Gears of War BG: review

My roommate recently picked this up.  I've been trying to get him into board gaming, and since he's a big fan of GoW, this seemed a natural intro.  Honestly though, I expected this to be a big bomb.  It seems like just a big cash grab.  I couldn't have been more wrong.  We tried it with my game group and it was a big hit.  They're gonna need a few more copies to sell.  I don't know if this is going to be a staple for us, but it's really looking good.I already knew going in that the game was going have random setups.  It's kinda nice how they do it.  They tell you what tiles are used, but you actually use small cards to figure out the rest.  It definitely beats having to shuffle large, variable-size tiles.  The dice are a little unusual, but ok.  Actually, this whole thing brings flashbacks to Hero Quest, just without an enemy player.  I'm a little upset about the wound markers, though.  They have to be done randomly for the purpose of possibly dropping weapons/ammo, but I actually have to feel them to know what side is up before I stack them.
The overall gameplay is quite strong.  Turns are short and simple.  Although only one player is active at any time, everyone can be more or less involved.  Enemies are controlled by an AI deck that really works well for whatever the situation happens to be.  Of course, cover is a really big deal.  Your hand size is your health, a very interesting mechanic.  You could do generic actions with the cards in your hand, but you almost never have to.  The only thing that really feels wrong is that nobody ever dies.  Instead, they're like the allies you get in Skyrim.  They're critically wounded until you heal them to make them relevant again.  You basically have to, or else the game's going to get more turns against you.
There are several missions in here as well as a horde mode, but the whole design seems rather modular.  Already my group is figuring out ways of customizing it.  It's definitely a difficult, but not unbeatable game.  It's been played plenty of times, but rarely have we actually succeeded.  Most of the time, it's because somebody decided to goof off.  There don't seem to be any difficulty levels, so make sure you're ready for a challenge.
 The figures are a bit of an issue for me, though.  Sure, they're incredibly detailed, but that means they'll take a lot of time to paint.  I don't feel like painting them, and neither does my roommate.  That means some extra investment is needed to get someone else to paint them (not to mention your standard game protection).  The player figures are especially bad.  They look almost identical.  They need paint.  This is especially problematic for a guy like me unfamiliar with the lore.
All in all, this is a very good game to buy.  The price point of $70 is quite steep, but weigh that against how solid a game like this could be in your collection.  There's a lot of good stuff here.  I almost wish I had bought is so that I'd have free reign with its use.  I'll settle for bringing my roommate in to this community, though.


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