Boss Monster - Board Game Box Shot

Boss Monster

| Published: 2013
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Boss Monster, the retro-inspired dungeon-building card game from indie publisher Brotherwise Games, is now available in game stores across North America! Designed for 2-4 players, Boss Monster is packed with nostalgic references to 8-bit video games, dungeon-crawling RPGs, and geeky pop culture. Players compete to become the ultimate villain: the final boss at the end of a side-scrolling dungeon.

The goal of Boss Monster is to attract and destroy adventurers more quickly than your opponents. As a Boss, you will build your dungeon one Room at a time. Each room has a treasure value to lure in Heroes, and a damage value to destroy them. The Heroes aren’t too much of a threat, but you run the risk of Wounds if you build a dungeon that’s all attraction and no bite. With Spells and “Level Up” abilities to spice up the gameplay, Boss Monster has a great balance of fast-paced fun and strategic depth to entertain a table with a range of casual and hardcore gamers.

Boss Monster cards
images © Brotherwise Games

User Reviews (14)

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5
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“Game Over, Man. Game Over.”

Overview
Boss Monster is a game I first became aware of shortly after its Kickstarter ended. I was saddened when I found out about it, as I would have loved to help fund it. Instead, I preordered the retail version from the publisher and eagerly awaited the day it would arrive in my hands. That day came, and it certainly brought back great memories of countless hours of childhood lost playing NES games, but was nostalgia enough to keep me coming back?

Setup
The game is pretty simple. Everyone gets dealt a boss card to play as. Next, the heroes deck is assembled (based on the number of players) and shuffled, making sure all of the normal heroes are on top of the epic heroes. Finally, everyone draws cards from the spell deck and the room deck before choosing two to discard. This is their opening hand. That’s really all there is to it. Some shuffling of decks and dealing cards.

Gameplay
Gameplay starts with everyone playing a room face down to the left of their boss card (starting with the player whose boss had the highest XP number) and then flipping them over once everyone has put one down. This is the first room of your dungeon. Some rooms have abilities when you play them, some when you destroy them, some when a hero dies in them, etc.

Every subsequent turn starts with dealing a number of heroes equal to the number of players into the “town” (i.e. the middle of the table). Then each player builds a room either next to the existing rooms or on top of existing rooms (advanced rooms can only go on top of a room and it has to have a matching symbol–more on symbols in a moment). Spells with a hammer icon can also be played in the build phase.

Next, once everyone has played a room, you must determine if heroes are entering dungeons. To do this, you look at each hero’s card for the class symbol on it. There are four classes and four symbols (money bag = thief, ankh = cleric, sword = fighter, spellbook = mage). Each room also has one or more of these symbols, as do the boss cards. Each player totals each type of symbol, and whoever has the most of any given type attracts the associated type of hero to their dungeon. In the case of ties, the heroes stay in town until the tie is broken on subsequent turns.

Once heroes have been assigned, starting with the first player, the heroes enter the dungeon one at a time and progress through each room taking the printed amount of damage. Spells with an axe icon can be played during this phase of the game as well. If they make it to the boss without taking damage greater than their hit points, they deal a damage to the boss. If they die in the dungeon, the boss gets one point.

Eventually, once all of the regular heroes run out, the epic heroes arrive, which are more difficult to kill and deal two damage for getting through the dungeon, but also grant two points if they are killed. Otherwise, play continues in the above fashion until one boss monster has 10 points at the end of the turn or until all boss monsters are dead (bosses die when accumulating five wounds).

Learning Curve
The game is pretty simple, but the horrendous rulebook makes even a game as simple as this more difficult to learn than it needed to be. The priority system for resolving spells and abilities is also incredibly vague (even in the heavily updated FAQ), and seems to fluctuate sometimes (counterspells seem to establish a last-in, first-out stack like in Magic, though nothing else works this way). After a few games, you start to figure out what the rules were trying to say, but more than a few players may just throw their hands up and walk away before that point.

[NOTE: My copy was a first printing, so the rulebook may have been improved since then.]

Components
The art is pixelart, so you might be turned off by it already based on that, but I like it and thought it was very well done. It also evokes the theme very well. That said, the cards start to show wear pretty quickly, and the box insert wasn’t big enough to hold the cards if sleeved.

Overall Judgment/TL;DR Takeaway
When all is said and done, the game fell very flat after 10 plays or so. I started off really wanting to love the game for all of its nostalgic charms, but once the NES-era good vibes wore off, the game was just not that fun. The lack of balance and frequent potential for random screwage makes the game feel like Munchkin in all the worst possible ways. In the end, one person in our group liked the game (and is now the happy owner of my copy), while everyone else’s feelings ranged from mild disdain to outright loathing.

When it comes down to it, the game needed more substance. It’s essentially a bunch of cards that say “Hey, remember Metroid (or Mega Man or [insert classic video game/pop culture reference])?” There’s just not enough substance to the nostalgia to carry the experience, and there’s not enough substance to the game under that nostalgic veneer to make coming back worthwhile. As much as I wanted to love it, it’s game over for Boss Monster.

 
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7
Draco Magi fan
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“The fool is lured to the dungeon...and I am a happy fool.”

Why I bought Boss Monster: Boss Monster was an impulse buy I have to admit. I had no knowledge of the Kickstarter campaign, nor do I remember running across any reviews of it before I spotted the faux NES cartridge box on the shelf at my FLGS. I read the back and loved the idea of being a boss monster and killing heroes with spikes, lava, and dracolichs. It was the first time in a while that I bought a game without any preconceptions or expectations. I bought it simply because it looked like a fun, simple, lighthearted card game.

The unboxing: Boss Monster looks good. The box is matte black. The cards have some great pixel art on them with loads of dorky references. The card quality itself is merely okay. They have a cheap gloss on them and I’ve noticed some flaking at the edges. (This will be rectified in the revised version that is estimated to be released in the first week of June. They are switching production to Cartamundi.) The paper insert is decent and has enough room to hold the base game and expansion without letting the cards slide all over the place.

My first few plays: I won’t go over the how-to’s and what-are’s of the game since they’ve been well-covered by the other reviewers, but the first few plays were a little rough to be honest. The rule book seemed vague on a few points, but all our questions were answered at the Brotherwise website through gameplay videos and the faq. (The revision will also have an updated rulebook.) Once I felt I had a grasp on the rules I played some 2-, 3-, and 4-player games that ranged from almost mechanical to increasingly chaotic as players were added. Not a very positive sounding review so far, is it? Well, honestly, it wouldn’t be if we had just left it alone and played it as it is written. But I felt there was a good game in there waiting to be found…and we found it. It was a simple fix really. We removed all of the heroes with 4 hp. This meant that the epic heroes came out faster, damage had to be managed more efficiently, and spells became incredibly valuable. Once we removed the chumps gameplay improved for every size game: games became more strategic, less chaotic, and far more tense.

How I play now: I was completely satisfied playing Boss Monster with only the minor adjustment mentioned above, until I heard about the Tools of Hero-Kind expansion. The expansion offers a new card type: the item. Which attaches to heroes and makes them even more deadly. Once an item-toting hero is killed in a dungeon, that dungeon’s boss gets a single-use ability attached to that item. For me this expansion fixed everything. Now even the chumps could do some damage. After incorporating the expansion we put the 4-hp heroes back in the deck, and we’ve never turned back.

Is Boss Monster worth it?: It depends on your love of 8-bit games. If you have even a vague fondness for retro video games, yes. But still the only way I’d ever recommend playing the base game sans expansion would be after removing the 4-hp heroes. If you already have the game and found it to be lackluster, I highly recommend the expansion. It fixed everything I didn’t like about the base.

Would I recommend it to…?

The Family Gamer: It’s easy to teach once you understand the rules and the pixel art is definitely cool, but the side-scrolling nostalgic aspect might be lost on the kiddos. So, maybe.

The Social Gamer: Interaction is limited to thwarting other player, but not in a fun Munchkin way. So unless you had a subscription to Nintendo Power, no.

The Strategy Gamer: There are strategic elements, yes, but not enough to make you stay for more than a game or two. So unless you had their first optic blood vessel pop during a midnight run through Brinstar, no.

The Casual Gamer: Easy to play once you’ve checked the faq. Lighthearted. 20-30 minute playtime. Great art design. So, yes. Even if you didn’t grow up with video games, yes.

The Avid Gamer: There isn’t another game like this. (As far as I know.) It is unique and the application of the side-scrolling 8-bit era video game is perfect. Absolutely, yes. Don’t forget the expansion!

The Power Gamer: No. Even if you took your Sega to prom, no.

 
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8
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116 of 126 gamers found this helpful
“NES-talgia at its best”

INTRO

I discovered Boss Monster at a tabletop meet up and immediately fell in love with it. The gameplay is simple, the theme is incredibly nostalgic for me, and the cards are very funny. Not bad for a company’s first ever product.

GAMEPLAY
In Boss Monster you play as, well, a boss monster at the end of an 8-bit/16-bit era video game dungeon crawler. Your goal is to build out your dungeon one room card at a time and kill off 10 heroes before your opponents do, or you sustain five hits and the heroes kill you.

Each round goes in phases. First, you reveal a number of heroes from the “town” (the pile of hero cards) equal to the number of players you have (2 players = 2 heroes), then you place a room card facedown to the left of your boss, so that your boss is the last room the heroes see. Everyone reveals their room cards at the same time.

Once the rooms are revealed it’s time to entice the heroes into your dungeon. This is the “bait” phase. Every hero has a treasure type that they like. Warriors like weapons, Mages like spell books, etc. Every room has a matching treasure type. Whoever has the dungeon with the highest number of that type lures that hero. In case of a tie, the hero stays in town for that round.

Each room card also has a health value. That’s how much damage you do to the hero as they pass through. Once the hero’s damage equals his life, he’s dead and you collect his soul (put him facedown so you see the rupee on the back of the hero card). Collect 10 souls and you win.

If the hero survives your dungeon and makes it to your boss monster with 1 health or greater, that hero goes under your boss monster face-up so you see the tiny blood drop on the bottom of the card. Five of these and your boss monster dies.

There are also spell cards you can use during specific phases of the game. They might remove a room from your buddy’s dungeon so he can’t beat the hero, or cause everyone in the game to discard all their cards. Some are particularly evil and let you resurrect a dead hero or give an opponent’s hero extra health.

BUILD QUALITY
The artwork for all the cards straddles the line between the NES and SNES, but it’s all full of pixelated nostalgia. You’ll see nods to other pieces of pop culture (the “Counterspell card” has a tiny pixelated Harry Potter and Voldemort dueling) as well as obvious video game references (“Father Brain”, “Robobo”). It’s a great tribute for an 80s kid like myself.

The only complaint I have about the game is that the coating used on the cards isn’t particularly sturdy. I’ve played my copy about a dozen times and the cards are starting to show significant scratches. They’re not to the point where it affects gameplay yet, but I’m concerned about the long-term durability of the deck. This game gets a LOT of play at my house.

FUN FACTOR
As I said, I play this game a lot. It’s probably just as popular as Munchkin on my game shelf, and that’s saying something. It’s easy to pick up and fun to play. Games last anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour depending on how many people are at the table and how many spells get played to keep someone from winning.

Great game, highly recommended. I look forward to seeing more (including the upcoming expansion) from Brotherwise Games.

::UPDATE 04-FEB-2014:: I’ve received the Tools of Hero-Kind expansion (which comes in a box that looks like a tiny Gameboy game) and it adds a whole new deck of items that the Heroes can use to cheat and/or power up through your dungeon. Definitely adds some more strategy to the game.

 
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6
Miniature Painter
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Knight-errant
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114 of 124 gamers found this helpful
“Fun artwork, Fun theme, Fun game”

This game has a lot going for it. Obviously, the first thing you are going to notice is the nostalgia. The game is based on old 8-bit console games. The artwork is wonderful, and truly conveys the theme. But what about the game?

In Boss Monster, you play as the evil boss of a side-scrolling dungeon. Your job is to setup traps and hazards, and then lure heroes to their death. This is accomplished by placing room cards in front of your boss. Each room card does a set amount of damage to a hero, has treasure, and usually has some kind of special effect text.

Heroes enter the town each round, and mill around looking for a dungeon that appeals to them. Each hero has a type of treasure he/she prefers. When a dungeon has the highest value of that type (no ties!), the hero enters that dungeon. The hero has a set number of hitpoints, and moves through the dungeon taking damage. If he gets to the end and is still alive, your boss takes a wound. If you kill him before the end, you collect his soul (for nefarious purposes no doubt!).

There are also a variety of spell cards, that allow you to perform one-time actions to affect heroes. For example, you can cause extra damage to one, to avoid it wounding you. However many of the cards are meant to mess with other players. For example, you can give a hero additional hitpoints, so they cannot be killed by the other player, and thus inflict a wound.

The first person to collect a set number of hero souls, or the last man standing wins the game.

The mechanic of heroes milling around town until a tie is broken on treasure is the key to this game. Each round, you look around at the other players, and calculate in your head how much treasure they have of each type. You know which heroes are coming, so you either want to intentionally tie them, to keep from getting wounded, or intentionally surpass them, to draw a hero. Of course, everyone reveals the new room they built simultaneously, so there is a surprise factor.

There is a decent amount of strategy involved in this game. You need to quickly build up your dungeon so you can survive hits, but you also need to collect hero souls before everyone else does. The special effects on the rooms all play in as well, as some of them let you do things like send a hero back one room, so he takes additional damage. This requires planning when you set your dungeon up, so you can lay them in the correct order, all while paying attention to the treasure counts.

2 Player in this game is decent. The game definitely plays best with three to four players. The heroes are marked with icons designating if the hero is meant for the 2, 3 or 4 player game, and you take certain ones out for the smaller games. This keeps the game well balanced regardless of player numbers. The game just happens to be more fun with more players, because of the player interaction being spread around more.

Pros:
Quick game (20-30 mins)
Easy setup
Decent amount of strategy, lower luck.
Wonderful artwork, great flavor text on cards.

Cons:
Player elimination can occur, but the game is relatively short.
If players gang up on you, you can die very quickly.

Overall, this game is great. It appeals to anyone who is a fan of older 8-bit games, but the gameplay itself is pretty intuitive, and you don’t actually have to be a fan of the genre to enjoy a game. The strategy involved is often not immediately apparent, so it generally takes a play or two to get to grips with it. Overall I give it two pixelated thumbs up.

 
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Sentinels of the Multiverse fan
oddball Aeronauts fan
5
59 of 66 gamers found this helpful
“Disappointed Dungeon.”

Boss Monster is catnip for any passing geek, there’s the cool retro 8-bit style of the cards and the genius box design that alludes to those bygone days of gaming on creaky old consoles. Then there’s the theme, manage your own little dungeon as a bunch of heroes attempt to pillage it like some Conan themed stag party, only for the bumbling lunkheads to be wiped out by your fiendish traps and horrible monsters. Its a hugely popular idea already accomplished fantastically on the PC by Bullfrogs genre defining Dungeon Keeper and with some success later in cardboard by Vlaada Chvatil and his Dungeon Lords (although that one is a bit of a marmite game).

This one isn’t as heavy as Vlaada’s creation, were in filler territory, its rules light and a relatively easy to grasp card game. It plays up to four with each player taking the role of a random Boss Monster, each of these is a humorous non IP threatening variation of some classic video game baddies. The goal of the game is to assemble the best and most dastardly dungeon to attract all the heroes over to your place and then murder them, actually putting it like that it all sounds a bit creepy. The first Boss to kill 10 heroes wins, if you are unfortunate to take five wounds then you are out, you receive these wounds by any heroes successfully navigating through your dungeon without being maimed or made to be less alive then when they started. So yes a tasty big heap of geek catnip, the sort of thing you expect to roll in and get all purry and flop about waiting for a tummy tickle.

Components wise you get a couple of decks of thin cards, they aren’t the best stock I’ve ever encountered nor the worse. I’ll give them a pass for the pixel card art that actually functions within the theme of the game rather than just being a tacked on gimmick to be cool, something that seem’s to have reared its blocky little head of late, especially among Kickstarter’s. And hats off to whoever it was who came up with that box design because I’m sure a huge percentage of sales will come just from the cool factor of wanting it on your shelf.

Unfortunately once we dig into that neat little box its a bit of a buzz kill, the game itself is a disappointing mess. The central theme and idea is very cool and totally sold me on playing this, but in practice it just doesn’t work as well as it should, everything is all there sparkly and obediently ready to please but it just doesn’t deliver, sort of like a Pizza delivery driver with directional dyslexia. The game is hampered by some big issues, first and one of my main niggles is the bosses themselves. Considering the game is called Boss Monster I thought that I would have more to do with my big bad, essentially the only power they have is a level up that activates once you build your 5 rooms and then you get a once off bonus effect, some of these are quite cool and a few maybe a tad overpowered but then that’s it, they can’t fight or do anything else. Wheres the epic end of level boss battle that made those old games so cool and swines to beat. Say you construct this epic dungeon and a rampaging Barbarian thunders his way through felling foes and deactivating traps finally staggering wounded and spent into the heart of your dungeon, he rests on his blood smeared sword looking upon the overlord of this lair who cackles manically who then sits on the floor rocking while the confused adventurer jabs timidly at him with his weapon. This is a bit of a deal breaker for me and an epic fail for the designers, this one moment guts out the main draw of this game and launches you out of the theme faster than a German designer with a box of cubes.

So putting that disappointment aside the rest of the game also has some fundamental issues, the randomness of the card draws from the room deck mean that you can get run away leaders whilst others are left floundering with a bunch of rooms that just don’t work together. The idea behind this game is to be building this monstrous lair, but if you can’t pull the cards then you are left with ineffectual rooms that you can’t upgrade because your unable to get the correct cards to allow it, leaving you with the feeling of not being so much in control as blindly reacting to what you draw next. Now there are possibilities of selecting rooms but it requires you having the cards that will allow you to look through the decks. You might argue that this is one of the games strategies but I don’t buy it, its just too clunky and unbalanced and once again pulls you out of the games theme, of being this all powerful Boss. You end up more like some unprepared site manager directing confused contractors about your site “Who built the torture pit next the room of surprised orphans!”

And then there are the spell cards and a lot of these feel over-powered, you start with two but if you don’t get the right rooms then you can’t draw more of them, a player who manages to get a steady supply of these is going to decimate the competition. And going back to the randomness of the room cards its very hard to successfully combat this happening. And finally there are the heroes which aside from a bad draw at the start that can see your ill prepared dungeon getting a pasting can normally be dispatched pretty easily once you’ve managed to get a few rooms down. And it leads us back to the broken room draw mechanism, with you only being able to attract heroes if you have the correct flavor of stuff they want which is this whole randomness at the heart of this game where you very rarely feel ever in control of whats happening.

There is a great game somewhere around this theme with this style of art its just not in this box, and I think that crushing disappointment of wanting this to be the game its selling on the cover makes the discovering how short it falls of obtaining that goal all the more frustrating. As a simple random filler to be pulled out and played for a giggle then there is some fun to be had, the kids quite enjoyed it, but after a couple of games the voids in the game play where glaringly obvious.

So a warning then, if you dig the box design and theme be warned, there isn’t much game in here and what you get is really down to a Russian roulette spin of the chamber and whilst you can try to aim for a bulls-eye the utter randomness of the card draws means you’ll probably shoot the neighbors dog by accident. This is a great mesh of theme and art design desperately lost in some dungeon labyrinth in search of a decent game design and mechanism. If you are happy to settle for that, then it’ll while away a few hours but will leave you unsatisfied wishing for what this should have been.

 
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Finland
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“I'll take my monster 8-bit with side of rice, please”

Imagine time where everything was all about big pixels. Glorious, ain’t it? Except you never got to play as bad guy, always stuck with those do-gooders. This time you get to be bad guy. I bet you did NES see that coming, huh?
So lets see if this deserves the Nintendo seal of quality, or is it doomed to forever wander aimlessly in the local game shop shelfs?

Stop digging your nose and start digging the dungeon! (Summary)
Boss Monster is a card game which doesn’t need anything extra to go (I am looking at you Steve Jackson games, pick a title, I dare you). You pick from different deck of cards and play them. Decks are used constantly and none of them get left over as useless. Deck that gets drawn only once is Monster deck, where you pick your avatar.

Round consists of drawing a room card (and activating possible room effects to get more cards), playing one room and “inviting” heroes in your dungeon. You can have maximum of five rooms plus your boss in play, you can replace old ones by building on top of them or destroying them for benefit.

Once you build a room you activate the effect on it if card demands it otherwise it is time to lure heroes to your dungeon. Now idea is to get them in your dungeon so you can kill them and harvest their soul, which are like victory points. If you fail to kill the hero, it damages your boss. Luring happens by having the right treasure hero in question covets. Whoever has most of them will get that hero, if there is a tie Boss Monster with higher XP gets him/her.

If you feel like not having heroes over or need more power to kill them you have few spell cards just to help you do that. There are three kind of spell cards, building, combat and mixture. This tells when you can play the card, they’re either helping you or are in-your-face kind of cards.

Game goes on until any one of bosses has 10 souls harvested or there is one last boss left alive. If heroes run out before this, one who has most souls win and on stalemate XP decides. While you need 10 souls to win, you only need 5 wounds to lose.

My precioussssh… (Components)
Cards are divided clearly with text on back of them and color coding each deck, which makes easy to divide the decks at setup and easy to pick right card during the game. No room for mistake in there.

Art is exclusively 8-bit style and it really suits this game, its a fun nostalgia trip to simpler childhood times. It is fun to see kids studying the cards with interest even now in age of HD. It is something that makes this game stand out from other board games.

No! The poison blades go there, not in the acid! (Learning curve)
Symbols on card are clear and few to make it easy remember what means what. Game is very kid friendly, but it is more aimed to older player for it requires strategical thinking how to place rooms for proper synergy.
Rulebook is fairly short and on most cases clear and game comes with quick rules for refreshing your memory. As I have said before that kind of cheat sheet should be mandatory with almost every board game.

There are few things that aren’t covered in the rulebook properly, such as destroying rooms leaves a lot of room for interpretation. Had to check it up from net to clarify that rule.

Learning to play Boss Monster is pretty easy task, people get easily in after one round, but they won’t be reaping benefits of synergies to full. This is good though because it adds on replay value of the game and for it being short it is easy to bring always on the table.

It works quite neatly as gateway game for non-gamers.

Good-for-nothing Goblins… (Conclusion)
This is fun game to play, but it isn’t anything astounding, so don’t expect more than 2 rounds in a game session. Being a light and fast game, it makes a good in-between game. Game box is small, which makes it easy to take with you on go and if the box is too big you can just take the cards.

Target audience is rather obvious here, but it doesn’t mean others couldn’t enjoy the game as well. However I believe the right generation will get the biggest blast out of this game.

There is also existing mobile/pc version of the game and last I checked you can get it for free for tablet, so you might want to take a go on the game for checking how it. Even though it can never compare on playing against another human players and to see the look on their face when you defeat them, as is your right as a Boss Monster!

 
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6
USA
Military Service
6
57 of 64 gamers found this helpful
“Revisiting 8-bit”

October of 1985 Nintendo released its 8-bit console in America. This revolutionized what Americans thought about home video games. The graphics were stunning at the time and the games were of high quality for a home console. All released Nintendo games had Nintendo’s Seal of Quality. They went through a rigorous set of testing. This was not good for third-party developers and it took away any control they had making games, this was however (arguably) good for the consume as it only allowed for the best games to be available to the consumer.

Fast forward to today. The game Boss Monster looks like something Nintendo of America would have put its seal of quality on in 1987- except they didn’t. This game was not put through rigorous testing by 1987 Nintendo quality play testers before being released. But the game looks and feels nostalgic, doesn’t it? 8-bit art, and game play that was as simple as a d-pad and a/b button. The issue is that this is where it ends.

You get cards, you play cards, you lure heroes, you kill heroes. Not a whole lot of strategy. TIP: Play the card that will lure and kill the hero, it is normally obvious.

Boss Monster feels single player. Sometimes you play cards on other players, but it isn’t nearly as satisfying as other “back stabbing” dungeon crawlers. You can play a whole game with very little interaction between other players. “How many points to have for the thief? Oh 2, I have 3 so I get him.” That is it.

I know this isn’t a dungeon crawler, it is a dungeon maker. The roles are reversed as you are the Boss Monster building a dungeon to lure in heroes and kill them… I may sound like I am repeating myself, but this is what the game feels like. Play an NES game, don’t save, start over after completing level 1. That’s it.

I am giving this game a 6/10 because it is nostalgic and the idea of it is neat, but it doesn’t play very well. There is almost no thinking involved once you learn the rules. I have played this game with 4 players and we have had players stop playing part way through because of the lack of depth.

Sorry but, it takes more than theme for me to stay involved.

 
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United Kingdom
7
57 of 64 gamers found this helpful
“Great Art, Mediocre Cards, Simple Quick Game”

I picked this game up upon spotting it in my local game store. It wasn’t too steep and I loved the SNES inspired box. I also saw the mini-expansion – Tools of Hero-Kind – which is in a Game Boy inspired box!

The game is very simple and quick to pick up and play (25 mins), and takes up a small amount of space. The components, all of which are cards, are of average quality, although the art is very good. I noticed the card used is thin so I sleeved them. Although luck does play a part in the game, we found in our experience some canny use of the spell cards and good placement of rooms is required to ensure victory. It’s also important to try and remember the heroes who have passed through as there are only so many of each type…

The game starts with each player selecting a boss monster at random, and receiving room/spell cards. This boss will, once the dungeon has reached its full compliment of rooms (five), level up – triggering a unique ability. The boss also has an XP value indicating the owners turn to play. Sadly the boss monsters do little else in the game, which is disappointing.

At the beginning of each turn room cards are taken from the room deck and heroes arrive in town. The first heroes to arrive are fairly week (4-8HP). Epic heroes (max 13HP) arrive once the standard hero deck is used up. The game then follows a sequence of turns = BUILD>>>BAIT>>>ADVENTURE.

The build phase is just that – each player places a room card to the left of their boss monster, either adding to the dungeon or upgrading an existing room. Some rooms, when built, will trigger events such as allowing a hero to be moved from town or a spell card to be drawn. There are standard rooms and advanced rooms, which come in two types – trap rooms and monster rooms. Standard rooms can be placed over any room, while advanced rooms upgrade existing rooms of the same type. Rooms of the same type can combo off one another – for example there is a trap room that allows a room to be destroyed within the owner’s dungeon adding bonus damage to each other room in that dungeon for the turn, to supplement this there is a complimentary card that, when a room is destroyed, allows the owner to draw two room cards. Therefore the room deck can be milled continuously for bonus damage. Some spells can be played during the build phase.

The bait phase is next. Heroes (clerics/warriors/mages/thieves) are attracted to dungeons which contain the most treasure symbols relevant to them – these symbols are depicted on the cards. Players must balance their attracting heroes with their dungeons potency. The strategy of the game comes in when trying to steal heroes from other players i.e. placing rooms with the correct symbols. During the bait phase heroes dutifully wait outside the dungeons…

The adventure phase comprises the movement of the heroes through each dungeon. Each room deals damage to a hero when they enter. Once the hero’s life is depleted that hero’s soul is claimed as a reward (epic hero’s yield two souls). The first player to reach 10 souls wins. Players who gain 5 wounds (hero makes it to the boss at the end of the dungeon) suffer a wound. Some spells can be played during the adventure phase, and can be a great way to screw over the opposition.

The mini-expansion adds numerous items which are equipped by respective heroes. This is a great addition as it adds increased variability and gives the heroes increased threat. If a hero is slain while carrying an item it is acquired by the player and used as a spell card. Sadly no extra boss is added, although a spell and several rooms are.

For the price I think it’s a good value game, although I would like a true expansion to pep up the boss monsters – after all they should be the life and party of the dungeon! I would also like to see the addition of a few more hero types.

Boss Monster is fine as a two player game, but shines with three or four people, at which point there is simply more going on. I have been looking into whether I can make this a solitaire game but no luck as yet…

 
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1
Gamer - Level 1
 
57 of 64 gamers found this helpful
“The Best NES Emulator Out There”

This game is so expertly themed and designed you sincerely get the feeling of playing an old NES game. It’s simple, easy to teach, and each game is different.

It’s so much like a NES game, that if you play enough games, every so often one will feel like maybe the game is cheating, or there might be a few bugs or instructions that you have to look up in Nintendo Power, other than that the game play is mostly smooth.

The expansion (which is in a box that looks like a Game Boy cartridge) breaths new life into the game if you’ve had it awhile.

This game is perfect for both a quick lunch-break game with casual gamers, or a warm-up game for an epic night of sweaty, angry gaming.

 
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5
AEG fan
Amateur Reviewer
7
57 of 64 gamers found this helpful
“WOW!!! um...”

Overview This game is on its own a brilliant idea! I love 8 bit games and really do miss the good times we’ve had together. If I were to rate based on “Brilliant” alone this would get an easy 11 out of 10. However, because there is more to games than that, I’m afraid that in practice the rating has to drop…a bit.

Materials As straight forward as they come. One will find cards when opening the box, and a plastic “Organizer”. Truly nothing to write home about in here. Five years ago I wouldn’t have thought about reducing a game’s rating because of the packaging, but with so many games out there really bringing it in the packaging department, this one gets an unimpressed “meh”

Game play Again, brilliant to begin with, until you start playing. To those who are unfamiliar; the basic premise is that each player has a big bad boss and builds a dungeon in front of it. Each turn (as the dungeon is being built) heroes come from the local town and attack. If your dungeon kills the hero your boss collects its soul, otherwise it wounds your boss. First player to 10 souls wins, first player to 5 wounds looses. You build your dungeon one room per turn and can play spell cards to mess with the hero in your dungeon or mess with other players.

Straight forward for the most part. However, the heroes are usually either way overpowered (enter the tools of the hero kind expansion…yikes) or just plain easy. Also (as may have been mentioned before) the only thing that really does damage is the dungeon. Back in my day, if you survived the dungeon at all the boss at the very least was able to jab! Bosses here just sit back and take it. Would’ve liked to see a change there. Finally, the spell cards aren’t a given. You can use room abilities to draw from the spell card pile if you have those rooms, but otherwise it’s “Hands off” the spell deck. I would’ve liked to see a rule that allows for a spell card to be drawn each turn (like the room card). This would have negated my gripe about the boss not being able to fight back.

Pros:
Easy to learn and play
Quick filler type game
AWESOME idea for a game!

Cons:
Game mechanics seem a bit forced
Not enough access to spell cards

 
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2
7
57 of 64 gamers found this helpful
“Fun to kill time with friends”

So, nostalgia plays a huge part in the appeal of this game. As a group of late 20 to early 30 somethings, we have had a lot of fun playing this and joking about the retro illustrations. That said, it is a fun game, but the achilles heel is in the replay value, particularly for two people.

The learning cure for this game is a little steep. This is not so much from complicated mechanics, but rather just having a lot of steps to keep track of and remember. It took a full play through or two in order to really internalize the flow of gameplay. Once we’d gotten a couple games under our belt, we found this to be a fantastic way to spend and hour after work or on the weekend.

The ding to replay value comes from the fact that the gameplay really does not hold up so well with only two players. The game flows more like a continuous cycle with only two people. With three or four players, things become a little more dynamic. Spells feel more disruptive, treasure counts are more spread out, and level up abilities have more diverse impact.

At the end of the day, if you’re looking for something that is fun for a group of friends to play something with pretty quick gameplay where you might get through two or three play throughs, then this is a nice option that won’t break the bank.

 
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8
Professional Reviewer
Canada
I play black
Silver Supporter
5
119 of 136 gamers found this helpful
“Not much to offer once the nostalgia wears off”

I picked up Boss Monster on a Boxing Day sale and was very excited to play it. The super-succesful Kickstarter campaign, the amazing throwback 8-bit art, a solid 7.0 on BGG – I was ready to be impressed.

In the game each player takes on a role of a titular boss monster in a 2D scroller, building out your dungeon to lure in and dispatch increasingly powerful heroes. Each turn you can expand your dungeon to become more attractive to heroes (and more dangerous). You will also get spells you can play to help yourself or hinder other players. Each hero that perishes in your dungeon gives you points, each hero that gets through deals you a certain amount of damage. If you take enough damage you die (yay, player elimination!).

While the mechanics of attracting adventurers to your dungeon and sabotaging other Bosses’ plans to do the same are fun – the game as a whole failed to generate much excitement with the two groups I tried it with. For such a simple-looking game there is a lot of information on the cards that players need to keep in mind and it is all presented in text format, making it hard to evaluate at a glance. The many “go through discards and select a card” effects grind play to screeching halts. The bland set of adventurers with no game mechanic differences was a letdown.

Finally, the game failed to establish any sort of flow. The phase where you have direct effect on the game (building your dungeon) feels like just setting up for the good stuff (the adventurers’ attack) – and when that happens – you have very little to do. Pretty much limited to re-reading your cards to make sure you didn’t miss one of the many effects. Spells included in the game alleviate this to a small extent, but not nearly enough to make the game fun.

While the great art style and heartwarming NES nostalgia will carry it through first couple of plays, ultimately the production values did not save this game from being a disappointment due to low player engagement/interaction.

 
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2
It's All About Me
8
58 of 70 gamers found this helpful
“Play the Bad Guy, Lure the Good Guys, in 8-bit nostalgia”

The concept of Boss Monster is to put you in the shoes of the dungeon bosses you beat up in the classic NES adventure games you played as a kid. Instead of playing as the hero killing monsters, solving puzzules, and navigating the dungeon, you are the Boss building traps and monster rooms with treasures to lure the hero to their death!
The artwork and theme of the game is tied together very well. You get a sense of what the game is about just by looking at the box cover and the artwork used on all the cards.
The game mechanics allow some player interaction through the card’s abilities. Some abilities will allow you to encourage heroes to overwhelm your opponent’s dungeon making their Boss monster lose health. However, there are a lot of different card abilities in the game that will leave new players scratching their head deciding which card to play. There are so many different possibilities it can be difficult to choose how to start. During one of my games, a couple of us forgot we could destroy a trap dungeon card and kill a hero on the spot. You can easily lose track of your opponent’s abilities mid-game as well.
I wish the components of the game included small tokens of the different types of treasures your dungeon holds. Reason being is I found it annoying to have to peek over at other people’s dungeons to count how many swords or magic books they had, compared to the number I had of the same treasure. The number of treasures is important because heroes attracted to that type of treasure will go to the dungeon with the most number of that treasure. Having a pool of treasure tokens or a rotating die to count the number of treasures you have in your dungeon would make it easier to keep track of.

 
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1
 
2 of 7 gamers found this helpful
“Expected game time says 30 mins...”

GREAT GAME! But as usual, my regular gaming buddy and I always to make what is supposed to be a fast action game into a thoughtout, meticulous, well planned strategy that can last to sometimes 1.5 hours in a single game. Being an 80’s kid I fell in love with the presentation and artwork first and once I established a knowledge of the game I was hooked. The core game is great but what really makes the game shine is the Tools Of The Trade expansion that adds items that are equipped by the heroes, giving each character its own unique personality. Some cards are over powered while some seem to be under powered (until you figure out a new strategy for it). My all time favorite card in the game is Crushinator, while Xyxax is my favorite boss monster to play as.

 

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