Will the Mole Rats in Space survive?

Mole Rats in Space board game

Can you help the mole rats make it to the space escape pod in time?

Mole Rats in Space is the latest cooperative family board game by famed game designer Matt Leacock.

But instead of curing the world of disease, rescuing artifacts from a sinking island, or constructing a ship among storming desert winds, this time we’re getting our mole rats safely to a space escape pod.

We don’t know what mole rats are doing in this space station to begin with, but apparently they’re out there. And it’s our job to make sure they get to the escape pod with precious equipment before the snakes overrun the space station.

Are you and your kids up to the challenge?


How to play Mole Rays in Space

If you’ve played Pandemic, Forbidden Island, or Forbidden Desert you’ll have a sense of what you’re in for. Players must work together and coordinate actions to successfully win the game.

And just as in those other cooperative games, there’s only one way to win but multiple ways to lose.

To win, players need to get the 4 pieces of equipment and all mole rats to the escape pod in the center of the board. However, if a mole rat is bitten by a snake twice, if a mole rat falls through an air vent into outer space, if a snake gets into the escape pod, or if players run out of cards, they all lose.

Mole Rats in Space board game

Try to get all the mole rats and 4 pieces of equipment to the escape pod.

Mole Rats in Space is simple and straightforward game to learn and play.

To begin, players choose a mole rat and place it and its medical kit on their colored space. Players also place the 4 pieces of equipment and 1 snake of each color on the marked spaced on the board. Then they shuffle the deck of cards, deal one card face up to each player, and they’re ready to play.

On a player’s turn they complete the actions on their card in order from top to bottom — Moles first, then Snakes.

Since all players can see each other’s cards (and are working together) they may all discuss the possible options to take.

Once a player has completed both actions on their card, they discard it and draw another card face up. It’s then the next player’s turn.

Card Actions:

The arrows on both the top and bottom sections of the card indicate how many spaces to move in either direction (range from 1 to 3 spaces). If there’s a slash between arrows it means to choose one or the other.

Mole Rats in Space board game

Each card tells you what to move on your turn.

Moving Mole Rats:

  • The clear mole rat image means to move that player’s rat.
  • The rainbow mole rat means to move one mole rat of any color.
  • If all 4 mole rats are shown, it means all mole rats must be moved.

Moving Snakes:

  • A single colored snake image means to move one snake of that color.
  • A rainbow snake means to move one snake of any color.
  • 3 colored snakes mean that all snakes of that color must be moved.
  • A snake with a starburst behind it means to place one new snake of that color on its marked space on the board.
  • Snakes with dotted arrows pointing to ladders mean to move the indicated snakes to the closest ladder.

Mole rats and snakes can pass over ladder and holes while moving. However, when a mole or a snake end their movement at the base of a ladder, they immediately move up. If they end their movement on a space with an open hole in the floor, they fall down the air vent to the next level (or into outer space). If a mole rat falls into outer space, the game is over and the players lose.

Mole Rats in Space board game

Can we get this Snake to all in the air vent and into outer space?

If a mole rat and snake are ever on the same space (at the end of movement or even during movement), the mole rat is bitten and must immediately return to their start space. If it’s the first time that mole rat is bitten, discard that mole’s medical kit and keep playing. If it’s the second time for that mole rat, the game is over and the players lose.

Mole Rats in Space board game

The first time a mole is bitten, it will use up its 1 medical kit.

When a mole rat ends its movement on a space with equipment, they place the equipment in their backpack.

When a mole rat ends on a space with another mole rat, they push that mole rat forward one space (since they can’t share spaces). Snakes, however, can share spaces.

Once a mole rat has landed on the escape pod space in the center of the board, that mole rat doesn’t move any more. When that mole rat’s player gets a card that tells them to move their colored mole rat, they can move another player’s mole rat instead.

If during play the draw deck of cards is depleted, the players only have their remaining cards left to try to win the game. Otherwise, they’ve run out of time and lose the game.

If all 4 pieces of equipment have been collected and all mole rats make it to the escape pod, all players win!

Family game publisher Peaceable Kingdom has done a great job with the production as well. These space moles are the cutest moles you’ll ever find in a board game.

Mole Rats in Space board game

The cute mole are ready for the challenge.


Can the whole family enjoy Mole Rats in Space?

Mole Rats in Space is a fun way to introduce cooperative board games to the younger members of your family.

As you may be aware, we’re big fans of cooperative board games for families as everyone works together facing challenges. And in a game like Mole Rats in Space, the younger kids don’t just sit back and do what their parents suggest they do on their turns. Instead, the decisions are direct enough for the kids to figure what to do.

Yet at the same time, Mole Rats in Space isn’t an easy game to beat. Even playing with just adults doesn’t guarantee a win.

A lot depends on the luck of the card draw in what players options are. And that’s a great thing in a family game because it means each game will play out differently.

Mole Rats in Space board game

The Blue mole has picked up the Radish.

Playing with all the cards face up is also a good element of the game because it allows all players to be aware of what future options they’ll have. They can strategize to position moles and snakes in helpful places for the upcoming player’s turns.

We also like that the bad things that happen (snakes moving) isn’t a surprise when it occurs.

In all cooperative board games there’s a step where bad things happen. Players typically take their actions and then flip over a card or roll dice to trigger a bad event. It’s a surprise event.

However, in Mole Rats in Space players know in advance exactly what bad thing is going to happen. They know exactly which snakes are going to move.

As such, they can better prepare for those bad events and take actions to lessen their impact. Or better yet, even set it up so that snakes drop into air vents and get dropped into outer space.

That little addition to the game play helps makes Mole Rats in Space even more approachable for younger players.

Mole Rats in Space board game

It’s great to know in advance which snakes are going to move.

Oh, and let’s not forget to mention the critical pieces of equipment the mole rats have to gather are fun things to boot.

There’s a Map — which sounds perfectly logical for any space station.

Then there’s the Radish — because moles love their veggies.

And with those big front teeth I guess it only makes sense they’d need to grab their Toothbrush.

Finally, every successful equipment kit needs a supply of Duct Tape!

Mole Rats in Space board game

The Duct Tape is placed on it’s starting space – because every space station needs duct tape!


How does Mole Rats in Space score on our “Let’s Play Again” game meter?

Mole Rats in Space board gameSince Mole Rats in Space is at the foundational level of cooperative board games, we don’t anticipate playing it over and over in our family. But that’s mostly because of the age of our kids and our experience with games.

When we hit the table with a cooperative board game, we’re after a steeper challenge. Right now we’re still in the middle of our Pandemic Legacy: Season 1 games and having a great time.

That being said, we can see the beauty in the design and game play of Mole Rats in Space that families with younger kids will enjoy over and over. And we already anticipate it staying in our game collection to be ready to introduce our eventual grandkids into the fun realm of cooperative board games.

If you’re looking for a great cooperative board game to get your kids into games, Mole Rats in Space is a great selection.


Other great family board games by Matt Leacock we’ve reviewed:

We also have a couple more in the queue — Pandemic: The Cure and Pandemic Legacy: Season 1

We’d like to thank Peaceable Kingdom for providing a review copy of Mole Rats in Space.



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