WBG Score: 7.5
Player Count: 2-4
Published by: Prospero Hall
Designed by: Funko Games
E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial: Light Years From Home is recent board game version of the hugely popular Steven Spielberg movie from 1982. The film is famous for its touching, family-friendly moments of magic, sci-fi, and comedy. Can the board game version recreate these feelings? Let's get it to the table and find out.
First place the main board down into the centre of the table. Shuffle the E.T. powers cards and place three face up by the board with the rest in a face down deck. Then take all the item tiles, mix them up, and place one in each space on the board, avoiding the clearing in the top left of the board, and the three areas with a coloured dice symbols in. Place the mothership on its starting space half way up the right hand side of the board. Then, each player will choose who they want to play as and will take their mini, player board, and matching agent of their chosen colour. Place the mini on the bottom right space on the board and the agent near the top left on the agent marker space. Add the agency named Keys to this space too. This agent will be chasing E.T.
Add the cop cars to spaces A, B, and C. And place the E.T. figure next to the spaces where the kids start. Place E.T.s health tracker next to the board with his health set to six. Take three candy tokens and place these next to a reference sheet, putting the other candy tokens next to the dice to form a pool. You are now ready to start.
How to Play
Starting with the last person to ride a bike, players will now take it in turns to try and save E.T. You will do this buy building three device dice out of items you find lying around the neighbourhood, attracting E.T.s mothership to Earth, and getting E.T. to the rendezvous point, whilst avoiding the agents out to get you.
On your turn, you can take up to three basic actions and as many free actions as you choose. Basic actions include moving your mini up to two spaces, including along the diagonal shortcuts only accessible to the kids. You can pick up a Candy which can be used for a free action later to move E.T. to tempt him along one space. Or, you can pick up an item in a space near you.
The free actions include dropping an item or Device dice you are holding, picking up or dropping E.T. in the space you are in, using an E.T. power if you currently have E.T. in your basket, teaming up with a kid on your space to use their power and/or move them with you, and finally moving E.T with Candy as we mentioned above.
After using your three actions, if you have built a device and taken it to the cleaning, you can now roll any dice there. Any phone symbols rolled will bring the mothership one space closer to the clearing. If you can get the mothership to the clearing when E.T. is in one of the four spaces surrounding this then all players win the game.
After you have had your three actions and rolled the device dice, you must then roll the two black dice, and the red danger dice if you have finished your move on the same space as another kid or E.T. These dice will move the cop cars closer to the clearing along their pre-designated paths, or move the agents closer to you and E.T.
If all three cop cars make it to the clearing, all players loose. If an agent or cop car ever ends on your or E.T.'s space then you are caught. E.T. looses a health, you drop all your items into a nearby space, and you must move back to the starting space. If E.T.'s health drops to zero, all players loose.
The way you build the device dice is buy bringing three, four, or five items (depending on which difficulty you want to play) of the same colour to each dice spot on the board, and then bringing or moving E.T. to that space to covert the items to the dice. One player must then pick up the dice and drop it off into the clearing so it can be rolled after each player's turn. You can win the game without making all three devices, but of course the more you make, the quicker you can get the mothership to the clearing. And the whole time you are doing this, the agent's will be after you, so you need to act as quickly as possible.
As the agents move, you can partly choose which direction they go, but it must always be the quickest route to their assigned kid. But you can use this knowledge to try and out-manoeuvre them, to avoid detection.
When you take a dangerous action, you need to roll the danger dice an extra time. Dangerous action include moving by or past an enemy, or picking up an item near an enemy. However, some of the kids have unique player powers that help them avoid this. This game is all about cooperation and getting each player to utilise their abilities so that your group works as efficiently as possible.
"Teaming Up" so that you can move other players on your turn, to make their turn when it comes around more effective is a key action. But remember, if you end on the same space as another kid you will have to roll the danger die. Discussing with your group the best way to enact your turn will be key.
Is it Fun?
Playing E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial: Light Years From Home Game is a great experience. If you are a fan of the film (and if you're not, then you must be dead inside, a lot younger than me, or perhaps a victim of alien abduction) then you will love this. The art is straight from the movie. Not in terms of stills, but the style and wistfulness. It's beautiful and takes me straight back to my parents ugly polyester coach from the 80's when I first watched this movie and fell in love with a tiny, wrinkly, little alien.
I love cooperative games like this. Games where you can pause, strategise, and decide as a group the best course of action. There is a real sense of jeopardy throughout this game. The agents are often only a few spaces from you, but you can with clever play, avoid their grasp, and keep E.T. safe.
You can of course take more risks, but this again is your choice. It's fun to plan out a risky move, only to be told by another player that they can do this risk free with their special skill, and you then realise you can do something else, more effective, and less risky. But sometimes, you just have to throw the dice, and hope that luck is on your side.
Utilising the power cards is crucial. In my first few games, I was too sparing with these. And I lost. But each time you use one from the three that are face up, the one you used is immediately replaced from the deck. And if you run out of the deck, you can shuffle up the discard pile and go again. As such, you may as well use them whenever they are useful. But as you can only us them when you are carrying E.T. I found our games quickly became like a game of catch with this poor little alien. We were passing him about like a ball, keeping him away from agent Keys, bringing him to the spots where he could make the devices, and using him for his power cards. I would love to see a GPS tracker of E.T.s movement around the town after a game of this!
Each game of E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial: Light Years From Home Game feels tense. Every time I have won it has been very close in terms of E.T.s health. Each time I have lost, I have felt like I was very close to winning. It is so easy to adjust the difficulty by changing the amount of items you need to make the devices, this game is perfect for any age or time period you have to play. As changing the required items not only makes the game easier or harder, it adjust the game length to suit your group too. I love this option and wish more games offered this.
It feels like a real adventure playing this game. It is simple enough for all my family to play, but offers a strong enough reward that keeps us all wanting to come back. Game after game. All to save that little alien!
I would recommend this game to anyone who is a fan of the original film. It will take you right back to the hazy 80's when hair was big, your fizzy drinks were full of sugar, and the summer evenings seemed to never end. This is a time capsule of a game, and has been produced to a very high spec. I will treasure this game as much as I will enjoy playing it, and can see this coming out over the festive holidays, just after we have all enjoyed watching the movie, and with me sat at the table, a broad smile on my face, and my family around me.