As you’ve all probably seen, we’re launching a new Kickstarter on the 4th October. This is for Mars Attacks, and marks our first foray into working with licenses. I’m designing and building the Kickstarter and last night we got chance to do some more playtesting ahead of filming the gameplay video. Here are my thoughts!

Seen here: Ronnie's "You don't *have* to let me win, but..." face.

Seen here: Ronnie’s “You don’t *have* to let me win, but…” face.

Firstly, the basics. Mars Attacks is a tabletop skirmish game played on a gridded mat, with modular plastic scenery, Martians, US soldiers and civilian characters. It’s really quite simple: the mat means that unlike a lot of tabletop wargames there’s no need to use a tape measure for range or movement.  Instead, in your turn your models can move up to 2 squares in any direction, or move one square and shoot. Simple!

Provided one of your models can “see” a target (determined by bending down for a model’s-eye-view of the battlefield!) they can shoot it. If any part of the target model – that’s the whole model including its base – is obscured by something, then the model counts as being in cover. If this isn’t the case and you can see the whole model, you get some bonus dice for your shooting roll. Players take it in turns to activate two of their models until the whole force has moved.

And in a nutshell, that’s it! Or is it? Not on your nelly.

Terror in the town square

Terror in the town square!

The core of the game is balanced and works great, but one of the most enduring parts of it was the wacky stuff that’s been overlaid on top of these basics. Martians have armour against shooting but if you get a Marine into close combat and break its glass dome, that Martian is going down. There are also counters on the table that both sides will be hunting down – the Martians will want to be seeking out the Squirrel, Otter and Badger so they can take them back to the mothership for experimentation…

Jake also brought in a card deck he’s been experimenting with. This is one of the components dependent on the Kickstarter; what we’d like it to do is introduce some cards that you can play to add additional dice when rolling for survival, fighting and melee, but also cards that can bring Martians back from the dead, distract Grunts with a cute furry animal that they simply have to obliterate, activate the mothership’s heat ray (which is brutal), or perhaps – most hilariously – launch a military bombardment at the area! Martians might even be able to take over the army artillery and launch it against the humans…

There’s a whole bunch of other crazy stuff we could do as well (burning cattle came up bizarrely, as did a scene out of Die Hard 4 with a car being flung at a helicopter…) but I’d love to hear your suggestions for what crazy things you’d like to be able to do – and maybe even see models for…

Ultimately the game was a delight to play, after Ronnie played Stewart I got a game in too and he wiped the floor with me (I blame the eight-sided dice) but I came away with the desire to paint up my own Martian force and see if I could get Earth to succumb to my own dastardly attack plan. And we’ve not even got to the point where we get to use the heroes yet – I can’t wait to see what chaos Buddy and Brandi will cause!

Buddy & Brandi

These two? Cause chaos? Never…

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