Boss Monster is a retro-inspired dungeon-building game published by Brotherwise Games and can be played with 2-4 players. In this game, you compete with other players to build the best dungeon and score points by defeating heroes that'll try and steal the treasures of your dungeon. But be careful, as the other players can disrupt your plans with a well-timed spell.
Boss Monster itself is quite an easy game to get started with. At the start of the game, you'll be able to choose a boss monster for your dungeon. They all come with a special effect that triggers when the 5th room is placed in your dungeon. Each boss also comes with a priority number indicating which player can go first. This makes the bosses very unique and each one of them has its own benefits.
There are two types of cards that you can play. You have the dungeon cards and the spell cards. Let's start by explaining the dungeon cards.
Each turn you draw one room card from the top of the room deck. A room card can be placed in your dungeon to strengthen the dungeon, lure any heroes in, or just generate more room/spell cards. You can place a total of 5 room cards in your dungeon before it's full. However, you can replace existing room cards with new ones and you can upgrade your room cards to more advanced room cards. And you'll need a good defense to be able to defeat any heroes coming to your dungeon. Each card has a value indicating what treasure it holds. You can have 3 gold rooms and 2 spell rooms for example. If you are the player with the most gold rooms, any hero seeking out gold will come to your dungeon. If you manage to kill them with your rooms, you'll score a point. If they manage to survive the dungeon, you'll get a wound.
Spell cards are only generated through rooms that you have in your dungeon and you get some at the start of the game. Spells cards can be used to help your dungeon by doubling the treasures in them, increasing the damage that your rooms do, and much more. But spell cards can also be used to disrupt your opponents by making the heroes that enter their dungeon stronger, countering their own spell card, and much more.
The first player with 10 points wins the game. If you get 3 wounds then your dungeon boss is defeated and you'll be kicked from the game. You'll also win if you are the last dungeon standing.
While the box only contains cards, a quick start guide, and a rulebook. There is nothing of bad quality there. I like that the box isn't that big so that you can easily take it with you. I really like the quick start guide as it helps me remember the rules when I haven't played this game in a while.
Then there is the card art. And I have to say that it is very good. I really love the 8-bit style that's going on throughout the whole game. That's also one of the reasons why I picked up this game.
Due to this being a card game, you'll always need a bit of luck to get the right cards to play. However, I always felt that I was somewhat limited by my options to expand my dungeon. Sometimes I would want to strategically build a room to be able to lure in some heroes, but I wouldn't have the cards for it. And sometimes you'll just lose because you have no strong rooms and there is a horde of heroes trying to steal your treasures. And then there is also the possibility to discard room cards from your opponent's hand, basically handicapping them even more.
And while I think you can't really avoid this in a card game, it can just feel very restricted sometimes as you don't have any control over it. If you were able to draw 2 room cards every time, you give the player so much more freedom to build their dungeon in a way that they want. Or even have an action that the player can take to draw extra room cards. I know that there are cards that let you draw more room cards, but by that time you usually are mostly setup.
The idea of having different heroes in the game is a very nice addition to the game. There is even a hero that goes to the dungeon that has the least points. And I think heroes like that are very good for such a game, as you can easily fall behind on the other players. I think it would have been great if there were more conditional heroes. Like one that goes to the strongest player or heroes that have a special ability.
Is it any good?
While Boss Monster looks like a fun game, it's not something that I'll be playing any time soon. I love the style, idea of the game and I love the heroes that come into your dungeon to defeat your boss, but I feel like there are some areas where the game just isn't fun for us. I would have loved more freedom with the room cards and some less punishing spell cards. While you can focus on different tactics in your dungeon, the strongest rooms will usually always come on top. A game I like the compare this game with is Wingspan. Now, that might be a bit weird as they are two very different games, but seeing what makes the engine building fun in Wingspan, I wonder if that would also work for this game.
Now, I don't know if any of the issues above will/are fixed in any of the expansions and I am sure that there are people that absolutely love this game. But I would rather play a game of Wingspan than Boss Monster.