I noticed Monstrous during its Kickstarter, and was drawn to both the mythic theme and its unique take on dexterity games. I’m quite pleased with my initial experiences with it.
The core gameplay of Monstrous is extremely simple in concept. Five oversized Location cards are placed on the table and players take turns throwing Monster cards. Players score Faith (victory points) and use special abilities based on which Location and/or other Monsters their cards hits. Players’ hands may not cross the plane of the table’s edge when throwing. The game ends when a player has no more cards in hand and none to draw (everyone else gets one more turn), and most Faith wins.
The little details in Monstrous provide a considerable amount of depth. Players have identical Monsters in their decks, but draw hands at random so the particular cards available at any given time will vary. Monsters can be thrown either with their unique power side face up or with the standard power side ever card has face up. Some cards’ powers trigger when a they are thrown, and others cards have powers that come into play when they are already on the table and are hit by other cards.
There are numerous “scenarios” provided that specify particular combinations of the five locations used in a game (from eleven possibilities). They’re identified by difficulty/game length to allow some control over the level of game desired. Of course the locations can also be drawn at random, providing a wide variety of variations and challenges. A few Monsters are excluded from all players decks each game, further making sure no two games feel/play quite the same.
Cards left in a player’s hand/deck/discard are subtracted from their Fame total at the end of the game, so going out first and triggering the game end can be advantageous. On the other hand the more cards on the table the greater effects can be achieved by hitting multiple cards at once so sometimes playing a little slower will pay off. It’s little nuances like this that make the game shine and I’m impressed with what they’ve accomplished in both depth and balance within a game that’s very new player friendly and easy to pick up.
Despite my lack of success in my initial games due to poor throwing ability, I enjoyed Monstrous thoroughly. The theme amuses me and I adore the art. It plays quick and is easy to understand, yet rewards skill and has strategic choices to be made. Most importantly, it was fun. 🙂