TGN Review – Space Hulk Mission Files: Dark Angels Bringer of Sorrow (iBook)

By Polar_Bear
In Board Games
Sep 22nd, 2014
19 Comments
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Games Workshop supported Space Hulk, at least a little bit, with the release of their mission files. But are these extras worth it?

Dark Angels

TGN’s Enrico Nardini grabbed the Dark Angels book and is here to give you his thoughts.

TGN Reviews

We keep the pressure up with another TGN review. This time it’s the Dark Angels: Bringer of Sorrow iBook.

Enrico: It’s the product with the name that just rolls off the tongue: Space Hulk Mission Files: Dark Angels Bringer of Sorrow. Is that enough title for you? So for the sake of clarity, this is a set of Space Hulk missions featuring the Dark Angels and their battles aboard the Bringer of Sorrow. Oh, and it’s formatted for iBook.

The new edition of Space Hulk was released on the 19th, and as of the penning of this review (the 20th), there are no copies for sale direct from Games Workshop. It seems you can use the same tactic with the same product and achieve the same result.

The fact that Space Hulk is nowhere to be seen on the front page of Games Workshop’s website is not a good sign for any future support of the game. There’s not even a listing showing that it’s sold out. If you type “Space Hulk” into the search bar, you will get a listing for each of the mission files, a listing for paints, and the novella, Sin of Damnation. I even attempted a few google searches. One turned up this beauty. All records expunged indeed!

Despite these nagging frustrations and the ominous notion of spending $15.99 on an iBook, I tapped the download button and braced myself for disappointment. Codex: Inquisition had soured my opinion of Games Workshop’s digital releases (Black Library excluded). Kill Team was a marked improvement. But in the end, Games Workshop’s ridiculous insistence on selling digital content at the same price as print media has, for the most part, kept me away until now.

The Mission 1 Map

The Mission 1 Map

Presentation

Bringer of Sorrow is a top-notch production. It’s the kind of iBook you would expect from a company with the size and experience of Games Workshop. The book’s functionality allows you to view it two ways (though it is always horizontally oriented). You can go page-by-page, or you can page through it by chapter (with separate sections you can tap to select and the individual pages displayed below).

The page layout is clean; the font size and design make it easy to read. Another great feature is the number of scrolling sidebar sections. The missions utilize these heavily. I also liked the border and the little artistic elements used to break up the text. It should be noted that there is little actual art, and to my knowledge, it is all recycled from other publications.

One other niggling issue involves the maps. You can expand the image by pulling your fingers apart over a section, but they will not stay expanded. When you take your hand off the screen, it returns to its original size. This can be problematic when trying to set up your board. Some sections are difficult to identify, and being able to magnify sections of the map and leave them like that temporarily, would be helpful.

Contents

Bringer of Sorrow includes a number of chapters you would expect. There is an introduction that provides an overview of the contents and a brief summary of the story so far. There are missions (of course), a reference section, a mission status display, a rules section, more Deathwing fluff, and a chapter on creating your own missions.

All the fiction included here is competently written, standard Games Workshop fare. It is of course both grim and dark. The Deathwing engage the space hulk Bringer of Sorrow in the hopes of destroying it before tyranids invade the system. The section titled “The Dark Angels” gives a brief overview of the chapter and the Deathwing. It’s all serviceable, but not particularly interesting if you are already knowledgeable in Warhammer 40,000 lore.

The words “Mission Files” in the title may have caused you to conclude that this book is primarily concerned with new missions. That is not wholly accurate. The Deathwing campaign is surprisingly short, with a mere three missions on offer. Each mission includes a brief section of fluff describing the story behind it and a scrolling sidebar that includes all the pertinent rules needed to play it. The page that follows this displays the map layout.

The missions certainly do the job. But, like the fiction, they’re not particularly exciting. Stop me if you’ve heard this one: Terminators board a derelict, genestealer-infested space hulk, and attempt to detonate it using the ship’s self-destruct. Its ground that has been covered before.

The Mission 2 Layout (2009 Edition Tiles)

The Mission 2 Layout (2009 Edition Tiles)

Bringer of Sorrow states numerous times that it is for use with the 2014 version of Space Hulk, but it seems completely compatible with the 2009 version. I was able to construct the layout for Mission 2 with no problems whatsoever. From my reading, the only thing that appears to be missing are the boarding torpedoes. It would be easy enough to make your own out of card or simply use your extra lengths of corridor.

Mission Status (2009 Edition)

Mission Status Display (2009 Edition)

The Mission Status Display is excellent! It looks and functions just like the mock digital display included in the Space Hulk game, except it is digital and you can actually use it when playing the game. It works great, and I only have two minor gripes: 1. It doesn’t randomize the number of command points you have each turn. 2. You can’t change the weapon displays to the plasma cannon and cyclone missile launcher.

Mission Status Display (2014 iBook)

Mission Status Display (2014 iBook)

The rules chapter includes all the new rules you’ll need to play with Deathwing Terminators. There are a number of new weapons. Most new rules are well written and easy to understand. I particularly like how the Plasma Cannon is handled. You can fire it as often as you would like in a turn, but each shot adds a counter. Place a counter for each plasma shot fired. At the end of a turn in which you fired the Plasma Cannon more than once, the Genestealer player rolls a die. If their roll is less than the number of counters, the weapon explodes and kills the welder. There are also rules for Deathwing Knights; they are not used in the three pre-designed missions, but they can be used when designing your own.

The custom mission section is the largest, and possibly the most useful. It contains tips on designing your own missions, reference charts to help balance the sides, and charts for determining objectives. It’s great to see a point buy mechanic that you can use to balance the forces. This adds a significant amount of possible replay to the product.

Final Thoughts

So, I’m quite surprised to say that I didn’t dislike Bringer of Sorrow. Is it the best thing ever? Nope. But, it’s quite a bit better than I expected. It looks nice and is user friendly. The contents themselves are useful to Space Hulk fans, and with the exception of a few pieces (which can be replicated), can be used with either release of the game.

The biggest issue here is price. At $10.00-12.00, I would be confident recommending this. $15.99 feels a bit steep. Not over-the-top like their codex prices, but still a bit much. I can purchase entire miniature rules sets digitally for less. If you’re a rabid fan of Space Hulk and you own an iPad, this may be worth purchasing despite its high price. Those custom mission rules are going to be useful now that GW has moved on.

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  • odinsgrandson

    “All the fiction included here is competently written, standard Games Workshop’s faire.”

    So, lacking in basic concepts like point of view or earned emotion?

    • It certainly lacks the gravitas of say, Eisenhorn’s pursuit of Eyclone.

    • Soulfinger

      Is there the clatter of bolter fire? Do the genestealers have carapaces as purple as the prose?

      • Does the implied clatter of bolter fire do anything for you?

        • Soulfinger

          Nope. Has to be a deafening clatter barely heard over the roars of “For the Emperor!” and the whirring blades of chainswords as the godly physiques of the space marines are lavishly described in unintentionally homoerotic detail.Thankfully, I’m finally starting to forget the horror of reading a Black Library novel.

          • KelRiever

            ‘Homoerotic’ is far too advanced a concept to even analyze the poor fiction with.

            GW’s world was written by a pre-teen, A-sexual person. The world of the 41st milenium is as chaste as a eunich, and about as romantically moving as one. People are nothing but playdough, like a cartoon. Somehow we are led to believe their brains are made of playdough too. The intelligence of a person in the fluff of 40k is on par with having a head made of plastic and no brain.

            But DOARKNESS RISES, SKULLZ and whatever you find yelling at the top of your lungs like WAAGH! far supercedes the need to think. Thinking is uncool. So are books. Why are you even reading rules or stories of 40k? That’s someone else’s job. Your job is to go buy more figures (and please note, without reading the price tag)

          • Soulfinger

            Good point. It’s like when when Slaanesh demons entice people to do unspeakable, unholy acts. Do they mean oral, or is it just second base? One of these days it will be revealed that space marines have the anatomy of a Ken Doll, which is how they resist such dark influences.

            Yet, the fiction will sell so long as planes keep zooming, tanks keep rumbling, bolters clatter, ruby red lances of lasgun fire flicker across the battlefield, Chaos taints things, and chapters of Dolph Lundgren marines deliver up stilted lines of dialogue FOR THE EMPEROR.

          • See, I always remember it as “the roar of the bolters” since they’re essentially mini rocket launchers (as bolter bolts are self-propelled).

          • Soulfinger

            You are probably right. Either way, the presentation really started to crack me up when I first started reading board books to our infant son. Things crash, bang, and boom, which apparently can go on being exciting for years to come (try reading a BL combat scene out loud and prepare to feel embarrassed).

            I think they’d be better off firing the guy who wrote the Souldrinkers Omnibus and hiring on those two women who write dinosaur erotic, like “Ravished by the Triceratops” on Amazon. TIME did an article on them. Seriously though, I bet a female author with some Harlequin novels under her belt could totally revitalize the genre in a good way. The writing would be just as awful, but the books would no longer feel like the novelization of a Uwe Boll movie. We may even discover where babies come from in the dark future of the grim darkness.

          • Lemminkaeinen

            There’s at least one that was intentionally homoerotic (Space Marine by Ian Watson).

  • Viking813

    Question about the ‘Deathwing fluff’,
    The 1990 Deathwing expansion for Space Hulk had a great story arc. It certainly contributed to my love for the game and helped my transition into 40K. Probably stillone of my favorite pieces of 40K fiction ever. Did they reuse or recycle that fiction, or is this entirely new content?

    • I did not own the 1990 Deathwing expansion, but I don’t think it is from that. This isn’t like the cool little stories in the Compendium or Compilation. It’s completely expository.

  • Grindar

    Shouldn’t that be less than or equal to on the plasma cannon rule? The way you say it in the review, you fire it twice and it has a 4/6 chance of exploding :p

    • You’re correct. It should be “less.” Fixed!

  • Whoops!

  • Modhail

    Such a shame GW decided to limit availability of these expansions to iPad owners only…
    From reading this review these missions files really add a lot of value and replayability to Space Hulk, but they’ve gone and excluded a large number of potential customers.
    (Most gallingly, including myself ;-P)
    But them again, GW seems to have heavy artillery permanently trained on their feet these days…

    • odinsgrandson

      Especially considering that the largest market for ebooks is Amazon and not Apple.

      I could understand it if they only went with the largest market, but that’s not the way they went either.

      • Modhail

        No, tellingly, they went for the most restrictive/closed off and highest price-for-perfomance option.
        I quess it was just the best fit for them… ;-P

  • darkendlight

    I looked at picking up Space Hulk this time around (I also considered it last time) but the lack of support from the company and the idea now of paying $15 for 3 missions seems like I made the right choice in passing.