Overview: Micro Monsters is a dexterity game, similar to Tiddlywinks, with players vying to seal off their opponents’ gates by jumping onto them. It’s from the designers of Micro Mutant Evolution, but is a simplified version intended for younger players with fewer rules.
Players: 2 to 4
Ages: 6 and up
Playing Time: 30 minutes
Retail: $20.00 (though Amazon has it listed for $12.99)
Rating: Fun but simple.
Who Will Like It? Fans of dexterity games, particularly younger kids. Older kids and adults would probably prefer the deeper strategy of Micro Mutant Evolution.
The story is there’s a tiny solar system with microscopic planets around a tiny sun, and on the planet Ares, four armies of Micro Monsters clash, aiming to seal the other gates. That’s about it — but you don’t really need much more than that for a game of Tiddlywinks, and it seems to be enough for my kids.
- 4 gate tokens
- 12 energy tokens (3 of each color)
- 2 power tokens
- 32 sets of plastic tokens (8 of each color)
- 4 monster-shooters
- 4 dice
The gate, energy, and power tokens are all cardboard punch-outs. The gate tokens are coaster-sized, the energy tokens are a little bigger than a quarter, and the power tokens are penny-sized. (Only two of the armies use power tokens; the other two have different abilities.)
The plastic tokens come in three types: small circles, large circles, and rectangles. The monster-shooters are identical to the rectangle pieces. Before you play you’ll have to sticker all the tokens, which is pretty easy but takes a little time. You’ll also have to put the stickers on the four chunky dice.
The cartoony images are pretty fun, and my kids love ’em. Before I even opened the box there were a lot of discussions about which teams they wanted to pick, just based on the cover art. It’s definitely going for “cute” and not “scary.”
Gameplay is pretty simple: each player puts their gate down with all their army pieces placed around it. You can select from 1 to 3 energy tokens to put on each gate (fewer for a shorter game, or you can handicap players with different numbers).
On your turn, you roll your die, and then move one of the pieces showing on the die, by flipping it with the monster-shooter. It’s just like Tiddlywinks: you press down on one edge until it snaps up. You do have to find the right surface, though. A wooden table (or floor) won’t work, but some carpet can be too springy. Ours worked best on a thin fleece blanket spread out on the wood floors or table.
If you land on an enemy monster (even just an edge), then the enemy is “squopped” and removed from the game. If you land on the enemy gate, then you remove an energy token. If it’s out of energy tokens, then you flip the gate over (to the “cracked” side), and if it was already cracked then you seal the gate. Seal all of your opponents’ gates, and you win. Landing on your own monsters or gates doesn’t do anything.
Each team also has a special ability, and one face of the die lets you use the special ability:
- Autogators: move two of your monsters this turn
- Bigbears: move any Bigbear , then put your “trap” token on an enemy, who can’t move during this round.
- Finbacks: move one of your monsters twice this turn
- Turboturtles: move any Turboturtle, then place the “fire” token on it, making it un-squoppable this round.
That’s basically it. The rules are only two pages long (with diagrams) but there are rules in seven languages.
After reading GeekDad Greig Chisholm’s review of Micro Mutants Evolution, I’d had it on my list for a while and actually picked up a copy a couple months ago, but just haven’t played it a lot yet. For some reason, though, my daughters have really taken to Micro Monsters. The big difference is that in Micro Monsters each team just gets one special ability which applies when the “power” is rolled on the die. Other than that, all of the different troops are identical. Micro Mutants Evolution has particular abilities for the different troops, which are printed on cards, and offers a more complex gameplay because not all the tokens are equivalent.
I think it would have been nice to be able to use the Micro Monsters tokens as expansion armies for Micro Mutants Evolution, but there are fewer pieces per army, so it wouldn’t really work. However, it certainly does work as an intro-level game, and I think it’ll be easier to move up to Micro Mutants Evolution later on. The box has a nice plastic insert to keep everything organized, but you could really fit the entire game in a small pouch for travel (as long as you had a good surface to play on).
If you’ve got older or more experienced players, Micro Mutants Evolution may be a better fit. But for younger players who are new to Tiddlywinks and don’t need a lot of extra qualifiers — or if you just want a version that costs less and plays more quickly — Micro Monsters is still a pretty fun game.
For more about the game, visit the Ares Games website.
Wired: A fun twist on Tiddlywinks, with fun illustrations for the different factions.
Tired: Fairly simple and may not hold the interest of older players.
Disclosure: GeekDad received a review copy of this game.