On February’s game day in Nagoya, a friend and I herded a bunch of interested parties / guinea pigs together and had a big old multiplayer participation game of Advanced Space Crusade, that 1990 gem with the Scouts and Tyranid Warriors, D12’s and funky map boards. And it was a heck of a lot of fun.
The way ASC works is you have between one and three “flanks of attack” into the Tyranid hiveship, and on each flank the Marines explore, fight battles and so on. Since there were four players plus one GM (me) we just had two semi-independent one-flank battles (possible because two of us have sets, so we had enough map boards to do two battles at the same time), allowing allies to share forces amongst themselves. The Marine victory condition was to win three out of the four major battles hidden in the exploration decks, and the Tyranids managed to win by getting enough reinforcements before the third battle to overwhelm what little the Marines had left after the first two.
Which, if you know anything about ASC (and you probably don’t) probably goes to show just how much I’ve tweaked the game from the “out of the box” experience, which is heavily weighted towards the Marine player, mostly because of ridiculous reaction rules and partly because of Tyranid reinforcement rates that leave them struggling to have enough models to keep up pressure on the Marines. So my main 3 changes are: limiting the number of times you can react during the enemy turn, bumping up Tyranid reinforcement rates, and allowing Tyranids to (for a significant cost) bring in reinforcements during a battle from outside their available pool of blips. It seems to be in a place where the Marines need to be aggressive, both in exploration and during battles, and a bit lucky, to win, which seems OK to me – I’m sort of aiming for Space Hulk levels of challenge.
(If anybody interested in actually playing the game stumbles across this post, feel free to join the Advanced Space Crusade group (me and two other guys), where I have files with all my house rules in them posted.)