Full disclosure: A review copy of Terrible Monster was provided by Nice Game Publishing.
Another game from abroad! This time we’ll be taking a look at Terrible Monster, from Sweet Lemon / Nice Game Publishing. They’ve sent me a lot of games to review, so I’ve been powering through them for the last couple months. As always, excited to see what’s next.
In Terrible Monster, you’re on the lookout for, well, that. You’ve heard rumors that it lives deep in the swamp, and you’ve got need of a large monster that can indiscriminately eat your foes so that you can settle a fight you’ve been having for a while. Typically, when one side eats the other, they win. That said, if you let the search distract you, you may lose the day long before you actually awaken the beast from its slumber. Will you be able to wield its might to settle your feud? Or will your quest ultimately lead to your downfall?
Not a ton to report here. Take the cards:
Shuffle them and deal 5 to each player. Give each player 4 Life Tokens:
Give each player 2 Counter Tokens:
Set the remainder aside. You’re pretty much ready to start!
At its core, it plays a bit similarly to Love Letter, but with a concept of Life Points rather than Score Tokens. Basically, you’ll play cards on your turn until one of you has run out of health, at which point the other player wins.
Let’s start with the exception: the first turn. The starting player will play one card; that’s it.
On every subsequent turn, a player will draw a card from the deck and then may play up to two cards from their hand. If a card says it cannot be played (the Terrible Monster, for instance), you’ll have to find a different way to sneak it onto the field.
One major thing about this game is that every card is vulnerable to being Countered. When you wish to Counter a card, you may play a Counter token to block it from being used. Any card, one Counter; the card’s effect is stopped. Usually. An opponent can Counter Block by playing two Counter tokens to effectively counter your counter. When that happens, their card’s effect happens; you can’t keep escalating.
That’s about the entire game; play until one player runs out of health!
Player Count Differences
Two-player only! Which is to say, no differences. Sorry about that.
- I mean, get that Terrible Monster. It kills your opponent instantly. That’s really fast. And also, fun!
- Hoard some cards. You really want Leech, Deduction, and Mighty Magic, if you can. Those let you steal and discard cards, which will be critical if you want to block a Summon or something. The more of those you have, the harder you are to beat. Just make sure you don’t get yourself trapped.
- Know what you want. If you can use Deduction successfully, you can block an opponent that’s holding on to stuff that you want. You’ll be in a bad way if they’re holding Deduction, also, but they can’t hold every card, you know?
- Ghostly Guardians aren’t bad. They can reflect damage, which is useful, but they do nothing against the Terrible Monster, so be careful about that. That will kill you stone dead.
- Don’t blow all your Counter Tokens early. If you do, you will be unable to counter when it really matters. I mean, that’ll end the game really quickly, so you’ve got that going for you, at least?
Pros, Mehs, and Cons
- I really like the theme. Swamp monsters! What fun.
- The color scheme is really striking. It’s not my favorite colors, in real life, but the blend of the dark green and the bright yellow are really interesting — it’s a very interesting game on the table, color-wise, and I wish more games took risks like this one, artistically.
- Easy to set up. About the same as other microgames, yeah.
- Very fast play. Again, it’s about the same as other games of this weight, which is great for me — I can bust out a few games pretty quickly and then move on to other games.
- Highly portable. I feel like I’m kind of rattling off features of microgames, but, these are all important to me and Terrible Monster doesn’t forget what it is at its core.
- Nicer Counter / Life Tokens would be nice. They’re fine, currently, but it would be nice to see fancier tokens.
- The unique cards may make the game take a bit longer to learn than other microgames of a similar weight. There are more interactions to keep track of and that can be a bit frustrating. That said, it also allows for a bit more interesting combinations within the game, so, for a more strategic microgame experience, this might be the game to pick up.
Overall: 6.75 / 10
Overall, Terrible Monster is pretty good! I think it’s evocative of Supertall, though I think it’s focused in a way that I slightly prefer (since it’s two-player only, you don’t have to worry about another player messing you up for no reason). It definitely slots itself well in the more “combat-focused” microgame camp, which will likely appeal to players who enjoy that sort of thing. Of the combat-style games with this weight, I probably like Cake Duel the best, since it’s also got that near-perfect bluffing component to really drive up the game’s tension. The interesting thing is that Terrible Monster is fairly reminiscent of a Button Shy title, with the unique cards, light gameplay, and simple rules, which I appreciate, since I’ve been writing up a lot of them lately. Either way, if you’re looking for a quick game of monster summoning, some swamp magic, and a bit of countering, or you’re just down to throw down for a quick two-player combat game Terrible Monster may be worth checking out!