Publisher: Secret Base Games
Game Designer: Kim Brebach
Artwork: Jeff Brown, Ben Nelson, Jarrod Owen, R. J. Palmer, John Silva, Sutthiwat
Ages: 10 & up
Playing Time: 20-40 minutes
Suggested Retail Price: $29.00
Wrathful Gods, Faithless Mortals, Mythic Monsters and an Unhappy Zeus!
Monstrous is the new game from first time designer Kim Brebach of Secret Base Games that’s live on Kickstarter and was fully funded in less than a week. This card tossing, dexterity battle card game pits 2-5 players as Greek gods unleashing your wraths upon the faithless masses by throwing mythical monsters upon them to unleash havoc and restore their faith in you. The more monsters and cities you hit, the more ‘Faith’ you earn and the god with the most Faith at the end of the game wins and earns the favor of Zeus!
What’s In Pandora’s Box?
As a dexterity based card game, you’d expect that the cards to be high quality and when you open up Monstrous you see that it doesn’t disappoint. All 78 of the Monster and Legendary cards are nice, thick 350gsm ivory core with linen finish that have a good heft to them to allow for easy throwing. The twelve 3.5” x 5” location cards are a touch heavier at 400gsm but match the monster ones nicely in both style and art.
Speaking of art, all of Monstrous is adorned with really gorgeous art that sets the tone and sucks you right into the game. The six artists whose work is spotlighted in the game; Jeff Brown, Ben Nelson, Jarrod Owen, R. J. Palmer, John Silva and Sutthiwat all deserve special mention for their outstanding work on this title.
Some new stretch goals have been added recently to have the artists do further detail work to the pieces and from the peeks I’ve had of them, they are truly stunning!
Wrath of the Gods
I didn’t think I’d have this much fun tossing cards but after playing Monstrous, I’m a card throwing ninja! Now I get to take on the role of a Greek god, hurling ancient and terrible monsters upon the land to remind those foolish mortals who’s really in charge.
Monstrous is a very easy game to teach and play for all ages, making it a very family friendly game. The most difficult part of the game is the actual throwing, so for the somewhat less dexterous, a good bit of practice is definitely recommended. Every game should start with a quick warmup, tossing cards for a minute or two to get the hang of it lest you look foolish and make some costly bad throws. You don’t throw the cards as much as float them in; flicking them like stones on a pond will net you the same results with your card off the table and into your underworld, costing you points in the end.
Setup is easy and quick. Pick five random locations from the twelve provided and place them on the table. Players construct identical decks then shuffle them and draw three cards as their starting hand. Now you’re ready to spread your wrath!
To throw the cards players stand up and move around the table to get better angles on the locations they wish to hit, after all god’s are able to go everywhere right? All throws are done while standing and must be from behind the outside edge of the table and your hand cannot go past that edge. This works best on a round table, making it easier for everyone.
Starting with the first player, each turn is taken and effects are resolved in the following order:
- Throw a Monster
- Trap Monster Powers
- Monster Powers
- Location Power
- Location’s Faith
- Extra Throw (if applicable)
- Draw one card and end your turn
All decks have three Trap cards in them, unless they were discarded at the beginning of the game in the random cull and these are resolved first. These cards are pretty fun to use and give the game more strategic depth than the standard monster powers, they also suck to land on because you are helping the cards owner, and sometimes hurting yourself, in one of three ways.
The Phoenix gets you an extra throw, every hit to the Siren gives the owning player one Faith and for the defensive minded, the Gorgon discards any monster hitting it to the underworld. Great cards to play and since their action gets resolved first, can change the development of things as the game goes on.
The cards each represent one of twelve mythological monsters from ancient Greece and have two sides, a common power side and a unique side. The common sides are identical, gaining 1 Faith for monsters and locations hit. Hits are determined by the card making any contact, even the slightest, with another monster or location card to score or set off the card effects.
The unique sides offers special abilities such as discarding any hit monsters, taking Faith from another god or getting another free throw action, among others. Each deck is differentiated by a unique border, so you can easily tell the cards apart from one another during play. The Phoenix, Siren and Gorgon’s unique sides are their Trap powers.
After your throw, draw another card into your hand and when one player has exhausted all of their cards, the end phase is triggered which allows everyone else one last turn before final scoring. To tally your score, add up your Faith and subtract one for every card in your hand, deck or underworld and the god with the most Faith wins the favor of Zeus!
Scoring Faith in the game is easy but can get a bit dicey when the table fills up, since all cards stay on the table the entire game unless removed by another card’s powers. Sometimes you will have to remove a card and in doing so may end up slightly disturbing others in the process, regardless of how careful you are. For most gamers this won’t be a big deal but there’s always that one player, so bear that in mind.
Once you feel confident with the base game, you can up the ante by playing the Legendary mode which adds more powerful monsters, including the mighty Kraken! If the stretch goal is reached, the final Kraken art will span 9 cards creating a portrait that is going to be simply beautiful! Here’s an exclusive look.
What I found most interesting about Monstrous is the interplay between cards and their residual effects over the course of the game. Cards played early on can have lasting effects and you can combo your own cards to create some big scoring opportunities. While you can see those scoring chances, it’s up to your dexterity to make it happen which provides a fun and challenging experience that will keep you coming back for more.
If you like dexterity games such as Rhino Hero, Coconuts or Pitchcar, Monstrous will be right up your alley and should be in your backer queue.
Monstrous hits the sweet spot for me by mixing personal challenge with strategic card play. Strategizing which cards to use and when while having to make it work on skill rather than luck of the draw or a die roll, gives me a feeling of accomplishment and control that really invests me in the game. Add to that some truly amazing artwork and this is a winner!
Although the strategy in the game is not heavy, there is enough depth of choices to make the game a challenge each time you play and the added Legendary mode increases it a bit more.
If you’re a fan of dexterity games or would like to try your hand at one, Monstrous definitely deserves a look for you. With two weeks left in the Kickstarter and for only $29, it’s at a great price point for everyone.
This game is Club Fantasci Certified!
Monstrous is a beautifully crafted game with excellent production quality that is a lot of fun to play. Mixing strategic card play with the dexterity challenge makes for a surprisingly fun and engaging game for all age groups where your success hinges on your own physical ability to land the cards where you need them to be, rather than relying on blind luck.
Now pardon me, I have some faithless fools to strike fear into the hearts of!
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