Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The game was set on a board made up of various corridor and room tiles which could be arranged in different orders and locked together like a jigsaw puzzle to represent the interior of derelict space ships. One player controlled Space Marine Terminators, and the other controlled Genestealers and genestealer hybrids. This game was the first appearance of the genestealers before the Tyranid army was introduced into the Warhammer 40,000 universe. Two editions of the game were released.
In the basic versions of the game, playing the genestealers was often considered somewhat tedious since the strategy for playing them was simple and obvious. So simple in fact that Space Hulk made quite a playable solo game. Playing the marines on the other hand was engaging and tactically challenging. To overcome this shortfall, players were encouraged to play each game twice, swapping roles after the first play. The fairly fast play time made this a reasonable solution. The expansion packs in the first edition further solved the problem by introducing the hybrids, which added more depth to the genestealer game.
The game was notable for its hidden play mechanics, from which it derived much of its playability and tension. The real number of genestealers in play was hidden from the marines because they came into play as "blips" which could represent 1-3 creatures. Similarly, the marine player had a hidden number of extra "action points" available each turn which were only revealed to the genestealer player after they were used up.
Space Hulk won the Origins Award for Best Fantasy or Science Fiction Boardgame of 1989. Its first expansion, Genestealer, won Best Fantasy or Science Fiction Boardgame of 1990.
The first edition had two expansion packs; Deathwing which focused on additional Space Marine weapons and solo play and Genestealer, which introduced Genestealer hybrids (who carried weapons unlike pure strain genestealers that used their claws) and psychic combat.
The second edition had no expansions and, while it featured better board artwork and terminator models, is generally considered the inferior version of the game.
Besides graphical changes, the game showed much lighter rules. This simplification, while making the starting box easier to play, prevented the addition of further rules to the basic game.
The game Space Crusade by Milton Bradley was a simpler game also set on a Warhammer 40,000 space hulk which did use several of the concepts from the Space Hulk game. One of the main differences was that Space Crusade permitted up to four players to compete simultaneously (three taking a Space Marine squad each, one controlling the hulk's inhabitants), whereas Space Hulk was primarily designed for two players only.
Two computer games were made based on the board game, the first, Space Hulk, for the PC; and the second, for the PC, PlayStation, Sega Saturn, and 3DO consoles. Both of these were tactical action shooters based on the boardgame rather than reproductions of the boardgame.
An unofficial conversion of the boardgame is available as freeware for Windows. Visit the home page for more information.
In Warhammer 40,0000
The term "Space Hulk", from which the game gets its name, is used within the Warhammer 40,000 universe for any masses of derilict ships, asteroids, and other assorted space junk that eventually merges into one massive form inside the Warp. These Hulks are usually infested with mutants(possible remmnants of the past crew); Genestealers(as above, see also the entry on Tyranids); Orks, who like to mount guns on hulks and travel on them to invade new worlds, and sometimes worse.
Because a Hulk may contain valuable information or technology, the Imperium often sends teams into the Hulks to attempt to recover anything possible within the Hulk. Aside from the dangers of possible inhabitants, the Hulk may not stay in realspace for very long, eventually slipping back into the Warp.
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