And next in our continuing series of Space Marine games, today I’ll be reviewing Death Angel, a cooperative card game by the wonderful folks over at Fantasy Flight Games.
Firstly, when I was told there was a cooperative Space Marine card game, my eyes rolled back in my head. First, I love cooperative board games. Second, I love Space Marines. Sure, this is a “card game” and not a “board game,” but… shut up. You play the cards down on the table, and they make their own board, so damn it, it’s board game enough for me!
Death Angel lets each player take the role of a team of two Space Marines (Blood Angels Chapter, clad in terminator armor). The game ties directly into the Space Hulk board game that Games Workshop released a few years ago (itself a reprint of a classic board game they released eons ago). The characters of Death Angel are the same characters from Space Hulk, and the tale is the same – Blood Angels veterans in terminator armor board a space hulk to exterminate genestealers and win the day.
In Death Angel, each turn, each player chooses an action for their squad from three different actions (represented by cards) – Support, Move & Activate, or Attack. Each squad performs these actions slightly differently, with different bonuses or extras. They use these actions as they move through the corridors of the space hulk to fight the genestealers that amass around them.
What I Like:
- Death Angel is a great cooperative game. The actions are chosen secretly, so you have to know what your opponents can do and are likely to do so you can work together with them. Between that and the genestealers who are constantly multiplying right behind you, the game offers a solid challenge
- The cards have great art, they’re nice quality and they’re easy to read and understand.
- The game doesn’t take much time to explain and is easy to understand even if your friends don’t know a heavy flamer from an assault cannon.
- Even if your friends don’t know a heavy flamer from an assault cannon, the game is still very true to the Warhammer 40,000 universe, so fans will geek out over the art, the card names, and the stories on each character card.
- The game takes only a few minutes to set up, less than a minute to clean up, and less than five minutes to explain. Despite this, the interaction of various cards and situations creates a good level of complexity and a lot of replay value.
What I Don’t Like:
- The game may be too easy, but only a tiny, tiny bit. I may also just be too good at games. Compared to Space Hulk, where the genestealers almost always eat the Space Marines alive, I can win the day with the Space Marines most of the time in Death Angel. However, I haven’t played a game yet where I didn’t feel like we were going to lose. And maybe that’s a good cooperative game – feeling like you’re going to lose, but winning enough to have fun with the game. At any rate, it’s not super easy, so this really is a tiny complaint.
- Some of the teams may be more boring than others, or slightly less effective. Certainly, the team with the Librarian and the team with the power sword Sergeant feel very effective while the team with the lightning claws or the team with the heavy flamer can feel overshadowed by their battle brothers. Again, this is a very tiny complaint, and it would be near impossible to make every team feel equally lovable while also making them different enough to have flavor. Any shortcoming here is totally forgivable.
Nerd Moment: Getting the figures out of my Space Hulk game and placing them on the corresponding Death Angel character cards. I was filled with nerdy glee.
I highly recommend Death Angel to anyone who likes cooperative games, or anyone who loves Space Marines and wants to give a card game a whirl. Fantasy Flight produces solid products, and if you don’t own one of Arkham Horror, Lord of the Rings: The Board Game, Descent, Fury of Dracula or Talisman, then what the Hell is wrong with you? Buy Death Angel and make up for your lack of Fantasy Flight games.
The best part about Death Angel is that it sets up quickly, cleans up quickly, and is easy to explain to new players. This is truly lacking in almost every other cooperative game in existence, so Death Angel makes a true mark for itself by this virtue alone.