20 July 2021
From the dungeon to building management
Overboss: A Boss Monster Adventure was the winner of the Tabletop Gaming 2021 Award for the "Best Game to Play with Your Gran", a celebration of games that build the bridge regardless of generation. You can watch the awards themselves, and hear from Brotherwise Games below!
Once upon a time, a tiny card game called Boss Monster leapt into the gaming scene, taking the side of the dungeon and dedicating its artwork to early computer graphics. The super cute pixelated artwork was a hit, and so the newest Boss Monster adventure – Overboss – uses it too. The dungeon-esque and monster theme persists, and your own role as the monster too. So it’s a follow up game right? Well, not exactly.
Whereas its older brother was a card game, this is a tile laying game. Where the former was handbag sized, this needs a tote. Where before you built a dungeon, now you’re trying to conquer the world in an exercise of avoiding all planning permission, building different landscapes and matching monsters to them, scoring points based on where they lay. Whilst really, the similarities to Boss Monster are a little stretched when you actually start playing, that’s the biggest niggle I can come up with in this game, because it’s just monstrously good fun.
You receive your own monster with associated special powers that can be used once, and your board to lay your tiles on. The tiles are numerous – and I mean numerous – and the sole complaint of my gaming group was initial set up. There’s a fair amount of tile punching and organising to be had, before most of it goes back in the box anyway (I’ll come back to the box later). Once done, you create a pick pile in the centre, with location tiles to choose from, and associated monsters above them. If you can match monsters with locations, you’re going to gain extra points, but given their random draw, there’s no guarantee they’ll match when you pick them up. Lay down your location card in the best possible place, and then worry about moving the monsters later.
From there it’s a strategy game. Do you go for the Cloud tiles, which give you great and immediate points, but if you do, should you lay down a tile that isn’t a Cloud tile, you lose a point from it? Or do you prioritise the landscape that offers points for the number of different tiles that surround it, and then try to gain a wealth of different tiles – higher points, but then you’re less likely to get similarity bonuses? Each tile of course contains its own structure and points system, and the initial learning curve for this is intense, but rewarding once understood.
It’s easily a game you can absorb yourself into (and indeed, the solo mode is equally great in this game), but it still forces you to interact. You’ll curse at the person who took the tile you’ve been eyeing, and you’ll delight in messing with their dungeon using the special cards. The game recommends first time round you leave these out, and it’s a great recommendation. By the second, and all subsequent plays, you’ve got the perfect new strategy in mind, ready to dive right in – only to have a fellow player mess up your perfect plans. It keeps you interacting, and acting monstrous too.
Earlier I mentioned the complaint of set up – it takes a while, and if you don’t sort as you go (we’re a messy bunch), you end up with a kerfluffle of tiles that need sorting. Once you’ve done that though, there are GameTrayz inserts in the box, that are a sheer delight. Every single tile type has its place, with matching monsters beneath their relevant terrain cards, all held in place with the plastic top. It’s not new to have a great insert, but it pulls all of the anticipated headache out of future plays, and makes it quick and easy enough to set up that it warrants pulling down from the shelf for an errant game.
PLAY IT? YES
Overall, it may not have been what I expected from a Boss Monster game at first glance, but it turned out to be a great standalone, and a great gateway option too.
TRY THIS IF YOU LIKE CARCASSONNE
If you like tile laying games, this is your monster.
Designer: Aaron Mesburne, Kevin Russ
Publisher: Brotherwise Games
Time: 20 minutes
What’s in the box?
- 10 Sets of 12 terrain tiles
- 10 Matching monster tokens
- 1 Matching crystal token
- 10 Terrain selection cards
- 18 Command cards
- 5 Double sided player boards
- 7 Portal tokens
- 8 Dungeon tiles
- 6 Miniboss tokens
- 1 Score pad
- 10 Boss cards
- 1 Token bag
Plus watch Brotherwise Games at Virtual Tabletop Gaming Live 2021
This article originally appeared in issue 57 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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