Space Crusade – An homage – Part 1

Posted: August 8, 2016 in Space Crusade, Uncategorized

Hi everyone,

Well, here we are.  For many of your reading this, Space Crusade is ground zero for you, what some may call a “gateway game”.  It certainly was for me.  I remember playing this game until the small hours of the morning when I was in my early teens.  If Stephen, Michael, Graeme and Keith are reading this blog, I attribute my lifelong interest in wargaming to those evenings spent playing this game.

Over the years I’ve become somewhat of a collector of games and minis.  Espeically Rogue Trader and 2nd Ed 40k minis and source books.   Recently I was at a friends place who had a copy of Space Crusade floating around.  We decided dust it off and roll out a few games.  Even today, it’s actually a very playable game.  I thoroughly enjoyed it, so I thought it would be fun to get a copy (my original copy being lost to the dim, dark past)  I’m going to give it a paint job, using contemporary painting standards and techniques and I’m sure bust out a few games from time to time.

There are plenty of examples of this game for sale on eBay, however its hard to find a good one.  After a few weeks of monitoring auctions, I found a copy that looked in pretty good nick.  At the time, I felt I really took a bath bidding on the auction.   However once it arrived, I realised that I actually picked up a copy as what you may regard as in excellent condition.  It even had a brochure on other games that Milton Bradley made back in the 1990s.

Interestingly, and much to their credit, Games Workshop seem to be going back in this “gateway game” introduction philosophy.  That is, making stand alone boxed games that give new players a ‘peek’ into the 40k/30k universe.  These boxed sets providing new players with a foundation force should they decide to explore the hobby futher and take on the more detailed rules set that is 40k/30k.  It is pleasing to see, especially after some of GW’s misadventures over the past few years.  Getting into 40k for a new gamer would be a daunting prospect at best, whereas picking up a self contained boxed set, with a 40k lite rules set that is ready to go isn’t.

I have to admit, I’ve been playing a few games of Betrayal at Calth recently (I’m painting the minis, and have gone all out on them: subject of a future post).  I have really enjoyed the game play, the rule set being analoguous to 40k, however a lot easier to pick up and very manageable for new players, or veterans alike who just want a fun ‘beer and pizza’ game.  Whats more, if new players want to explore 40k after purchasing BaC, they have a solid starter force ready to go.   One final remark before I get back to the actaul topic of this post.  The game play of BaC.  I really like the “activation” style of game play, within a turn, rather than the strict turn style game play of 40k/30k.  Not only is an activaiton style more tactical (and realistic, within the confinds of a tabletop game), but it also is more interactive with your opponent and doesn’t lend itself to “alpha strike” armies that strict turn based games encourage.    Incidently, activation style game play is a feature of the Epic Armageddon system I’ve been playing a lot of too lately.

Back to the task at hand.  Space Crusade… what a cool idea.  Space Hulk lite, with all the cool baddies from the 41st millennium and three squads of tooled up space marines from popular chapters cruzing around a space hulk shotting them up!

Let’s take a closer look and refresh our memory at the awesomeness that is Space Crusade…

IMG_4197The box art.  Totally hilarious now, even comical.  The commanders face… reminiscent of the face of the Salamader Space marine on the cover of “Space Marine” (arguably the first 30k game, interestingly produced in epic scale).  Of course, the face of the Salamander on the box art, much like our man here, is irrefutably based on Al Picino’s character in the movie classic “Scarface” during that [in]famous scene “say hello to my little friend” as he fires a 40mm HEDP round from his under mounted M203 at a bunch “home invaders”  (respect to the castle doctrine).
IMG_4198Me and my buddies back in the day…  So wholesome, the looks of wraped enjoyment while ‘purging the alien’.  Space Marines: the defenders of homogeneity since 1986 (GW).
IMG_4199 IMG_4200 IMG_4201 IMG_4202The board sections, way a head of their time.  They’re showing their age a little now, but are still solid.
IMG_4203“Assembly Instructions” contained on the underside of the box lid.  Very helpful….
IMG_4233As apart of my re-boot of this game, I’m making some new bases for the models.  I’ll cast enough of these up for the entire set.  Just random bits of stuff from my bits box.  The bolter casings are from Secret Weapon.  Nice touch.
IMG_4234How far we’ve come.  Space Crusade Marine circa ’92.
IMG_4237Like I mentioned at the start of the post, the example I ended up winning at auction was so complete it even had this little pamphlet still in the box.  

IMG_4240Battle Plan: Don’t leave your boarding torpedo without one…. IMG_4241The custom dice, now a standard feature in all stand alone boxed sets.  IMG_4244Painting guides for your marines.  Pretty camp now, but mind blowing back in the day.
IMG_4245 IMG_4247 IMG_4248 IMG_4251Mike McVey blesses us with what used to pass for a painting guide.IMG_4197Well team, there you have it.  Don’t expect me to roll this one out at a great rate of knots.  It’s just a little project I’d like to keep going and drop a post on every now and again.

Now, I’d really like to hear about your Space Crusade story or, how you got into 40k/30k story.  So, if you’re reading this, drop a quick (or lenghtly) comment, I know I’d love to hear it, and I’m sure other readers would too.  So, don’t be shy.

Chat soon


  1. Drake Seta says:

    Absolutely awesome. I still remember walking in on my friend’s parents playing the game with his oldest brother and just being totally fascinated with it. It was my entry point into the hobby too. A lot can be said for having boxes like this on display in hobby or toy shops.

    Very interesting article. I can’t wait to read more (especially the pics from the white booklets).


    • John Sutton says:

      Drake, awesome to hear from you. I love the “walking in on my friend’s parents” aspect to your story. Conjures up all sorts of images in ones mind….

  2. Warburton says:

    Please paint the dreadnought with flames like the box art!
    My intro to the hobby was Warhammer Fantasy 5th edition (with the Lizardmen and Bretonnians) and later 2nd edition 40k. The box sets definitely helped for a youngster and made it all possible.

  3. Massaen says:

    This is a project I have wanted to do for years! glad to see someone taking up the challenge!

    • John Sutton says:

      Thanks Massaen, and welcome to my blog! Care to share your gateway story with the community?

      • Massaen says:

        Happy to share! My gateway to gaming was a buddy of mine who back in the late 80’s introduced me to D&D…. Then not so long after (or so it felt) produced a board game called hero quest. A year or 2 later (after playing hero quest and then WHFB 3rd or maybe 4th edition on and off) I had my parents give me a space crusade set for my birthday… And here I am 25 years or so later still playing 40k! I wrote my own rules for table top space crusade back and then about a week later discovered rogue trader. I still game with the same friend all these years later as well.

      • John Sutton says:

        Massaen, that’s so good to hear you’re still wargaming with your original crew. There are so many stories like that. Gaming is sort of like the metaphorical campfire we gather around. Great stuff

  4. Jack says:

    Fantastic post, John, and what a copy you scored!! As I just said on Twit, I just picked up a NoS mission dreadnought expansion for Space Crusade on ebay after seeing a guy use the Tarantulas in 30k, I will have to track down the original too.

    The genesis for me was seeing the old man and his mates from the commercial fishing boats playing Bundy rum fuelled Talisman and Space Crusade when I was a nipper. He also had a mate who he’d play what seemed like massive campaigns of I think was Axis and Allies too, so cool. It’s a while ago now, the first game I bought for my self was the 2nd gen boxed set of Space Hulk and oh man was that cool!

    You’d remember from back in the Day in Aus, I actually made a phone call to the UK as a kid and mail ordered it from the old black and white catalogue. It got lost in the post at the time and with no way to track it down, they sent me out another copy to replace it and I actually ended up getting both at around the same time, such a score! I don’t have the games any more but I do still have a few of the original Gene’s teasers.

    I’m pretty sure at the same time I got the 2nd Ed 40k starter with the card terrain and dread. From that moment on it was a slippery slope and I have only ever actually stopped collecting and gaming when I have gone overseas for periods of time on work and with holidays.

    So Jealous of the condition of your set and what a ripper post. I’m on the hunt now too, we’ll have to get together some time for a game when I’m over your way next.


    • John Sutton says:

      Jack, that is such a cool story! The ol’ bundy run fueled Space Crusade benders…. I used to think I was so cool ordering bits from the old black and white catalogues from GW UK. Then getting this massive box of white metal in the post! One time I ordered some bits, at around the time the 2nd Ed Chaos codex was about to be released. Anyway, the guys in mail order actually sent me Abbadon prior to its release. I was like WTF!!! So crazy… Great story of yours. You’ll have to take a trip over here one day. Hardcore mandollie action will insue

      • Jack says:

        You bet mate!

        Sorry the formatting on the comment was a bit shitty, was trying to bash it out on my phone before my girl’s family came over.

        That Abbaddon is such a score, I went to Chaos pretty quickly and that white metal miniature was one of my most coveted.

        Loved the old mail order system too, it’s a shame in some ways that we are so connected these days. There was so much anticipation for us back in the day and you could never really know 100% what you were going to get when you put the order in.

        Just had a scope for a good condition Original Space Crusade then on ebay and will hit you up for some tips.


      • John Sutton says:

        Hahaha! You’re really pumped about this, diving straight in. I predict that space crusade prices on eBay is about to rise….

      • Jack says:

        You have ruined us all now, hah. I was actually a bit worried about that when I put up a post in the EoH Facebook group about the tarantulas but still managed to win my expansion set for what I consider a good price for the condition.

        Sell me yours? Haha, not likely!

  5. Paul Thomas says:

    John those pics so take me back….. It was 1990 when I took a trip to Japan for a year for the adventure of it and during that year met a Japanese girl (as you do) and brought her back to Australia. We lived together here in Brisneyland for a year and returned to Japan in 1992. I wanted to take a board game with me to play with my expat mates over there.

    I scoured the toy shops here and found Space Crusade. I liked the game pieces pictured on the box by citadel miniatures….”mmm who were they?” and liked sci fi so picked it up. Cracked it open when I got to Japan and was in awe with all the coloured figures and the game was a hoot to play.
    My cousin, myself, a mate, and my girlfriend had Space Crusade nights at least once a week in Nagoya Japan.
    Being a big fan of building and painting Tamiya models, I thought these figures in SC would kinda look cool painted. So I slapped about three or four colours on them, this for some reason made the game even more dynamic, and just nice to look at. When I left Japan a friend of mine asked if I could leave him the game as there was nothing like it in Japan, so I did, but that kicked it off for me, the fascinating fun and rewarding hobby of gaming.

    Oddly enough however I didn’t seek out citadel miniatures and games workshop products till 2001, but haven’t they come so very far since the nineties. I think its great they are getting back into the board game scene Betrayal @ Calth rocks and so does Space Hulk :o)

  6. Great to see this game still being played and appreciated. I remember playing it well over 15 years now and over the years I do think about how fun it was. It might have been the seed to get into 40k for me and my friends. I can’t remember anymore. Definitely look forward to updates! Remember to magnetize all those weapon options! So much easier than the too tight pegs.

    • John Sutton says:

      Hi Janne, a good game never dies. Don’t worry about the magnets, way ahead of you. You’re right, those little pegs are tight!! Thanks for dropping in – John

  7. Aaron Bailey says:

    Like many here space crusade was my first exposure to GW and their universe.

    I was introduced to it one fateful sleep over at a mates place in ’91, we drank more coke then was healthy for 2 eleven year olds and stayed up until 2-3am playing multiple games. It became a staple of all of our friendship groups parties and sleepovers from then on, we all even bought our own sets and played multiple boards and 4-8 players.

    This began a rapid descent, starting with fantasy models my best mate bought the 4th ed box, and we spent a weekend building and painting goblins and high elves and painting them hideous enemal colours.

    I bought a lizardmen army after that, but really got into 40k when the GW sales rep put on an open day at the local hobby shop and ran demo games of 2nd ed (the roadshow even included a painted metal thunder hawk).

    I bought an eldar army that day with my newspaper route money.

    Since then I’ve spent unknown amounts of time and money on this hobby, and I’d do it all again because I’ve enjoyed it, and met some amazingly awesome people who continue to inspire me.

    • John Sutton says:

      Aaron, great story. The coke!!! I forgot about that. Coke was a big feature of our teenage gaming nights too. That’s amazing the GW rep brought along that metal TH for the roadshow too. What a spectacle those demo games must have been

  8. Az says:

    I got a Finnish girlfriend when she was visiting Australia on holidays. A year later I found myself in Finland not knowing anyone and determined to make my own life on the other side of the world while I’m living there every year for 3 months while my girl went to work in the airlines for the summer.

    I was playing board games (Catan mainly) with a mate from Australia who also got a Finnish girl and rushed over here to marry her, (my girls friend) and we wanted a new game so went to the gaming store. Low and behold it was gaming night when I arrived at the store. There was probably 30 players in the store, all the tables were full and everyone was making noise and seemed to be enjoying themselves.

    When I left, with a bunch of xwing models under my arm (I’d already read up on games and had decided on xwing before I got in the car) and went to binge on xwing with my mate in a cottage in a Finnish forest for seemingly 2 weeks straight, with beer, vodka and a freezer full of frozen pizza.

    Long story short, xwing started to get repetitive, by now I had every model out and a lot of some. The game was great to start but started to feel shallow, and the game was subject heavily to the dice gods favour. I didn’t like how each dice roll was so important, and on top of that the number of dice thrown was a very low count, so the chances of the game balancing out due to odds was limited. I’m a famously bad dice thrower.

    So we went back to the game shop and the sales guy recommended that Dreadnought would be a good option to get into proper miniature games and the idea of putting together models and whacking on some paint didn’t sound bad either.

    We played dreadnought and ended up rewriting half the rules because they were so bad. Then once again the depth of the game bit and we lost interest.

    By this time it was time for me to head back to Australia, but now I had a plan. I’d come back to Finland the following year toting an ARMY and I’d go to war at the Finnish gaming store and meet like minded blokes, I would have my own life, even if it broke my bank account!

    Of course I would choose the armies with the most dakka possible because surely if I rolled 40 dice at a time they wouldn’t all be 1s. So along came the Imperial Guard, then the Space Marines, then the Tyranids, then came Chaos, then Mechanicum, and finally.. Solar Auxilia

    I have made many like minded mates in Australia, Finland, Poland, and in the UK all from playing and collecting Warhammer.

    Perhaps not your typical story at then 34 years old, and maybe I went a bit crazy, but thats my personality.

  9. Paul bradley says:

    Certainly a great gateway game… Many hours spent playing it back in the day!

  10. I love Space Crusade and play quite regularly with my long time gaming pal, between us we have 4 copies which allows us to play huge missions. Great post!

  11. This was my gateway drug too, and damn you for making me start scouring eBay!!! Looking forward to seeing where this goes 👍

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