(A.K.A. Space Saver Hulk)
Some years ago I set about creating a Travel Space Hulk game. I’d seen some people had made versions using Epic (6mm) models, magnets of some variety, and scaled down the boards that came with the original game. This does reduce the size of the game but, as I know from experience, the individual 6mm figures are very fiddly and are realistically too small for game pieces, and the downsized boards still require a fair amount of space to set up – and that space needs to be level and stable.
I was planning to take my version of this to a friend’s stag do at the other end of a long train trip with other friends so my design brief necessitated something that was not only portable but also had a small footprint in play. As Space Hulk is fundamentally a square grid based game I looked at commercially available travel versions of other grid based games and Scrabble seemed like a good candidate. I initially bought a magnetic version but it was pretty clear as soon as I set it up that it wasn’t going to fly. However, whilst killing time in the shops at an airport departure lounge I found a different set that used more substantial plastic tiles that clipped into the square grid.
(I don’t seem to have any photos of the set before I modified it.)
The added advantage of this set is that the board is clear plastic with the Scrabble board as a printed underlay so it can be sold in different language versions. This was easy to remove and replace with a printed board with a Space Hulk style map.
Next up was the choice of figures. I knew from Epic that 6mm was too small and it was pretty obvious that 28mm figures weren’t going to fit on the tiles. 15mm seemed like a reasonable compromise – with the added bonus that there are a wide selection of really good 15mm sci-fi figures out there. After some casting around (no pun intended) I found Khurasan Miniatures who had some “Space Demon Assault Warriors” (TTC-901) and a multi-part “Federal Marine Special Assault Brigade in Power Armour” (TTC-1004). (Personally, I think these look better than James Workshop’s figures.)
These figures proved to be an ideal size and, combined with some plasticard rectangles for doors, this gave me everything needed for the game. Assembly was fairly straightforward and some roughly painted tokens for blips (with numbers written on the underside) and flame markers rounded things out for a playable game.
This is where I got to as an MVP for the stag do trip: we played it on the train on the way down and it worked really well.
Then, after the trip, it got put away into the games’ cupboard and that was it for nearly a decade.
With a trip to a French campsite situated in the middle of a race track coming up I dug it out of storage with a view to tidying it up and taking it to play whilst drinking pastis and eating barbecued ringpiece sausage – the set’s form factor being ideal for playing in that kind of situation. It was still in the MVP state so I decided to spend a long weekend in getting it into a better shape.
The nature of this particular Travel Scrabble set really makes this work. The map isn’t ideal for the original rule set, it lacks the long corridors that help the Marine player but that’s a minor issue – it’s better to be able to play some Space Hulk when travelling than none at all…
The way the tiles clip into the board is perfect for game play as it stops things moving about when you’re playing on a train, in a pub or at a campsite, and the small size of the board means it doesn’t need a very big space to set up in the aforementioned locations.
The counters fit inside the box but I need to come up with a storage solution for the figures, when they were unpainted it was fine to have them loose but, despite a heavy coat of varnish, they need some more protection now.
When it comes to rules we have a good enough understanding of the mechanics and what’s fun so freestyle things, that’s the joy of playing games with good friends.