Game: Boss Monster The Dungeon Building Card Game (2013)
Publisher: Brotherwise Games
Designers: Johnny and Chris O'Neal
Pixel Artists: Katrina Guillermo, Francisco Coda, Kyle Merritt, Beau Buckley, David Nyari, Alexander Olsen, Andres Sanabria
Board Game Types: Party Game & Combat Game
Duration: 30 minutes
Time to Learn: 10-20 minutes
Boss Monster Board Game Review
Boss Monster - The Dungeon Building Card Game is a tabletop card game styled after the retro 8-bit video game experience. From the packaging that emulates NES box art of the 80's to the pixelated graphics, the theme permeates the game. Sprinkled throughout are various references and nods to retro gaming and wider geek culture, from Double Dragon and Super Mario Brothers to Metroid and Harry Potter.
Perhaps the dominant reference here is Ghosts and Goblins, the infamously difficult arcade and NES game that nobody you knew ever came close to beating. The game does a great job of emulating this and other classic NES side-scrolling games.
Each player is assigned a Boss Monster and assembles a dungeon, one room at a time. They then lure heroes to the dungeon and attempt to stop them with traps and spells. Think of it as Super Mario Maker with cards. In reverse. With you as Bowser.
Stop a hero and you get a soul point. If the hero makes it through to your Boss Monster you get a wound. Get ten souls and win. Get five wounds and you're eliminated from the game. The game is simple, brisk and cutthroat at times.
Boss Monster is a lot of fun and the integration of the theme into the gameplay is impressive and thorough. This is a great game to pull out for a session or two on a night you don't feel like committing to something longer.
The nostalgia factor is high here, so your mileage may vary, depending on the decade in which you grew up. If you have recurring nightmares about blowing into NES cartridges and then crossing your fingers as you hit the power button, you'll love this game. Otherwise, it may seem strange and the humor will be lost in translation.
Despite its simplicity, short play length and easy setup, this is not a good Gateway Game for your tabletop novice friends. The instructions are more complicated than they need to be and the theme is filled with a mishmash of mages, ninjas, dragons and genetically mutated giant brains. Save this one for your well-initiated friends and stick with One Night Ultimate Werewolf for a much better starting point.
Gateway Game Score (what's this?) - 3/10
Overall Rating - 8/10
- Spectacular fusion of theme and gameplay. This may be the first side-scrolling card game
- Nostalgia factor is off the charts
- Fast paced and competitive, but light
- Couldn't score an NES Classic Edition before it was discontinued? This is the game for you
- If you didn't grow up in the 80's and spend some serious time with an NES, this game will be lost on you
- Instructions not as simple and clear as they should be
Review by The Happy Strategerist, whose video game addiction gradually gave way to Board Game Addiction.
Does Boss Monster hit the same nostalgia buttons as Stranger Things for you, or did you spend your childhood outdoors in a different decade?