Overview: It’s a battle for the control of the world! Grab a cup and roll the dice – the fate of humanity is in your hands!
Ages: 8 & up.
Playing time: 15 minutes or less.
Retail: $14, online or at your friendly, local game store.
Rating: Army Vs. Aliens is a fun, quick game with nice mix of light strategy and luck.
Who will like it: This is a game that can be enjoyed by casual gamers, looking to spend an evening with something light-hearted, and more serious gamers, in between bigger games.
Components: Each side gets a nice plastic dice cup and nine dice. The dice have raised edges and each face is decorated with a decal representing one of the forces. There’s a two-sided lid that allows you to connect the dice cups together for handy, closed storage.
Unfortunately, there’s also a big rule sheet and a couple of battle guides, which are far too big to fit in the cups so you have to find a place for them and hope they don’t get lost in your game closet. You could actually make do without these, as long as you can remember the rules (actually pretty simple), as the battle guides are reprinted on the cups – although in a size that’s almost too small for my aging eyes. There’s a nasty conflict between the rules sheet and the battle guide, regarding the General. Go with what’s in the rules sheet, otherwise you can end up with a pretty unbalanced game.
Overall, the quality is very nice and the art is pretty fun, but there is another pretty bad typo on the battle guide too, showing the wrong die face in an attack. However, it’s shown correctly on the battle guide on the cup.
Gameplay: The object of the game is to capture all of your opponent’s dice. To play, each player rolls all nine dice and then sorts them by rank, according to the battle guides. The higher ranked dice have special abilities and the rules state you can only have one of certain ranks in play at any time. In front of each player, you create three imaginary zones: one for Combat, one as a Rally Zone for dice that have been used and are waiting to be re-rolled the next round, and a Scoring Zone that contains captured enemy dice.
On your turn you first attack, according to the battle guide. Basically, a rank one die for the army (soldier) can attack a single die for the aliens of equal rank (invader). This is true of all single attacking dice: any rank between one and four takes out its enemy equivalent, then the attacking die is moved to the Rally Zone, to be re-rolled the next turn. Alternately, three dice of a particular rank can be used to collectively take out an enemy die that is one rank higher. Players may also use their attack to play a special ability.
Dice ranking 5 and 6 have special (but different) abilities for each side. On the army side, a rank 5 General can be removed from combat to promote any 1 die one rank higher. However you can only have one General in play at a time. The rank 6 army die is a Nuke. Collect three of these and you can remove all dice that rank 3 or lower (on both sides) from play. When you use a nuke, alien dice that are destroyed are scored for the army.
The aliens have advantages as well. The Overload represents rank 5 and can remove any 2 army dice from combat. However, these dice are only moved to the Rally Zone and can be re-rolled by the army on the next turn. You can only have one Overload in play at any time. Aliens also have rank 6 Motherships, which, when collected in threes allow the aliens player to destroy any two army dice.
If you don’t wish to attack on your turn, you must rally your forces by rolling any dice you choose from the combat zone, along with all dice from the Rally Zone. Play continues until one player has destroyed all of the opponent’s dice. There are a few variations, including two that allow more people to play, but these seemed weaker than the standard game.
Conclusion: I’m a sucker for dice games, so I ended up enjoying this quite a bit. At first, the game seemed unbalanced. In 20 games, the Aliens won just twice, no matter who was controlling the Army. We read the rules yet again and noticed the discrepancy between the battle guide and the rules. Once we started ignoring the battle guides, the wins started evening out. The game is fun and quick and the more you play it, the more strategy you can see is involved.
Disclosure: GeekDad received a sample of this game.