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Game Preview: Monster Crunch!, or Nostalgia Served Up Right

W. Eric Martin
United States
North Carolina
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In general I like my approach to making game overview videos. I play the game several times, ideally with different players and with different player counts, then I think about the game to some unspecified degree, then I shoot the video, typically recording a long stream of takes until I think I've said what I want to say, then I move on to the next shot, and in the end ideally I've said things in an order that covers everything that needed saying.

I'm performing in the videos, after all, so I find that speaking about something — that is, actually mouthing the words and moving bits around — gets me to what I want to say in these performances better than writing about something. The drawback to this unscripted approach, however, is that sometimes I realize only afterward that I left out a relevant comment. So be it. Better the rambling, push-the-car-downhill-to-get-it-going method than the detailed script-writing method that holds no appeal to me.

This video overview of Monster Crunch!, a 2-5 player design from Forrest-Pruzan Creative and Big G Creative, covers everything regarding gameplay and my thoughts on the design. For those who don't know, Monster Crunch! is a ladder-climbing game that challenges you to eat more cereal, i.e., cards, over three hands of play than each of your opponents. The hook for the game is that everyone has the same deck (1-12 x3), so you'll all see the same cards over the course of the game, but each twelve-card hand you start with will differ from game to game.

When you play to a trick, you must match or exceed the sum of what the previous player played. You can play a single card or you can play multiple cards as long as (1) you discard a milk for each additional card played and (2) the cards are all the same value or in sequential order. A trick continues until all but one person passes, and whenever you pass, you "eat" the cereal you played to your bowl and collect a milk. Whoever won the trick leads to the next one, and a hand ends when someone runs out of cards, with everyone else discarding from the game cards still in hand.

What I forgot to cover in the video is that the terminology of play trips me up constantly, and you'll see evidence of this in the video. The rules refer to a game consisting of three hands, and a hand ends when someone runs out of cards. I tried to use this terminology at first, but we kept having instances where a player would confuse the hand as "segment of gameplay with hand as "the cards they hold". Also, the actual card play is not referred to as a trick, but rather as a round, which confuses the heck out of me each time I explain the game.

I can see why you might not call the cards played a "trick" since they remain in each individual player's bowl instead of being grouped together, but in my mind the cards still comprise a trick. Monster Crunch! is being sold as a Target-exclusive title in the U.S., though, so perhaps the publisher thought a "round" would be a more familiar term — except that I think of the game as having three rounds of play with some number of tricks within each round, and my terminology wavered back and forth during the video. Thus you'll find multiple text notes while watching!

Each player has two rule-breaking powers they can use once a game, and over nine games on a review copy from Big G Creative I've seen these powers used well, used poorly, and not used at all. I wouldn't advise playing with two as the flow of the game vanishes; as soon as one player passes, boom, the round/trick/current play ends, then the next one begins. Card counting becomes far more important with two players because you see how much milk they have, so you can (mostly) track what they can play, then take that into consideration with your plays. It feels almost like a different game with two, which is not the experience I enjoyed with 3-5 players.

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