Martian Dice Game Review

The Basics:

  • For ages 4 and up (publisher suggests 8+)
  • For 2 or more players
  • Variable game time – dependent on number of players

Geek Skills:

  • Counting & Math
  • Risk vs. Rewards
  • Logical & Critical Decision Making

Learning Curve:

  • Child – Easy
  • Adult – Easy

Theme & Narrative:

  • Abductions. Laser battles. Chickens. Just another day for your everyday Martian.

Endorsements:

  • Gamer Geek approved!
  • Parent Geek approved!
  • Child Geek approved!

Overview

Earth. Look at it. All those insects crawling on its surface, looking up at the sky, not knowing that we are watching. Watching but no longer waiting. Now is the time to strike! We will invade this blue-green planet and make it our own! First, we must destroy their weapons and abduct their leaders, the chickens, the cows, and those walking talking monkeys. Today we start the war and the fun!

Martian Dice by Tasty Minstrel Games is comprised of 13 six-sided dice. The images on the dice are easy to identify and the different colors, while not necessary for game play, make it easy to quickly spot the differences in the dice and what actions the player’s need to take. Probes not included.

Of Dice and Chickens

Each die contains 5 different images. Every invading Martian must know what each of these images represent in order to fulfill their mission

  • Tanks (red): the Tanks represent Earth’s defense force – they tend to be mostly annoying and are bad shots
  • Death Rays (green): the Death Rays represents the Mars attack force – since the Martians came extra prepared, there are two Death Rays per dice
  • Humans (blue): the Humans are one of the three creatures that can be abducted – they tend to point up at the sky in shock and run around a lot
  • Cows (white): the Cows are one of the three creatures that can be abducted – they tend to just kind of stand there, even when probed
  • Chickens (yellow): the Chickens are one of the three creatures that can be abducted – interesting enough, they taste a lot of like the Smorgelblec back on Mars

The images on the dice: the enemy, the invader, and the abducted

Game Set Up

Set up is quick and simple. First off, grab yourself a piece of paper and something to write with. You are going to need these to keep score. Next, dump the dice out on the table and select the first player. All done!

Invading Earth

The game is played with each Martian taking a turn, rolling dice multiple times, and counting points when they either decide to end their turn or all the dice have been rolled. Once they are done, they pass the dice to the next Martian. Game play continues until the endgame condition is met.

On a Martian’s turn, they will do the following until they are out of dice to roll or can no longer roll dice.

  1. Roll all available dice (any dice that have not been set aside).
  2. Immediately separate and set aside any Tanks and add them to any Tanks already rolled.
  3. From the remaining dice, select to keep all the Humans, all the Cows, all the Chickens, or all the Death Rays, immediately separating the selected dice and placing them in a group. If no dice can be set aside, the Martian’s turn is over and should immediately proceed to combat with Tanks vs. Death Rays.
  4. Pick up any remaining dice that have not been collected and separated, repeating Step 1 or choose to stop and resolve combat with Tanks vs. Death Rays.

Note: Once a Martian collects the Humans, Cows, and Chickens, they can no longer collect that group in later rolls on the Martian’s turn. For example, if the Martian selects 3 Humans during one of its rolls, the Martian cannot select any Humans on its next roll and any future rolls on this turn. The only exception to this rule are the Tanks and the Death Rays. Tanks are always collected and Death Rays can be collected on each roll if the Martian likes.

Tanks vs. Death Rays

Humans won’t go down without a fight and they will often times show up to make a perfectly easy abduction a difficult affair. Luckily, the Human Tanks are not that difficult to destroy. All a Martian needs to do is have an equal number of Death Rays or higher than the total number of visible Tanks. If the Martian does so, the Tanks are destroyed! Failure to have enough Death Rays will result in loosing all the abducted Earthlings meaning no points are scored that turn.

Abduction Addition

Once the Tanks have been neutralized, it’s time to count the abducted prisoners! For every Human, Cow, and Chicken, the Martian will receive 1 point. If the Martian has been particularly diligent with their abductions and have at least 1 Human, 1 Cow, and 1 Chicken, they will be given 3 bonus points!

Endgame and Victory!

As soon as a Martian has a combined score of 25 or more points at the end of their turn, the endgame begins and each Martian has a chance to complete their final turn. Once the round has completed, all Martians count their points. The Martian with the most points wins and is awarded Area 51.

To learn more about Martian Dice, see the game’s official web site.

Prediction

My little geeks continue to enjoy playing Zombie Dice, another push-your-luck dice game, but it’s rather simple when compared to the other games they now play. This is not a bad thing, but one of my goals as a fatherly geek is to challenge my children through games and to steadily increase the difficulty. I think my little geeks have all but mastered Zombie Dice by now and a new challenge is in order. Even so, they enjoy playing it and I will not be taking it away from them (as silly as that sounds) because one of my other goals as a fatherly geek is to have fun with my children. They love playing games with dice, especially my 2-year-old. When I was introduced to Martian Dice, I immediately knew my little geeks would enjoy giving it a try.

After reading the rules, I was even more eager to introduce the game to my family and friends. The game play is simple, but there appeared to be more strategy involved and a slightly deeper level of logical thinking necessary in order to play the game well. And by well, I mean efficiently and effectively. Logically thinking of what is the most important per roll of the dice is always paired by the constant threat of Tanks looming on the horizon. This risk vs. reward mechanism adds a neat little spin and really helps bring out the game’s theme.

The rules involving dice selection limitation are also nothing new to my little geeks. Games like Farkle and God Dice have taught them to figuratively “roll with it” when it comes to dealing with the dice limitations. Having a long-term strategy is nice, but with these simple dice games, there really is only so many paths to travel. Some might consider this limiting, but I believe such games actually keep you focused and every choice you make is just a bit more difficult because of the lack of wiggle room available to you.

I introduced Martian Dice to my little geeks differently. Instead of teaching the game, I gave it to my 7-year-old and asked him to read the rules and then teach it to his 4-year-old brother and me. At first, he didn’t want to do it and said it would be too hard. I encouraged him to first open the game and see what he was whining about before making any further statements of difficulty. He did, grudgingly, and then laughed when he saw how short the rules were. He jumped in, feeling better about the monumental responsibility I had placed on his shoulders and was ready to teach us the game in about 10 minutes.

And teach it he did! The game is simple and a great one to give to your little geeks and ask them to teach you. This really seemed to empower my son and he was very excited about sitting us down and walking us through the game. This was, in fact, a level of enthusiasm I had not seen since he was able to read his first book to me. Putting this important bit of information back in my head, I listened to the game instructions and watched my little geek demonstrate how a player’s turn was completed. Very simple stuff and very well done. Having no questions from anyone, we got started on our first game, but before we did so, we shared our thoughts on Martian Dice so far.

“Easy to teach, easy to play!” ~ Liam (age 7)

“Oh, yeah! Death rays and tanks!” ~ Nyhus (age 4)

Clearly jazzed, my little geeks are ready to launch the invasion! Let’s see if the campaign is a fruitful one.

Final Word

Martian Dice is a hit! My little geeks really got into it and did very well. My 7-year-old was a stronger player than his 4-year-old, as to be expected, but my 4-year-old was by no means a slouch. In fact, both of my little geeks made the game a difficult one for me! They pushed their luck rather well and balanced their risk by making small, but steady jumps in their points. Each game was a close one, and the more we played, the faster the game went. By the time we put the game away for the day, we had completed 9 games and every player had at least 2 victories.

The game is exceptionally simple but the choices the players need to make become more difficult as their turn progresses. This is by no means a “brain burner”, but it isn’t something you can play on autopilot either. As the player’s turn continues, Tanks begin to build up and the player must either choose to build their defensive strength to win points or to collect points. This was a really neat twist to the game that made it much more interesting to the players. Not only did you have to collect your points by abducting Humans, Chickens, and Cows, but you also had to defend off the Tanks. Not once did any of my little geeks vapor lock when a choice needed to be made, but they didn’t make choices without thought, either. Several times my 4-year-old would set some dice aside, only to shake his head and put them back in the pile to reevaluate. Excellent stuff.

My 7-year-old is even less of a risk taker than his brother and was always focused on making certain his defensive line was just enough to keep the Tanks away while he collected points. He would grunt in frustration when he had to select Death Rays to keep the Tank numbers in control and grin wickedly when he was able to collect a large batch of Chickens.

With adults, the game plays just as quickly and is still much fun. Nothing terribly complex but it will keep you focused. The game can also be surprisingly punishing and you’ll spend the time waiting for your next turn either laughing at the other player or lamenting as you reevaluate your last turn in hindsight. Luckily, the game plays fast and you will never have much time or need to be  remorseful. There are more than enough Humans, Chickens, and Cows for everyone.

My 7-year-old demonstrating his elite skills of world invasion and civilization conquering

Gamer Geeks, Martian Dice is a surprisingly entertaining game. The lack of depth is made up for by the fun theme, quick play, and steady increase of difficulty. This makes it perfect for a quick game before playing more complicated ones or a nice filler while waiting for other players to join you. Easy to pick up and play, it’ll scratch that “gamer’s itch” ever so lightly but more than enough to keep you satisfied until you bring out your heavier, more complicated games we Gamer Geeks love to play. It is random and luck plays a big factor. This and the lack of game depth will keep the game as nothing more than a fun sidenote, but one worth playing.

Parent Geeks, Martian Dice is a great one for the family. With no upper limit to the number of players, the game fits families of all sizes and plays just as well with 2 as it does with 6 or more. The game is easy enough to teach to your little geeks and your non-gamer friends, providing you with a game that can be played by a diverse age and game experience group. The game also allows for social interaction at the table as the game itself is not so difficult or intense that players cannot visit and joke while playing or waiting for their turn.

Child Geeks, Martian Dice is a fast and fun game where you get to play as the aliens and fight those pesky humans! You’ll need to make sure you can fend them off while you snatch up Humans, Chickens, and Cows, but be careful while doing so! Too many Death Rays will leave you with little points. Too many points will leave you unprotected! You’ll need to find your balance and work on collecting points slowly. Risk it all, and not a single Chicken will be abducted. Balance the risk and reward and not a single Chicken will be spared!

You might very well find Martian Dice “addictive”. Fast and fun, it’ll keep everyone at the table engaged and rolling. Perfect for kids, adults, Martians, parents, gamers, and non-gamers, it’s great for mixed groups and can be played just about anywhere. Disastrous defeats are quickly forgotten as game play is fast. If you are looking for a simple and entertaining dice game with a fun theme, Martian Dice is sure to be a winner.

This game was given to Father Geek as a review copy. Father Geek was not paid, bribed, wined, dined, or threatened in vain hopes of influencing this review. Such is the statuesque and legendary integrity of Father Geek.

About Cyrus

Editor in Chief, Owner/Operator, Board Game Fanatic, Father of Three, and Nice Guy, Cyrus has always enjoyed board, card, miniature, role playing, and video games, but didn't get back into the hobby seriously until early 2000. Once he did, however, he was hooked. He now plays board games with anyone and everyone he can, but enjoys playing with his children and wife the most. Video games continue to be of real interest, but not as much as dice and little miniatures. As he carefully navigates the ins and outs of parenting, he does his very best to bestow what wisdom he has and help nurture his children's young minds. It is his hope and ambition to raise three strong, honorable men who will one day go on to do great things and buy their Mom and Dad a lobster dinner Cyrus goes by the handle fathergeek on Board Game Geek. You can also check him out on CyrusKirby.com. Yes, he has a URL that is his name. His ego knows no bounds, apparently....
Tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.