I In The Pyramid

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There Was No Plan For A Mars Attacks Dice Game

From gallery of PhilReed
I can almost remember the first time I encountered the classic Mars Attacks! trading cards. It had to have been 1983 or 1984, in that weird window of time when Star Wars was still vital to my survival and giant transforming robots hadn't yet conquered my imagination.

A friend of a friend found a few of the original trading cards at a garage sale on base—I was living on the Grand Forks Air Force Base at the time—and I was excited as soon as he showed them to me. These cards were disgusting! Violent. Beautiful. Everything about these cards made me love them and want them.

I did not get the cards.


Fast forward roughly a decade later to 1994. By this time I was significantly older—I'll pretend that I aged one decade in ten years, but anyone who has met me knows I actually age at a rate faster than normal humans—and I saw the Topps Mars Attacks! comic books. I had to have them. Those strange and violent Martians were finally mine.

I enjoyed the Topps comic books, but I didn’t get the original 1962 trading cards even when Topps reissued them. What was wrong with me? I've no idea. Clearly, I was broken in some way.


Jump almost two decades into 2012, and Mars Attacks! again entered my life. I met Adam Levine, Topps' mastermind behind bringing those crazy Martians to a larger audience, at a toy exhibition during the New York Toy Fair. Adam and I knew each other by reputation only, but we experienced a creative spark that couldn't be ignored while we chatted. We quickly made plans for an expansion to the Munchkin Apocalypse game, and Steve went to work designing cards.


Two more years passed. The Munchkin Apocalypse: Mars Attacks! expansion was just starting to ship to stores when my brain latched onto an idea. "How," my randomly organized brain asked, "can we reskin Zombie Dice to work as a Mars Attacks! dice game?"

Board Game: Zombie Dice
I took the question with me on an early Sunday morning walk in January. Thought after thought bashed into my skull as I walked until, a good three or four miles later, I had an idea. Unfortunately, this was one of those rare walks without my phone, so I was forced to rush home so that I didn’t forget the game ideas.

As soon as I got home, I sent two emails.

Steve, Sam, and Ross all received an email in which I outlined the basic mechanics of the game. In that first email were the dice icons and mix, the card mechanism, and the concept of some cards having special effects. The details, as any creative knows, can be worked out later. Right now, I just had to share the rough idea and make sure the others agreed that it was a game we should pursue.

Adam received an email in which I ran through the game concept and asked permission to proceed. I was acting as if my mail to Steve, Sam, and Ross had already generated a favorable response.

Adam replied 15 minutes later (yes, many of us work every day) with a "Yes!" Before noon that Sunday, I had everything in place to begin working on Mars Attacks: The Dice Game.

Realistically, though, my work was done. It was time to hand off the project to others.
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