First Impressions: Boss Monster

Greeting all! I hope you’ve all missed me since I’ve been away for a week longer than usual. Real life can sometimes get in the way of game time unfortunately. We have entered our busy season at work, and getting home at a reasonable hour to do chores and then get some writing time in, has proven to be quite difficult. But, here I am now with a new review for you called Boss Monster: The Dungeon Building Card Game. Let’s get into it!!

If You Love

In this section, I will highlight mechanics, and some thematic aspects that may sway your opinion to either read on, or skip into a review of another game you may find interesting.

  • Card Games
  • Hand Management
  • Dungeon Crawling Theme
  • 8-bit art
  • Engine Building concept


How It’s Played

At the start of the game, you will draw a boss monster, which will be your character for the game. You will draw five room cards, and two spell cards, and then discard two of those cards drawn. You will then pick on of your basic rooms and place it face down in front of your monster. Once all players have done this, you reveal that room and you’re ready to play. On a regular turn, you will preform a few phases. First, Heroes will be revealed (one for each player), followed by each player drawing a room card. Players will then all have an opportunity to build a new room into their dungeon. This can be either an entirely new room (up to 5) or can replace an already existing room. If the treasure type matches one that is being replaced, you may play an advanced room which gives a better ability to the room. From here, rooms are revealed and players move into the Bait Phase. Which heroes will move into the dungeon with the most treasure types that they are exploring for. In the case of ties, or symbols not present in any dungeon, they will stay in town. From here, heroes will one at a time go through the dungeons taking damage from the various rooms. If a room causes a hero to run out of HP before they get to your monster, they are turned into souls which your Boss Monster collects. If they do get to your Boss Monster with HP left, your Monster will receive damage. If a player collects ten souls, they win the game. As well, if you take five points of damage, you are eliminated. As well as the rooms, you also have the ability to play spells to either help strengthen your battle with a hero, or deteriorate an enemies dungeon. These are played at various time through the game and can significantly change the outcome of a turn for players.


The Pretty Little Bow

The box for Boss Monster is quite a solid build, with an insert to keep cards from being spread all over which is nice. It would have been slightly nicer to have a spot to hold three separate decks so nothing had to be sorted out, but with the clear colour difference between card types, it really isn’t that big of a deal. Everything is super easy and quick to sort out still. The cards themselves seem to be to be a little bit flimsy, but they are still solid enough that I don’t feel like I’m playing with an unfinished game. I think the choice of art for this game is superb. Pixel art is not one of my favoured types of art, but with the side scroller video game feel the game gives off, I think this was the best choice. It works so well and really gives you a feel of nostalgia, even though it is a relatively new game. Overall, a well put together game.

What’s To Love? 

My favourite aspect of Boss Monster is the ability to play spells. Whether it be during the building phase and crippling an opponent, or having a very strong Hero come through and you play a spell which helps your dungeon defeat them. I love how you can never quite count yourself out of a round, and you also can’t go through a round over confident as something may happen and you may end up destroyed. Another thing that I thought was a neat idea was on the Hero cards, the souls you earn, and damage you take are printed right on the cards. No need for any counters or anything of that sort, which keeps this as strictly a card game. Although, I suppose that isn’t really a gameplay aspect, just a neat way to scorekeep. As far as gameplay is concerned, I love the side scrolling through rooms of dungeons. It’s a neat approach to a card game. Another thing that I found really great was that you aren’t playing the typical hero type in this game. You aren’t the one that is going to run in and save the princess, instead you’re blocking that outcome as much as possible. You don’t get to be the typical knight in shining armour this time around. You get to pulverize those types.


What’s Not To Love? 

My biggest issue with this game so far has been the inability to successfully defend yourself in the opening round. It seems like you can’t get two rooms to supply sufficient damage to a Hero. This leads anyone who didn’t take on a Hero in round one having an advantage for every game I’ve played, since they didn’t take turn one damage. Maybe our plays have just had bad opening draws, but it can really be a disadvantage to be damaged on turn one and getting behind the eight-ball that quickly. Another issue I’ve had is getting the rules across while teaching this game. I have a feeling that this is more the learners faults, but we have needed to play three to four rounds open handed before they’ve wrapped their heads around the game. I don’t usually have issue like this while teaching, but there was a noticeable speed bump in getting the game going. As I said, maybe this was just a fluke on my end, but with how rarely that is the case, I felt at least a caution should be given. As well, once everything clicked, it was easy to get the game going, it was getting to the clicking point.


What’d You Think? 

With the exception of teaching, I am yet to have a bad time with Boss Monster. If you’re into card games and want to feel the nostalgia of playing video games back in the day, this could very well be your cup of tea. This game will definitely make it out during game nights three out of four times at my house. I have a suspicion that variety of the cards will run dry, but so far, every game has been wonderfully different and strategy has been forced to vary which is wonderful. I look forward to getting a lot of use out of this game and don’t plan on getting rid of it until it is worn and replaced.


I hope you have enjoyed this review, and I can’t wait to talk to you all again! And remember, I love you all!

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