is often a horde of the things on the board just when the cards are running out. So timing is vitally important.....

The hardware

Cards and game parts are made of solid cardboard and are teeming with quotes and pictures from the movie. The characters and aliens come as plastic miniatures. Some modeling skills might come in handy but painting is optional (unless you’re an OCD miniature gamer like me) as the green Character figures stand out clearlu from the black aliens.

Base game and expansion sets together deliver all the movie characters, including Ripley without Newt, Ripley carrying Newt and Ripley driving a Powerloader. And  of course there is also an Alien Queen! The game boards are double-printed modular boards. This results in some variation in the different scenarios.

The Verdict

Aliens is a nice combination of a challenging, exciting, cooperative board game with relatively uncomplicated rules.

The growing horde of Aliens increases the pressure and dawdling or wrong choices on the side of the players are punished harshly. The game looks terrific and if you put some paintwork into the miniatures you’ll  have a nice Aliens miniatures collection too.

The sets so far are:

• Aliens: Another Glorious Day in the Corps
• Aliens: Ultimate Badasses
• Aliens: Get away from her you Bitch!
• Aliens: We're in the pipe: five by five

From GaleForce9 Games

Thursday, May 9, 2024

Arguing when money talks: Der Soldner. A Review

When you've been playing wargames for 30 years like me, you might think that you've pretty much seen it all. Turn-based, IGO-UGO, alternate turns, reaction systems: I've played it all. And then suddenly a ruleset emerges that has a totally new approach: Der Soldner.

Made for playing battles from the mid-14th to the mid-17th century; the era of the colorful mercenary armies of the Italian condotierri and our own 80-year war, Der Soldner was written by veteran wargamer Jan Willem Boots, who based it loosely on the classic matrix wargames. 

Unlike a fixed sequence of turns with standardised events, this system works with one question: "What is going to happen next?".

In this system, the game scenario is a framework for an undetermined number and sequence of events and assumes two armies meeting each other on the battlefield under a certain set of circumstances. At that moment, the game begins and with it the story. Because in Der Soldner, the Narrator decides what happens.

Each player is given a number of Control Dice at the beginning of each turn, of which he can roll as many as he wants to determine whether he will be the Narrator and how long the turn will last. The player with the single highest score becomes the Narrator, and the combined rolls determine how long the turn will last in game minutes: one per 4+.

The Narrator proposes one or a series of events and how they will happen. This does not need to apply to just his own troops, but can also refer to those of his opponent. For example: "My cavalry is attacking his convoy. His escort flees". 

He explains why this event will play out this way ("My cavalry is terrifying and the convoy's escort is poorly paid") and uses the so-called Keywords associated with the scenario (Cuirrassiers, Pay in arrears). 

The rules provide examples for Keywords, but players can add more if they like. In addition to the Keywords, all kinds of historical arguments can of course also be used to argue in favor of - or against-  a proposed event.

These events can be questioned by the opponent and possibly modified ("His cavalry does not pursue my escort but instead loots the convoy and starts drinking!"). Or not, and then the event will usually just happen. 

A game master (or consensus between civilized opponents) determines how likely the event is and therefore how high you have to throw it to make it happen.

If the event occurs as "predicted", it may still take more time than anticipated. A "Time Check" occurs where dice must be rolled for every minute that one thinks the event will last. Every 4+ is one minute. If you roll too many, the event will last longer than you thought it would and will continue into the next round (The looting takes so long that the next turn is still in progress).

If it comes to a firefight or melee, the outcome of this is also predicted, provided with a probability and dice are rolled for that probability. Guidelines are given for a number of standard situations (e.g. cavalry attacks a column of infantry) to help determine the probability. 

The extent to which the roll does not reach or exceeds the required result determines the outcome of the fight. This can easily be read from a table in which consequences such as making a stand, chasing and fleeing are also possible. 

This sequence repeats itself as long as there are players who have Control Dice left. Then a new round begins.

In this way, the events string themselves together until the battle is over and the whole story is told.

The uniqueness of this set makes it ideal for players with a love for stories, history, or a background in roleplaying. And it produces intense and intriguing games in which everyone is constantly engaged. Strongly recommended and an absolute must!

Arguing when money talks: Der Soldner

Jan-Willem Boots, 2023

Available for purchase online at or