Project Alphaboard: Aliens: Bug Hunt

In my ongoing quest to play all of my board games in alphabetical order, we’re doubling down on xenomorphs with Aliens: Bug Hunt. We had a lot of fun with Aliens: Another Glorious Day in the Corps (AAGDC), but Bug Hunt is a simpler, quicker game, so I wanted to see how it compares.

Aliens: Bug Hunt is a cooperative game for up to four players. It’s much more of an abstract game than AAGDC, without the immediate narrative elements. Basically, the players each operate a squad of two “Grunts” and one named character with a special ability, and they explore an alien-infested complex looking for objective tokens to fill missions. Turn order is kind of unique. Each turn, the players flip a card from a Phase Deck, which either indicates a Player turn or an Alien turn. On a Player turn, the player can move up to three squares, but must stop when they explore a new square. The player can then perform one of three actions – shooting, capturing objectives, breaching barriers, or reloading to permit further attacks. Shooting involves rolling dice based on the character or grunt’s attack power, which can eliminate aliens but, in close combat, might also deal wounds to the characters.

On Alien turns, the aliens advance on a track. Periodically, the track hits a point where the aliens act, in which case they first attack any characters in the same square, then move either towards the players or to the exits, then spawn on any spawn points the players have discovered. Whether or not they act, they also add an additional alien card to the phase deck, which means that the longer you play, the more turns the aliens get. The result is a rapid ramp up of power that can really be devastating.

This game is hard to win – so hard that it stops being fun after a certain point, when the alien cards are coming up almost every turn and they’re just relentlessly pounding the players. Winning requires some really bold and fast moves to get into the complex and score objectives – enough collected objective tokens can get you some extra powers that help survive the late game. My group lost, twice, in part because our early explorations mostly led to dead ends, making us sitting ducks for the alien attacks.

So, my bottom line is, if you’re going to get one Aliens game, get AAGDC. But if you like extreme challenges as a solo player or co-op group, Aliens: Bug Hunt might be worth a try.

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