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ALIENS board game (1989)

review by Ugavine

So with GF9s new Aliens Board Game due imminently I thought I would take a look back at the ALIENS Board Game released by Leading Edge Games in 1989.

It came a few years after the film, by which time Games Workshop had already cashed in with SPACE HULK, which pretty much captured the feel of what an Aliens game should be.   Nevertheless, we were presented with an Official game complete with all the character from the film and some solid artwork.

Now let's be honest, until recently most licensed games pretty much suck.  They get aimed at kids or the family mass market alongside Cluedo and Monopoly and are generally just Roll & Move games.  Thankfully, ALIENS is what I would consider... a proper game.


A mixed bag, edging on the positive.  The game includes a paper Board in full colour with the game area and decorated with stills from the film; not hard wearing, but highly presentable.  Each character has it's own card standee and an accompanying double-sided stat card; full colour with a movie still of the character.  There are also lots of Aliens, an Alien stat card (with the reverse side being a mini-scenario), 10 sided die and the rules.

Personally the only downside of the quality is the character standees.  They are quite tiny.  And due to the small squares of the map it would be difficult to replace with actual miniatures without making your own map too.  I would have loved this game to have come with Alien miniatures.  So as most contents are cardboard it is not a hard wearing game, although I have managed to keep mine in good condition.

The full colour images from the theme are what save the presentation of the game giving it the true Aliens feel that others games, like Space Hulk, just cannot capture.



Characters have 1 to 3 actions.  They can move, shoot, or aim with those actions.  Keeping it true to the films you cannot beat the aliens, you win simply by surviving with as many Colonial Marines as possible.  If a Marine is caught by an Alien you place the Alien on their Stats card and roll on the char to see what happens; dead, wounded, grabbed, etc.  If a Marine is Grabbed they have a single Turn to be freed or they get carried off at the start of the next.  It's quite brutal and unforgiving at times, as it should be really.

The Aliens generally appear at Random on the board.  While some players may dislike the randomness it adds to the suspense of the game as an Alien could just appear right in front of you.

Unfortunately it does become repetitive and does not lend itself well for multiple replays.  Additionally, if you were playing multi-player you would feel pretty under whelmed if you played anyone but Apone, Hicks, Vasquez or Drake. 

The games does have several scenarios though.  The Reactor Room, the air ducts and Ripley vs Queen.  These scenarios add greatly to the theme of the game, but sadly little to the playability of the game.  The Ripley vs.Queen scenario is pretty much just a novelty to complete the story of the film.

An expansion was released which does increase it's re-play value by adding a new map recreating the hunt for the captured Colonial Marines.  So if you do decide to pick up a copy of this game I would highly suggest you get the expansion as well.


I do like the game, but I do not know if I could say that if I were not a big fan of the film.  It does look great, the images from the film are excellent and the gameplay does recreate the plot of the film.  Alas, it does fall short of being a great game.

There have been other attempts at Aliens themed games including Miniatures games and even an expansion for the HorrorClix game (Wizkids failed Heroclix spin-off).  They have all fallen a bit flat.  So I have high expectations for GF9s new game, but until then this is still the best licensed Aliens game.  But honestly, I prefer Space Hulk.


(but only because of the theme)



Club Squirrel ratings

     (1 Squirrel)  Pretty bad.  Not fun.  Play before you buy. 

     (2 Squirrels)  Below average, not much fun.

     (3 Squirrels)  Good game.  Fun with solid mechanics.

     (4 Squirrels)  Excellent game.  Great fun with much replayability.

     (5 Squirrels)  GOLDEN SQUIRREL.  One of the best games out there.




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