When I first heard about Martian Dice, I felt like I needed to get a copy, because Zombie Dice has been a hit with pretty much everyone I know. Martian Dice has some similarities, especially in appearance, but it’s a very different game with its own pros and cons.
I feel like I should also acknowledge that I haven’t posted in a long time, and I’m sad about that. I’ve been working really long hours and have had very little time for social activities and hobbies, including games. A couple of months ago, Sean and I played Martian Dice, and it has taken me a long time to get around to posting about it!
The way the dice look and even the container they come in look a LOT like the Zombie Dice game dice and container, but Martian Dice seems to be a different company.
Basic stats: 2-unlimited players, 10-30 min (heavily dependent on # of players), ages 8+
In Martian Dice, the players are Martians attempting to abduct Earthlings. The Earthlings include humans, cows, and chickens.
The first time I played Martian Dice, I played with a group of 8 at work. We are all very familiar with Zombie Dice, and I think we expected something similar. However, I think 8 people is too many for Martian Dice. The game dragged on for a long time, and we finally quit at half the final score the instructions recommended.
Much later, Sean and I decided to give it a try alone at home, since I didn’t want to give away the game without giving it another shot (and getting the chance to blog about it!), and our experience was very different. As a two-player game, Martian Dice was pretty fun.
On your turn, you roll all of the dice at once. You must set aside any tanks you roll. You then choose one of the other types of item (death rays, humans, cows, or chickens) to keep, and keep all dice with that item on it. You set them aside with your tanks. Then you can reroll the rest of the dice. Again, you must add any tanks rolled to those set aside. Then you can choose to keep one of the other types of item you just rolled, and keep all the dice of that type, but it must be different from the one you kept earlier. This continues until you are out of rolls or decide to stop.
There is one exception to the rules on setting dice aside; you can choose to keep death rays on as many rolls as you want. If you keep death rays, though, that means you don’t get to keep anything else on that roll.
In order for you to get points for your turn, you must have death rays equal to or greater than the number of tanks rolled. This allows you to defeat the Earthlings and abduct those you rolled.
If you do get points, you get a point for each Earthling you abducted. There is a bonus for getting each type of Earthling on one turn (this seems pretty rare).
With a large number of players, the game takes way too long, but with two, it moved quickly and was fine. There is a push-your-luck element to it, but it has more limits than in Zombie Dice, because there is a limited number of dice, and as you roll tanks, your maximum possible points on a turn decreases, because you must also then roll death rays to cancel out those tanks.
On some turns, you may find yourself rolling lots of tanks and having to use up the rest of your precious dice on death rays to combat them, resulting in very few or no Earthlings abducted.
Like in Zombie Dice, we played that the first player to pass a certain score triggered the end of the game, and the other player(s) got a chance to beat that score to take the win. (This is a modification of the official rules.)
In Zombie Dice, this means that although your chances may become very slim, you always have a chance at making a big comeback. In Martian Dice, the big comeback is limited based on the number of dice available, and rolling a few tanks can wipe out any hopes of a comeback pretty quickly. So it’s more difficult to make an exciting last minute come from way behind sort of win in Martian Dice. Sometimes, there’s no point in even trying to beat the other player’s score because there just aren’t enough dice to let you make up the gap between your scores.
Overall, though, Sean and I enjoyed Martian Dice as a two-player game. Zombie Dice still wins out in its level of fun for me, because I like the idea that I always have a chance until the very end, and that just isn’t always the case in Martian Dice.
- Fun theme
- Light game that is portable and quick
- Has an engaging push-your-luck element
- Drags on for too long with many players
- Doesn’t encourage last-minute dramatic comebacks