A Tribal Games Review of Boss Monster 2: The Next Level
Become the villain you always wanted to be while enjoying the retro gaming graphics of the 90's! Boss Monster 2 is the ever changing, dungeon crawling, card game sequel to Boss Monster.
This card game takes several simple gameplay mechanics from a variety of different games and combines them into a fantastic experience with some of the best pixel based art seen in board games. I have played this game with people aged between 9 and 50 with a number of different players per game and each time the experience has been completely different.
The unfortunate issue with this game is the clunky mid-late game experience, which is greatly affected by early game decision making. When a player selects a style of dungeon to build, they tend to forgo scoring points from particular heroes, however from gameplay it is evident that towards the end of the game a stalemate tends to forms between players with no way to end the game unless someone is willing to lose.
Overall the game is easy enough to teach and learn, and the combination of solid mechanics and graphics create an enjoyable experience, but any player well versed in strategy games would struggle to have an on-going relationship with this game.
How to Play:
At the beginning of the game, each player selects a Boss Monster at random, which will act as the end of their dungeon and has a special 'level up' power that activates lataer in the game. Each player will also draw five room cards and two spell cards to be used throughout the game; room cards are used to develop the players' dungeons and spell cards are used to support players through tough heroes while slowing down their opponents.
During each turn of the game there are several phases as follows:
- Beginning of the turn
Heroes (equal to the number of players) are drawn from the current hero deck and enter the village, where they will wait to enter one of the players' dungeons.
- Building Phase
Each player may play a room to the left of their boss or any current room they have placed down in order to expand their dungeon. A dungeon can be up to five rooms long, however, players can place advanced room cards over a current card in their dungeon rather than increasing the size of their dungeon. During this phase players also have an opportunity to play any 'build phase spell cards'. When playing a room card, each player will place their card face down, and then all room cards will be turned face up simultaneously.
- Bait Phase
Heroes in the village are attracted to the dungeon that has the most treasure icons relevant to them. They are moved to the start of a dungeon and prepare themselves to enter. If there are no relevant treasure icons, or if some dungeons are tied for the most, then the hero will wait in the village until the next turn.
- Adventure Phase
Heroes will enter into the dungeon, taking damage based on the room cards and dealing with any traps or other effects they may incur. During the adventure phase, players may play any 'adventure phase spell cards'. which can be used to support or slay heroes in any dungeon. If a heroes health reaches zero, then the player earns points for defeating them, however if the hero is able to conquer the dungeon then the player will take damage. If a player takes five or more damage they will lose the game.
At the end of the turn, if a player has scored ten points without having taken five damage, then they win the game. If multiple players score ten points, then the player who took the least amount of damage wins.
7 diabolical monsters out of 10
- Replayability - 6.5/10
The large number of room cards available in Boss Monster 2, along with the 'advanced room' mechanics, allow players to create a variety of dungeon combinations throughout several playthroughs. Selecting a different boss also allows players to develop different strategies, which in turn, creates a varied play experience and increases the replayability of the game. Unfortunately, this game does not have a large number of hero cards, and any special powers heroes may have are not varied, meaning that by the end of a single game, players will have seen most, if not all, of the included.
- Thematic - 7/10
Thematically this game is both a mess and a work of art, the point of contention for this lies between the thematic mechanics and the thematic graphics. Boss Monster 2 is a game based in an 8 bit fantasy world where players take on the role of the monster at the end of a dungeon, which is a fantastic theme for a game. The mix of artwork and humourous flavour text take this theme above and beyond, so that any player truly paying attention to each card they are using will become quickly engrossed in the environment. Unfortunately, this is where the theme stops being represented. The gameplay mechanics are basic and do not suit the fantasy or 8 bit genres. The bosses all have special powers, but none are relevant to the type of character that they are. Even the various types of heroes have no differences other than their treasure preferences. Overall this game would be superior to nearly any other game if the mechanics supported the themes.
- Fun Times - 7.5/10
The simple to learn mechanics makes this a fantastic game to teach to players who are newer to strategy games and the thematic environment makes gameplay in a group setting even more exciting. Unfortunately, this thematic edge is also very specific, making it difficult for some players to enjoy.