Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Awful Green Things From Outer Space -- 8th edition

So there's a new, eighth edition of the classic Tom Wham game The Awful Green Things From Outer Space, first published in 1980. So the question is, if you already have a copy, should you get this one. (Obviously if you don't have a copy, you should buy it now It's a great fun little game that's demonstrated its staying power many time over.)

In a word, yes. This is, by far the nicest edition of the game ever published. It's important to note that functionally, for play purposes, this edition is exactly like the Seventh Edition. Indeed, TAGTFOS is a remarkably stable game design. The only significant change its undergone is that the last few editions have included the "Outside the Znutar" optional rules that first appeared as a separate supplement long ago.

I won't spend much time on game play, as the game as been extensively discussed over the years. The brief version is that a multiracial crew of aliens is defending their ship against an infestation of the game's namesake Awful Green Things, whose most salient characteristic is an exceptionally fast growth rate. The crew embarks on a desperate search for weapons that can kill the creatures before they overrun the ship, but the effects of the weapons are unknown until tried on the Green Things. There are no changes in game play between the Seventh Edition and the new Eighth Edition. The changes are purely cosmetic.

But saying the changes are cosmetic is not to slight the significance of the changes. This is a very fine version of the game. Steve Jackson Games is often criticized for its -- to put it kindly -- economical production standards. The Seventh Edition, published in 200, had a retail price of $19.95, which would translate to about $26.06 in 2011 dollars, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics. Yet the 8th edition's retail price is $24.99, so it's actually less expensive in comparable dollars!

The changes are evident right from the top. The new box is deeper and sturdier than the old version. While not quite up to the standards of the GMT "armored" box, this is a good quality tough box that should stand up to a lot of Geek carry.

When you open up the new box you'll find three sheets of thick double-sided die-cut counters, much thicker than the thin card stock counters of Edition Seven.

The new edition includes a high quality mounted board, compared to the thin paper playing sheet included in the Seventh Edition. The space ship depiction is the same size, but the Weapons Display area is bigger and the overall layout more attractive. And did I say that the board was mounted?

The Eighth Edition rule book is 12 pages, just as the Seventh Edition was, but now it's in full color on glossy pages -- and yes, the "Voyages of the Znutar" comic is now in full color as well.

Both editions come with five green dice. The Seventh Edition dice are smaller, but glow in the dark. How, exactly, you're supposed to play in the dark escapes me. The new edition's green dice are larger, but the "1" face is the "Munchkin" symbol from the Munchkin game. Some people have interpreted this as using dice from Munchkin, but I think it may simply be a branding issue, ast Munchkin is what SJG is best known for now.

Finally the new edition includes a cardboard insert.

Overall, if you're a Green Things fan, this is the edition to have.


  1. I received my copy not long ago; I've managed 2 plays with the new edition and I have to say the new thick counters make a HUGE difference for a fumble-fingers like me.

  2. I like the substantial feel to everything. Much better.