John Carpenter’s THE THING is tops on my list when it comes to tension-filled atmospheric paranoia. The premise of being stuck in the outpost with an alien creature that can assimilate and mimic other living life forms is the stuff of pure horror genius, not to mention nightmares. I was beyond thrilled when I heard rumour of a board game being developed that was based on the movie, and over the moon when the game arrived on my doorstep.
Where do I begin? The gang’s all here: Childs, MacReady, Clark and all the others (even the dog shooting Norwegian from the film’s opening, more on that later). One thing comes off loud and clear from the start: if you’re a fan of the movie, you’ll most likely love this game. Ultimately what the success of THE THING: INFECTION AT OUTPOST 31 rests on is whether is has enough to differentiate itself from other hidden identity games, something you’ll have to decide in the end.
THE THING: INFECTION AT OUTPOST 31 is a 4-8 player game where one player becomes the “Thing” and the others are tasked with stopping it. Players are given roles as such as scientist, mechanic, radio operator, cook, helicopter pilot along with a “Human” or “Infected” card. One person is given the captain role (which you know he’s the “Captain” because he has the Captain role indicator “gun” in front of him. The “Captain” draws a mission card and selects a group to go on missions with him (each round has a mission). The “Captain” must choose different combinations of “humans to accompany him these missions as some require certain skill sets. Once the team is assembled they must set out into the gameplay area or “Outpost” and the “Captain” chooses a room to check out.
You move the characters on the mission into rooms move and find try to locate useful “supply cards” (weapons or items), if confronted by “THE THING” they may need to attack it. Cards are placed into a pile by each player, shuffled and the “Captain” can either remove a card from the what is in hand in favor of one from a draw deck. He then must turn a card to reveal if the mission was a success, if successful you may reveal the “room chip” to see what you’ve gain for your troubles. If the mission is a failure or you turn over a sabotage card you may have to fight (via a roll of dice) a “THING” or something else unsavory (many games have a similar process, so this makes this game very easy to get a handle on).
I do enjoy how the tension builds between players throughout each mission and people start to accuse players of being the “Thing” (or infected) much like in the movie. The gameplay progresses, dice are rolled and objectives grow in stature, if the infected haven’t burned down the outpost or infected all humans by the time human players have finished all objects, they have one final push to get them at the “escape” portion of the game. Players must pick a “Final Captain”. The “Final Captain” must choose who gets to have a seat on the helicopter and who must be left behind. The “Captain” will have blood tests to aid him in his choices for the helicopter. This is depending on how well “Human” players did throughout the game. he may have many blood tests to inspect or he may have zero. The final act has the “Captain” choose the players and then have the players reveal if they are human or infected. This is the big payoff all your hard work comes down to cheers or moans.
THE THING INFECTION AT OUTPOST 31 is exciting and really immerses you in the whole experience (it’s a party game), I would suggest gathering the maximum players for this game, it makes it that much more intense. I’ve only played through this a couple times and I can tell you that you may want to tinker with a few things like how many cards are picked up and discarded throughout the game (it with add, even more, tension leading into the final escape). I do enjoy the artwork by artists Justin Erickson, Mark Simpson (II), although I was really hoping for lenticular movie images on the character cards (I understand this probably wasn’t financially doable). The cards themselves could have benefited from being on a little heavier stock, but again I understand why this wasn’t implemented.
Overall designer Joe Van Wetering and MONDO/PROJECT RAYGUN (USAOPOLY) did an admirable job in making a game true to the movie predecessor and also making the 60-120 minute gameplay intriguing and fun. There are two versions of the game out on the market now the standard edition (which I received) MSRP: $59.95 and the MONDO “Exclusive” edition which features alternative artwork packaging by artist JOCK. This version also includes expanded gameplay, an Outpost 31 enamel pin, two extra character pieces “The dead Norwegian and Palmer-Thing. This already sold out edition came with a price tag of $120. Wouldn’t this game make an awesome gift for that JOHN CARPENTER fan for the holidays? Get The Flamethrower and find out more at