Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Mole Rats in Space Review


Quick Look:

Info:
Designer: Matt Leacock
Artist: Not listed
Publisher: Peaceable Kingdom
Year Published: 2017
No. of Players: 2-4
Ages: 7+
Playing Time: 20 minutes
Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com
A long time ago in a space station far far away the rebel mole rat alliance was going about their own business when suddenly they were boarded by the dreaded troopers of the Imperial Snake Empire. The mole rats must now abandon their posts and get to the escape pod before they are captured or worse.

Can your team maneuver your mole rats to the escape pod and safety before the snakes get to your crew or the pod? If so you will be victories if not it will certainly spell doom for this small band of rebel rats.

Overview:

Mole Rats in Space is a cooperative game designed by none other than Matt Leacock, famed creator of Pandemic. In Mole Rats players will move their mole rats around the space station avoiding snakes, collecting parts, and getting to the escape pod as quickly as they can. Players move their characters based on the card they play from their hand which also moves or activates the snakes. If the players can get all the mole rats and parts in the escape pod the players win collectively. If a player's mole rat perishes, or a snake enters the escape pod, or the draw deck runs out the snakes are victorious and the players loose.

To set up Mole Rats the board is set in the center of the playing surface with the equipment tokens placed on their spots and one snake of each color placed on their corresponding spawning point. Each player chooses a color mole rat to be and places it along with a med kit onto the board in their starting locations. Next the cards are shuffled and each player is dealt one card face up while the other cards are placed face down next to the board to create the draw deck. Finally the additional snake tokens are placed near the board to use throughout the game.

4 player setup.

A player's turn is broken up into three steps:
1) Play card. There are two parts to a card that must be taken in to consideration when playing. First is the mole rat(s) movement. Movement can be for the current player's mole rat, all player's mole rats, or the current player's choice of mole rate depending on the card.

Mole rats move the number of spaces indicated by the number of arrows on the card in any direction they choose. Mole rats move through ladders, other mole rates, equipment, and air shafts, however mole rats may not move through snakes. If a player ends her turn on a ladder she moves her mole rat up the ladder (never down). If she ends her turn on an air shaft she moves her mole rat down the shaft (never up). If she ends her turn on a piece of equipment she picks it up and places it in her mole rat's backpack.

If a player moves through a snake or ends her turn on a snake her mole rat has been bitten and must move back to her starting location and discards her med pack. The second time her mole rat is bitten the game is over.

Snakes move in a similar way to the mole rats.

2) Discard card. Once the player has moved the mole rat(s) and snake(s) she places that card in the discard pile.
3) Draw a new card. She now draws a card form the draw pile. If the draw pile runs out players can continue playing their remaining cards until they win or run out of cards. Once out of cards the players loose.

Middle of the game. A red snake is moving in on the green player's mole rat.

Players take turns clockwise around the table until one of five things happen:
1) The players get all their mole rats and the four pieces of equipment to the escape pod. Results in the players winning.
2) A snake enters into the escape pod. Results in the players loosing.
3) A player gets bit twice. Results in the players loosing.
4) A player's mole rat gets thrown into space by falling down an air shaft.
5) The players run out of cards. Results in the players loosing.

There is also a sealed "challenge" envelope included in the game which adds additional cards and a new way to loose the game. I will keep the rest secrete as to not ruin the surprise for you.

The players are victorious and are able to escape the clutches of the evil Imperial Empire of Snakes.

Review:

Imagine Chutes and Ladders meets Pandemic and there you'll find Mole Rats in Space. It is a great mix of  a modern cooperative euro game and a classic kid's game. To my knowledge this is Matt Leacock's first foray into children's games, although my kids play Pandemic all the time, and he has done a stellar job.

Mole Rats in Space is a great introduction to cooperative gaming mechanics for younger players. It is similar in it's accessibility as Cauldron Quest and Race for the Treasure, also published by Peaceable Kingdom, but a little deeper and tends to create more suspense. The cooperative style of players verses the game is simple yet fun. Player's cards act as both movement for the mole rats and the snakes which makes for some interesting decisions. Matt has also added three ways for the game to win which is very characteristic of his titles and keeps players on their toes.

The artwork for Mole Rats in Space is what you would expect for a family game aimed at younger players. It is cute and draws children's interest and keeps them engaged throughout. The mole rat player pawns are awesome and the fact they have backpacks to carry the ship parts around is a huge perk! The component quality is very high and the production value is awesome on this one.

Inside the box is a great insert to hold everything in place.

Whats in the box.

Card art showing movement for the players and snakes.

Mole rats in action!

The Good:
The fact that this game is simple enough for younger gamers to pick up and play on their own yet engaging enough for adults to enjoy is a great feat of game design. The artwork is fun and ties the theme and mechanics in well. It sets up and plays fast, and looks great on the table.

The Bad:
Don't expect to bring this game out with your hardcore gaming groups as it will not go over well. Mole Rats is very much geared towards younger gamers getting their feet wet with cooperative gaming, and therefore is not super strategic and thought provoking. That is what Shadows Over Camelot is for.

Final Thoughts:
I really think Mole Rats in Space is a great fit for families with younger gamers looking to play more than Candy Land and Sorry. This has been a good game for my 5 year-old to get involved with and it keeps his interest for the whole time. Peaceable Kingdom did a superb job of getting famed designer Matt Leacock to jump in on this one.

Players Who Like:
I am going to change this up and say families looking for a fun cooperative game that they can play with their younger children will love Mole Rats in Space!



Check out Mole Rats in Space on:

                  

About the Author:


My name is Dane Trimble I am the Advertising Manager for a national magazine by day and a husband, father of four, and board gamer by night (and mornings). I have a passion for board games as I believe board games help bring families closer together while providing kids a unique way to learn many diverse skills. And they are down right fun!!!

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