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Sunday, August 16, 2015

Who's the Boss?

Today we returned to the rustic, ski-lodge scenery of Mama Bears Bakery in Fishers to play Boss Monster.  Anyone who has played classic dungeon RPG games knows that the hero is the one and only individual who can save either the princess, or mankind, with his fortitude.  This game however is going to make us do the opposite.  In this dungeon building card game, you are the boss monster who is set out to lure the heroes into your dungeon and destroy them, taking their souls.  The methods in getting to this point will vary from game to game depending on the cards you draw from the room deck.  If you play your cards right, you can build an effective dungeon path to destroy every hero who enters, claiming each of their souls.  Whoever collects 10 souls first, is the winner. 
The player interaction comes from building rooms and playing spell cards.  This can definitely change the course of the game and alter your original plans.  You must be prepared in this game, because if your dungeon is weak, your heroes may make it all the way through and if that happens you end up taking a wound.  If your boss ends up taking 5 wounds, you lose and are out of the game.  
The Tools of Hero Kind expansion adds more difficulty to the base game by adding item cards to the heroes.  Essentially the item cards are drawn and then assigned to the hero cards that have the same corresponding items.  These cards will have advantages and disadvantages depending if the hero makes it through your dungeon or not.  I'm torn between a couple of things in this game.  I have to say, thematically I'm naturally going to be drawn towards a game like this for nostalgic reasons.  When I was very young, I played RPG's on my NES and gameboy like Dragon Warrior, Final Fantasy and The Legend of Zelda.  Anyone who grew up during the 8-Bit (NES) era, can immediately identify the layout and design of these boxes.  I know the initial layout of the box for Boss Monster is the original NES design, and the Tools of Hero Kind expansion is designed after the original gameboy games, which was an excellent touch on their part.  The graphics on the other hand are a unique hybrid somewhere in between 8-Bit and 16-Bit.  I've played many RPG's and action platform games for NES and SNES over the years, so I can identify very well with a game like this.  On the other hand, the instructions feel a little convoluted.  I've played this game several times to date, and if I've gone a long time without playing it, I've noticed that I need to reference the instructions almost every time I return to the game.  There's several small intricacies to keep in check during gameplay and so unless I play this game weekly, I tend to forget some small detail or two and have to reference the manual again and again.  I find that this tends to happen more often with Boss Monster than the other games we own.
Claire and I both agree that the creativity of the theme is one of the bigger things that holds this game together.  I know the NES nostalgia was the first thing that drew me toward this game in the beginning.  The gameplay is good.  I like it more than Claire does, she has stated she finds it tedious and anticlimactic.  However, I also have a long history with classic video games and RPG's.  I can definitely see where this game is not for everyone.  In my opinion, this game needs to be played a lot and your love of retro video games would have to be unwavering, otherwise it may feel more foreign and unnatural to a lot of gamers who weren't from this era.  The theme tends to make up for some of the lack of gameplay and format of instructions.  I believe that I need to play this game some more, which I will definitely continue to do, but I have also played it enough to form a pretty good opinion of it.  The game is physically well packaged, it's nice and small for portability and plays two to four players.  If you're into classic video games from the 80's up to the mid 90's, you'll be able to identify with this game easier, and if you're a geek who is still seeking a fun, hand management, take that, dungeon building game, you should consider this one.  It's definitely fun, but you may want to play it first depending on your personality and geek interests before purchasing it.

Boss Monster
Overall Meeple Rating: 6/10

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