Anyway, here it is...March! One of my favorite character actors, Bill Paxton, recently and unexpectedly died. I absolutely love the movie Aliens. It's in my top five of all-time movies. Mr. Paxton played the role of Pvt. Hudson in said movie and had some very memorable and quotable lines. On another note, Mr. Paxton and Lance Henriksen are the only two actors that were "killed" by aliens, predators and terminators. Some would argue that the character of Bishop was an android and wasn't technically 'killed' (he was shut down in Aliens 3), but that's splitting hairs.
To honor Bill Paxton, the group (Terry, Jon Mark, Jared and myself) played the board game adaptation of Aliens Thursday evening. The plot was slightly different than the movie's...consider it a "what if?" scenario.
THE PLOTThe Colonial Marines engaged the aliens in the reactor room and got whooped. Sgt. Apone, Pvt. Dietrich and Pvt. Hudson were grabbed by aliens before Lt. Gorman, who didn't panic, ordered an immediate evacuation. The dropship didn't get waylaid and was able to deliver an arsenal of weapons to the marines. Burke's self-preservation overrode his desire to save the colony, so he went along with nuking the site from orbit. There was only one problem: Marines don't leave anyone behind.
The marine section proceeded to arm themselves and took an elevator into, literally and figuratively, the "belly of the beast". Their mission was simple: Find their teammates, get them out and kill any bugs in their way.
This scenario takes place adjacent to the nuclear reactor which powers the colony. Weapons fire weakens the protection around said reactor and eventually will make it go BOOM. If your marines are still present when this happens, game over, man. Game over. Flame units don't count toward causing this catastrophe. The placement of the captured marines is randomized. Of course, the die roll placed them in what was considered the hardest location to reach. That should've given us a clue as to what the night had in store for us.
|The captured marines|
Things started smoothly for the marines. Not wanting to unnecessarily draw attention to themselves, they didn't enter any rooms. This meant taking a circuitous route around the entire map. The squad made it relatively far, with Ripley and Hicks in the lead. That's when the motion tracker started to ping...
One thing about aliens...they're fast! The leading wave met with Hicks and Ripley in moments.
|Good thing there's a wall!|
|Blocking the doorway with fire|
|I think we're outnumbered...|
Finally clear of aliens, Hicks entered the room. Aliens poured up and out of the giant stairwell, nearly overrunning the marines. It was here that Ripley was taken.
Her sacrifice wasn't in vain. Hicks was able to pull a wounded, but groggy Hudson out of the 'ick' and hand him a pulse rifle.
Again, the marines cleared out the area and proceeded to free Dietrich and Apone. Although wounded, they both carried their trusty flamers, which were proving to be indispensable.
Another wave of aliens!!! In the resulting scrum, Dietrich fell to another wound. Gorman was grabbed, but Apone knocked the alien to the floor before torching it. It was at this point that gunfire had critically damaged the reactor, starting the countdown sequence.
|Hold them off with fire|
|I see 'em...|
|The end of Apone|
Meanwhile, Crowe, Frost and Wierzbowski had their own problems. Frost and Wierz had flamers. They used them effectively to keep the bugs off of them while Crowe shot them dead.
Hicks and Hudson, well in advance of the group, were faring little better. Eventually, Hudson became incapacitated and Hicks had to sling him over his shoulder and make a mad dash for the elevator. They made it, eventually.
With the reactor heating up, Crowe, Wierz and Frost applied a steady diet of pain on the aliens. They finally broke clear; the map was empty of bugs...
...and then it wasn't. Wierz and Crowe were wounded, meaning they could neither shoot as far nor as effectively. With 17 turns left on the reactor clock, things were looking bleak.
|It's feeling a bit overwhelming...|
|It went right around the fire!|
|Game over, man! Game over!|
Seven marines and one civilian went in. Two marines escaped. One of those was Pvt. Hudson. It was a great night of edge-of-seat die rolls, cheers and groans.
While I'm sorry to say he's gone in real life, Bill Paxton will live to fight as Pvt. Hudson on many gaming tables and in many gamers' imaginations. I hope Mr. Paxton's family finds peace and realize that they aren't alone in their mourning.