Monstrous: An Aficionado Review

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This game is a requested review/preview. I was sent a copy of the game free of charge. In addition, two members of my family work with the company which provided me with the game.  I disclose this in the interests of preserving my integrity.

(Click here for disclaimer)

 

Hey guys and welcome to another Aficionado Review, where I bring you my thoughts on some of the latest games that I’ve been checking out. Today I will be reviewing Monstrous by local designer Kim Brebach, the first of what will hopefully be many games by Australian publisher Good Games! Now, I’m normally one for much deeper games than the surface simplicity of Monstrous, and for a long time I had been a little dismissive. However, I found myself excited as I gathered around with family to chuck cards at cities and earn the faith of the people in doing so. Did the excitement last through? Well, let’s find out together as we explore what Monstrous has on offer!

 

Components

Monstrous absolutely knocks it out of the park with what components are available; as the game is mostly cards, this basically boils down to card stock and artwork. In both these aspects, Monstrous delivers, and then some! With gorgeous, incredibly detailed depictions of various mythological monsters drawn from Greek legends, and beautiful images of famous cities from throughout history, art lovers will be incredibly pleased!

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However, I will admit that for such a light-hearted game, the artwork feels a little too serious. The cyclops on the box strikes me as comical, yet all of the other monsters feel a bit too real. Maybe some cartoon-ish images would have synergised better and caused less of a stark dichotomy.

Quality-wise, the stock is some of the best I’ve ever encountered; it does somewhat amuse me that, of all games, brilliant card stock was used in a game where the cards are likely to be damaged. Nonetheless, applause all around for the presentation of the game; for the first in what will hopefully be many games, Kim has done a wonderful job of making the game delicious, delicious eye candy.

+Wonderful, high-quality art.
+Amazing card stock.
-Dichotomy between art and seriousness of the game.

Gameplay

In Monstrous, players will alternate throwing monsters with different powers at various cities around the table.  Yes, throwing! This is a dexterity game. Forget heavy math, long term strategy, and planning; pick up a monster, and throw it at the city for points. That’s pretty much the game!

But let’s go a little deeper into the rules. First, the youngest player (so the rulebook says) sends random monsters from their Monster Zone (deck) to the Underworld (discard pile), with each other player finding the same monsters and doing the same. Each player begins the game by drawing three monsters from their deck. Starting with the youngest player, players will attempt to throw their monsters at the various cities on the board. Landing on (or under) cities scores you faith (points) and allows you to trigger the ability of the city you landed on.

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Each monster in the game has two faces; a side that is common across all monsters, and a unique side which changes across each monster. These determine extra abilities which may happen either when the monster hits other monsters, hits locations, or even is hit by other monsters (trap monsters). The Cyclops, for example, lets you throw a monster it lands on somewhere else, possibly scoring you more points! The Dragon devours all the monsters it lands on or under, sending them back to their owners’ Underworlds.

Once a player has finished their turn, they draw a card from their deck. The game ends once any player has drawn their final card and all other players have had one more turn. Then, players calculate their faith by counting up all the faith they’ve earned over the game, and subtracting one for, basically, every monster not on the table (in their hand, Monster Zone and Underworld). The player with the most faith is declared the winner!

With many different cities and different monsters getting sent to the Underworld each game, players have a fair amount of options for variety between games, so if you’re willing to play many games in a row, you can ensure that the experience will be different each time. At the end of the day, though, it’s just fun to chuck monsters at the table and try and go for big throws worth potentially a lot of faith, only to miss and have all of your fellow players make fun of you (the Aficionado has played Softball and Basketball, but still apparently can’t throw).

There are some things to think about and process before each throw (which monster to use, which side to use, where to aim, which monsters to try and hit), and that took me by surprise! Most of the time it’s all for naught, though, and if anything, that’s part of the appeal of the game. Nobody really has an advantage, and all the planning you can do is dependent on you being able to land your monster where you need it to. The even-playing field and accessibility are definite drawing points of the game, especially for newcomers!

+Incredibly accessible.
+Not mindlessly throwing; some thought is required.
+Replay value offered in varying setups.
-Sometimes feels like there are more options than their need to be.
-Requires dexterity.  [Which apparently the Aficionado is lacking in]

 

Conclusion

Monstrous was a safe opening gambit; nothing too over the top, but also not outlandish enough so as to be risky. The art blew me away, and the gameplay was enjoyable enough, though I can’t say it’d be a game I go back to all the time. If the intention of Monstrous was to be an easy, family friendly, accessible party style game, then Kim and Good Games Publishing have achieved this well, and there are many people who will love what it does have to offer. In the Aficionado’s case, he prefers not relying on his physical attributes sitting down and thinking things out in order to win games, so Monstrous may not be the best game for him, but it doesn’t have to be. In any case, I would definitely suggest trying Monstrous out; who knows, maybe throwing monsters around is exactly what you’re missing in your life!

The Aficionado thinks this game is enjoyable, but not his style.

Grade B

For more reviews like this, click here. Want Greek mythology with a little more thinking? Try Elysium!

You can order your copy of Monstrous directly from the Good Games website here.

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