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Great tabletop games for video gamers: Boss Monster: The Dungeon-Building Card Game

Image Credit: Brotherwise Games

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Boss Monster: The Dungeon-Building Card Game

Video games that Boss Monster reminds us of: Dungeon Keeper, (Tecmo’s) Deception/Trapt, What Did I Do to Deserve This, My Lord?/No Heroes Allowed!, The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot

Dungeon Keeper

Above: Boss Monster is like a card-game version of the classic Dungeon Keeper (pictured), which is getting a mobile update later this year.

Image Credit: GOG.com
  • Publisher: Brotherwise Games
  • # of players: 2-4
  • Cost: $25
  • To learn: Easy (by tabletop gaming standards)
  • To play: Also easy, with some deeper strategy to discover
  • Noteworthy: Need proof that Boss Monster‘s creators love video games? Check out their old Kickstarter bonuses, including a Zelda-esque box sleeve.

Forget hunting for loot — you already have it. The challenge is keeping those pesky heroes from taking it from you, Oh Lord of Malevolent Evil.

In this manner, Boss Monster resembles the classic PC game Dungeon Keeper. Both share the concept of building deadly dungeons for unsuspecting (or maybe they’re suspecting — who knows?) adventurers to croak in. You start with a boss character, most of whom resemble something right out of a Castlevania or Metroid game with the detailed 8-bit art style on the cards. Next, you lay down monster or trap rooms that contain treasures. Then you watch a parade of foolhardy fighters, mages, clerics, and thieves march into your gauntlet of death.

Boss Monster

Above: A sample dungeon layout. Don’t let the heroes reach “Father Brain” at the end!

Image Credit: Brotherwise Games

Boss Monster is extremely simple to play, and at first glance, it might seem to be devoid of depth. But you want the heroes to come to your side of the table. (You win by killing them and being the first to gather 10 points worth of souls.) So the strategy comes from knowing when to place the right bait and making sure your chambers will properly whittle down the treasure seekers’ health to zero. Maybe you don’t want Nate the Squidslayer to enter your dungeon just yet, because the warrior has too many hit points for your current setup to handle. But Jerome the Kung Fu Monkey with his 8 measly HP? Bring it on.

Setting up the rooms and supplementing them with spells require some planning as well. It’s awfully rewarding when an epic hero confidently strolls through your Haunted Library, Zombie Prison, Dizzygas Hallway, Bottomless Pit, and then Succubus Spa (our fave) with just enough health remaining to reach your boss card, only for you to teleport him back to the beginning to run through all your deadly traps and monsters again.

Bottom line: ’80s-Nintendo-generation gamers need to check out Boss Monster — they’ll love its charming art style and old-school gaming references. Plus, who wouldn’t love the idea of squishing little heroes into pixelated pulps? Turns may go a little long when players start working out all the different possible strategies in their heads, so consider yourself warned. (Two or three players seem ideal to minimize downtime.)

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