Awful Green Things from Outer Space, The

Tagged: Game

Board Game (1979). Tactical Studies Rules (TSR). Designed by Tom Wham.

Awful Green Things is a parodic game with a design influenced by both map and counter Wargames and the more casual and humorous tradition of Board Game development, an ancestry it shares with its contemporary The Creature that Ate Sheboygan (1979). The theme is strongly reminiscent of Alien (1979), released several months earlier, but the designer claims that film's rather more obscure predecessor The Green Slime (1968; vt Gamma 3: Cosmic War in Japan) as the primary inspiration for the game. The crew of the alien spacecraft Znutar have suffered "an unexpected encounter of the worst kind"; a mineral sample picked up from an unexplored planet turns out to be an egg of an implacably hostile species, the eponymous Things. While the Znutar's personnel have access to a range of weapons, from cans of rocket fuel to unused containers of edible Zgwortz, their effect is unknown until they have been tried, being randomly determined once for each session of the game. Weapons may hurt or stun the Things, cause them to grow or blow them into fragments, each of which becomes a new Thing. The early part of the game, which begins immediately after the first discovery of a Thing on board, typically revolves around all-out combat, as the crew experiment with potential weapons while the Things attempt to slaughter them before they find an effective means of defence. In the later stages, a losing crew player may attempt to trigger the Znutar's self destruct and escape, while Things which have suffered heavy losses will generally scatter to obscure parts of the ship (or, in the optional "Outside The Znutar" rules, outside it) and hope to be allowed to lay more eggs in peace. While individual games of Awful Green Things may be heavily biased in favour of one side or the other, both the effects of the crew's weapons and the initial number of Things being random, they are always entertaining. [NT]

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