To the Escape Pod! A Review of Mole Rats in Space

Mole Rats in Space

Snakes have made their way onto the space station! Your mission is to avoid the snakes, gather supplies, and make it to the escape pod, in this cooperative board game that is perfect for families with kids — designed by Matt Leacock, the cooperative game genius behind Pandemic, Forbidden Island, and Forbidden Desert.

Rules

Each player is a mole rat. In order to win, players must collect four items from around the board and all make it to the escape pod.

To collect an item, you must end your turn on its space. The board is made up of five levels, and much like the classic kid’s game Chutes and Ladders, players must end their movement on ladders in order to ascend levels and to climb into the escape pod, while ending on a chute will send them down levels, or even remove them from the board (if they leave the board, everyone loses the game). There are also snakes on the board. If they ever move onto the same space as a mole rat, the mole rat is bitten and must return to its starting location to use a medkit. If you are bitten twice, your mole rat dies and the game ends.

Every player has a card. On your turn you must play it. Most cards will move both snakes and mole rats. The card will show which color of snake will move. Sometimes all snakes of that color move, sometimes you get to choose which one moves. Sometimes a card will even put more snakes on the board or move them up the nearest ladder.

The card will also show whether your mole rat will move, whether all mole rats get to move, or whether or not you get to choose which player moves. For both mole rats and snakes, when you play the card you get to choose which direction to move them around the board.

At the end of your turn you draw another card. If the deck of cards ever runs out, you lose the game. If a snake ever makes it into the escape pod, you also lose the game.

Gameplay

Mole Rats in Space looks fabulous. The mole rat figures have little backpacks in which you place the items as you collect them, and the cards are a nice, solid quality. A particularly neat feature is that the game comes with an envelope which you are only supposed to open after three victories, and adds a little something extra to the gameplay. Everything about the production of the game is fantastic.

Even though everyone only has one card, there’s still a lot you can discuss about strategy as you plan how to best use all the cards together and you really have to plan several turns ahead if you want to avoid the snakes or keep them out of the escape pod.

It is certainly a kid’s game, and as such just a hair too simplistic to make it something you’re regularly going to play without children. But despite that, it’s still challenging and still a lot of fun for adults as well as kids making this a perfect game for families. It’s also easy to teach, another great feature for a family game, and older kids could easily play it on their own.

If you’re looking for a new addition to family game night, you should definitely give Mole Rats in Space a try. It’s a family game that everyone is going to enjoy.

Pros: Great production quality, great cooperative gameplay for families

Cons: A little too simplistic for an adult gaming group

Disclosure: we received a complimentary review copy of this game.