Friday, November 7, 2014

Mars Attacks! Starter Set Review

     Mantic's Mars Attacks! The Miniatures Game took Kickstarter by storm, closing nearly a year ago at $558, 076 with 2753 backers. After some delays the game is finally available at retailers, though many Kickstarter backers are still waiting for their games to arrive. As a backer waiting for a delayed pledge myself, I can say I've been anxiously awaiting my package to see if Mars Attacks! will be worth the wait. In fact, while waiting I decided to jump the gun and pick up a copy of the starter box from my friendly local game store.

Despite some minor issues, the miniatures still look great and paint up nicely.

       When you open the box, you'll find that the contents come in a plastic box insert. While the insert keeps the contents organized, it did not prevent the miniatures from being severely bent. The majority of the bent parts could be fixed with the hot water trick, I found several figures' bases had been bent which was a major pain in the butt to try and repair. Additionally, the plastic used for the Mars Attacks! figures will lose detail really quickly when you try to sand off mold lines. I recommend very carefully using a hobby knife instead when cleaning up your minis. Thankfully Mantic used a sturdier plastic for the scenery, so you won't have the same issues when it comes to assembling the your ruins. That having been said, I still liked the figures. I really like the scale (they're significantly less bulky than most heroic 28mm gaming figures), and they have a pretty good level of detail. They're particularly impressive figures when you factor in the price compared to what other companies charge, and they're definitely not a write-off  (like the 'Mechs from the original Catalyst Battletech box). Most miniature wargamers will be satisfied with these figures. 

General Tor must be a deep-sea diver, he seems to have a bad case of "the bends". 

The bent weapons on the miniatures were a quick fix. Bent bases, on the other hand, are considerably more difficult to repair.

      I found the cardboard markers were the weakest element of the starter set. The images are generally uninspiring and the cardboard pieces are really out of place on the tabletop next to the other components. For those who supported the Kickstarter, the markers will be soon replaced with plastic and resin pieces. That's awesome and personally I can't wait for mine to arrive, however for those who don't have access to them yet, the game might feel incomplete. A feeling of incompleteness carries into some of the rules as well. The were no rules to create your own scenarios, and they didn't include the points values for the models in the box. This box is a good starter point, but I wouldn't recommend it if it's the only Mars Attacks! purchase you intend to make. 

The plastic bugs and civilians will be a must-buy. The cardboard cutouts are functional but take away from the overall aesthetic. 

     Where Mars Attacks! really shines is in the background, and how well the rules represent the story that fans of the cards and comics will be familiar with. You can't become too attached to your models, and if your allergic to removing models from the table this might not be the game for you: Mars Attacks! is a game of wanton death and destruction. It has a simple and concise ruleset which I was able to finish reading through in about an hour and jump right into playing. Mantic advertises that the game takes thirty to sixty minutes to play, which is a surprisingly accurate estimation. 

The humour and art style used in the cards greatly added to the overall theme and feel of Mars Attacks! 

     Also big kudos to Mantic for using a line-of-sight system that works without arguments. If my model can see your model, any part of your model (including the base), I can shoot at you. If your model, any part of your model (including the base) is obscured, you count as being in cover. This game has also been the first miniatures game that has gotten any traction among my non-miniature wargamer friends, but is still equally enjoyed among the usual 40k crowd. I also really liked the inclusion of scenery in the core game, as it hugely improves the overall presentation and will draws attention away from the two dimensional paper mat you'll be playing on. The overall value you're getting here is pretty good and I was satisfied with the bang for my buck. 

The scenery goes together easily and looks great. 

The rulebook has the same dimensions as a comic book, and is about the same length too. 

The terrain included in the box looks great, I would recommend adding some trees (produced by Woodland Scenics) and maybe smoke and fire (produced by Battlefront Miniatures) to further enhance your battlefield and add some variety. 


     All in all, I enjoyed Mars Attacks! quite a bit. I'm still waiting to get my hands on the expansion books and additional content before I decide whether this game will become a longterm hobby commitment or just a fun time sink in the short term. Either way, I intend to keep playing it. I encourage others to give it a try, as long as you don't mind waiting for a little more rules diversity and flexibility. This starter box is a strong foundation for a great ruleset. 

7.6 /10 - A solid game.

No comments:

Post a Comment