- For ages 7 and up
- For 2 to 6 players
- Variable game play length
- Active Listening & Communication
- Counting & Math
- Logical & Critical Decision Making
- Hand/Resource Management
- Child – Easy
- Adult – Easy
Theme & Narrative:
- Escape the moon before it’s too late!
- Gamer Geek rejected!
- Parent Geek mixed!
- Child Geek approved!
The moon base is the result of no less than 14 different countries spending an estimated 9.9 gazillion dollars over the course of 20 years. It’s a technical marvel, a true testament to the indomitable Spirit of Adventure, and it’s about to be pulverized by a bloody huge asteroid. Losing all sense of military decorum and professionalism, the slugs that maintain the moon base are now running around like mad, panicking in a state of absolute fear. As a senior officer, it’s up to you to save your own slimy backside and survive using the only escape pod available. But first, you’ll need a crew to help pilot it…
Space Slugs, designed by Ryan Pence and published by Clapboard Games, is comprised of 70 Slug cards and 30 Action cards. The illustrations by Ian Garstang are bright and entertaining, bringing to life the slugs portrayed in the game. For example, one of the slugs is sporting a manly 5 o’clock shadow. I didn’t think it was possible for a slug to grow facial hair, but there you go.
Game Set Up
To set up the game, first shuffle all of the cards.
Second, deal 3 cards to each player, face-down.
Third, place the remaining cards face down to create the Draw pile. Leave room next to the Draw pile for a Discard pile.
That’s it for game set up. The player to the dealer’s left is the first player.
Time to escape the moon base!
Race for the Pod
Space Slugs is played in turns with no set number of turns per game. A players turn is divided into several sequential steps that are summarized here.
Step 1: Draw a Card
The player takes the top card from the Draw pile and adds it to their hand of cards. If the Draw pile is ever depleted, shuffle the Discard pile and place it face-down to create the new Draw pile.
Step 2: Play One Card
There are 2 different types of cards in the player’s hand. These are Slug and Action cards. Only 1 card can ever be played on a player’s turn.
Slug cards represent the 5 different crew members who still remain on the moon. Each of the 5 slugs has a name and a color that makes it easy to keep track of what cards are in play. When a Slug card is played, it’s set in front of the player, face-up. As additional Slug cards are played, the player sets them in a row in front of them. A player can have multiple Slug cards with the same name/color, but a player can never have more than 5 Slug cards in play at a time.
Optionally, a player can take 1 Slug card already in play and discard it. They can then play any other Slug card from their hand to replace it. This allows the player to reduce extra Slug cards and slowly work towards achieving the victory condition while remaining within the 5 Slug card limit.
Action cards allow players to take steps to ensure that their opponents’ slugs do not make it off the moon. When played, the Action card’s effect is immediately resolved.
This Action card allows the player to target 1 Slug card owned by any opponent and terminate it. The targeted Slug and Action card are then discarded. Players cannot eliminate their own Slug cards as that would be unprofessional.
This Action card allows the player to force any 1 opponent to lose their next turn. The “Stun” Action card is placed in front of the player’s opponent. When it’s the opponent’s turn, they discard the “Stun” Action card instead of taking any other steps.
Note: Only 1 “Stun” Action card can be placed on a player at a time. However, there is nothing stopping opponents from continually stunning the same player.
This Action card allows the player to swap the position of any 2 Slug cards in play. The only restriction is that the Slug cards must be from 2 different players. This means the player could swap 1 of their Slug cards with any 1 Slug card that belongs to an opponent, or swap Slug cards between 2 different opponents.
Step 3: Discard (Conditional)
If the player didn’t play a Slug or Action card during step 2, they must discard 1 card. This can be the same card they drew during step 1 or any other card from their hand.
The player’s turn is now over. The next player in turn order sequence now goes starting with step 1 noted above unless they were stunned.
The game immediately ends during step 2 of a player’s turn if they have 5 different Slug cards in front of them. Their Slug crew jump in the last escape pod and leave the moon abandoning their opponents to face whatever doom is to come. In a way, the winning player is kind of a jerk.
The Child Geeks found the entire concept of “slugs in space” to be hilarious, with roughly half of them also thinking it was really yucky. No matter the age of the Child Geek, the humor of the game’s theme was not lost on them. Nor was the game found to be difficult to learn. A few of the Child Geeks experimented with different tactics by not playing any Slug cards until later in the game, while others played every Slug card they had in their hand whenever possible. In both cases, the Child Geeks were left pondering the same question: “What’s the best way to play this game?” According to one Child Geek, “I think you can win this game every time if you are able to swap out slugs with other players.” Another Child Geek said, “The best way to play is to go underneath everyone’s radar and then play Stun and Confuse cards when you play your slugs!” The game both frustrated and amused the Child Geeks in equal measure, but it never ceased to entertain. All the Child Geeks voted to approve Space Slugs, finding it to be a game well worth their time.
The Parent Geeks enjoyed the game as a “family game”, which is code for “only playing it with my kids”. According to one Parent Geek, “This game is cute, but it isn’t a game I would play with adults.” When I pressed for an explanation, terms like “too silly” and “too repetitive” were used. Another Parent Geek said, “I like the game. It’s easy to learn, not easy to win, and is fast enough to keep you in the game while you wait for your turn. I say it’s a keeper for the family.” One aspect of the game all the Parent Geeks appreciated was the subtle Slug card management. All the Parent Geeks eventually caught on that playing duplicates of other Slug cards was a very good idea as it allows you to trade Slug cards with others and gives you a bit more room to keep Action cards at the ready. One Parent Geek said, “This is not a deep tactical game full of strategy, but it is a game where you have to logically think through your moves and the moves to come. I like that.” When all the slugs had slimed their way back into the game box, the Parent Geeks were mixed about the game, uncertain if approving it would suggest it was a game for adults. The final result was a mixed endorsement by the Parent Geeks.
The Gamer Geeks did not enjoy the game. Any humor they might have derived from the game was quickly replaced by sarcasm. According to one Gamer Geek, “I want to slug this game in its face.” None of the Gamer Geeks thought that Space Slugs was a game worthy of gaming elitists. As one Gamer Geek put it, “This game is nothing more than moving cards around the table.” But there were a few Gamer Geeks who saw this game differently. According to one of these Gamer Geeks, “Yes, this is a very casual game, but it’s not an easy game to play. It feels ridiculously repetitive at times when you play a Slug card only to have it taken from you again and again, but that’s just part of the game, apparently. The trick is attempting to play just a bit smarter than your opponents.” Which all the Gamer Geeks found to be difficult, especially when playing a game with 6 players. But even the challenge of beating a fellow gaming elitist was not enough for the Gamer Geeks to like the game. When all the votes were counted, the Gamer Geeks unanimously agreed that Space Slugs was not a game for “serious gamers”.
Quick, silly, and with just enough challenge to keep players engaged, Space Slugs did a good job of entertaining the Child and Parent Geeks. The Gamer Geeks were bored almost from the start and never once felt that the game was worth their elitist time, despite not being able to easily beat their opponents. As a family and as a casual gamer’s game, Space Slugs delivers and won’t disappoint. Do not expect to be overly challenge, but don’t be surprised if you pause a bit longer than expected when it comes time to play cards. Every opponent knows exactly how many Slug cards you have out and what you need. If you place too many down too soon, you’ll be a target for the rest of the game. Only through subtle advancement, blatant aggressive attacks on opponents, and just a little luck will you be able to win. Fortune doesn’t necessarily favor the bold in Space Slugs. Tenacity and grit will win the day. Players will be up and down as they gain and lose slugs. Victory is only given to those who put their head down and keep their eyes open for an advantage.
I should be a motivational speaker!
Space Slugs is one of those games that my Child Geeks and their friends will want to play and I won’t mind playing it with them or even suggesting it. The game stays on the table just long enough to make it feel it was worth your time and is just complicated enough to keep you from falling asleep. It’s also a game that challenges my Child Geeks to pay attention, think ahead, and keep track of all the other players without feeling like too much of a chore. Games are fast and it’s not uncommon at our table to play one game as a “warm up”, since many of the game’s subtleties are often forgotten between game playing sessions.
I would recommend Space Slugs for the Child Geeks and the Parent Geeks who get to enjoy playing games with them. As an adult gamer, I don’t find Space Slugs to be very interesting, but as a dad, I’m loving it. Most certainly not a game for the gaming elitists or for those who enjoy games with more depth, but for the younger little geeks filling up our gaming ranks, Space Slugs is sure to please and open the door to more games to come.
This is a paid for review of the game’s final prototype. Although our time and focus was financially compensated, our words are our own. We’d need at least 10 million dollars before we started saying what other people wanted. Such is the statuesque and legendary integrity of Father Geek which cannot be bought except by those who own their own private islands and small countries.