When making a game, it's important that a company not duplicate a previous game too closely but rather offer something interesting and new. Successful games that changes and expanded their predecessors include Risk 2210 A.D. and The Starfarers of Catan. A weak example is Martians!!! which almost duplicates Twilight Creations' previous game Zombies!!!

So, what are the similarities? Both games have players whose piece starts on a center tile, and players start with three cards, three bullet tokens, and three life tokens. In both games a player draws and places a tile, then places any monster pieces on street spaces, along with possible tokens in buildings. Both games have players roll to move (though Martians!!! adds spaces based on someone's life tokens), both games have players battle a monster by rolling a six-sided die, winning on a 4-6, losing a life token if rolling too low, and being able to spend bullet tokens to increase a die roll. Both games have the same consequences for dying (losing half of their killed monsters and restarting in the beginning tile). Both games enable a player to win by killing a certain number of monsters. And both games let a player play one card between their current turn and their next turn.

So what does Martians!!! add to the Zombies!!! formula? Not a lot. The four Farm tiles also get a crop circle, which generates a Martian each turn. Also, one crop circle is actually the Martian Mother Ship, and if a player collects three different tokens -- fuel, fertilizer and dynamite -- and reaches the Mother Ship that player wins. There's also a set of rules for a Cooperative game, where players work together destroy the Mother Ship before all 100 Martian pieces are used.

Apart from the amazing closeness to Zombies!!!, Martians!!! has a few other problems. There are three different designs for the Martian pieces, but the differences are pretty insignificant. Worse, the tiles are often unclear which parts are streets, obstacles, or buildings, leading to confusion and disagreement about what can go where.

If you never played Zombies!!! and want a game with a cheesy alien invasion feel, you may like Martians!!! For me, though, this game was too much of a copy of its predecessor.

Overall grade: C-
Reviewed by James Lynch

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