Try not to freak out here, but we’re going to put down the controller for a moment and take a step over to the tabletop to talk about Boss Monster for a minute. Don’t worry, though, it’s a “dungeon building” game themed after classic video games, meaning everything from the artwork to the mechanics (And plenty of in jokes) should provide plenty of nostalgia for the golden age of console gaming.
We don’t often talk about board games on a site like Gaming Blend but, given the subject matter of Boss Monster, it feels absolutely at home here. Everything about the game screams “classic gaming.” The box art is made to resemble the design of an NES game and even the first expansion, “Tools of Hero Kind,” comes in packaging that looks exactly like a Game Boy box.
Following a successful Kickstarter campaign last year, Boss Monster came beeping and booping onto the scene in late 2013, with the expansion arriving earlier this year. The game comes from Johnny and Chris O’Neal of Brotherwise Games, a couple of designers who can’t get enough of old school dungeon diving.
“Inspired by a love of classic video games, Boss Monster is a ‘dungeon-building’ card game that pits 2-4 players in a competition to build the ultimate side-scrolling dungeon,” reads the game’s synopsis on Board Game Geek. “Players compete to lure and destroy hapless adventurers, racing to outbid one another to see who can build the most enticing, treasure-filled dungeon.”
At the start of the game, players will pick a boss monster to play as, each one having their own unique special ability to activate at a certain point in the game. As character cards are played to the “town,” players must then try to build their dungeon, one room at a time, in a fashion that will lure in the various warriors, thieves and mages. Each room you decide to build onto your dungeon offers up a certain type of treasure that each type of character will want to go questing for. If your dungeon has the most of that type of treasure, the will head on a quest in your direction.
Each room also has the ability to damage heroes, with the overall goal of the game being to collect the soles of 10 heroes before the other players. If a hero makes it through your dungeon, however, they will do damage to your boss monster. Take too much damage, and you’ll find yourself staring at a “Game Over” screen.
The trick to the game is knowing which heroes to draw into your dungeon and when. This is further augmented by the ability to expand your dungeon, add on upgraded rooms and play spells that can help your own cause and hinder your opponents. The first expansion gives the heroes special items that make them stronger, too. Kill a hero with an item, however, and you’ll be able to use it for your own sinister devices.
When I saw Boss Monster on the shelf at my local game store, it felt like something I needed to add to my collection based on the subject matter alone. The cards are adorable and lovingly harken back to classic Final Fantasy, Castlevania, Metroid games and the like. At 25 bucks, and another 10 for the expansion, it’s not like the game is one of those big money investments, either.
If you’re looking for a break from the TV or monitor and have a friend or two you’re able to sit face-to-face with, then Boss Monster is certainly worth a look-see.