The advantage of having a girlfriend who's a bit of a geek herself is that she's really good at choosing presents. That meant that on Christmas day I opened a copy of Fantasy Flight's Horus Heresy board game.
First impression was that this is a big game. A hefty box, and most of the space inside is used. There's a large board with a map of the area surrounding the Imperial Palace, plastic fortifications for the map, decks of cards and of course a hefty bundle of plastic models.
So box in hand I went along the the club last night with a game lined up. We got the board set up, and mighty impressive it looks too. A few fortifications and areas of the Imperial Palace could barely hold the number of troops they needed, but we managed to squeeze them all in. Rather than drawing side randomly we settled on me playing Traitor while my opponenet took the Loyalists.
Since no one had played it before it was a bit slow to get going, not helped by my head being full of the cold, but we managed to get through the opening phases reasonably easily. Traitors had what look to be fairly average results on both betrayal and bombardment, weakening the Loyalist hold on the outer areas of the board.
While the setup phase was pretty straight forward it took a bit of reading and re-reading sections of the rules to figure out how the core gameplay works. This was particularly the case because Traitor betrayal led to a few battles of coexistance straight off, so we were plunged straight into combat. In one area to the west of the board Traitors outnumbered Loyalists and quickly wiped them out, but over to the east it was a closer match, and both sides struggled to do any damage.
Traitor first turn brought some reinforcements in to one of the spaceports, then the Loyalists took over and decided to try for a decisive strike against Horus himself! The Emperor and his Custodes teleported up to the Vengeful Spirit where they made quick work of the cultists and demons there. Traitors were taken aback by a bold move like this, but with no way to get any reinforcements the Warmaster would have to fend for himself. Meanwhile Mortarion led his Death Guard against the walls of the Imperial Palace, where the Imperial Fists did what Imperial Fists do best - run scared!
To the south two Loyalist titans backed by tanks, White Scar space marines and the Fabricator General attacked Angron and his troops holding the spaceport. However the Traitor forces managed to hold off the Loyalists, and a good draw of combat cards pushed the Imperial initiative marker several spaces ahead allowing the Traitors some breathing room.
At the same time the Emperor was pushing further into the Vengeful Spirit, now attacking the bridge. This time the combat cards seemed to be favouring the Emperor, pushing Horus about half way up the damage track. However while the Warmaster was suffering his troops were fighting strong, and had soon wiped out the Custodes. The combat ended with the Emperor alone against Horus and his troops.
With plenty of initiative to play around with the Traitors carried out four seperate drop pod attacks, focussed mainly on taking and holding the spaceports. However this wasn't much more than a formality as the battle on the Vengeful Spirit was soon over. The Emperor was dead, Horus had triumphed and all that was left was to mop up the remaining Loyalists.
All in all a good fun game. We messed up on a few different things, and probably missed a lot out, but by the end of the game we were getting the hang of the rules and things were moving more quickly. What I've seen so far impressed me, and I'm looking forward to playing some more of this game in future.