Mars Attacks… The Dice Game!

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Steve Jackson Games has been churning out a lot of exciting games lately, and I was really looking forward toward their take on Mars Attacks in the form of a dice game. I finally got my greasy mitts on a copy of the game, so let’s check it out!

I must admit that I haven’t played many dice games, not even the kind at bars where you try to get shots. However, I like Mars Attacks and I’ve been wanting to play a game that’s quick and fun, since lately the games I’ve been getting into are several hour investiments that consists of dozens of pieces. Mars Attacks the Dice Game fits the bill by only having a few components. First you have the dice that have nifty ray guns, martian heads, and nuclear symbols on them. There’s 10 total.

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The second component of the game are cards. One card sets the “difficulty” level of the game, while the others represent the monuments and the cities that the Martians are going to take over. You set out a pile of four stacks of cards and each player has a chance at acquiring them through their dice roles. Each card is worth a certain amount of points on their way towards Martian glory. Some cities/monuments have special rules associated with them, like they’re harder to get or they give the person who gets it a special bonus. Most of them don’t have a bonus, just points towards victory.

The final competent of the game are some tokens to keep track of how close each player is towards aquiring a city/montument card.

I played the game with my girlfriend as a two player game and while it’s not exactly built for that experience it worked. I got a five player game going and that’s where it really shined.

Mars Attacks the Dice Game works because it’s so quick. It’s really easy to determine if you’ve been nuked or how many points you’ve gotten and then pass it on to the next person. If you want a quick game that doesn’t take a lot of set up or rules explanation, then this is a fun option.

There’s not a lot of strategy involved, so I could see that turning off some more hardcore gaming types. Basically, it boils down to “should I press the attack and possibly gain more points or do I lose everything I gained this round if I role more nukes?” There were a few times where players tried to convince other players to roll despite it being a tremendous disadvantage for the player making the roll. That was fun.

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In both of the sessions I’ve played I found that the game’s biggest flaw comes at the end game. As more cities/monuments are removed from play after being captured, the easier it is for you to be nuked aka roll and not be able to do anything. On the “easy” version of the game you usually end up with 3 nuke spots at the end. When you’re rolling 10 dice each time, it’s very easy to get at least 3 nukes. You end up rolling, nuking out, then passing it many times before someone can get some points.

This lead to some frustration for some of the players, though one player really enjoyed this aspect as he felt it like it was more suspenseful. I’m a bit in the middle on it, I do feel like some house rules towards the end of the game might help alleviate a bit of the frustration at the end.

Overall, I found Mars Attacks The Dice Game to be a fun, quick diversion. I think it might appeal to younger players or more casual gamers over the hardened board game geek. As it stands, it’s a good time without a whole lot of investiment of time needed.

Images from: Board Game Geek, Geek Alerts

  • Thomas Medeiros

    The game should end when any pile is completely claimed, so there shouldn’t be a point when you only have 3 nukes… Or at least it would be very unlikely