Monstrous: The Game Of Mythic Mayhem is a light strategy card game featuring terrifying monsters from greek folklore being sent down by players acting as vengeful greek Gods seeking to increase the faith of the masses. The game allows for 2-5 players to compete in quick paced, action packed combat for the prayers of a terrified populace and roughly takes about 30 minutes to play.
During the game players will be throwing their cards at different locations based on ancient greek cities and mythic locations like Athens, Thebes, and Mt Olympus. Each of these locations have special effects when they get attacked by a monster and give the person attacking it “faith points”. The person with the highest amount of faith points wins the game.
The gameplay of this game is very interesting and is something that I haven’t seen in a strategy/territory control card game. In most games of this type you would take a card with some certain abilities and tactfully choose what base to play it on in a battle of wits. This game takes that and makes it insanely challenging, risky, and very thrilling. You see, in monstrous you are throwing these monsters down from the heavens literally. To play a card you must throw it at a small cluster of locations from outside the table. Which is way more difficult than it looks, especially if you have a slick table! This can lead to some very well layed plans going horribly awry as the wrong flick of your wrist causes your cyclops to go sailing over the great city of Thebes and straight into the underworld.
As the game goes on the play area starts to get crowded with all sorts of monsters that can potentially trap, harm, or block your throws causing you to have to make judicious use of what monster you are willing to put in harms way and ramping up the pressure to make a perfect toss. There were so many times in this game that a misplaced throw actually wound up working out way better with crazy unpredictable results causing a chain reaction of mythic proportions that changed the game entirely.
The card throwing mechanic is a great game balancer for kids and adults to enjoy and is great for bringing a small group together. As you throw you can move around the table, visit with other guests and laugh and have a great time as you get to throw things to wildly different results. Since it is pretty tricky to get a card to land on a certain location gameplay is unpredictable and very enjoyable for a casual crowd.\
But just because the throwing mechanic can achieve some random results don’t think that this game is without any strategy. Each monster card is double sided. One side has a common power that all monsters share which is to gain 1 faith per hit monster and location and one side has special powers that have different effects depending on which target it hits. One might score more points based on the monsters it hits, one can be rethrown if it misses a location, while another can work as a trap and score you points whenever a monster lands on it. Smart choices on which cards you throw can give you a huge advantage in the game.
Which locations you target can also be a big strategic factor. You can choose to go for a target that gives you big faith points but doesn’t have a very attractive bonus effect or you can aim for a location that has a bonus effect that triggers well with your special ability to create amazing point generating combos. The people that can see these combos are often the ones that win the game.
Gameplay is surprisingly very simple considering how much variability there is in this game. Each turn you throw a monster card, resolve the effect of landing on a trap monster, activate and monster and location powers, gain faith from landing on a location, take an extra throw if you have earned one, draw a card and end the turn. Play is fast easy and fun and it makes for a great filler game and an even greater end of the night game when people have had a few drinks and are making some sloppy plays, the cards really start to fly then.
The game also scales in complexity and offers advice on which locations to include in your game based on how complex you want to get. You can have a simple straightforward game of throw, score, pass. or you can have complex games with lots of redraws and retrieval from the discard pile to extend the length of the game. There is also a Legendary ruleset that will allow you to release the mighty kraken that gives every player a chance to destroy a ton of monsters with it’s many giant tentacles. The sample version has really cool clay pottery artwork on the legendary monster cards which will be replaced with and even more amazing set of cards that match the art style of rest of the game. What’s even cooler is that there is a stretch goal for new kraken art. The kraken cards will then be able to be put together to create a large picture depicting mass mythic destruction!
I can’t talk about this game and not mention the artwork. The designers went all out finding the perfect artwork to depict their mythical world and the game benefits greatly from it! Each card bears realistic depictions of mythic monsters and locations and they draw you into the game with their beauty. It feels like you’re throwing around a piece of fine artwork and the table looks amazing and terrifying when you see a bunch of these cards strewn about. I played a prototype version of this game and if the art is this impressive for a sample print I can’t imagine how amazing it will be for the final production copy. Huge kudos to the artists for their spectacular work.
Another thing I love about these cards are their feel. They used thick core card stock with linen to give it a great grippable and durable feel. This game will last you through a lot of throws and still come out looking great. Most companies would not go through the expense to put out such great components and I’m glad that this game has them!
The designers also had a great idea to include some very helpful player aids. Each player will get a card that details the phases of each turn to assist with scoring as well as a large playmat to not only help differentiate their monster decks from their underworld discards which can be confusing since all cards are double sided but it also gives valuable information on each monsters special ability as well as the special abilities of each location. In a game where very important text can be difficult to read when covered up by other cards these player aids are a very valuable addition.
The game is not without a few flaws however. Since this is a dexterity game, and a challenging one at that, play strongly favors the experienced. If someone has mastered the game to a level where she can effectively throw a card and hit whatever she aims at she will absolutely trounce a group of inexperienced competitors. It is best to play this game with people at a similar skill level to prevent frustration. A good thing that the game designers thought up was a rules variant to allow for younger gods to compete with older ones. Using these rules with newbies could help in game balance.
The faith tokens are also a little bland. For a game that prides itself so highly on amazing artwork, settling for very cartoony flames with generic looking bold numbers does not look very exciting. A huge opportunity was lost in not giving these tokens equally great artwork. The theme would also be greatly improved by adding a Greek styled font to the numbering. It just doesn’t feel very exciting to get these points which is kind of sad considering that they are what you’re supposed to be desiring in the game. Hopefully they correct this in the final release.
Finally the borders that denote which cards belong to which players are challenging to distinguish. Each players set of cards has a simple border with a different design on it. The problem is that they are hard to tell apart. Especially in dim lighting. Since each piece of artwork has a tendency to overlap these borders along with them being covered up by other cards landing on them it can be very difficult to distinguish whose cards are whose.
If you are looking for a great light strategy game with a cool theme and very unique gameplay I would strongly suggest backing this game on kickstarter. The play is so varied and crazy that no two games will ever be the same. It is also a joy to look at. $29 will get you a copy of this game with all shipping included and all of the stretch goals, though not a tremendous deal considering you are only getting some cards and cardboard it is definitely a fair price for what you get. The price tag is most likely at the higher side of most card games mainly because you are paying for a much higher level of artwork and card quality than is seen in most games.
If you want to back Monstrous and get your own copy of the game check it out on kickstarter at : https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1960349413/monstrous-the-game-of-mythic-mayhem
Or check out Secret Base Games at: http://secretbasegames.com/
As always thank you very much for reading this review! For more in depth board game reviews and quick kickstarter previews as well as news and reviews on all things nerdy, geeky, and awesome check out livingthenerdlife.com!