Boss Monster 2: The Next Level Review

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01 February 2016
A game that takes the term ‘dungeon master’ a little too literally.

Brotherwise Games | Card construction | 2-4 players | 30 minutes |

Dear Lincolnshire County Council Planning Office, I’m writing to you in order to follow up my previous planning application for the following property: 23a Smith Street. Since my previous letter [dated July 3rd] I would like to make some significant changes to the proposed layout and hope you can amend the plans accordingly.

Upon entering the property on the first floor, I would like to replace the proposed downstairs toilet with a Werewolf Den Monster Room, with the same dimensions… please advise if I will require a dangerous animals license for the werewolves. Regarding the open plan kitchen with island, that will now become the Smashinator, complete with two large crushing machines – these will be housed in the family bathroom directly upstairs.

Meanwhile outside the property (the Smashinator will still have two patio doors leading to the rear of the house), the 10m square decking will now be a Spiked Pit to tempt any greedy heroes. Finally, the double garage along the east side of the property will be used for a Dark Portal. Hopefully I have left enough room between our house and the neighbouring home so that no arcane horrors will escape into their children’s nursery. Yours sincerely, Dr. Timebender (Mad Alchemist). 

That’s right everyone, Boss Monster is back with a whole new selection of devious dungeon devices, wicked creatures and heroes hell bent on ruining your best laid nefarious plots. The object of the game is just like the original, as you and up to three other people play a videogame-inspired villain, such as Killa the Man-Eating Ape or Doc Scarecrow the Ambassador of Fear, who must build a dungeon full of monsters and traps using different cards.

However, rather than just building whatever you want, your dungeon designing must have a plan because you’re trying to encourage wandering heroes into your creation, where hopefully they’ll be splatted by your traps or mauled by your monsters.

Heroes are drawn randomly from a deck of cards in the centre and placed in a ‘town’ before entering the dungeon that has the most rooms with the treasure relevant to their hero type, e.g. if one player has a dungeon with three rooms featuring a money bag icon, a thief will head towards that dungeon. Once inside, the heroes travel from left to right through the various rooms in an attempt to attack the Boss Monster.

To begin with the heroes are relatively easy to pick off and only have a small number of health points but as the game progresses you unlock the Epic Heroes who have lots of health and require some cunning to cull. One clever mechanic is that the game scales up depending upon how many players you’ve got, so you won’t always be using all the hero cards, which means you’ll always eventually get to the deadly Epic Heroes.

Dungeon construction itself is very simple and thankfully doesn’t require dealing with cowboy builders or Dominic Littlewood. Instead, each player is dealt a hand of five cards that feature a random mix of rooms that can be placed to the left of their boss monster card. Each turn you can place one extra room until you have a maximum of five rooms. However, that doesn’t mean your dungeon is complete and you can demolish existing rooms using certain powerups, place cards on top of previously built rooms or upgrade them with more powerful cards.

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However, although building the dungeon is simple, clever construction is a dark art. You see, each of the cards has a particular effect, e.g. building the Genie Lounge allows you to immediately draw a spell card, while the Warp Tube room can be destroyed to send a Hero back to start of the dungeon and the Goblin Mess Hall gives all your Monster Rooms extra damage.

However, the rooms don’t only affect your own dungeon and others will mess with your opponent’s too, e.g. the Megaworm Burrow that once built can destroy one Advanced Room in any dungeon. 

The real key is using clever combos of rooms to deal maximum damage to any heroes foolish enough to enter. Ror example, say you’ve built that previously mentioned WarpTube room on top of the Shrooman Cave, when you destroy the Warp Tube room to send the Hero back to the start again, uncovering the Shrooman Cave activates its ability that gives one Monster Room an extra three damage, which could help to kill a particularly powerful hero. There’s a real skill to becoming a dungeon master.

Although there isn’t a huge amount of difference between Boss Monster and the sequel, this new version does allow you to interact with other players a little more. So there are more spells and rooms that can affect other dungeons as well as yours. Plus you can either use it as a standalone game or an expansion to the original… although sadly you’re still restricted to four players.

From the gorgeous Super Nintendo-style graphics to the quirky room names and monster abilities, Boss Monster 2 is a game that oozes charm. If you’ve got the original there’s not a huge amount of difference between the two but if this is your first Boss Monster experience… then it’s never been so good to be bad.

Buy a copy here

This article originally appeared in issue 2 of Tabletop Gaming. Pick up the latest issue of the UK's fastest-growing gaming magazine in print or digital here or subscribe to make sure you never miss another issue.

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