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Aliens are lost and need help finding Earth!

Deductive Game Review: ‘Madner Lost in Space’ from Mental Elemental

Madner Lost in Space from Mental Elemental requires players to kick their brains into top gear. The background story of the game is hilarious: a spaceship of aliens has malfunctioned in a “solar system on the outer spiral arm of this galaxy, ridiculously named “Milky Way” by the natives.” The arrogance of the aliens continues, even though they need to find Earth to make repairs as the fuel supply dwindles. The problem is, their instruments are so damaged that they will have to actively search out which planet is Earth.

Lost in SpaceThe real fun begins as the players work to determine which planet is which. “These humans are so silly, instead of using mathematical names to infer the locations of the planets and galaxies easily, they are mapping meaningless names just because they are close to them.” Players take turns scanning the flipped-over planet cards on the board for binary attributes of each planet. Is it terrestrial or gas? Is the axis tilt off-kilter? Does it have mineable resources? Is it colonizable? Each planet from Mercury to Neptune has a unique set of attributes, allowing players to determine which is which through finding out the details by searching firsthand and also by deducing what other planets would be based on the attributes discovered.

The most novel part of Lost in Space is the planet-finder “gadget” card. With a hole punched in one corner, the card can be rotated to find one of the attributes without revealing the other three. That makes what might have been a big deck of cards (à la Clue) into a much smaller set while keeping them organized on the board.

As each round passes, the fuel marker counts down toward the end of the game. This “ticking clock” heightens the game’s intensity, giving players a visual impetus to make each round count as they work to deduce planets. Players add guess tokens to the board to determine which planet is which. If a player suspects another player has guessed wrongly, they may challenge with a Disprove action. They reveal why the planet is guessed incorrectly, prompting all of the other players’ wrong guess tokens to be stripped from the board.

There are two crucial winning conditions for Madner Lost in Space. Upon fuel running out, the planets are revealed. All players who correctly guessed which is Earth are eligible for victory. The player who determined the most planets overall in addition to Earth wins. Ties go to the player who guessed Earth first.

Lost in Space is a deduction game for two to seven players aged 12 and up. It is an excellent mental workout as players check data and work out the potential names of other planets. Social aspects come in as players will watch one another’s guesses and work from them as well. Especially logical players may have an advantage via strategy, but a good guesser will have a strong chance of taking the lead.

About Jeff Provine

Jeff Provine is a Composition professor, novelist, cartoonist, and traveler of three continents. His latest book is a collection of local ghost legends, Campus Ghosts of Norman, Oklahoma.

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