Monday, March 24, 2008

Venus Needs Men

I always enjoy a bizarre board game. The more pieces, the more complex the rules, the better. I could probably do a whole month's worth of posts on some of my favorites, but tonight, I got to try a new one, namely Venus Needs Men. If you like '50s sci-fi, this is a game that you should enjoy.

The premise is simple: the players take charge of an alien race (Venusians, Martians, Plutonians, the denizens of Ganymede or Titan). You can also be in charge of Earth's defenses. If you're one of the alien races, your goal is to build spaceships, fly them to earth, and abduct as many humans as you can while fighting off your opponents. If you're the Earthlings, you're out to protect as many of your people as you can.

Jill and I bought this for her brother for his birthday a few months back (he likes complex games as well) and we had the chance to break it out tonight.

There are two sets of rules for the game, the "basic" and "enhanced." Tonight we tried out the basic rules. You can basically build new ships, move them, land them, abduct humans, and then head home with your prizes. If you happened to wind up near your opponents, you could attack them as well.

The Zap cards added some extra fun. These could be used to force opponents to skip turns, destroy their ships, or otherwise mess with them. It helped break up the simple play. Oftentimes we found ourselves pushing the little plastic ships around on the board and picking up the little "population chips."

While we didn't try the enhanced rules this time, we will in the future. It appears to add a layer of strategy to it as it tosses in special abilities (such as the Martian ability to take control of opponent's ships or the Titans' ability to infect humans) and technology upgrade cards.

There were a few drawbacks to the game, namely some holes in the rules. For example, there was some initial confusion regarding combat. The "quick reference" cards were vague enough that we weren't sure what constituted a successful attack. The rules did clarify things. We were also unsure what happened to abducted humans if the ship they were on was destroyed.

So if you like kitschy sci-fi, this game is probably for you. And if you do play it, you probably will want to skip right to the enhanced rules.

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