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Subject: A great but pricey minis game rss

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Michael Erb
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By MICHAEL ERB
www.newsandsentinel.com

Mutated monsters, ancient evils and threats from beyond are converging on the cities of the world, warring with Earth's defenders and wreaking havoc and destruction in the process.

Prepare yourselves: The Monsterpocalypse has begun!

"Monsterpocalypse" by Privateer Press is a collectible miniatures game that puts players in the roles of giant monsters or robotic defenders battling within a city sector. The giant monsters are supported by smaller units, such as creatures, spacecraft, tanks and other vehicles.

Players attempt to defeat their opponent's units and monsters while destroying (or preserving) as much of the cityscape as possible. The game draws heavily from Japanese monster movies such as "Godzilla," "Mothra" and "Ultraman."

Each one-player starter set, which retails for about $25, includes a monster (or giant robotic defender) and several support units, as well as dice, a city map, and pieces of 3-D city terrain, such as skyscrapers, oil refineries and power plants. Different pieces of terrain actually have different in-game effects, with some monsters gaining benefits from protecting or destroying certain buildings.

Each monster also has a "hyper-form," a translucent version of the monster representing its powered-up state. The monsters have special powers and abilities which are powered by different kinds of dice, and monsters earn and spend dice throughout the game.

One of the major ways monsters earn dice are through support units. This is a great balancing part of the game, because while a single tank might not be enough to take down the mutated dinosaur, its actions will earn the giant robot defender power dice, which can later be used for bigger and better attacks. This keeps players from only using their giant monsters to battle one another, and gives incentive to use (and destroy) smaller units on the board.

The pieces are beautiful, with great sculpts and and paint jobs. Pretty much every major kind of giant-monster-movie creature is represented among the six monster factions, from the dinosaur-like Terrasaurs to the tentacled Lords of Cthul (a nod to the works of H.P. Lovecraft) to the alien Martian Menace to the giant robots and technology of G.U.A.R.D. and the mysterious Shadow Sun Syndicate.

The gameplay is simple to learn but very deep, with the powers of the monsters and support units interacting in different ways. There actually is a lot of strategy to the game, and you can spend hours figuring out different ways to use those abilities against different kinds of opponents.

But there is a huge downside to the game as well, something that has little to do with the design of "Monsterpocalypse" and more to do with its marketing. "Monsterpocalypse" is a "collectible miniatures game," which means you are encouraged to buy additional monsters, units and terrain to supplement the game and build your forces. These boosters are blind-packaged, so you don't know what you are getting until you purchase and open the box. Monster boxes contain only two pieces - a monster and its hyper-form. Unit boosters contain a building and several units. Each kind of booster retails for about $13, with 12 possible monsters out there for purchase.

If you try to get all of the pieces through purchasing boosters you are going to get some duplicates, and finding a specific monster really is a shot in the dark for your average buyer. Likewise not all of the units in a unit booster will be useful depending on what monster faction you intend to play (though the rules do allow a fair amount of leeway in using different factions together).

Each starter set is for one player only, and though there are rules for using the included monster and its hyper-form to play a two-player game, you quickly will grow tired of the simplified rules. You really need a friend with a second starter set (hopefully with a different monster), or to buy an additional starter or monster booster for yourself.

Even so, "Monsterpocalypse" is an excellent game and worth the cost and effort. It combines some of the best elements of miniatures and board games and has a ton of depth and replay value. The models are beautiful, the game is fun and it is one of if not the best giant monster combat games on the market today.

For more information on "Monsterpocalypse," visit www.monsterpocalypsegame.com. For more game reviews and discussion, visit my blog at merb101.livejournal.com.

Edit: A review copy of the game was provided for this article.

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Alex Martinez
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I'm a big fan of this game. Absolutely love it. The collectible nature is its only downside as far as I'm concerned. I get around that by using the many internet sites that sell singles. I've managed to collect all the monsters and it has been relatively inexpensive and I haven't ended up with any unnecessary duplicates. In fact, some of the figures I've purchased have actually been cheaper than if I'd bought them blnd box. With the internet, the downside of collectible is a lot less than it used to be.
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Bobb Beauchamp
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Collectible is only a downside if you don't have the time or will to spend collecting, and you want a whole set of a faction(s).

For others, the surprise of opening a booster and "winning" by getting that monster or unit you're looking for is part of the appeal.

I just ordered a starter and a Monster/Unit booster. My original thought on this game was that I'd never play it. Giant monsters fighting in cities has been tried before, and while The Creature that Ate Sheboygan has its appeal, generally the genre hasn't produced a satisfying game yet. Monpoc seems to break that mold, producing a game that captures the key elements of the genre, while creating a play system that forces strategic use of both monster and unit forces.

Games such as Monsters Ravage America included a similar division of units...monster and army...but they were not integrally connected. Your units supported your monster by attacking your opponent's monster, but that's it. Monpoc binds the two together in a really unique and interesting way. The combination of strategic game play and the theme turned me around on this game. That it's collecty is just gravy to me.
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Subhan Michael Tindall
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As far as minis games go, the price to get in to Monpoc is very reasonable. Ask your average Warhamer player how much she's spent on her army, & you'll see the difference. One can easily put together a monster + faction units on the secondary market IE Ebay for maybe $50-$75
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Andrew DiGregorio
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im a big fan of the game, but i agree that depending on how you choose to aquire your peices, the price can be high.

i got most of my set by buying blind boosters. Yes, it was more expensive that way than buying singles from the net, but the above poster had it nailed for me when he said there is an excitement when you open up a booster, to find that you had gotten the monster/unit you're looking for.

plus, ive managed to make some great trades here on bgg for a full monster set, by trading my duplicate monsters and buildings...
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Bobb Beauchamp
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slyde wrote:
im a big fan of the game, but i agree that depending on how you choose to aquire your peices, the price can be high.

i got most of my set by buying blind boosters. Yes, it was more expensive that way than buying singles from the net, but the above poster had it nailed for me when he said there is an excitement when you open up a booster, to find that you had gotten the monster/unit you're looking for.

plus, ive managed to make some great trades here on bgg for a full monster set, by trading my duplicate monsters and buildings...


For people that enjoy this aspect of the game, it's like getting a bonus game for the same price. Acquiring the faction(s) that you want, and the different ways to do so, is a very enjoyable aspect of the game for some.

Not so much for those who prefer to open a box and have a "complete" game to play. While I don't understand this mentality, I do understand that it's a significant block to some players. But it's not secret that this is a collecty game, so it's pretty easy to steer clear of it if this aspect gives you heartburn.
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Hector Lopez
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I don't mind the blind booster system as long as there aren't uniques in the $30+ price range. That way if I haven't drawn a certain unique I am not paying up the nose for one figure.

That would drive me nuts with the Star Wars minis. I could get most of the minis I wanted but even after a couple of cases that super rare Boba Fett would still elude me. There was no way I was going to pay $50 for one little figure no matter how cool he is. Howvever, I also was not going to pay for a whole other case. And the shot of getting a specific figure by walking into my FLGS and buying a few boosters was too small and overall more expensive.

I like that in this game you can get a complete set by buying by the case. Still expensive I know, but at least I know what I am buying. Kind of best of both worlds.
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Subhan Michael Tindall
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Monpoc distribution is such that each case of monster boosters contains 1 of each monster, & if you buy a case of unit boosters you will get at least 1 of each unit as well. Very smart, IMHO!
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Nathan
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MonPoc kind of has uniques, in the Mega forms they have for each of the monsters that can only be obtained in specific ways (attending tournaments, conventions or other methods). These are going for over $30 on ebay at the moment.

They have also announced shadow units, alternate forms of existing units with additional powers that will only be available by registering for events through the MonPoc website.

Like most colletible games it will be easier and cheaper if you aren't a completist.

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Subhan Michael Tindall
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Yes, there are promo monsters that are more expensive. But they are no stronger than any other form of the monster, & are not must-have pieces to play & win.
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Hector Lopez
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ngoike wrote:
MonPoc kind of has uniques, in the Mega forms they have for each of the monsters that can only be obtained in specific ways (attending tournaments, conventions or other methods). These are going for over $30 on ebay at the moment.

They have also announced shadow units, alternate forms of existing units with additional powers that will only be available by registering for events through the MonPoc website.

Like most colletible games it will be easier and cheaper if you aren't a completist.



That's true but all (maybe most?) collectible games have limited edition figures in addition to the regulr rares. I don't mind not having these but I guess for the completist it would be an issue. I am just glad I can grab all of the "regular" set without too much difficulty.
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Hector Lopez
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hlopez wrote:
ngoike wrote:
MonPoc kind of has uniques, in the Mega forms they have for each of the monsters that can only be obtained in specific ways (attending tournaments, conventions or other methods). These are going for over $30 on ebay at the moment.

They have also announced shadow units, alternate forms of existing units with additional powers that will only be available by registering for events through the MonPoc website.

Like most colletible games it will be easier and cheaper if you aren't a completist.



That's true but all (maybe most?) collectible games have limited edition figures in addition to the regulr rares. I don't mind not having these but I guess for the completist it would be an issue. I am just glad I can grab all of the "regular" set without too much difficulty.


That's what I say now, but two weeks from now you may find me franctically typing at my computer trying to outbid someone for a Mega Cthugrosh.
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Nathan
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subhan wrote:
Yes, there are promo monsters that are more expensive. But they are no stronger than any other form of the monster, & are not must-have pieces to play & win.


I don't think power level is the issue.

One of the intriguing aspects of collectible games is acquiring the components needed for different decks or armies. The more components you have, the more flexibility or options you have, which expands the game play. I see players wanting these optional monster forms and units not because they are so powerful, but because it allows them more choice in the armies they can build and play.

One third of the total monster forms are not available in boosters, which to me actually seems pretty significant. Add to that the shadows form units I mentioned, and a good portion of the games current components aren’t available in boosters. People prone to completing collections should be aware.
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Steve Cates
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subhan wrote:
Yes, there are promo monsters that are more expensive. But they are no stronger than any other form of the monster, & are not must-have pieces to play & win.


You can find the stats for the mega forms at the Privateer Press forums and there is a EXTREMELY similar looking proxy sitting right there in the inexpensive Ultra form. The only reason I could see going for mega's is the collectiblity gotta-have-it mentality or you just happen to be a con and they're giving it away for a demo.

I would disagree that they are "no stronger". Mega Armodax has some pretty sweet abilities and stats (8 blast long range +4 bonus, and beat back!). I could see that, if used effectively, they might just be as good or better than the ultras.
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Hector Lopez
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The stats are also included in the strategy guide, which I think is also worth it due to the extra map. I'm avoiding the articles which actually cover strategy since I would rather discover this on my own.
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