Boss Monster – not all pixelated games are created equal

I was really excited to get this game in.  It came in on the heels of Pixel Lincoln, and having another pixelated game in shop, especially one that allowed you to play as the antagonist, really intrigued me.

Game Information
Boss Monster
DesignerJohnny O'Neal, Chris O'Neal
ArtistBeau Buckley, Francisco Coda, Katrina Guillermo, Kyle Merritt, David Nyari, Alexander Olsen, Andres Sanabria
PublisherBrotherwise Games, Edge Entertainment, Fever Games, Pegasus Spiele, Redbox, Trefl Joker Line
Year Published2013
# of Players2 - 4
Playing Time20
Mfg Suggested Ages13 and up
CategoryCard Game, Fantasy, Video Game Theme
MechanicAuction/Bidding, Hand Management, Player Elimination, Take That, Variable Player Powers
ExpansionBoss Monster: Final Form! Promo Card, Boss Monster: Bast Promo Card, Boss Monster: Bastas Promo Card, Boss Monster: Bom-Boy Factory Promo Card, Boss Monster: Collector Box, Boss Monster: Crash Landing, Boss Monster: Creator Pack, Boss Monster: Epic Multi Heroes, Boss Monster: Get Over Here! Promo Card, Boss Monster: Hidden Secrets, Boss Monster: Implements of Destruction, Boss Monster: Killa, Man Eating Gorilla Promo, Boss Monster: Klonos Promo Card, Boss Monster: König Croak Promo Card, Boss Monster: Malakill Promo Card, Boss Monster: Mirrax Promo Card, Boss Monster: Paper & Pixels, Boss Monster: Portable Pack, Boss Monster: Power-Up Pack, Boss Monster: Quothe Promo Card, Boss Monster: Reactor Core, Boss Monster: The Golden Dragon, Boss Monster: The Lost Levels, Boss Monster: Tools of Hero-Kind, Boss Monster: Totale Zerstörung!
FamilyBoss Monster, Crowdfunding: Kickstarter
Alternate NamesBoss Monster: Baue deinen Dungeon!, Boss Monster: Costruisci il tuo dungeon, Boss Monster: gra karciana o budowaniu podziemi, Boss Monster: Le jeu de cartes de création de donjon, Boss Monster: Master of the Dungeon, Monstruo Final

Info courtesy of boardgamegeek.com. More Info.

When it arrived it was in a small box that looked extremely reminiscent of an old NES game: black, with the title stripe and pixelated characters above the name.  This choice of a small box really pleases me in two major ways.  Firstly, it’s an artistic nod back to the video games of yore.  Secondly, it’s not much bigger than what the game actually requires.  All that comes in the box is cards, four decks to be precise, and an instruction book.  That doesn’t exactly take up a ton of space, and I think it was very good of them to go with a small, practically sized, box rather than a huge one to simply gain more shelf presence.

The rule book was a small chore to read through, but on the whole wasn’t too daunting.  Although, now that I’ve had this game as part of my collection for a while, there are portions of this rule book I have to gripe about.  Primarily the fact that there is no quick reference.  What is the one thing that people often have to reference when pulling out a game they have played a few times?  That’s right: the starting set up.  I can never remember how many cards you have to draw, and instead of being on page one, it’s on approximately page eight or nine.  This means it always takes me several minutes to re-find this information, which is something that could have been fixed quickly with a reference sheet.

The game is a tableau building game played over a series of rounds, each of which is comprised of three distinct segments.  Firstly, new heroes wander into the town each turn, seeking adventure.  It’s at this point that each of the bosses (players) build onto their dungeon by playing a card.  This action is chosen simultaneously, and will help decide which dungeon each hero is attracted to.  Once players have built on to their dungeon, the heroes are evaluated and go to the dungeon of their choice, and progress through the dungeon (hopefully) to their doom.  If they die, you’ll receive their soul as a point.  If they survive, they damage you, bringing you one step closer to defeat.

Dungeon rooms each do something special, in addition to applying damage to the heroes, allowing players to build dungeons that will be more evil and deadly.  Some rooms will send heroes back to the start to do it all over again, other rooms will give you bonuses if a hero dies there.  For this reason, the layout of the dungeon is crucial to your success.

In addition to dungeon rooms having abilities, each one has “loot” associated with it.  This loot is what attracts the heroes to your dungeon rather than to your opponents.  Each room shows a series of symbols.  Ankhs attract clerics, books attract mages, swords attract fighters, and bags of money attract thieves.  The person with the most of the given hero’s symbol will attract that hero to their dungeon.  However, if there is a tie, the hero stays put in town as he doesn’t find either dungeon particularly tempting.

Review of
'Boss Monster'
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Instructions:      
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Price ($24.99):   
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Overall Rating:    

On the whole, the game takes about 30-45 minutes to play, but honestly for me, that was about 30 minutes too long.  Everything I’ve described makes this sound like a game that I would like to play, but the reality of it is much different.  In the early rounds of the game, players either try desperately to not attract the attention of the heroes, or often suffer huge amounts of early damage from letting them make it through without dying.  If all the players can manage to stave off getting the heroes attention in the early game, by the late game it’s an avalanche of heroes all going through the dungeon at the same time, when someone finally manages to stand out, and thus having an insurmountable lead.  Tack that onto a tableau building game that has little to no actual synergy, and it’s just random dumb luck of the draw disguised as a meaningful decision.

 

This entry was posted by The_Null_Entry on Monday, January 27th, 2014 at 6:42 pm and is filed under Board Game Reviews, Theme Games . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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