My Favorite Game This Month: Boss Monster

27 September 2013 | 19 Comments

Boss MonsterI mostly write Kickstarter-related entries on this blog at this point, but we are a board game company, so I’d like to write about games and game design from time to time. This will be the first entry of a monthly series in which I talk about my favorite game this month.

I stumbled upon the Boss Monster Kickstarter campaign last November. I didn’t research it as much as I should have, but I liked what they were doing, I liked that the game only costs $20, and I liked that it was really popular (4,689 backers). So I got a copy, and it was delivered back in June (only 4 months later than the expected delivery date…not bad!).

And then it sat on my shelf.

You see, I have a hard time getting excited about small games. Big, meaty games? Yes please. We must play those immediately. But small-box games? Even though it’s not fair to them, they often tend to sit on my shelf for quite a while before seeing play.

Plus, with Boss Monster, although I could see why the pixelated art and dungeon building could be appealing for many people, they didn’t intrigue me all that much. I couldn’t convince myself to let it hit the table over other games.

That’s unfortunate, because I was missing out on a great game in Boss Monster.

It finally hit the table last Wednesday at the weekly game night I host. One person had played before, so we only had to fumble through the rules a little bit. The entire game took about 40 minutes, and I won, but I would be writing this even if I had lost miserably. Because I had a blast playing it. Here’s why:

  1. Intuitive Rules: You’re building a dungeon by placing cards (rooms) next to each other. The cards have symbols on them that represent treasures. Heroes–in the form of cards–are attracted to the dungeon with the most of a specific treasure. If your dungeon is able to kill the heroes that enter it, you score points. If your dungeon doesn’t kill the heroes, you get hurt. Not only is all of this intuitive, but the information is intuitively laid out on the cards. Brilliant.
  2. Flow of the Game: There was never a moment in Boss Monster when I didn’t feel engaged or when I was bored. I make decisions very quickly in games, so I often have to sit around and wait while everyone else makes their choices. That does happen in Boss Monster (although I love that players choose their dungeon card at the same time), but I found that there’s so many other things to think about while other players are making their decisions. Which card should I play next? Which player should I target with my spell? What kinds of treasures do other players’ dungeons have? What are my dungeons’ special abilities? It’s not an overwhelming amount of information–it’s just enough to keep me
  3. Interaction: There’s LOTS of interaction in Boss Monster. This isn’t multi-player solitaire. Not only do you have to pay attention to what other players are doing, you can directly impact what they’re doing. Now, I don’t always like this in games. I like to build my own thing and let other players build their own things. But I never felt like other players were completely foiling my plans in Boss Monster. It was just a healthy dose of interaction with plenty of table talk.
  4. Fun Factor: This is the number one important aspect of any game: Is it fun? Boss Monster is TONS of fun. It’s a combination of everything I mentioned above with the whimsical nature of the game and the variety of spells and dungeons…it just all works. It creates the perfect gaming environment. I’ve played some fantastic games over the last few months, but never have I been so aware of how much fun I was having than with Boss Monster.

Now, I have one big caveat to mention: I’ve only played one game of Boss Monster. I honestly don’t know how deep the game will be upon multiple plays or if it will sustain the level of fun I had with the first game. I’ll keep an eye on that. All I know is that I currently want to play Boss Monster more than any other game. Except for Euphoria, that is. Advance copies of which will arrive just in time for game night this week…

Have you played Boss Monster? What do you think?

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19 Comments on “My Favorite Game This Month: Boss Monster

  1. I recall reading an article about boss monster over at TheGameCrafter way back when I started designing Space Frontier. It seemed like a very fun concept. I had no idea it had been out so long. I plan to check it out at next opportunity.

    1. All right, not to beat a dead horse here, but with the help of some people on BGG, I think I’ve gotten to the bottom of this. There are two versions of the rules, and the newer one does say there is a 5-room limit. This version is not on BGG, but it can be found here:
      (the rule in question being the last sentence of the first bullet point of the “build phase” on p.14)

      If you had a blast without the room limit, though, then I say just keep playing that way.

      1. Cool, thanks Isaac. I think I’ll play without the limit. :) Maybe do this: For every room you add in addition to 5, you lose one life.

  2. I played Boss Monster once back when it first came out, and I remember being very frustrated at the room limit to your dungeon. Very quickly you had to start upgrading your rooms to stay competitive, but the room upgrades were scarce, making the game more luck-based than I would have liked.

      1. Hrmm…they guy teaching the game said you could only have a max of 5 (I think) rooms in your dungeon, but now looking through the rule book online, I can’t seem to find corroboration anywhere.

        I was deceived! It looks like I should play this game again and without a room limit this time. I suspect I’ll have a lot more fun.

        1. I can see the value of having a max–otherwise your dungeon just keeps getting stronger and stronger–but I agree that it’s more fun without one. Especially since there are spells that help destroy parts of your opponents’ dungeons.

  3. I haven’t played Boss Monster yet, but it’s been on my wishlist for a while. I think you nailed it though, when you said that it’s so much easier to get excited about a big-box game.

  4. I’ve only played Boss Monster twice now, but both times were very fun, and I really enjoy this game (something I’m sure you probably already knew by my repeatedly asking when your copy was going to hit the table :) ). I really enjoy that even on turns when I’m not facing heroes in my dungeon, I still feel like it’s been a productive turn as constant building and dungeon improvements are happening throughout the game.

    Umm, this is a pretty huge thing to just sneak in: “Except for Euphoria, that is. Advance copies of which will arrive just in time for game night this week…” Sneaky, sneaky. :)

    1. Uh, YEAH, Euphoria advanced copies coming soon! Well-done for hitting the original deadline of October 2013, Jamey. You’ll have to include a chapter on how to manage shipping, timing and expectations in your book.

      1. Daniel–JT was just saying that the Euphoria Kickstarter copies are coming soon–he didn’t get an advance copy. And that was 20 days ago–the 5 advance copy backers have had their copies for a few weeks now. :)

        As for me, sorry, I’m not parting with my advance copy! I learned from Viticulture that it’ll end up being my only copy. :)

      2. Daniel-
        Sadly I do not have my own copy of Boss Monster, although both of the copies I’ve played with were the Kickstarter version. I haven’t searched too much online for my own copy, but I bet some of the KS ones are out there somewhere (maybe eBay?).

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