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Did You See Predator Last Night?: A Review of Lost Patrol by Games Workshop

Did You See Predator Last Night?: A Review of Lost Patrol by Games Workshop

Games Workshop has been rolling out the specialist games one after the other lately. Since the announcement that they were going to be expanding that range, we’ve had Betrayal at Calth, which was Marines vs. Marines. Then there was Deathwatch: Overkill, which gave us Marines vs. Tyranids. And now we have Lost Patrol: Death in the Jungle, which is also Marines vs. Tyranids. Hmm… two of the same teams going at it again. Will Lost Patrol just be more of the same? Or will it head out on its own?

The fine people over at Games Workshop sent me a copy of their upcoming game to check out. I’ve already done an unboxing of the set. Now it’s time to actually get some minis put together and try the game out.

Load your combat shotguns and get your big can of bug spray, it’s time for another TGN Review. This time it’s Lost Patrol: Death in the Jungle by Games Workshop.

You hopefully saw my Unboxing of the game. I mentioned that the plastic was a little more brittle than what I’d come to expect from Games Workshop, but I didn’t actually have the minis put together.

Prepping For Battle

Going over that briefly, for the Scouts, you get a lot of options for how you want to arm them. One guy has a Heavy Bolter. You’ll want to make sure you make that guy, as he has special rules. So does the Sergeant. You’ll want to make sure you know which one he is. However, beyond that, it doesn’t matter. Whether you give them a bolter, a combat shotgun, or a bolt pistol and sword, the rules for them are exactly the same (as you’ll see below).

The Tyranids also get a lot of options for their figures. Grasping Talons, Scything Claws, Poison Sacs… and none of them mean anything. In the game, a genestealer is a genestealer is a genestealer. So feel free to add on whatever you want to make the figures look the way you want.

I actually like how simplified the rules are in this respect. I remember back to Betrayal at Calth and thinking of how each of the figures had different rules depending on what they were armed with, and how that led to me spending days trying to magnetize everything, so I could swap out gear as I felt for the mission or just for the day. In Lost Patrol, it’s just “You’ve got Marines. Two of which are special, but not too much in the way of options there. And the Tyranid player gets genestealers, no matter how much you feel like putting stuff on them.”

Lost Patrol is actually rather easy to set up and play. There are no individual scenarios. The Space Marine force is always the same. The Tyranid player deploys in relation to how the board is set up. Though that doesn’t mean each game will start out exactly the same. Lemme explain. There is not too much. I do not need to sum up.

Getting to the LZ

Setting up the game is really easy. Separate out the Clearing Tile and the Dropship Tile from the rest. Then, shuffle those tiles and stack them, face-down. Place the Dropship Tile on the bottom of the stack. Decide who will play the Space Marines and who will play the Tyranids. The Space Marine player places all 5 of his Marines on the Clearing Tile. Then, place tiles out on the board, one at a time, as far as the Space Marine player can see.

Wait, “as far as the Space Marine player can see.” What does that mean? Well, each tile has a pathway on it. If that pathway is straight, then you can see clearly from one side to the other. If it curves, then the Line of Sight will reach that tile, but not further. So, when you are placing tiles (the Tyranid player is the one that places and removes (which we’ll get to) tiles from the board, by the way), if they are straight, then you’ll place another one after that. If that one’s straight, you’ll place another. Continue on until the path curves out of view. The Tyranid player must also place tiles to avoid dead-ends, if at all possible. Paths curve and fork, so it can sometimes get tricky, but the majority of the time you can place tiles so that another can be placed afterward.

Once all opening tiles have been placed, you’re ready to play. I told you that setting up the game was easy, didn’t I?

Order in the Chaotic Jungle

Turns in the game are broken up into 5 phases. They are: Scout Actions, Remove Unseen Tiles, Place New Tiles, Tyranid Actions, Tyranid Assault.

Starting out, the Space Marine gets to take their actions. Each Marine on the table gets two actions. Those actions are Move and Fire. Neither one is limited, so you can do both once, or either one twice. Moving is done a tile at a time. The Clearing tile can hold all 5 Marines, but any other tile can hold a maximum of 3. Marines must move along the pathways shown on the tiles. They can’t go “trail blazing” on their own. If you choose to Fire, you roll a single die (or two if you’re firing with the Heavy Scout). If you roll a 6, the Tyranid you were shooting at is killed and removed. No to-wound or armor saves. One roll. 1-in-6 chance to remove a Tyranid with each shot.

After the Marine player has done their two actions with each Scout still on the table, new tiles are placed depending on what the Scouts can now see. This is like at the start of the game, with new tiles being placed along the pathways out to as far as the Marines can see. So if they’re straight, then you place another tile until the path curves away.

Once new tiles have been placed, old ones that can no longer be seen are removed. Actually, it’s not just the immediate tiles that are removed. The Jungle doesn’t grow back and change that rapidly after the Marines have come through. Instead, look for tiles on the board that couldn’t be seen if a Marine were to do a double move (I.E. – move two tiles). If no Marine could see the space after they’d moved twice, it is removed. It should be noted here that the Marine player would do well to not split up too much. The reason being is that if tiles would be removed in such a way that there would be a gap between sets of Marines, the smaller set of Scouts is removed, along with their tiles. Also, if in adding and removing tiles the Marines end up in one, contiguous loop that they cannot escape from, they are removed as well. This is a point of caution for the Marine player and a bit of strategy for tile-placement for the Tyranid player.

After the new tiles are added and old ones removed, the Tyranid player gets to take their actions. Instead of each model they have getting a certain number of actions, the Player is the one that gets a certain number of actions. Specifically, they get 3. That might seem small, but they do have an endless supply of troops on their side, vs. just 5 for the Marines. The actions the Tyranid player can take are: place a genestealer, infest a tile, or move. Like before, there’s no limit to the number of those the player can take in a turn. So they could do 1 of each, or 2 of one and 1 of another, or they could do 3 of one.

When the Tyranid player places a genestealer, they do so on the tile farthest down the path that the Marines can see. I.E. – they come in from “off the board.” The other place a genestealer can be placed is in a tile that’s been infested (more on that in a moment). A tile can have a maximum of 3 genestealers in it at a time. To Infest a tile, a genestealer must simply be on it. From that point on, until it’s removed by the Marine player (by moving a Marine onto that tile when there’s no genestealer there), they can place genestealers there (as though it were the farthest-off tile as described above). Finally, the Tyranid player can opt to move. The amount of tiles the genestealers can move is based on how many are being moved. For example: if there are 3 genestealers in a tile, with a single move action, they could all move 1 tile. If there are 2 genestealers in a tile, they could both move 2 tiles. If you just want to move a single genestealer, they can move up to 3 tiles. Note: the genestealers, if moving as a group, must stay together in that group. So when that group of 3 moves, they must all move to the same tile. When that pair moves, one can’t “drop out” early while the other continues on. They all start and end in the same tile together.

Blades, Claws, Fangs

That just leaves the Assault phase of the turn. As you can see from the shooting rules, there’s probably not going to be a lot of genestealers taken off the board when you’ve only got a 1-in-6 chance of killing them. So it’s the Assault phase where most of the killing will be done. Like shooting, it’s done via a single die roll. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Assaults happen anywhere genestealers are in tiles adjacent to Scouts. The genestealers have a set Assault total based on how many genestealers are in the tile. They’re worth two apiece, so a single genestealer has an Assault value of 2, while two genestealers have a total of 4, and three genestealers (remember, that’s the maximum number that can be in a tile at a time) have a total of 6. The Marines’ total is the die roll + modifiers. And there aren’t that many modifiers. Basically, it’s +1 if the Marines’ Sergeant is involved, and another +1 if the Heavy Scout has Line of Sight to the tile where the Assault is happening (he’s able to provide covering fire).

If the genestealers’ total is higher, one Scout in the tile they attacked is killed. The rest are driven back. That is, the Scouts move one tile away from the Tyranids. This is where model counts really matter, as remember, only three Scouts can be on a tile at a time. They also can’t enter tiles occupied by Genestealers. So if the Marines can’t move back, they are removed as casualties. After the Scouts are driven back (or removed), the genestealers move up into the space that the Scouts just left. It should be noted that the Tyranid player gets to decide where the Scouts are driven back to (if there’s an option, say at a cross-roads, for example). Not all the Scouts have to end up in the same tile, so this is a great way for the Tyranid player potentially break up clumps of Marines. If the Assault totals are a tie, the Marines are still driven back, as above, and once again the genestealers move forward. If the Scouts have the higher total, one of the genestealers is killed (but genestealers are never driven back).

A Beacon in the Night

The goal of the game, for the Marines, is to get a Marine onto the Dropship tile. If they can get at least one there, and have them stay there until the end of the turn, they win. The Tyranid player wins if all 5 of the Marines are killed/removed (like from being removed when a tile is removed).

After-Action Report

I have to admit, when I first saw Last Patrol and saw that it was Marines vs. Tyranids, I was initially worried that it was going to be “just another Deathwatch: Overkill, but in a forest this time.” However, after inspecting the game pieces and reading over the rulebook, the two are entirely different games. In fact, Lost Patrol doesn’t play like any other GW game that I can think of. While games like Betrayal at Calth and Deathwatch: Overkill feel like “miniatures games on a board” (not that there’s anything wrong with that, mind you), Lost Patrol feels like a deeper strategy game. The Marine player is looking to get through the stack of tiles as fast as possible, giving the Tyranid player fewer turns to get more and more monsters on the field, while not spreading out too much and just getting their guys killed. The Marines can quickly become outnumbered, potentially getting surrounded by enemies in short order.

I normally don’t engage in any sort of speculation, and I have no idea of GW plans on making expansion for this game (or any of their other Specialist Games they’ve come out with), but I’d love to see variants where the Scouts can trade out their Heavy Trooper for a Flamethrower. Perhaps they’d be able to set parts of the forest on fire, causing damage to anything that moves through it, but closing off the path, so the Marines can’t go further in that direction. The base game comes with Tagleweed tiles that Marines can only move through on a 4+. I’d love to see more types of tiles get put into the stack. Maybe poison cloud tiles. Or pit traps. Or some other sort of hindering space. For the genestealers, perhaps they could spend extra resources to get more-advanced monsters. Like if they can get 3 genestealers onto a tile that’s Infested, they could get a Tyranid-Warrior-like monster. As I mention, it’s all just random speculation and, “I’d like to see…” sort of whimsy, but it would be cool to see further releases for this game.

As I mentioned above, Lost Patrol plays a lot differently than other GW games out there. That, along with the relatively cheap cost, means I’d recommend giving it a shot when it’s available. You can pre-order it now over in their webshop.