Splat Attack! Is a new miniatures combat board game put out by IDW Games. It features characters from four different Nickelodeon cartoons (SpongeBob Squarepants, Rugrats, Hey Arnold!, and Invader Zim) in the base game. It may serve as an easy introduction to the genre of grid-based miniatures combat gaming. As such it is entering the arena of Shadespire and Aristeia, for older players, as well as Krosmaster Arena, HeroClix, and Super Dungeon Explore PVP Arena, for younger players. So how does it compare to the other members of this growing segment of board gaming? What do my own children think of it? Is it suitable for school clubs? Read on to find out!
In Splat Attack!, players field teams of 4 characters, usually from a common cartoon. Two to four players are able to go head to head in a food fight skirmish game using these teams. The characters have just three stats: aim, range, and speed. Speed tells you how many spaces that character can move. Range tells how far they can throw their food. And finally, the aim stat gives the character extra dice to roll when attempting to get hits on an opponent.
Normally, a miniature character would also have a health stat. But in this game, health is handled in a different way from other miniatures games. Every character has a character card with a unique grid pattern on it. Characters with more health have more grid spaces (and a more generic pattern) than the characters with less health. When a character is hit by food, a Tetris piece food splat is placed onto the character’s grid pattern by the player. If the player can not place a Tetris food splat onto the character’s grid within free spaces, the character is out of the food fight. This is called a SPLAT.
On a player’s turn, she can activate only two characters. Once a character is activated it can not be used again until all the other characters have been activated. When a character is activated it can do two actions from a list of three actions. A character can move, throw food, or gather. A character can do two of the same action on their activation. When a character gathers, it picks up any ice cubes on its space and the player adds two food cards from the deck to her hand. Points are gained by picking up those ice cubes. The ice cubes are worth varying amounts of points, which are hidden on the face down side of the cube. When a character picks up an ice cube it holds on to the cube unless an opponent character hits it with food. In that case, the opponent gets to steal the ice cube.
Throwing food (attacking) uses cards and dice. The players each start the game by drawing three food cards from the deck. These food cards feature quite a few different types of food, with varying levels of damage, and different special effects. Each food is worth from 3 to 5 points of damage, which corresponds to the size of the Tetris piece that will need to be placed if the throw succeeds. To throw with a character, the player chooses a food card from her hand and takes the amount of dice equal to the potential damage of the food. Then the player adds the number of dice on her character’s aim stat. For example, if the food is worth 4 damage and the aim stat on the character is a 2, then the player gets to roll 6 dice. The dice have three different types of sides on them. There are hit symbols, danger symbols, and blank sides. The goal is to get as many hit symbols as the damage rating of the food being thrown. Danger symbols can be turned into hits if the player voluntarily takes a danger token and puts it on their character in a free grid space.
If the player rolls at least one hit, their opponent must draw one of the Tetris-shaped food splats from a bag and place it on their grid with as many of the spaces being covered as hits were rolled. If a food is worth 4 damage, for example, and the attacker rolls 2 hits, then the defender will have to pick a size 4 Tetris piece out of its bag and place it onto their character’s grid in such a way that only 2 grid spaces are covered. The other two spaces of the Tetris piece can hang off the grid. If the defender is forced to cover up a danger token that they placed on their grid earlier, then they must give that token to the attacker. Collected danger tokens are worth 1 point each at the end of the game. The attacker also gets to choose a face down normal ice cube that the defender was carrying to take.
If the attacker gets as many hits as the food is worth, they have scored a direct hit. With a direct hit, the attacker gets to steal a Super Cool ice cube (worth more points than regular ice cubes) from the defending character, if they have one.
If the defender is not able to fit the required Tetris food splat on their character’s grid, they must give all their character’s danger tokens to the attacker. They then drop all their ice cubes on the floor where they were and leave the board. The attacker then gets to take a Super Cool ice cube from the game supply. Once all the Super Cool ice cubes have been claimed, the game is over and all the ice cube points and danger token points are added up. The amount of Super Cool Tokens allocated to the game controls how long the game will go.
Reptar Rampage Expansion
The Reptar Rampage expansion adds a giant Reptar miniature to the board. This miniature can be attacked by the character in order to force it to run into one of their opponents’ miniatures. If the Reptar runs into another miniature, that miniature must place a 4 space Tetris food splat on their personal grid and then move to a board space adjacent to the Reptar. If a player manages to SPLAT the Reptar (fill up its grid with Tetris pieces) then the Reptar can move two spaces and instantly eliminate an adjacent miniature of an opponent.
The miniatures in the game are of standard board game miniatures quality and look attractive. They would be fairly easy to paint. The board is made of four smaller cardboard squares which show a messy cafeteria floor. The board is bright and colorful. The cards are of standard quality and are easy to read. The character sheets with the health grids on them are made of thick paper instead of cardboard, unfortunately. Also, the gridlines can be a bit difficult to see on the sheets. The Tetris piece food splat bags are simple paper bags made to look like lunch bags. All in all, the game is bright and colorful on the table.
I and my children enjoy this playing game a great deal! The game is fast and frantic. The more players you have, the more chaotic and fun it gets. I got the Kickstarter version of the game, which supports up to 8 players at once. I look forward to playing a game with that number of players, as I’m sure it will be particularly chaotic. I think the Reptar expansion is pretty much essential to the game, because of the added mayhem it brings. This is not a miniatures game with any deep strategy to be found in it. It’s just a simple light-hearted battle. If you go into the game with that mindset, you will enjoy yourself. If you want more strategic depth, try HeroClix, for younger players, or Aristeia, for older players. This is not meant to compete with those games. For myself, I would not choose to play this game with adult friends due to its theme and simplicity. But for family play it's great!
Parent/ Teacher Recommendations
Splat Attack! is probably the easiest introduction to miniatures gaming out there right now, apart from Krosmaster Arena Junior. It is a wonderful gateway miniatures game for young non-gamers. The miniatures are perfect for younger players to practice painting on. The game is age rated at 14 and above, however. This is probably due to the company not going through the expensive increased product safety testing required to rate games at 12 or below. I’d say the base game should realistically be rated at an age 8 and up. An average third grade child would have no trouble playing this game. The fact that the combat is all splatting food, rather than weapons, is another plus for the game being played by young children. So, the game would be perfectly appropriate for use in school clubs and would probably be quite a hit. I plan to bring it in to mine.