By Timothy Mattes
When one thinks of side scrolling castle/dungeon crawlers Mario and Castlevania stand out as the staples of quality gaming. The boys at Brotherwise Games have quite literally stumbled onto the quintessential side scrolling tabletop game. Boss monster has you take on the role of an epic boss from an 8-bit world. You slowly build your dungeon to lure in heroes from the local town. Some are after loot, others magical spells, some practice the dark arts, and some just want a fight worthy enough to make them leave their local tavern. Each turn you build a room in your dungeon and carefully kill the heroes that come through it. If you fail to kill them before they reach you then you get a punch in the face. Get too many punches and your boss gets killed and you see the Game Over sign flash before your eyes. If you get ten heroes to meet their untimely demise within the walls of your dungeon you have harvested enough souls to earn bragging rights amongst your boss brethren.
Boss Monster proves what Munchkin could not, a game can be funny and satirical of a genre without being so complicated that it misses a wider audience. Boss monster boils down to a draw one play one tableau building game. At its core it is a simple numbers and probability game, but nobody cares about the core of a game. Where Boss Monster shines is in the theme, something that was applied in the thirteenth hour of design. A stylized 8bit world full of Movie, Tv, Comic and video game references that will make even the most fringe fan of nerd culture squee with delight.
My first play through of Boss Monster left me with a feeling of contentment in a non-cooperative game that I hadn’t felt since Alhambra. The game itself has funny screw your neighbor plays and an uncanny ability to allow you to set yourself up for failure. Overall the game offers a large variety of choices and combinations that will make each game different. It also has something that many games strive for and fall short on delivering, the people you play with become a mechanic of the game. If you are playing with aggressive players you are more inclined to play defensively, if everyone at the table is a pacifist then you can go for big combos that won’t hurt anyone. If it is a blend of the two then you have an intense struggle for dominance. All said and done I enjoy Boss Monster. It is not in my top ten games of all time due to the fact that the game play can become stale for my tastes. But the merit of a game created by two brothers that filled a niche that appeared to be dominated by Steve Jackson is not something to take for granted. Boss Monster is a fun light game that can be the beginning or the end of an epic night of gaming. If you play Boss Monster and you feel it is too simple of a game I recommend adding the Tools of a Hero Kind expansion. It makes the heroes harder and adds a few extra tricks to your dungeon.
If you are a fan of old school video games, or if you are a fan of the bad guy, then Boss Monster is probably right up your alley. If you are tired of Munchkin and want something that is a little easier on your gaming group then go for it. This game truly transcends the tabletop gaming genre and is the first true cross-platform game. We have been given a real gift from Brotherwise Games, Put down the controller, take off the headset, and play face to face.
Final Score: 9.5/10 I cannot get enough of this game.
For more information on Brotherwise Games and the future of Boss Monster please listen to Episode 42 of Sorry Man, I Farted or visit their website at www.Brotherwise games.com
And with that, this has been a review from your humble moderator.