Friday, November 06, 2009

Games Past: Grave Robbers From Outer Space

I won't call Z-Man Games' "Grave Robbers From Outer Space" the best game ever. I won't call it the smartest, the best-designed, or even the most entertaining (since I firmly believe that entertainment comes always from the players, never from the game. There is no game so dull that you can't enjoy playing it with good friends, and no game so fun that a rules-lawyering, hyper-competitive jackass can't wreck it.) But it certainly is the funniest.

For those of you who've never played it (or its various stand-alone, fully compatible sequels) "Grave Robbers From Outer Space" puts you into the role of a B-movie (or perhaps Z-movie) producer, casting your own horror movie. You put Cast Members into play (like The Old Priest, the Small-Town Policeman, or any number of teenage stereotypes) at various Locations (like the Cabin in the Woods, the Cemetary, the Back Seat of the Car)...then your opponents "help" out your movie by playing various Monsters into your film to bump off the cast, one by one. Whoever winds up with the most surviving cast members when the credits roll is the winner. (There's actually a "Credits" card.)

The hilarity comes when you start getting into the various card combinations. When you actually have the Old Priest and the Spunky Young Kid together in the Back Seat of the Car, and suddenly they're attacked by a werewolf, well...let's just say it's possible to laugh so hard you shoot pop out your nose at some of the way these games play out. (When we first played the game, at the GenCon where it debuted, we were asked by hotel staff to kick out anyone who wasn't a paying guest and confiscate the liquor. This was particularly amusing, as it was only four of us and we were all stone-cold sober.)

And the stand-alone sequels add a lot to the fun. Each one takes on a different genre, like 70s kung-fu flicks, giant monster movies, or sword-and-sorcery epics, and so the mix-and-matching can produce some genuinely awesome results. "My Sorority Girl uses her Bullwhip and Preying Mantis technique to stop your Horde of Orcs!" That sort of thing.

Oh, and the best part is that every card has a word on the bottom, just a random B-movie title type of word like "Evil", "Invasion", "Blood", et cetera. At the start of the game, you draw six random cards and turn the six random words into the title of the movie you're making. Any game that starts out with you deciding that this round will be called, "Blood Beasts of the Forbidden Temple of Doctor Hate!" has to be officially considered awesome.

Unlike some of the other games I might mention in this series, "Grave Robbers From Outer Space" is still being produced by Z-Man Games, along with all of its spin-offs and sequels. Z-Man is a great company, "Grave Robbers" is a great game, and I've talked games with owner Zev Shlasinger enough to be able to say that he's a genuinely nice guy. (And no, he didn't pay me to say that. We share a common love of the Shadowfist game, but we've never been in business together.) So this one is well worth tracking down, if you enjoy giggling like crazy with a group of friends. And really, who doesn't?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"The hilarity comes when you start getting into the various card combinations."

You'd love Illuminati then. It's basically a conspiracy theory game that allows for the same sort of hilarity.