The first time we played this, there was no expansion set–only the base game. My husband and I were both drawn to it because of its 8-bit style and its tribute to old dungeon crawler games from our youth. In the base game, players compete to build a side-scrolling dungeon. Rather than playing the hero, you play the villain. Your purpose is to destroy adventurers before the beat the boss at the end of your dungeon.
# of Players: 2-4
# of Cards: 150 in the base set.
General Mechanics: Players draw cards, which they use to build the side-scrolling dungeon. Players can only have so many rooms in their dungeon, so you have to build your dungeon with care. Some cards will harm heroes, while some give instant effects. Players interact by building rooms and playing Spells, both of which can hurt the opponent. There are different room types, which often pits opponents against one another in a race to collect certain types of cards.
How to Win: This comes in two parts: a) lure more heroes to your dungeon than your opponent(s) and b) kill those heroes before they reach the boss.
What I Liked: I love the art in this game. The throwback tribute to old school gaming is fabulous and plays well.
What I Didn’t Like: In the base set, after a few games, there wasn’t enough variation in the cards to change up the game enough. The game became predictable and boring. Perhaps if they had started with 300 cards instead, the game would have played better.
The expansion adds item cards, which changes the adventurers exploring the dungeon. Instead of a hero traipsing through your dungeon, they are a serious threat with this expansion because they can come with items, scrolls, or even armor attached to them. On the flip side, more risk = more reward. If you defeat a hero with an item, you can often use that item.
How to win and the general game mechanics remained mostly the same. The main difference is how the heroes come into play. At the beginning of the turn phase, before heroes are revealed, players reveal 1-2 items (based on number of players) and place it in town. These items attach to the first hero in town that matches its treasure icon. Heroes only get 1 item each, so no superheroes here. Heroes now enter dungeons with these items and using their full effects.
What I Liked: This version of Boss Monster plays much better. Because of the items, there is finally enough variety in the cards to make for a more interesting game. (And if you’re looking for more cards, Patrick Rothfuss‘s charity, WorldBuilders, is selling off cards specially made for the charity this year. The Cards are based off of Patrick Rothfuss and his works. More on that here.)
What I Didn’t Like: Originally, the idea was to lure heroes through to kill them. With heroes having items, some heroes may have enormous health and thus, be unkillable early in the game. The game has now become, “Heroes! Stay away until I’m ready!” It’s not impossible, but the difficulty definitely shot up with the expansion.