All Quiet on the Martian Front – Review
Well this week is a slight aside from the article I was going to post but I’ve just had a birthday and a cool new game is sitting on my desk. So being that it is cool and very new to stores I thought I’d do an unboxing review for a change.
The game in question is All Quiet on the Martian Front and was originally a Kickstarter offering some months back. Wave one of the Kickstarter items is just starting to hit store shelves and although there is only a limited set of models available right now it does include a two player starter set, which I’m going to be reviewing here.
The game retails at £65 in the UK and $100 in the US and is good quality and value for a starter set.
The game is set in what would have been WWI and follows the premise that the Martians have returned to launch a full scale invasion of the world. The original invasion described in the story War of the Worlds is now considered to have been just a scouting mission. The action takes place in the United States where the fighting is most fierce but the war is also raging in China and Russia, South America and Australia have already fallen to the Martians.
In many ways this game looks and feels reminiscent of the first world war, so if you like this period it will feel a little familiar but that is where the similarity stops.
The starter set comes in a nice sturdy box, measuring 13″ x 8″ x 4″ (a bit like a shoe box). This is a nice surprise as the box is more like boardgame quality card and should last transporting the figures around for some time (or until my collection outgrows the box). The artwork is well produced and sets the look of the game perfectly, especially the painting on the box front.
So what’s in the box?
The picture on the back of the box gives a nice overview of the contents and if anything doesn’t do justice to what’s inside due to the overall quality and scale of the miniatures.
In all you get a cut down rule book, templates, dice, 3 Martian Walkers, 6 US Tanks and various units of troops, plus a scenario/assembly sheet (I also got a set of transfers for the games which isn’t listed under contents and was taped to the outside of the box, so don’t take this as standard I may just have got lucky).
The counters and blast markers are made from clear acrylic and are essential to the game (the Martian Heat Ray uses the sweep template for example) and are a great addition to the box instead of the card alternatives included in some starter sets.
The assembly guide and scenario is just a two sided sheet and the scenario looks like a good introduction to the game. Unfortunately the assembly guide is not the clearest thing to work with and I had to refer to online images to finish a few parts, especially to get the tank variants right. I would also suggest doing a dry run with the Tripod as things like the eye section need to be glued in before you fit the carapace top, which isn’t obvious from the pictures.
The models consist of a mixture of metal and plastic, with the tanks and Tripod being in plastic and the infantry in metal. This a great weight saving as the tanks and the Tripods are a fair size and would be reasonably heavy even in resin. Figure scale is a large 15mm (it does say 18mm somewhere in the full rulebook) and are deliberately scaled to match HO gauge model railway buildings, this is going to make obtaining good, cheap scenery for this game very easy, so I’m all in favour of the scale (the chunky tanks look great too).
These are great model and very reminiscent of the descriptions in the original War of the Worlds story. They come on two sets of plastic sprue; one for the legs and base and one for the torso.
The bases are 80mm across with holes for the feet to peg into, making a nice solid join and helping with leg positioning. Two of the legs are fixed and the third is multi-pose allowing you to add some variety to the Tripods stance
The torso sprue comprises of the main body of the Tripod (4 parts so quick and easy to build) and various weapon options. These include the obvious Heat Ray, a Black Smoke Launcher and Green Gas Grenades. I chose to make one of each but the Heat Ray is the mainstay of the Martian Weaponry.
The legs and Torso halves of the Tripod simply slot together and I’ve chosen to leave mine so they can be separated to aid storage but you can choose to glue them if you wish.
Overall the finished Tripods are 6″ high and should look very imposing on the tabletop (especially when I add a few more and some variants).
The tanks are the backbone of the US defences (at least in the starter set) and you get six of them in the set, which will make two units of three tanks. Each comes on its own plastic sprue and can make either a MkII or MkIII tank (there other varieties shown in a supplement on the Alien Dungeon website). These are reminiscent of period in which the game is set but have a nice steampunk charm to them (you may love or hate them), their larger game scale also makes them a nice visual element on the game table.
The US also benefit from four units of infantry; two regular doughboy squads, a HMG squad and a unit of Rough Riders. These are all cast in metal and come supplied with plastic bases. The modelling and casting on these is at least comparable with other ranges of a similar scale and better than quite a few I can think of (but won’t name).
The doughboys are your regular rifle armed troops and have little chance of taking down a Tripod unless the tanks have done their job of softening it up. Each squad contains 15 figures arranged on three bases or elements.
The HMG squad is again made up of three bases, each containing three figures this time. These have a slim chance of damaging a Tripod but have better range and a higher rate of fire than the regulars so are a nice addition if you want to soften up the opposition.
Rough Riders are best described as maniacs on motorcycles armed with grapple guns. Their job is to tie up the Tripods legs to slow their movement (think Star Wars walkers on Hoth). Of the metal models in the set these are the only ones that are multi part and you will spend an enjoyable few minutes trying to glue the handlebars on the bikes (worth it though as they look good once done).
Although it took a few hours, the work required to assemble everything ready for a first game wasn’t too bad and you could certainly buy this in the morning and play a game the same evening if you wanted too. The figures are great if a little quirky (but I like that) and the scale makes them look impressive and they will fill a battlefield nicely.
For a cut down set of starter rules these are incredibly good. The cover is full colour, glossy card and the pages themselves are stitch bound so it shouldn’t fall apart after two days like the usual glued offerings. The pages themselves are lifted directly from the full rulebook and cover all the basic and most of the advanced rules. One problem with this though is that they are black/grey rather than full colour and being a reduced size can be a bit of an eye strain at times under artificial light.
What you won’t find in these rules is the detailed descriptions of the forces or the units themselves. This is a shame any special abilities available to the units is described in these sections of the full rulebook meaning they are missing from these rules (frustrating to know that the Rough Riders have ‘Tow Cables’ but not know what these do). All is not lost though as a little forum delving will find the rules you need or just click here.
Overall this is a great starter set and contains everything you need (except for a tape measure, hobby knife and glue). The rules are straightforward and despite the fact that you only get three Tripods they should be more than a match for the assembled defenders of planet earth.
Other units for the Martians and US are available with more on the way over the coming months and a second faction (the British Expeditionary Force) should be in the shops very soon.
If you like this game do go and buy the full rulebook. It’s easier to read and contains all the special rules that are mentioned in the starter set rules but not included. There are also some great scenarios and full descriptions of the US, BEF and Martian forces.
|Overall Quality:||9/10||Very good|
|Content:||9/10||Contains everything you need to play|
|Rules:||8/10||Excellent, just let down by the omissions in the rulebook|
|Playability:||9/10||Basic game is simple but lots of advanced rules and tactical|
|Value for Money:||9/10||Excellent value for money|
|Overall:||9/10||This is a great starter set, highly recomended|