Hey, You! Play Board Games: Boss Monster

There's this wonderful tabletop gaming renaissance happening right now, and you need to get involved. It's a world of actual physical bits, cards, chits, dice, cardboard, and plastic. A world of horrible deception and triumphant camaraderie, ridiculous flukes of luck / misluck and plotting deep strategies.

My venture into board games started off with arguably one of the most complicated games out there: Arkham Horror. 1-8 players, 2-4 hours, Lovecraftian horrors from worlds beyond, and a forecast showing high chances of insanity. It's got many moving parts, and you will probably lose.

I love Arkham Horror for all it is, but once my son was born in June 2012 a block of 2-4 hours wasn't always easy to come by, so I started seeking out games with shorter playtimes and simpler mechanics. Not only with the thought in mind that I'd some day play these games with my son, but also to bring my friends into this cardboard world without the Ancient One Nyarlathotep scaring them off for good.

What follows is the first game in a starter-set of recommendations I have for anyone looking to give tabletop gaming a shot; and really, you should.

Boss Monster

Build A Sidescrolling Dungeon, Be A Boss

  • 2 - 4 players
  • 20+ minutes

First off, look at this box. The Zelda-esque sleeve came from backing the game on Kickstarter just about a year ago. There's a lot of video game love in Boss Monster. The art and characters are all done up in 8-bit style- a visual treat- but that's just critical icing on the hit... attack... cake...


After a set of heroes is revealed in town, players take turns building a row of rooms out from their Boss Monster. All the while paying close attention to the treasure type of the rooms in order to lure the heroes in to your dungeon, and away from your opponent's. Also hopefully the traps and monsters in your rooms do enough damage to take out the adventuring thieves, clerics, priests, and fighters because otherwise they'll count as a wound against you. Five wounds and you're dead, 10 souls of dead adventurers and you win!

Boss Monster is simple on the surface, but can be surprisingly strategic if you want it to be. There's a mini-expansion called Tools of a Hero-Kind, that gives the heroes magical weapons and armor and the like, coming out soonishly. A larger expansion called Boss Monster: Crash Landing is planned for the future, and will parody old sci-fi video games. At $25 it's a worthwhile investment with room to grow. 

Watch the Kickstarter pitch video for a look at the gameplay, and read Dan "Shoe" Hsu's review if you want more of an in-depth look.