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David Harding
Australia
Ashfield
NSW
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This review is based on two plays of the prototype version of Monstrous at the Sydney Unpub event in August '14. After talking to the designer, I would be surprised if any major changes were made to the game I played before its full release. The art/design/gameplay of the version I tried seemed at least 95% complete.

What is it?
In Monstrous, players take on the role of gods from ancient Greek mythology. Trying to take control of the land and its people, they must unleash their powers and minions upon the Earth, trying to gain the most Faith from the puny populations below.

How do you play?
By flicking cards at the table! That's pretty much it. It is one of those games that takes one minute to explain, but its depth of tactical choices really come through as you play. Choose a card, flick the card onto the table, apply its effects - that is the game in a nutshell - but oh, Monstrous is so much more than the sum of its parts.

We played with five players. After being handed our identical decks of monster/god cards, the youngest player chose the 12 we would play the game with. Everyone shuffled their game deck (identical but for the player colours denoted on the card borders), placed it to the left of our player-aid mat, and placed the unused cards for the game to the right of the mat (in Hades). We then drew our starting hand of three cards. In other words, each player has the same deck of cards for the game, but the order in which these cards will come into play are different for each player. Also, every game will contain a different set of cards that will be used.
Taking turns, players chose a card from their hand to flick on to the table. Your hand could not pass the edge of the table, but that's about it for flicking rules. Any table size will do the trick.

On the table are large cards that signify places the gods are trying to lord over. There is a number of them to choose from, but each game you will only take (randomly or specially selected) one of these per player to arrange on the table as flicking targets. The ones that are chosen should influence the cards that are selected to form each player's deck.

Each god card that is flicked has a power that will be enacted once it lands on the table. Some will affect other cards they touch, some will have some other (sometimes delightfully crazy) effect. Some gods have red borders - these are extra special and powerful cards that can really change the game and make for some awesome combos. On top of this, the destinations you are aiming at also tell you how many Faith points you will earn if your card is still touching it at the end of the game, and often, a special effect that comes into play if your card lands on it.

The game ends once one player has exhausted their deck of monsters (this will happen at different rates depending on what card effects were triggered during the game). Then everyone else has one more turn and Faith points are tallied.

Tell me more!
Our two plays were extremely different. We used different card and destination sets for each game. The first game (with some of the most simple of the card and destination effects) took about 10 minutes with five players. The second play (with more advanced options in play) took about 40.
In the first game we were mostly just flicking cards to earn points, remove other cards from the table, set ourselves up for a combo, etc. The second game was very different. Some destinations allowed you to bring cards from Hades INTO the game, bring dead cards back to life, or even give you special gods and monsters like the Kraken, whose tentacles spread all over the place, causing havoc.

We had two very different games, but the same jumping-up-and-down feelings were experienced by all. We cheered, we shouted, we showed those mortals who was boss!

Is it any good?
Uh...YES! When I was a kid, we would collect football cards and play "flicks" in the playground. Sometimes, we would play that the furthest flick would win cards from your opponent, sometimes we played that if you landed on another's card(s) you won them. Monstrous brought back a myriad of childhood feelings, pleasing my inner child no end - but, more than that - this game appealed to me as an adult gamer.

For the first time, I experienced a dexterity game that has both a very strong theme and immense tactical depth. You want choices? They're here. You want combos and special powers? Monstrous has those. You want thematic cards and absolutely STUNNING artwork? Look no further than this game. Mix all that with the laughter and excited exasperation that a well-crafted desterity game can provide and you have a winner.

Monstrous will be a monster of a hit. It ticks all the boxes - for reluctant and committed gamers alike. From talking to the designer I know this game has been more than extensively tested and developed over time and it shows. I had a great time with this game. Each play will be extremely different, yet it is so simple to teach. It is a dexterity game with real purpose and enjoyment. Even when our flicks went way off mark we laughed and cheered. I was left wanting more, because I could see how much great game was living in that small box!

My BGG rating: 9

The final word:
A stellar gameplay experience with incredible art that pulls you into its world - Monstrous will be immense.
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Bernhard W
Australia
Townsville
Queensland
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I fully agree with you David. My test plays also made me want to play more as it's just super (monstrous?) fun. An instant buy for me, which is surprising as I usually don't like dexterity games.
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David Harding
Australia
Ashfield
NSW
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Yeah - I went from "what in the world is this?" to "instabuy" in about 10 minutes!
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Mike Minutillo
Australia
Stratton
Western Australia
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I got to demo this at PAX AUS yesterday and it was great. The theme really comes through and the game is full of tactical choices but the mechanics are easy enough to be describes in seconds. Really looking forward to this one coming out.
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