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Subject: Monster Mayhem Melee rss

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Optimus Prime
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The game is easy to learn and fun to play as it's a free for all brawl over which monster is the King of Tokyo. The King is determined by either the last monster standing or the first player to achieve 20 victory points which sounds like a lot but can be achieved over a few turns quite easily. The game is played with a simple board, a special set of dice and a deck of power up cards.

The gameplay is simple; each turn a player rolls the six specially sided dice to see what actions they take for the turn. The dice are six sided with the numbers 1, 2, 3 and symbols that are marked as a heart, claw and lightning bolt. The set of numbers are one of the ways to get victory points but must be done in a set of three. So rolling 1 1 1 would give you a point, 2 2 2 would give you 2 points and a 3 3 3 would give you 3 points with each additional numeric value giving you 1 extra. The heart is a life point that can replenish you, each player starting out at 10 with that being their maximum save for one card that can increase it to 12. The claw is a fight die meaning that you will strike your opponent depending on your location. If you are outside Tokyo, you are attacking the player who is there. If you are inside Tokyo you attack everyone outside of Tokyo. Lastly, the lightning bolt symbol will give you an energy cube which is essentially the currency for the game because at the end of the turn you have the opportunity to buy three face up power cards that can do various things from healing your monster, increasing your strength or size, allow you to roll an extra die, grow wings or even slap on a jet pack.

So once you roll the dice the first time, let's say I got a 1 1 3 heart claw lightning bolt. At the beginning of the game you start out at maximum health so the heart is useless right now and 1's are almost never worth keeping as they are only worth a single victory point. I can set aside the claw and lightning bolt dice and reroll the 1 1 3 heart to try and get different results. Each player take roll the dice a total of three times on their turn so you can try to get whatever you need for the round but after the final roll you must keep whatever is showing and can be somewhat risky. More on why to follow!

That is the general mechanics behind the player turn so let's move onto the mechanics of Tokyo itself. At the beginning of the game Tokyo is unoccupied so the first player to keep a claw(fight) die on their turn steps into the city. Each time you step into the city you gain one victory point. If you make it through the round and you remain in Tokyo at the beginning of your next turn you gain two victory points. Combined with the fact that you are attacking every other monster being in Tokyo is very lucrative but there are drawbacks. While in Tokyo, every other monster's attacks are aimed directly at you since you are public enemy number one. Depending on power ups or aggressive players they can try to force you out of Tokyo by making you yield. At any point when you take damage inside Tokyo you may yield the city by stepping out. First you take any damage that is assigned to you and then you move your piece out and whoever attacked you now steps in and they are the primary target. In addition to this, while you are in Tokyo any hearts you keep are void so this severely hinders players in camping in there and regaining health. So Tokyo itself is a classic example of risk versus reward. You want to be in there but at the same time you don't really want to stay in there too long.

Other than that the only remaining factor are the power up cards which are goofy and what you would expect out of a tongue-in-cheek game. You can grow an extra head with one card which gains you an additional unique dice on your turn. Or you might gain firebreathing which attacks your neighbors (people on your left/right in person) for an additional damage whenever you attack. How about picking up a shrink ray gun that when you hit an opponent they roll one less die until they remove the shrink token? There's many different types of cards and all of them seem to be useful or can combo together.

When you put all this together, the game becomes a blast. It can play anywhere from two to six players but I think the sweet spot is probably four. There is virtually no setup time other than choosing characters and shuffling the deck of power cards, the turns are never long and there is no trading involved between players. It is a grand melee between monsters in a king of the hill game scenario which I think appeals to a wide audience. It's light but enjoyable, never overstaying its welcome since games are relatively short, lasting anywhere between 10 and 25 minutes depending on how many players you have. Definitely recommended as either an appetizer game or as the last game to finish the night off.

Art: The illustrations of the monster and the cards have a very goofy comic book feel to them which I think is more than fitting for this type of game.
Length Games are rarely too short but never go on too long, probably an average of 15 to 20 minutes depending on if you're playing with the maximum number of players.
Theme I'm sure almost everyone has pretended to be Godzilla or King Kong or Ultraman at some point in their youth and this game accurately and vividly brings that into board game form.
Production: The board is solid and the characters have spin down wheels to keep track of life and points which are great as well. The energy cubes are a little too tiny and I can see them easily being lost. The dice are a great size and have a good weight to them when holding or rolling.
Gameplay: Spectacular to play as there are different routes to victory and a surprising layer of depth depending on what strategy you are going with which can actually change depending on a single round.
Overall Well designed game using dice roll elements with a heavy emphasis on theme and multiplayer mayhem. The one drawback I can say after my experience with the game so far is that luck is a big factor in the game which is great for people who aren't the best at the game. For skill oriented players it might be hard to go against someone who had a great round with their rolls. However I think in the long run a good strategy and a solid sense of risk management will still dominate blind luck.
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