It’s been a while! For that I’m sorry. I hope to get back in the swing of things. I spoke too soon with one of my last posts about shingles pain – it’s been kicking my butt lately.
I’m excited to share this game with you: Boss Monster. My husband gave it and another to me as part of my birthday festivities.
Bad guys get a bad rap but sometimes it can be fun to play the bad guy. In this game you are the ultimate bad guy: the boss. It’s based off an old eight-bit style of video game but instead of being the hero, you are the villain. You attempt to build a dungeon that will attract heroes while also being able to defeat them.
I thoroughly enjoyed this game with four players and look forward to playing it against my husband alone and seeking revenge*. Bwahahaha!
Here’s the breakdown:
Play time: 30 Minutes
By: Brotherwise Games
I’ll break it down based on mechanics, accessibility, and engagement.
Perhaps with additional play throughs the dynamics will seem a little more streamlined. It felt quite clunky at times.
One example of clunkiness was that in the instructional video we watched they suggested that after drawing our boss identities, we rearrange ourselves in descending rank of experience points (XP). This wasn’t a huge deal, it just felt awkward. This was suggested because the turn order begins with the player whose boss card has the most XP and ends with the player who has the least.
Speaking of XP, this number seemed completely arbitrary yet it was used as a determining factor for ties and such (which go to the lower ranking boss), which felt unfair. It may possibly be an attempt to compensate for unbalanced special abilities on the “Level Up”: the first time a player has five room cards played side by side (which is the maximum adjacent – all other rooms must be stacked atop the previous ones).
Despite watching a video we still had different interpretations of the rules and had to keep consulting the rule book more often than is typical for this group.
There were several phases to a round. The first was the drawing phase where each player would draw a card. Afterwards players would select a room to play – facedown then revealed simultaneously – in an effort to appeal to the heros. Heroes are in four varieties:
– mages (seeking books/knowledge)
– paladins (seeking swords/combat),
– clerics (seeking relics/ankhs), and
– thieves (seeking gold)
The player with the most books attracts the mages, and so on and so forth. In this case if there is a tie, the heroes stay in town until the next phase. The heroes would go through the dungeon and either “wound” the boss, or be defeated. Five wounds/defeats meant a boss died (unless he had spell cards to counter), and ten “souls” wins the game. Some heroes are worth more than others.
One additional example of an unbalance in the game was a particular card – the damage it did was based on the number of rooms a player had in play. This created a huge advantage for that player versus other players. There were two of these in the deck, and there was at least one card that allowed it to be stolen, and it seemed like there were a few that allowed it to be destroyed. It might have been simpler to add a few more cards that were higher damage or made spells that compensated easier to acquire.
This game is not extremely accessible even though it was fun. If you have never played/ are not aware of an rpg style game, and more precisely the 8 bit video game era, then this game might not be as easy for you to appreciate.
As for age appropriateness, I didn’t examine the cards in the most stringent detail, but I did notice that one card does have partial pixelated nudity. I had the card in front of me and did not notice it until I took a picture of the card. The nudity is not realistic and not noticeable, but there nonetheless. Also, some of the mechanics of the game were confusing with grown ups after watching a video on how it’s played. I would imagine it would be equally if not more confusing and frustrating depending on a kid’s personality.
Blocky graphics hearkening back to weaker consoles imbue a certain nostalgia – the tabletop equivalent of Tower Falls Ascension and to a degree some of Minecraft.
While it is charming and engaging, visually it may also prove difficult for some players. The colors are close compliments and could be I suspect quite difficult to decipher without EnChroma glasses. The fonts are also somewhat pixelated. They are distinct enough they may prove helpful for people with dyslexia (there’s that font designed to make it easier but honestly I found it distracting), but parts of the text are also on the small side. This could also prove to be a game best enjoyed with reading glasses for some.
While your boss is alive, this game can be quite engaging. That really changes if your boss has been mortally wounded.
As an active player, the turns are played in XP value order in phases. Each phase is short, and it behooves you to closely watch the other players moves and strategize to the best of your ability. It can be difficult to predict what changes will be made. I tried to be very careful but so often my caution makes it difficult to succeed. Hmmm… Life lesson there? I didn’t take enough risks, and will have to adjust my strategy in the future.
Like Epic Spell Wars II, this game really suffers from knocking out a player and that being it. I wish deceased players could wield spells from the grave to sabotage the other bosses and claim some of their souls and possibly return to life. There are expansions, so perhaps some of this is addressed in them.
Boss Monster really is a blast for the right crowd. We’ve noticed that quite a few of our games require three or more players, so my husband bought it knowing I’d mentioned it in the past.
This game is available at Amazon. #NotSponsored
Happy Gaming! Play on!
*He is a prankster, Loki incarnate. On the other hand, I don’t have a trickster bone in me. I must seek revenge somehow.