Space Invaders Dice! Review
Quick Glance - Space Invaders Dice!
Game Type - Roll and Write
Number of Players - 1-4
Mechanics - Dice Rolling, Push Your Luck
Difficulty to learn - Easy
Release - 2017
MSRP - $16.99
Publisher - Turn One Gaming Supplies
Introduction - Space Invaders Dice! (Yes, always with the exclamation point) has an interesting lineage to it. It was designed by Daryl Andrews, who at this time has 18 games under his belt including Fantasy Fantasy Baseball (and Football), Tower of London...and one of the biggest hit games of the past couple years: Sagrada. It was also a first time game release for Turn One Gaming Supplies by a company known for making retro inspired dice, playmats, and card sleeves.
Whenever I see a retro inspired bard game, I always have a moment of great fanboy excitement of “Oh boy! My favorite old video game is now a board game!”...which is followed almost immediately by the thought “But they are almost never good.” Let’s see if Space Invaders Dice! bucks that trend.
Gameplay - The goal in Space Invaders Dice! is to have the highest score possible. You get points for disposing of the invaders with deadly force. You can play the game solo, or with multiple players. The box says up to 4, but you can play with more with multiple copies of the game. There is only one major difference in game play between the multiplayer and solo games, which I’ll explain in a bit.
A turn plays out over several steps. First, the enemies fire their laser cannons, which will block off rows that you can use to attack. This is done through a process of rolling the small white dice. This whole process is a bit clunky. In a strange twist, the invaders shots don’t actually damage you. They are just annoyances at best. To be honest, I’ve never had any of the enemy shots block my ability to attack. Maybe I’m lucky, or maybe it’s just not as effective as the designer hoped.
Then it’s your turn to fight back. You roll a number of attack dice based on how many rows of aliens you still have to fight (you start with 8 dice, and lose one every time two rows of enemies are cleared). If you aren’t able, or don’t want to use all those dice, you have a decision to make. Either take a penalty, which means crossing off one box of life per unused die, or roll the dice you weren’t going to use to try to get better symbols. If you reroll, any dice you don’t use this time are worth a double penalty. I liked the push your luck aspect of the re-roll. It gave the game one good, strong decision, and a bit of added tension.
Once you’ve rolled the dice, all that’s left is to cross off the invaders you wish to smash. If you are lucky enough to cross out all the invaders in a line, you have a chance to shoot the UFO at the top of the row and score the points you roll on the UFO die. In a solo game, at this point, you then have to cross off one UFO that’s still on your sheet (kind of a built in timer to speed the game up). In a multi-player game - you only lose a UFO if another player defeats it first. That’s the only major difference between a solo and a multiplayer game.
The game goes until all players have either cleared their sheet, or all players have lost all their life points. High score wins!
Rulebook - I want to be fair about this. I think the rule book that’s given in the box is terrible. After reading the rules, I only had a partial sense as to how the game played. Some rules were given on a picture of the score sheet, but not explained fully in the actual written rules. Other rules just weren’t fully clear at all. Thankfully, an updated rulebook has been uploaded on Board Game Geek. This book clears up any and all rules questions I had. If you do decide to buy this game, go to the BGG page, and download it before playing.
Theme - I love the theme of the game, and I think the game realizes it surprisingly well.
Set-Up/Takedown - Grab a scoresheet, and take the dice out of the plastic bag and you’re ready to go. When you’re done, toss the dice back in the box, and dispose of the scoresheet is the most environmentally friendly way you can.
Components - The scoresheet are very large, and quite colorful. I was a bit concerned about color blind friendliness, but the invaders are all different shapes. I’m not sure how good the dice are, but I suspect that with a little help they’d be usable. I wish they would have given some indication what counted as your life gauge on the sheet itself, rather than just an image in the rulebook. The enemy laser dice are small, but nice. I like the big chunky attack dice, but being silkscreened I am concerned that the paint will chip off over repeated plays. I also noticed a few of the sides weren’t properly centered. It wasn’t a big deal to me, but it did make it feel like a rushed production.
Final Thoughts - Space Invaders Dice! is a fun bit of nostalgia. It doesn’t quite adhere to the true rules of Space Invaders, but the liberties it takes help make it a better board game. I did find the laser cannon step to be a little bit convoluted. And I think I would have liked to have seen at least one way for the invaders to directly attack the player. As it is, their shots are at best a minor annoyance (perhaps a competitive variant?). The rulebook being as bad as it is for such a small game is pretty inexcusable, but at least steps were taken to rectify the situation. Also, I wish the attack dice were a little better, but for the price point, at least they weren’t stickers.
Space Invaders Dice! is a fun little entry in the roll and write genre. I don’t think it rises to the top of the genre where games like Qwixx, Qwingo, Noch Mal, or Dice Stars reside, but it’s a cute little nostalgia blast for board gamers that dabbled with video games at some point in their past.