Terrible Monster is essentially Magic the Gathering meets Love Letter. Intrigued? You should be!
There are 16 cards, with life chips to track health, and counter chips.
The artwork is prety basic, but fits nicely with the overall aesthetic.
Each player starts with 4 life chips and 2 counter chips. The counters can be used to counter cards by using one chip (just like a counterspell in MtG) or by using 2 chips to counter a counter chip (just like a counterspell of a counterspell ).
Within the 16 cards, there are 3 monster cards and 13 spell cards. Just as with Love Letter, there is some advantage to really understanding what cards could be drawn. Still, there are ONLY 16 CARDS, so not much of a learning curve.
The spell abilities should be very familiar to MtG players - do direct damage, raise a card from the graveyard, cantrips, etc. All make sense and seem very balanced.
Here's the twist - there are only 4 paths to victory:
1) Cast a fireball (deal 2 dmg)
2) Ping away with the cute beast (deal 1 dmg at beginning of your turn)
3) Attack with the Terrible Monster (deal 4 dmg at beginning of your turn)
4) Deflect back cute beast attacks with the wall monster (dealing opponent 1 dmg at the start of their turn)
So your overall strategy goes into making those things happen, by either outright casting them, or using the spell cards to manipulate the game, or by countering or counter-countering effectively. This strategy should be familiar to any MtG player, but just very condensed... and NO MANA SCREW!
Overall - 8.5 out of 10
This is a fantastic little game, by far my favorite micro-game I own (and I own WAY TOO MANY GAMES ).
Terrible Monster really captures the feel of MtG in a micro-game format without any of the time investment also needed to become proficient enough to win.
Just as its counterparts, there are some random elements to the card draw and there's potential just to win by sheer luck - but that's somewhat rare. The balance between the cards and the genius counter system make for great strategic choices, and I generally never feel cheated by luck.
My only gripe with the first edition is that the box will not hold sleeved cards. Hopefully this will be addressed in subsequent editions.
I'd also love to see some enhanced art, with perhaps a more realistic fantasy edition and a more chibi Super Dungeon Explore-style rendition.
Anyhow, despite those very minor gripes, this is one that will stay in my collection indefinitely. It fills a good spot in the gateway game category, whereas I used to use Love Letter to introduce MtG to the wider realm of games - this will definitely be that go-to game.
One big Terrible Monster, but a fantastic little game.
Great review! I completely agree - it's a super fun little game that can be played in such a short amount of time
I backed it on Kickstarter and I managed to fit everything including sleeved cards (incl. mini expansion), achievement sheet and even the 2 drink coasters into the little box, with the cover closing without issue. What I couldn't fit into the box was the hardcover book (ha) and the campaign sheet. Maybe I'm a game contortionist!