Vital information has been lost on a planet infested with the most lethal predators in the known galaxy. Information necessary for the survival of mankind. In situations like these, whom ever is sent to retrieve the data is doomed to certain death. We have only one recourse the Space Marines. For they shall know no fear.
Lost Patrol is a reprint of an old Games Workshop title. It’s one of a slew of recent “board games” from GW. These are more entry points into the greater GW hobby but they are still fun in their own right.
For the TL;DR version click here.
Opening the box
Specs on the box:
- 2 Players
- Ages: there’s no age on the box but it says “complexity 1” I’d say you can teach this to a 7 year old easily enough.
- 30 min (more like 15-20)
In typical GW fashion the game features models. On Sprues. That means you will have to assemble them yourself. It’s not terribly difficult to do though. The instructions are pretty decent but the models are lifted straight from their Warhammer 40K range so there’s a lot of extra bits on the sprues that you don’t actually need. Luckily each faction is in a different colour so there is no real need to paint these.
Aside from the models is a fairly easy to read rule book, a few D6 and a stack of tiles. Not much in the box for the price. Not even an insert. The Genestealer models are a bit on the delicate side. They can get crushed very easily. Storing them in the box with the other components is not an option.
So the story goes that a ship carrying information so vital that it could not be transmitted, lest it be intercepted, has crashed on a death world. A death world is a planet so deadly that everything on it is actively trying to kill you. The animals are dangerous, the spores in the air are usually toxic even the plants are trying to kill you.
The forest on this particular death world is alive and sentient. When you’re not looking it changes shape, cutting off some pathways and creating new ones for you to get lost in.
Never fear we have the Adeptus Astartes to save the day. These genetically modified humans stand 8 feet tall. They can rip apart cars with their bare hands. They have redundant hearts and are resistant to poisons and toxins of all kinds. They don’t even need to sleep. A squad of trainees have been sent to recover the information in the crashed ship.
Little did they know that the planet has been infested with Genestealers. As good as the Space marines are, they are better; lightening quick and exceptionally deadly. Had the marines known they were here they would have sent a whole army. As it stands the Scouts are dead meat. They have no hope of surviving this mission but as Space Marines they do not know fear and will gives their lives for the Emperor. They will succeed in their mission.
The tiles that come in the box are used to build the map for the game. First determine which player will be on which side then find the Starting tile (it has a central clearing with 6 exits) and then crashed ship tile. Shuffle the rest into a stack and put them on top of the ship tile.
Then place the central tile on the centre of the table and place all the space marines on it. The Genestealer player will then build path ways radiating out from the centre tile.
He will select a pathway then start drawing tiles from the stack and place them along the path until the path bends or splits so that the Scouts cannot see further without moving to the end of the path. Once all of the paths have be laid out the game is ready to begin.
Each turn plays out in the follow steps.
First check to see if the forest changes. If the Scouts move around a corner, 2 tiles beyond any point that they cannot see around then all the tiles that they cannot see are removed from play. This represents the forest moving and changing.
So pretend each marine can move 2 spaces for free in every direction and then remove anything that they cannot see. It sounds complicated but in reality it isn’t.
If, somehow the scouts split up and cannot see each other; then the forest will kill off a group of them. Scout player’s choice. It’s a death world, things are going to die.
Next the Scouts get to act. One at a time each scout is activated and will get 2 actions. These actions can be any combination of:
- Move 1 tile – just move along any path 1 space. Some tiles have very nasty plants on them and you will need to speed both actions to move out of that tile. Barring the starting tile you can only have 3 Scouts standing on the same tile.
- Shoot a Genestealer that you can see – Roll a D6, 2 in the case of the Scout with the Heavy Bolter, and if you roll a 6 you get to kill an enemy.
Next the Genestealer checks if the Scouts have moved to a location from which they can see new paths. Then those paths will need to be created. This follows the same procedure as when the map is initially built. The Genestealer player will draw tiles from the stack and place them along the new path until it forks or bends.
Then it is the Genestealer players turn. He gets 3 points to spend. Points can be spent on the following.
- Spawn a Genestealer – Spawn a Genestealer at the end of any path or from an infestation marker.
- Spawn an infestation marker – any Genestealer can spawn an infestation marker on the tile it is standing on. If a Scout ever walks onto this tile the infestation marker is destroyed.
- Move Genestealers. – for 1 point 1 Genestealer can move up to 3 tiles, in any direction. They don’t need to follow the path. 2 points will allow a group of 2 of them to move up to 2 tiles and 3 points for a group of 3 to move 1 tile. You can never have more than 3 of them on a single tile.
Then the Genstealers assault! Each group of Genestealers may attack once each turn, they will do this automatically as long as they are adjacent to 1 or more Scouts. Each Genestealer has an attack strength of 2, so a group of 2 will have a strength of 4 (3 of them will be 6). The scout player then rolls a D6 in order to fend them off. If he matches their strength value it’s a stalemate. If he rolls higher then he kills 1 of them. Lower and a Scout dies!
There are some ways to make combat easier, If the Scout with the Heavy Bolter can see the combat (but not his own) then he can lay down cover fire and the Scouts will get to add 1 to their D6 roll. If the Scout Sargent is in the fight then he can also add and 1 to the D6 roll. However if the Scout is all alone then he will get a -1 as there is no one to watch his back!
The Scouts win if, after the last tile (the ship) is placed, they can get a scout to stand on it. The Genestealers win if they kill all of the Scouts.
It’s a very simple game with only a hand full of rules. There’s only 4 different components, and you just go play. It is not easy though. Not if you are playing as the Scouts. It’s actually damn difficult. Expect to lose, often. I’ve yet to see the Scouts win even once. From what I gather they win about once every 20 games or so.
Why bother playing then? Well, because it’s fun. Tension is almost always high but it does not feel very heavy. It’s also very quick to play and easy to reset. So you can switch places very quickly. If, like me you enjoy a challenge and sometimes mindless mayhem then you’d enjoy it.
I actually played a game without putting down my beer, not even once. Not many games can claim that 😉 It’ll make a good filler game for players that are waiting or have been eliminated from another game too.
I will not really recommend it to everyone though. I enjoy it, my son does too but it’s very expensive for what’s in the box. Yes, if you buy the models on their own, they will cost more than a copy of Lost Patrol but that is only valid if you are playing Warhammer 40K and playing one of those armies. If not then it’s way over priced L which is a pity.
As a gateway into the hobby, I’m not sure. To build and paint models yes, but for Games Workshop, I don’t know. Most of the background that I have mentioned is not actually in the box. I know it because I used to be an avid fan of the 40K universe. It was the universe that drew me into the game itself, and this box is sorely lacking in this regard.
It’s still (almost) mindless fun.
Can I play this at a braai?
Well if you can play this game without having to put your beer down then playing with tongs in your hand is super easy 😉