Greek mythology is full of crazy creatures. Snake hair lady? Check. Lion eagle? Check. And the craziest of them all, the cyclops. It looks like a human, but it’s bigger and only has one eye instead of two! The horror, THE HORROR! Kim Brebach’s Monstrous puts you in charge of these beasts, allowing you to inflict fear on citizens below your heavenly throne. How? Just pick up a winged horse and throw it.
In Monstrous, the gods are fighting for the favor of Zeus by unleashing monsters on earthbound mortals. Greek gods did not play nicely. The monster in the game are represented by a deck of cards that players literally throw at locations on the table. I was hooked by the premise right from the start and why wouldn’t I? I grew up throwing cards into a hat when I was bored and I am a huge fan of disc golf to this day. Monstrous feels like both of those things combined in the best way possible. It is much more strategic than just throwing cards, plus you don’t have to go outside and walk long distances. I’m in.
First off, this game is gorgeous. The monsters on each card are bursting from their frames, roaring and snarling in great detail and colors. The cities are bright and varied with simple icons showing information in different directions since players will be moving around the table. The graphic design on the cards, locations, and player aids is easy to read and view across the table. Monstrous is a sight to behold.
Each player has an identical deck of monsters in their arsenals, but each deck is shuffled to bring chaos into game play. These monsters each have special abilities on one side and generic abilities on the back, but whichever side ends face up is the side that activates. The Dragon discards monsters, the Cyclops throws other monsters, and the Phoenix can be reborn in different circumstances, so there is a lot to think about when it comes to your turn. Which monster should you throw and when? Where would this card make the biggest impact?
Cities, represented by large cards arranged on the table, also differ from each other in drastic ways. Some cities bring cards back from the dead, while other award points to the god that has the highest number of monsters there. The game has twelve different locations to choose from, so there’s a lot of ways to play. Depending on the location choices, your game could be a quick skirmish or a drawn out battle to the death. You get to decide how to play and Monstrous gives you lots of variety.
When you throw a monster, you can gain points by landing on top of opponents’ monsters, locations on the board, or from special abilities of your own hoard of creatures. The game table quickly shifts from an empty wasteland to a battlefield with fantastic creatures strewn across the landscape. The evolution of the game from turn to turn is fun to watch, with some locations filling up quickly or cities becoming more valuable near the end of the game.
All of this can be easy to dismiss if you aren’t a fan of dexterity games, especially since if you miss a location or monsters your turn ends pretty quickly. But with dexterity comes drama, which I love about Monstrous. A great throw can turn everything around and gets the crowd cheering. Shouts and groans could be heard throughout my house because Monstrous can be tense when an important shot is on the line. Go Pegasus! Don’t fail me now!
Monstrous is an exciting brawl with fantastic art and tricky game play that I have had a blast playing. There’s something so satisfying about tossing a Chimera onto a pile of monsters that I can’t recommend this game enough. It can play in so many different ways, including rules for team play and a simplified rule set for kids, that I can see Monstrous fill different roles in my game collection depending how much time I have and how complex I want to play. I actually want to play Monstrous right now. If you’ll excuse me, I have to throw this Manticore at a bunch of people in Athens.
If you are interested in Monstrous, you can find it on Kickstarter here: Monstrous on Kickstarter