Released in 1991, Terminator 2: Judgment Day was the sequel to the popular sci-fi movie about killer robots from the future. While I wouldn’t consider myself one of the biggest fans of the franchise, I still enjoy it. With how popular the movie was it should surprise no one that Milton Bradley tried to cash in on the success with a board game. Anyone with experience with movie tie-in board games knows that for the most part they are terrible. Before playing the game I didn’t think Terminator 2: Judgment Day was going to be any better. To the surprise of probably no one, the Terminator 2: Judgment Day board game is another boring movie tie-in game that does nothing original.
How to Play Terminator 2: Judgment Day
- Each player chooses a color. They place the corresponding Connor pawn on the start space and the three equipment pieces on the corresponding corner spaces.
- Place the T-1000 pawn on the T-1000 start space.
- Shuffle the cards and deal four cards to each player. The rest of the cards form the draw pile.
- The player to the left of the dealer will start the game.
Phase One – The Race
Terminator 2: Judgment Day is played in two phases. In the first phase the players are trying to collect the three equipment pieces of their color. On a player’s turn they will take the following actions:
- Move their own playing piece or the T-1000.
- Battle the T-1000 (if appropriate).
- Draw cards.
Players begin their turn by playing one movement card. There are two different types of movement cards. Cards that feature Sarah or John will move the player’s playing piece. Cards featuring the T-1000 will move the T-1000.
When a player plays a Connor card they will move their playing piece the corresponding number of spaces if possible. A player can move their playing piece in any direction but they can’t move their piece through the same space twice on a turn.
If you move your playing piece to a space occupied by one of the other players you will move your piece to the next open space.
If you land on or move through a space occupied by the T-1000 you must immediately stop moving and will have to fight the T-1000. When a player moves onto one of the equipment corner spaces (does not have to be by exact count), they will take their colored token of that piece of equipment.
The T-1000 will move the number of spaces indicated on the card. The T-1000 can move in any direction but can never occupy one of the corner spaces. When the T-1000 lands on or moves through a space occupied by a player pawn, it stops immediately to fight that player.
If a player is on the same space as the T-1000 they will fight it.
The player will take the Connor die and give the T-1000 die to one of the other players. If the player moved their pawn onto the Terminator space they get to choose who rolls the T-1000 die. If the T-1000 was moved onto the player’s space, the player that moved the T-1000 gets to roll the die.
If the player that is battling has a Terminator card, they can play it which allows them to use the Terminator die in addition to the Connor die.
Both player then roll their die/dice. Whichever player rolls more faces will win the battle. If both players roll the same number of faces, both players roll again. If the player played a Terminator card they get to use the Terminator die for any re-rolls.
If the player wins the battle they get to stay on their space. The player also gets to move the T-1000 to any other space on the board except for a corner space and a space occupied by one of the other players.
If the player loses the battle, the T-1000 stays on the space. The player’s pawn gets sent back to the start space.
The current player will draw cards until they have four cards in their hand. If any other players played cards during the turn, they will also draw cards until they have four cards in their hand. If the draw pile ever runs out of cards, shuffle the discard pile in order to get a new draw pile. Play then passes to the next player clockwise.
Phase Two – The Steel Mill
When a player has acquired all three pieces of their equipment they immediately move their piece to the middle of the board. The player also moves the T-1000 to Steel Mill space. The player can discard all of the cards from their hand except for Terminator cards.
The player that has reached the Steel Mill will then battle the T-1000. Battles are conducted in the same way as they are during the first phase and players can use a Terminator card to get the additional die.
If the player beats the T-1000, the T-1000 is pushed back one space towards the molten steel vat. The current player also gets to battle the T-1000 again. The player will have to use another Terminator card though if they want to use the Terminator die.
If a player loses the battle with the T-1000, the player’s turn ends. The player does not get to draw cards at the end of their turn. The T-1000 stays on its’ current space. The next player then takes their turn. If they are still in phase one they will continue moving around the board trying to collect their remaining equipment pieces. If they are in phase two they will continue trying to push the T-1000 towards the molten steel vat.
End of Game
The game ends when the T-1000 is pushed in the molten steel vat. Whichever player moves the T-1000 onto the last space wins the game.
My Thoughts on Terminator 2: Judgment Day
Generally license board games don’t have great reputations. Most of the games are quickly rushed out in order to cash-in on the popularity of the movie or television franchise and it usually shows. Most of these games end up being simple roll and move games with a few slight tweaks and a theme pasted on in order to connect the game to the franchise. Little effort is generally placed into actually making an enjoyable game as the publishers are mostly just hoping for people to buy the game based on the franchise rather than the game actually being good. Terminator 2: Judgment Day is the perfect example of what a rushed licensed game looks like.
Basically Terminator 2: Judgment Day is a roll and move game that doesn’t actually utilize dice. Instead of rolling dice you use cards in order to move your character and the T-1000 around the board. Your goal is to move your piece around the board collecting tokens while also trying to avoid the T-1000. It might not utilize the dice but this is basically what you do in every roll and move game. I will say using the cards adds slightly more strategy as you can choose which card you will play each turn but there is still a lot of luck since you have no control over what cards you draw.
There is next to no strategy to this part of the game as it is pretty obvious how you should move on any given turn. Basically you should go down one of the two sides, pick up that token, move towards the middle token, pick up that token, and finally move towards the other token and pick it up. As far as moving the T-1000 you move it away from yourself and toward another player. The only potential strategy in the game is trying to use the rule that you can’t land on the same space as another player in order to gain a free space. I wouldn’t really even consider that much of a strategic move though.
Other than having the basic movement mechanics of pretty much every other licensed game, the game includes a battling mechanic. Unfortunately the battling mechanic is not very good either. Basically the game uses the most basic battle mechanic that it could find. Two players roll a die and the first to roll a character when the other doesn’t wins the battle. There is very little strategy to the battles as the player who rolls better is always going to win. The battles don’t even matter that much as the only punishment for losing a battle is being sent back to the start space. You don’t lose any tokens or face any other punishment. I love how the game turned a killer robot into a robot that is just going to mildly annoy you.
The only real strategy in the battles comes from choosing whether you are going to use your Terminator cards. While getting Terminator cards relies entirely on luck, choosing when to play the cards can actually have a pretty big impact on the game. Playing a Terminator card gives you a huge advantage in a battle. As each dice gives you a 50% chance of rolling a character, having two dice is really helpful. I honestly don’t remember a single time where a player played a Terminator card and lost the battle. With how powerful the Terminator cards are you need to choose the best times to play them. They can really help you when you are trying to get one of the tokens but they might even be more valuable in the second phase.
Speaking of the second phase I have to say that it is probably the dumbest part of the entire game. The second phase pretty much acts as a huge catch up mechanic. While it is good getting to the second phase earlier, it doesn’t necessarily give you much of an advantage. The problem with the second phase is that all of the players end up working together to push the T-1000 into the molten steel vat. If a player gets to the phase earlier they could do a lot of the work pushing the T-1000 towards the vat. Then another player could just sneak in and steal the victory by getting lucky at the end. While this mechanic might have worked if the game was cooperative, since the game isn’t it makes the first phase of the game almost pointless. You could do well for the whole game and then another player could just sneak in and take advantage of all of your work. I honestly think the game should have just had each player have their own track so none of the players could take advantage of the other players’ work.
Like most licensed games the Terminator 2: Judgment Day is a pretty simple game. There really isn’t that much to the game and most of the decisions are so obvious I really can’t see the game being confusing for anyone. The game has a starting age of seven and that seems right as I could even see kids slightly younger probably being able to play the game. While the game wasn’t made so simple that it should have an upper age limit, it is pretty obvious that the Terminator 2: Judgment Day game was made more for children than adults.
While on the topic that this game was made for children, I want to quickly comment on the fact that I find it weird that a children’s board game was created based on a R rated movie. For some reason Milton Bradley thought it was a good idea making a board game based on a movie franchise that the targeted audience couldn’t watch without their parent’s approval. While this might sound odd it was actually more common than you would think. For some reason in the 1980s and early 1990s toy manufacturers for some reason thought it was a good idea to make action figures and other toys based on popular movie franchises that were rated R. I really don’t know why they thought this was a good idea.
When you look at the Terminator 2: Judgment Day game, outside of the terrible catch-up mechanic there really isn’t anything broken about the game. The rules are far from original but they make sense. The problem is that the game is just so boring. The game relies on very little strategy as most of the decisions are so obvious. It feels like you are going through the motions until a player is lucky enough to win the game. The game may not be broken but that might be have been preferable if it had something unique going for it. Terminator 2: Judgment Day has nothing unique as everything in the game has been done by many other games and most of those games did it better.
Before wrapping up lets quickly talk about the game’s components. Like the rest of the game, the component quality is what you would expect from a Milton Bradley license game. The gameboard is pretty bland. The components are of a pretty average quality. I think the biggest problem that I had with the components is that the artwork isn’t very good. The gameboard just uses random scenes from the movie and the dice artwork is somewhat hard to recognize.
Should You Buy Terminator 2: Judgment Day?
If you have ever played a bad movie tie-in board game you should already have a pretty good idea of what to expect out of the Terminator 2: Judgment Day game. The game feels like a quick cash grab that was made to try and make money off the success of the movie. The game plays like a typical roll and move game that utilizes cards instead of dice rolls. While this gives players a few more choices it also relies pretty heavily on luck. The game also includes a very basic battling mechanic that really has no tension and relies entirely on luck. There is a little strategy in choosing when to play the Terminator cards but that doesn’t save the mechanic. This is all wrapped up with a mechanic that lets players that fall behind take advantage of the other players’ work. The game has nothing unique in it which leads to a pretty boring experience.
If you are not a big fan of the movie I would highly recommend avoiding the game. The game has no distinguishing features as there are many games that do everything better than Terminator 2: Judgment Day. If you are a huge fan of the franchise I am still pretty leery that you will enjoy the game. It might be worth a try but I doubt you will like it. I think the best use for the game will probably be as a collectible for Terminator collectors.