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Monday, August 19, 2013

Review: Boss Monster

Today we'll take a quick look at Boss Monster, a newly Kickstarted game from Brotherwise Games.

Boss Monster combines a new take on dungeon-building games with a deckbuilding aspect, all wrapped up in a hilarious retro eight-bit video game style. The basic premise of the game has you taking the role of a dungeon boss monster, creating a dungeon out of various room cards, hoping to lure heros to your dungeon with the promises of treasure and princesses, only to squash them down like the puny heroes they are.

The instruction "booklet" even comes packaged like that from an old NES game.

Inside of the rules book. Oh yea, those two pages make up over 50% of the rules, too.
 But enough of the instruction booklet - that's not what we bought this for. So you have five different types of cards.

 The boss card is you. The various bosses don't really change too much of the game - they come with a basic type of treasure to lure heroes, and have various "level-up" effects - an effect you gain once your dungeon reaches five cards deep.
Jarin has a spellbook to lure mage-type heroes (seen in the bottom left of the card). His level up bonus gives you an extra coin (victory point) once your dungeon "levels up" (reaches five cards in size).
 The majority of the game is based around room cards. There are monster rooms and trap rooms, and they all have various synergies that play off of each other. Generally, monster rooms do more damage to heroes, and frequently get stronger with adjacent monster rooms. Trap rooms are often a little weaker, but can be consumed for a bigger effect, such as outright destroying a hero in the room.

Each turn you get to play one room card, building your dungeon out from right to left. The max dungeon size is five. You can play rooms overtop of other rooms, so that when you consume a room (or it's destroyed by another player!), the room below is there there. In the bottom left of a room card is a heart with how much damage it deals to a hero. In the bottom right is a treasure type - the strength of the room at luring heroes to your dungeon. In the middle is a text box - most rooms have some kind of special effect or bonus.

Two monster rooms and a trap room. 
 Every turn, a set number of heroes are revealed. Heroes have a particular type of treasure they will seek. The thief below is looking for bags of money, as indicated in the top right. This particular thief has 6 hit points, as shown in the bottom left. The hero will attempt to travel through whichever dungeon has the most treasure, and will take damage based on the damage value of the rooms he goes through. If he takes six or more, he is defeated and becomes a victory point for that particular boss. If gets through, he becomes a wound. 10 VP and you win - five wounds and you lose. That's about it!

A thief.
 Oh yea. About halfway through the game, the heroes get stronger. A lot stronger.

This fighter has 13 hit points.  He also counts as two wounds if he gets through, but is also two VP if he is defeated.
To assist against the "epic heroes", there are also Advanced Room cards. They are just plain better than normal rooms, but can only be placed on top of a room of the same type. For example, an Advanced Monster Room must be placed on top of a Monster room. So they don't help you make your dungeon bigger, but they do make what you already have better. Because of this, usually advanced rooms don't come out until the dungeon is already at max size.

This Advanced Monster Room's strength is equal to the about of monster rooms in the dungeon, so potentially a whooping five.

The last tool at the boss's disposal are spells. Spell cards are one-time effects that can be played to strengthen your rooms, weaken your opponents rooms, or just in general, cause havoc.
Zombie Attack is a spell that takes a previously defeated hero from an opponents VP pile, and sends the hero back through the dungeon again - with two extra health!

Boss Monster plays very quick, with an average game taking perhaps 15 minutes. It is also pretty easy to teach - you could probably play a game just by reading this article. (There's also a learn to play Youtube video available here). It doesn't have the deep complexity of many of games, so if you're looking for an epic gaming experience, you probably won't find it here. But if you're looking for a quick game to throw down between rounds at a tournament, or during rounds at happy hour, Boss Monster makes a great choice.

I give Boss Monster 6 out of 8 bits.

Boss Monster was a Kickstarter game, but is now available from many online and retail stores. You can get it directly from Brotherwise Games, or any retailer via ACD distribution.

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