Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Alchemy's Workbench #1: Space Hulk For The Lone Gamer

I am an avid games designer.

Rarely a week or even a day goes by that I don't conceive of a new idea for something that I think would make for quite a cool game. I have a notebook full of doodles, diagrams, loose paper and, writing that's testament to this.. Not to mention the many text files I have strewn over several hard drives.

Most of these ideas however rarely see the light of day for one reason or another, the most frequent being that I'm not a patient fellow and the idea of me sitting down for the amount of time it takes to complete a project is frankly laughable. Especially when I consider that the next idea is just around the corner!

So instead of sitting down patiently I have decided that the best course of action is actually to get my ideas out there amongst my readership, so that it can be best judged exactly which ideas are worth following, right here, right now.

So for the first time EVER, I welcome you all to come and take a gander at the Alchemy Workbench and take a look over one of my more recent musings, Space Hulk for the lone gamer (the title needs work if nothing else).

Space Hulk is a grand old game which enjoyed a recent, if pricey face-lift and, although 3rd Edition was only a limited run, there are still enough 1st and 2nd Edition copies out there being played to make doing something with the concept worthwhile.

So, what do I have in mind?

What I want to do is completely strip away the mechanics of the game and draft in those from the D&D Adventure Game System.

There can be no doubt that these games, although sold as "cooperative" are far better played solo and, that the ability to manage enemy AI in such a consistent manner is just what you need if you're planning on playing Space Hulk solo. It's like a match made in heaven!

I can see there being a need for a few tweaks and additions but by and large the work is already done for us.

The first and most obvious thing that will need changing will be the Power Cards included in the Adventure System games. What I envisage here is that common actions like firing a Storm Bolter become At Will Powers, whilst heavy weapons are handled by "Utility Powers" and, reloading them becomes something akin to a "Daily Power".

The next change I feel would be to create a decks for the hulk (similar to those included in the Deathwing expansion for Space Hulk but handling smaller sections) and, a deck to handle enemy AI, like those included in the original Adventure System games with a couple of tweaks.

I also think that I might add in an Event Deck similar to the one included in both Space Crusade. Realistically this is a must as the Adventure System wouldn't function as well without one and, it is the Adventure System that we are initially looking to emulate.

Thinking again about AI system though, it is less important that we create enemies that function uniquely and, instead that we create groups of enemies that function well.

What I mean by this is that D&D thrived on throwing a wide range of enemies at you that attacked and moved in a number of different ways but, what we want to recreate for Space Hulk is a hive mind. All of our cards will will be pretty much the same except for the number of Genestealers they bring into play, so we really need to create AI that takes best advantage of this, which in my mind means bringing their weight in numbers to bare.

So I pretty much have the majority of "how this will work" mapped out and, I even have a few ideas beyond this that could have this project written up and ready to play within the space of week or there abouts if given the time.

My question is though, what do you think of the idea?


  1. The Fantasy Flight Space Hulk Card game is written with rules for solitaire play. I think a more robust AI for the Genestealers would be appealing. Space Hulk has always been 'one of those' games for me that I have just never been lucky enough or willing to spend enough to get a copy of as of yet.

    Overall - the idea would be very appealing to me...just have to track me down a set.

    1. Thanks for the input Jerry.

      I have taken a look at the Fantasy Flight game but found it somewhat laking compared to the original, although I know in saying that there are folks out there who have gained a great deal of pleasure from it.

      Despite it's pretty package though, it just wasn't my cup of tea.

      I do agree though that there needs to be a more robust AI behind the Genestealers as despite the solo play functionality that Games Workshop introduced with Deathwing, that element really sucked.

      Out of curiosity, how much are copies of Space Hulk running for in your neck of the woods? As not too long back I was able to pick up two copies of 2nd Edition, minus the models and a box for £30 in my local games store.

  2. I don't see copies very often and don't really pay too close attention, but I have seen painted (mediocre quality) 2nd edition sets go at auction (Gen Con) for about 80-100 in the past. The 3rd ed sets, some were sold at Gen Con this past year in the shrink for 125 or 150.

    I would love to get my hands on a 2nd ed set...I will start to look a bit, but I am hardly very knowledgable on the the going rates.

  3. Ah, sounds like there is a fair amount of bloat in the prices where you are in the world sadly. Although that is unbelievably cheap for 3rd Edition which is fetching that much in pounds in the UK!

    I think what I might do if I were in your locale is to look for a copy of the room tiles and / or the counters being sold as spares (most likely as two separate items), which all told I think may set you back $30 - $35 tops, probably a LOT less.

    Model wise, Games Workshop still has them all in production, so you could pick them up whenever to spread the cost or, there are some fine Terminator style models from EM4 that would probably do the trick. The plastic isn't as good but when you're picking up 5 models, with clip on interchangeable weapons for £2.50, it's hard to fault them.

    A good paint job (and having seen your blog I know you could do a great job) and, they'd look almost as good as the real thing!

  4. good idea...I have plenty of Starship Trooper miniatures I am currently not using...

    1. They would be excellent! In fact, I would go as far as saying that from the images I have seen, the Starship Troopers are far truer to the idea that Games Workshop wanted to portray (Aliens without infringing the Alien copyright).

      If only those were still in production. I would SOOO buy a good chunk of the bugs up!

  5. Ha...we should talk about that. I have an entire 2nd boxed set of that I would be willing to trade away - bought an extra one when I was still gung-ho and the price was right shortly after its discontinuation. I thought I needed some more base bugs and it was cheaper just to get the started set than buy the bugs alone.

    You help me track down some Space Hulk, I can definitely get you some Troopers and bugs :)

  6. Huzzah! Got me a copy of Space Hulk 1E...about 99% complete...Now I can relearn how to play, but now I have even more miniatures to paint - UGH!!!

  7. Excellent!.. Well except the added paint workload that comes with buying so many new miniatures at the same time. Lol, you'll be seeing Genestealers in your sleep! ;0).

    What's missing out of curiosity?

  8. Holy cow...hard to see all those mold lines with the base blue colored plastic...once I primered them white, they are all over the place.

  9. Never painted mine and, by the sound of that, I don't think I will anytime soon.

    I'd definitely love to see how they come out though. :0).