I recently ran across the card game Boss Monster and I had to have it. As a child of the 80s the NES inspired box art really spoke to me. The game has an interesting premise too: Each player is a video game boss that tries to kill heroes that enter their level. Does it rule or suck? I found out for you!
Probably the best part about Boss Monster is the great 8 bit inspired art. They’re really charming and lend a lot to fun of the game. That’s the first thing that really draws you in, the art. Then the humor of the game really takes hold. The rooms, heroes, and boss monsters all have a humorous spin on them that really makes the atmosphere of the game.
The game play is fairly simple, but it does take a bit of reading to try to get it down as you play it for the first time. In Boss Monster each player (up to four) is a video game boss monster that controls their own “dungeons”. What’s rather interesting is that each dungeon is separate from the rest, meaning that each player is basically has their own little game… or level. The rooms are built by room cards and as the game progresses you add more rooms or alter them into different rooms. Each round a hero or heroes can pass through the dungeon (1 at a time) either to be killed or to damage your boss monster. And you really don’t want the heroes to get to you, because with enough damage you die and you’re out of the game.
Each player starts off as a randomly selected Boss Monster. Each Boss Monster has a special ability that is used when they “level up”. Leveling up happens once you have built so many rooms. You get to use your ability once and that’s it. The only other thing that is special about them is that they are worth a certain amount of XP, which determines when they go. It goes from highest to lowest XP, which is kind of funny when you consider that in a video game it progresses the opposite way.
Play progresses where players take turns building their dungeons, then having a hero go through their dungeon, and either killing or being hurt by the hero. Then play goes to the next person. It’s kind of an interesting way to simulate watching someone else play a video game. It doesn’t take all that long, so you don’t feel like you’re stuck waiting forever for your turn.
Occasionally, other players are able to affect a hero or other properties of your dungeon to make it more difficult for you to defeat a hero. That’s probably my favorite aspect of the game, however it didn’t happen as often I liked. Mostly spells are a way to enhance the enemy player, but spells were few and far between. Thankfully, their is a variation of the game where you get to draw more of the spell cards and I’m probably only going to play that way going forward.
I only have two gripes about Boss Monster. The first is the rules. They’re written in such a way that there’s a lot of ambiguity. I play tested with two veteran gamers and all of us had some issues here and there figuring out what we were supposed to do and when we were supposed to do it. For instance, two of us thought that when you built an Advanced Room in your dungeon that it added to the qualities of the first room, not completely overrode it. Well, we were wrong. There are a few rules like this where we had to work them out.
Boss Monster could use a few more cards aside from hero enhancements and cards that affect the cards that are in the other player’s hands. I would have liked to see a lot more cards that messed with the other player’s dungeons. It might be really fun to screw over another player by suddenly making their dungeon a lot less deadly. Interaction between players is always a good thing.
Currently, there’s one expansion available that adds items to the hero characters. I’m hoping there will be more expansions in the future, because as it is the game is fun but it could use a bit more to it to beef it up. I’d enjoy more rooms/bosses/heroes as well as more spells to mess with the other players. And as stated before, I’d like more ability to screw with the other player’s dungeons.
It’s worth noting that Boss Monster started off as a Kickstarter project. As someone who really dislikes Kickstarters and prefer to buy things in a store (online or off), I’m glad it was big enough to see a retail release.
Boss Monster is a pretty fun game once you work out the kinks and perhaps add a few of your own rules. Hopefully there will be more expansions in the future, but even without them it’s a good time. It also doesn’t require a lot of time to play, our game was done in about an hour and that was only due to the fact we had never played it before.
Have you played Boss Monster? Let us know what you think in the comments!