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Grave Robbers From Outer Space is a non-collectible but highly expandable card game from Z-Man Games. The basis of the game is simple, you are the director of a B-movie and your goal is to have a better movie than your competitors when the credits roll.
The game comes 120 cards in a tuck box and a set of instructions. The cards are of durable stock and are long-lasting. It’s not a surprise, given that Z-Man started out producing CCGs. The art does a good job of setting the pace and tone of the game. The whole production feels very sort of 50’s garish, which is really the movies it celebrates.
The setting is 50’s sci-fi and horror B-movies and the game does a good job of incorporating the theme. Overall, the game is rules light but theme heavy with the only a few things that feel off theme.
The artwork and design of the cards help to push the theme forward.
The game is fairly simple to play. There are six different card types, most of which are self-explanatory.
Characters are the cast of your movie. They have a strength which defines their ability to attack and defend as well as their value in scoring your finished movie.
Locations are the places where your movie is currently being shot. Each movie can have only one location at a time. Locations have a strength, which adds to your defense and final score. They don’t’ attack.
Props are the things the characters use. They also have a strength. Characters can have as many props as you want.
Creatures are the bad guys; they have attack and defense strength and are used to attack your rivals’ movies.
SFX or Special Effects cards do all sorts of things from letting you play extra cards to canceling cards. Unlike the other cards, they can be played out of turn.
Roll the Credits cards end the movie early and can come in handy if you have a big lead.
The first thing you do is deal out six cards and look at the words on the bottom. The group then creates a title using any number of them. When movies are scored (at the end of the game) you get 5 bonus points for each card you have that matches a word in the title.
Once the title is selected, the cards are reshuffled and dealt six to a player. If anyone has no characters, they reveal and discard their hand and draw 6 new cards. This goes on until everyone has at least one character.
Once everyone has at least one, everyone reveals all their character cards by placing them face up on the table and the game begins.
On a turn, a player draws back to six and then plays cards (if desired) in any order:
1. Play new characters.
2. Play new props or move props between characters. Any character can get only 1 new prop a turn.
3. Play a new location – this can either be for your movie of for someone else’s movie.
4. Make an attack on another player’s movie if desired.
5. Use any card abilities provided by your cards in play.
6. Play SFX. Anyone can play SFX, but the player whose turn it is always gets the first chance.
7. Roll the credits and end the game.
8. Discard any cards you wish. You must have six or fewer at the end of your turn.
During an attack you compare the creatures strength against the movie’s Defensive Strength. Both players may play SFX during the attack. When the attack is resolved (by comparing totals) the creature and SFX cards are always removed. If the defender lost, then he also loses one character of the attacker’s choice. That character and any cards associated with it are discarded.
Play continues until either a Roll the Credits card is player or someone draws the last card from the draw deck.
The game is a lot of fun. It definitely improves when played with people who know something about the genre of movies and aren’t afraid to act things out a bit. The rules officially require players to read the name and quote of their cards out loud when playing them and this can help make the game better.
The only real knock I have is that if you get an early Roll the Credits, you’re really sitting in the catbird seat. As soon as you’re ahead, you can attempt to end the game.
Grave Robbers From Outer Space is a great game. It’s simple enough to teach and learn quickly and challenging enough to make it fun to play. The fact that it can be mixed with any (or all) of the expansions definitely makes it more worthwhile.
(Edit: When the designer stops by to read your review, you ought to heed his corrections)
- Last edited Fri Mar 7, 2008 11:29 pm (Total Number of Edits: 2)
- Posted Sat Sep 15, 2007 9:51 pm
Thanks for the nice review. Glad you like the game.
One slight error in your review, though. While the turn order you've suggested is logical, it isn't actually required to play cards in any particular order. You do end by discarding any unwanted cards, but the play order of the card types is entire;y up to the player.
Hope you get years of fun out of my games, I sure have, and keep watching the skies!
Have you joined the 2017 Secret Cthanta yet?
I knew that. I think I left out the word any. I've put it in now. I've had a lot of fun with your games, thanks for all the good times!
We've had a lot of fun playing these games too! I have a few questions for Stephen...
1) Just curious are there fewer character cards in Grave Robbers 1 than in 2? We were playing Berzerker Halflings and it seemed that we had more character cards on the table more often, and it moved along a little faster.
2) Any plans on making a straight up sci-fi one? Drawing inspiration from star wars, star trek, battlestar galactica, old sci fi movies, etc. That'd be a fun one and I'd buy it.