REVIEW: Two WEIRD Board Games from TSR

Jack Goblin By Jack Goblin, 19th Dec 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/ye89h-2g/
Posted in Wikinut>Reviews>Games>Board, Card & Casino

A look at Snits' REVENGE!! and The Awful Green Thing from Outer Space!: Two games that can hardly be called 'ordinary'.

Not exactly Chutes and Ladders!

The Awful Green Things From Outer Space! and Snits’ REVENGE!! are two extremely wacky – and violent, in a comic sort of way – games created by game designer and artist Tom Wham. Originally published in Dragon Magazine, they were later made into box games by TSR, Inc. The rights were eventually acquired by Steve Jackson Games and both have been reprinted and reissued numerous times, with occasional rules changes. The games have certain similarities in play, but the set up scenarios are quite different. To wit:

Snits’ REVENGE!!


On a certain alien world, life used to be easy if you were a Bolotomus: a large, kind of cone like creature with a very long prehensile trunk. You sat on the beach, and when the Snits (small, two legged little creatures) periodically ran out of the sea up the beach to a rock, dashed underneath, had a moment of explosive parthenogenesis, then – numbers greatly increased – ran back to the sea, you smashed them with your trunk. Coming and going. And compared how many Snits you’d gotten with the tallies of other Bolotomuses, with the one having the most declared the winner. Fun and games for all. Well, except for the Snits. Then one day, instead of running for the rocks, the fed up Snits came out of the sea and ran for the Bolotomuses, shrieking “KILL! KILL!! KILL!!!”. And since then things have gone to pot.

The Awful Green Things From Outer Space!

The multi-species crew of the interstellar exploration ship Znutar had been going from planet to planet looking for friendly alien life for a long, long time. And failing to find it for a long, long time. Although they did find plenty of things that wanted to eat them. Then, one day, on a new world, they found what they sought! True, the creatures looked like three eyed birds and weren’t very bright. They didn’t try to eat anybody, though, which was a DEFINITE plus! So the exploration party happily brought one of the creatures back to the ship as a mascot.

However. They also brought back what seemed to be just a green rock. Unfortunately it was actually the egg of a VERY hostile – and carnivorous, and aggressive, and prolific – alien life form. On board it hatched, slithered away unseen, and was soon replicating in the dark corners of the ship.

Then the aliens were discovered, and the fight is on! Can the desperate crew use their fists or the weapons at hand to destroy these ravenous things, or will they become monster chow to the Awful Green Things from Outer Space?


As noted, the scenarios are different; but the games have considerable similarities. They are both mainly two player contests (although there are provisions for variants with three players). Both take place inside enclosed areas, with movement allowances and restrictions: For TAGT, inside the rooms and corridors of the Znutar; for Snit’s the battlefield is the interior of an unfortunate Bolotomus which they invade like a virus and rampage through, moving through passageways to attack and kill various internal organs. Both involve a variety of cardboard counters which the players move about and fight with. And the combat system both use is one familiar to all wargamers: The attack value of one or more attacking counters is matched against the defense value of an enemy counter, dice are rolled, and the enemy dies or not, according to the results. It is all very random.

What makes these games of interest – besides some truly funny artwork, and the unusual settings and premises – is the rapid change in the balance of forces during the course of the game that make sure these are fifteen to thirty minute matches.

At the start of each game, one side has a clear advantage. In the case of Snits’, it’s the Snits themselves; there are a random but rather large number of them invading the unfortunate Bolotomus whose body provides the ‘board’ for the game. And while they are a bit handicapped regarding the speed with which they can infiltrate and move about, the Bolotomus’ internal defenses start out very weak. So much so that for the first few turns the Snit player will usually have things mostly his way.

In TAGT, the starting number of Green Things – also determined randomly – is dwarfed by the size of the crew. While individually each Green Thing, even the young, are pretty fearsome, the crew are no slouches themselves; and also have a nearly unkillable robot and plenty of weapons. If things remained as they were at the start of the game, victory for one side would seem certain.

The joker in the deck is, growth. The Bolotomus can produce a certain number of the Bolotomus equivalent of antibodies with which to fight the Snits. and new organs to replace any the Snits might have killed (kill enough internal organs and the Bolotomus dies), each turn. The longer the game goes on, the stronger its internal defenses become, while the Snits can’t replace their losses.

Something similar happens in TAGT. The adult Green Things lay eggs, which grow into larvae, which grow into adults, over the course of several turns. The crew has to kill a lot of Green Things early in the game, and keep killing new ones as they develop, to avoid being swamped by geometric progression. Even as their own numbers go down through combat with the monsters…

It therefore comes to strategy and luck. The crew or Snit player has to win fast, or lose slow. Or hope for a series of lucky dice rolls to change the course of the game.

These games won’t replace chess. Or even Monopoly. The rules are slightly complex and there’s a learning curve to both sides that will require several games before players will be proficient, and the real battle royals will begin. Once it does, play can be fast, furious, and vicious.

On the other hand, if you don’t want to play, you can simply read Tom Wham’s way-out-there art-work. And laugh at the stories.

Tags

Aliens, Awful Green Things From Outer Space, Dragon Magazine, Games, Humor, Monsters, Science Fiction, Snit, Space, Tom Wham, Wacky

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author avatar Jack Goblin
Was born. Haven't died yet. Don't intend to anytime soon.

Thank you much for reading my articles. I hope they brought you pleasure and enlightenment. :)

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Comments

author avatar Phyl Campbell
20th Dec 2013 (#)

I do love chess and Bosworth (Out of the Box games), AKA Battle Chess, where one's pieces are selected at random. These games you mention sound more like some version of RISK! or Stratego. Anyway, I like this review of games, and hope you'll do more of them.

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