Space Infantry Review
Review by David Lent
Space Infantry is a solitaire squad level infantry combat game from LNL Publishing. It was designed by Gottardo Zancani. Normally, I don’t bother mentioning the designer’s name, but everywhere I see something written about this game his name is mentioned. He must be someone important! Your goal in this game is to accomplish missions with your squad without being wiped out by carnivorous plants, aliens, robots, mutants, religious fanatics or mercenaries.
There are 3 modes the game can be played in. Regular missions, hive missions and campaign mode.
The regular missions may be played in or out of order. Each mission has a different objective and specialist skills that are needed to explore areas. In some of them you can use the Pilum armored vehicle that has a weapon with armor piercing ammunition.
Hive missions are the most interesting. The map is created as the game progresses so you never know what will be at the end of a tunnel. Grenades are more lethal in the confined spaces of hive tunnels, but they can also cause the roof to cave in on your squad. Hive missions have special nodes, which represent a different thing in each hive mission. They can be resource caches, captive locations, enemy headquarters, hiding places, etc. Each hive mission has a different goal.
Campaign missions allow your troops to get experience points and your leaders to get awards. You go through all the missions in order and get new skills along the way.
Regardless of which mode you are playing in, you have to pick the enemy you will be fighting. Each enemy type has different stats and a different special ability. Choosing the wrong enemy can lead to your destruction. You don’t want to go against an enemy such as Flesh Eaters (who have armor), if you don’t have any troops with armor piercing ammunition.
To accomplish your mission, you pick a 110-point squad from a pool of snipers, heavy weapons troops, assault troops, fire teams, shotgunners, zero-g troops, demolitionists, medics, scientists and technicians. All of your troops have specific skills. This is a game of skill checks and each node you enter has a certain skill check you have to pass. It is imperative that you check the skills required to enter the nodes on your mission map and select troops with those skills.
After selecting your squad, you can select your resources. This is critical because your squad can’t complete any mission without them. Some of the resources are grenades, intelligence and medikits. Grenades do extra wounds to the enemy in combat and medikits heal or prevent 1 wound. Intelligence allows you to automatically get 2 successes on a skill check. This comes in handy at nodes, which require specialist skills that your squad doesn’t have much of. You do not want to spend turn after turn failing skill checks because you have a limit of 30 turns for most missions.
One aspect of this game has to be mentioned before we go any further. This game does NOT use any dice. All random number generation is done by drawing number counters from a cup. The numbers in the cup are zero through six and a plus sign. If you draw the plus sign, you must then draw two additional numbers and add them. Skills checks are done by dividing your random number by your squad member’s skill rating. E.G. if your trooper has a fire rating of three and you draw a six, then you have two successes.
Game turns use the following order: advance the turn, node resolution, and end turn. Advancing the turn just subtracts one from the turn number. In node resolution, the squad attempts to move to a new node. Each node has a node requirement such as advance 4. In that case, all units with the advance skill do a skill check and you count the successes. Your squad leader may do a command check and each success increases one random number by one. If there is a total of four or more successes, you successfully enter the node. Otherwise, you have to add additional success the next turn. If you get into the node you make an event check. If you fail, either combat or a special event ensues.
If combat ensues, you must first draw a random number and check the enemy presence table to determine how many of each type of enemy is present. Next, you draw another number and look it up on the range table to see if that combat round will be melee or fire. Last, the enemy and each member of your squad who isn’t a specialist draws a random number. All of the units do a skill check to determine the number of wounds they do and then the wounds are assigned. Units with armor that were not hit with armor piercing ammunition may cancel a wound if a random number of 4+ is drawn. Combat continues until either your squad or your enemies are completely destroyed.
Once an event check happens on a node, an event marker is placed there and it never happens again. If you didn’t have an event, but are still on the same node the next turn you have to take another event check.
I played 3 regular missions and 1 hive mission and here are my impressions of the game. The component quality is good and the rulebook is well written. It even includes an example of play section like all games should. In addition, the game designer made a strong effort to increase the re-playability of the game with regular missions, hive missions with a random map and well thought out campaign rules. The drawing of random numbers from a cup has its good and bad points. The good thing is it allows an occasional number higher than six if you draw a + sign and two good numbers. The downside is drawing chits from a cup constantly is very tedious. I found myself hoping there wouldn’t be combat because of the excessive chit drawing.
Overall, this game is ok but it doesn’t hold my interest as well as some of the other solitaire games I’ve reviewed such as Khe Sanh ’68 and Suez ‘56. The only decisions you make are your squad and resource choices, what node you are going to explore and whether or not you are going to use a resource. I did find the hive missions to be interesting though, due to the random map. Missions using the pilum armored vehicle were cool also. I think players who like drawing counters from a cup may like this game more than I did.
Buy your own copy on eBay.