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Subject: Initial Impressions rss

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Tim Chase
United States
New Jersey
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I posted this message on the forums of my FLGS (ATF in Southern NJ), but I thought I would post it here too, in case anyone was interested...

So I may have only played a whole demo and a half of the game, but I'm hooked and wanted to share my first impressions. If you're on the fence about the game, or like games with plastic miniatures, or have an affinity for giant monsters, I strongly encourage you to give it a whirl... It's a ton of fun and looks fantastic too!

Monsterpocalypse is a two player CMG that takes place in various cities. Remember the classic Rampage? Or the more recent War of the Monsters? Well, it's very much like that! Each player has a monster (with two forms), a bunch of buildings to place around the city, and a bunch of units to spawn throughout the game. The goal is simply to defeat the other player's monster. The units move around the city to claim key areas of the map, fight other units and try to gang up on monsters. The monsters move around the city, level buildings in their path, ram them on top of enemy units, stomp on units and swat them into others that are a full city block away, and body slam, head butt, smash and throw opposing monsters all over the place... And that doesn't even include the special abilities like feeding on the helpless inhabitants of an apartment building, or better yet your own units, to regain health!

Each of the 6 factions seems to have a very distinct personality and play style. The destructive World Eaters are here to destroy stuff just for the sake of it. The evil Lords of Cthul were summoned here and are out of control. The alien Martian Menace came to steal all of our natural resources. The angry Terrasaurs awakened to protect the planet (mostly from us). The mysterious Shadow Sun Syndicate are intervening for some unkown reasons. And humanity's answer to these new threats is the G.U.A.R.D. Most of these seem to be inspired from obvious source material, but that only adds to the nostalgia and familiarity with them.

The look of the game is fairly cartoon-like, but that's a positive for me, since it softens the violence and makes for a lighter experience. The monsters are big and have fantastic sculpts. Some monsters have the best paint jobs I have ever seen on production pre-painted miniatures. Others, unfortunately, have very basic paint jobs that pale in comparison. The alternate forms (used when the monsters get angry/desperate) are mostly unpainted and translucent. Units and buildings seem good enough and add nicely to the visual impact when they are all on the map together.

While the game is overflowing with theme, and the components are extremely high quality, the most appealing aspect of the game to me is the rules. I wasn't obsessed with MonPoc until I read the rulebook. Although this might not appeal to everyone, there is a lot to think about while playing. Here are some features that jumped out to me:
1) The rules may seem overwhelming at first, but they are actually quite intuitive and quick to pick up. Learning all of the abilities, however, may take some time. But that just gives the impression that it'll be quick to learn and hard to master.
2) The dice are the core of the game and function as a limited resource. This leads to a feeling of always having tons of options and decisions to make. You can spend extra monster dice to move farther or increase your chances of a success strike, or you can spend fewer and have more options next turn. Timing, positioning, and dice management can help a monster have consecutive turns against a defenseless opponent. This also increases the importance of units, since they are used half of the time and are critical for generating power dice.
3) The dice have 6 sides of 1 success, 2 successes, or blank, which keeps the impact of variation from roll to roll low. Also, there are three levels of dice, which have increasing levels of predictability (more sides with 1 success). It is up to the player to decide how and when they should be spent, and how much priority to put into earning more.
4) A successful hit only does 1 point of damage, so rolls result in either a success or failure... You won't have to face a lucky roll early in the game that wipes out your force. Multiple points of damage can be achieved with using the environment and special abilities to add damage, but this gives a greater feeling of control and strategy.

All of these positives seem to add up to a game that's fun, whether you win or lose. Because if you go down, you can go down in glorious fashion, destroying a city and tons of enemy units in the process!

The biggest downside seems to be the cost of the game. Like all collectible games, it'll be expensive to play, especially if you try and collect the whole set. However, it does seem that Privateer Press is really trying to keep the factions balanced, so it's more a matter of preference of style as to which faction or mix of factions you play. My hope is that we can get a big enough group of regular players here at ATF that people can just buy a portion of the first set and trade for what they want... mitigating the downside of blind purchases.

Anyway, that's enough from me... The game comes out next month. If anyone is interested in playing, learning or watching, just let me know. I'll be happy to demo the game for anyone, once I get my eager hands on it!! Looking forward to seeing you at ATF City for some good old stomping and smashing... Yes, that includes all of you ex-Dreamlords
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