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Boss Monster (Card Game)
Author: Bryony

A life-long board game addict, but anime newbie, Bryony is gradually getting hooked!

Boss Monster (Card Game)


This game is based on classic side-scrolling, dungeon-crawling video games like Super Mario, but this time you are the baddie! You are challenged to build the ultimate dungeon, full of traps and monsters that heros must face in order to reach your ‘Boss Monster’. You must compete with other players to lure heros into your dungeon and then defeat them before they make it through! Heros defeated by the dungeon are worth soul points, but heros that make it through cause wounds to the Boss Monster. The winner is the first player to ten soul points, but if you get five wounds you’re out of the game!

Set Up

This game is fully card based, so all you need to do is separate, shuffle and lay out the different card types:

  • Boss Monsters – These cards show the Boss’ XP, which determines play order and also a level-up power. This is activated once your dungeon is five cards long. Deal one Boss to each player and put the rest back in the box.
  • Room cards – Dungeon rooms contain either monsters or traps, which each do a specified amount of damage to heros passing through. They also contain treasures (indicated by various symbols) which are what will lure hero’s in! As well as regular rooms, there are ‘Advanced Rooms’. These will deal more damage to the hero, but can only be played on top of regular room cards containing a matching treasure symbol. Four room cards are dealt to each player as a starting hand, and you can mulligan your hand once if you wish. Then the remainder are left face down in the central area for replenishment.
  • Hero and Epic Hero Cards – Hero cards contain one of the treasure type symbols indicating what will lure them into a dungeon. You need a different quantity of these dependent on the number of players, so symbols on the cards indicate which are for the four player cards (to be removed for 2-3 player games) and which are for 3 players+ (to be removed for two player games). You then shuffle and set up separate piles for epic hero’s and hero’s.
  • Spell cards – Each player is dealt two of these for the start of the game and then a replenishment pile goes in the central area.

Game Play

At the start of the game, your ‘Boss Monster’ is laid at the right-hand side of your play area. You can then lay one dungeon room to the left of the Boss to start you off before the rounds start. Rounds then proceed as follows:

  • Hero’s’ are revealed – A number of hero’s (equal to the number of players) are turned face up in the central area.
  • Players each take a new dungeon card.
  • You select which dungeon card to add and all are revealed simultaneously.
  • Players figure out which dungeon each hero is lured to, if any.
  • Hero’s make their journeys through the dungeons. If they make it through, they are placed with the wound points showing. If they were defeated, they are placed with their soul points showing, to the right of the Boss Monster.
  • At relevant points throughout the game, players can play spell cards in order to gain an advantage or try to de-rail an opponent! Also, dungeon tiles have powers that can give you an advantage!

The Verdict

I really love the cards for this game! The images are pixilated, which really gives you a feeling of the old 1990’s Gameboy platform games. Hidden within the images are some great ‘Easter-Eggs’ referencing various popular culture, which is a great touch (check out a few examples in the gallery below).

This game is simplistic enough that you can easily set it up, learn the rules and get playing in a short period of time, but it is complex enough to hold your interest and get you thinking – in my opinion, the perfect balance. As with a lot of games, the dynamic works better, the more players you have. The box says 2-4 players, but I can’t see any reason why you couldn’t play with more – you might run out of hero cards, but you could just say that the winner is whoever has the most soul points at that time.

This game is ideal for an evening in with friends who just want a drink, a chat and something semi-serious to entertain. It will also go down well with anyone who is a retro game fan for the pure vintage feel of it and will bring back memories of games long forgotten. Also, the other benefit of any fully card-based game is that it’s easy to travel with if you want something to take with you on your hols!

If you love this game, you can also build on it with ‘Boss Monster 2’ which adds in Dark Hero’s, Hybrid hero’s, Epic Spells and ‘cycling rooms’ in order to add variation and up the ante! There are also quite a few other expansions and playmats available if you really get into it!

This game offers a unique game format, hours of retro fun and opportunity for expansions with increased complexity, so definitely worth a look. And at a price point under £25 it’s great value for money too!

Bring back memories of long-forgotten video games with this easy to learn card game!
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