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Who Goes There?: The Thing returns to the tabletop

Enlarge / The boardgame for the book is better crowd?
Charlie Theel
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Few moments linger in my brain like a particular scene in John Carpenter’s movie The Thing. In the cold of an Antarctic night, the group corners and confronts a mutated imitation of their pal Bennings, its eyes wide and mouth gaping. They give it the torch and burn it down. The moment is as unsettling as the film is iconic.

Carpenter’s work was an imaginative take on the novella Who Goes There? by John Campbell. As good as the transition to film was, we now have another interpretation—one made of cardboard and plastic. The new board game from Certifiable Studios means you too can now snuff out an insidious alien life form.

First contact with Who Goes There? is all about flipped expectations. While the Antarctic setting is a barren hellscape devoid of luxury, the box certainly is not. There are miniatures for each character, two boards, dual-layered player mats, hundreds of cards (running the gamut from weapons to literal junk), and even an incorrigible dog miniature that serves as the turn marker. It screams “over the top” as only a Kickstarter release can.

Who Goes There? is a semi-cooperative game where one side represents the unaltered human research team and the other side an infected group of hostile lifeforms. This might sound like a social deduction game, the kind with design principles that favor larger groups (as seen in Mondo’s take on the same subject matter). But instead of a game yearning for at least a half-dozen warm bodies, Who Goes There? is perfectly fine with three or four. In fact, to push beyond that number would require expansion sets—and would move the time to play this lengthy three-hour experience into the truly “unbearable” range. So: three or four players it is.