Friday, December 13, 2013

The Awful Green Things from Outer Space

When I was a kid I used to see ads for The Awful Green Things from Outer Space in comic books and gaming magazines. I was always intrigued, if a little put off by the cartoony artwork, but I never got around to playing it.

Steve Jackson Games has reprinted the game numerous times since its original publication in 1979, and when I saw that they were going to reprint it again in 2011, my curiosity about the game was rekindled. There must be something to the game if it's gone through eight editions over the course of 34 years, right?

On top of that, it's a two-player game, and we're always on the lookout for games that are balanced well for two.

The setup is simple enough: the board represents a space ship, and one player controls the crew while the other controls the invading Awful Green Things. The Green Things start with just a few pieces on the board, but they reproduce at an alarming rate. The crew have the use of weapons and equipment scattered about the ship (everything from stun pistols to cans of food), but the catch is that they don't know what effect their weapons will have on the Green Things. The effect of each weapon is determined randomly the first time it is used, so some weapons will kill, some will stun, and some will blast the Green Things into fragments, which unfortunately grow into more Green Things...

In spite of the goofy artwork, the game has a fair amount of strategy to think about. Most of the time we've observed that the game is weighted in favor of the Green Things player, with the crew usually getting decimated or, at best, setting the ship to self-destruct while a handful of crew escape in life pods. But the random nature of the combat between crew and Green Things, and especially the weapon effects, means that anything can happen.

In our game, the crew won a rare victory, getting rid of all the Green Things and only losing about half the crew...

Rating: 3 (out of 5) A solid game with a good mix of strategy and random chance, but the rough, goofy artwork keeps it from really firing the imagination.

Date played: November 30, 2013

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