Our family loves playing games together, and HABA is one of our favorite manufacturers for toddler games, so we were very excited to get a copy of Monster Pile-on to check out.
Monster Pile-on is great because it has five different games using the single set of components. Each game varies slightly in its complexity which means as your child grows, you can advance to harder games or harder versions of the games you already know. Depending on the game, Monster Pile-on is meant for one to three kids two or three-year-old and above and one adult. I’ll dive into the differences in the five games below.
- 12 mini monsters
- 12 color plugs
- 1 stacking frame
- 4 mini monster tiles
- 1 die
- instruction manual
The mini monsters, plugs, and die are all the expected HABA wood style components–very durable and safe for all ages–that you expect from HABA, The stacking frame and monster tiles are a nice thick cardboard. While not quite as sturdy as the wooden pieces, they are definitely more sturdy than almost any cardboard game pieces I’ve seen.
HABA is great at encouraging free play with their toys and Monster Pile-on is no different. The components themselves are cute and funny for kids to look at and play with even if they aren’t playing one of the five games. My three-year-old loves all the silly monsters and has started taking the game into his room to play with them all by himself.
1. Collecting Mini Monsters
The first game is a memory game for one to three kids. For this game, only the mini monsters and the mini monster tiles are required. All of the mini monsters are placed face down on the table and each player chooses a tile of the color monster they want to be. Each player takes a turn turning over one monster. If it matches their tile, the player takes it, if not, it is placed face down and the next player chooses a monster. The first player to collect three monsters of their color wins. This is the most basic of the games and a pretty standard memory type game. This game was my son’s favorite because it’s the easiest for him to set up and play by himself.
2. Mini Monster Guessing
This game is a guessing game, similar to Go Fish. It can be played cooperatively or competitively depending on the skill level of players. Each player gets a monster of each color and stands the monsters facing inward in front of them. Each player takes a turn pointing at a monster and guessing its color. If the child guesses correctly, the monster is placed on the tile of the same color. If the guess is wrong, play passes to the next player. In the cooperative version, play continues until all monsters have been found. To play competitively, the first player without any monsters lose and the player with the most remaining monsters wins. We tried to play this once, but my son wasn’t cooperating so we’ll give it a little bit of time before trying it again.
3. Mini Monster Plugging
This is a cooperative dexterity game for one to three children. The monsters are stacked into a pyramid on the stacking frame. Each player takes a turn rolling the die. If red, blue, green, or orange is rolled, a plug of that color is placed into one of the holes between the monsters. If grey is rolled, the player loses their turn. If a star is rolled, a plug of any color can be placed. The goal is to fill all the plugs without knocking over the pyramid. To make the game harder, the monsters can be stacked so no two of the same color are touching. Now the plugs can only be placed in a hole adjacent to a monster of that color. This adds a little bit of strategy to the game by requiring players to think ahead a little bit, especially when getting a star on the die. My son loved this game as well.
4. Mini Monster Shoving
This game is a little more advanced than the others but once you get the hang of it, is pretty straightforward. It is a competitive game for one to three children. The monsters are placed face up in a circle in the following order–green, orange, blue, yellow. Each player draws a monster tile to pick their color and is then given the plugs of the corresponding color. Those plugs are placed onto the monsters that match. The object of the game is to “shove” the other plugs off of the board and be the player with the most remaining when one player is eliminated. I like that these games end when one player is eliminated so other players aren’t sitting and waiting.
A player rolls the die on their turn. If green, orange, blue, or yellow is rolled, the player can move any one of their plugs clockwise to the next monster of that color. If another player has any plugs there, they”shoved” off. A player can double or triple up their own plugs but this makes for a potential easy defeat. If grey is rolled, the player can move any of their plugs to any monster and “shove” the plug(s) there off the game. Lastly, if the star is rolled, the player can take one of their eliminated plugs and place it on any free monster. If the player already has all of their plugs on the board, they can roll again.
We played this game once, and my son didn’t want to play it again. However, since then he has asked to play it several times, none of which were at times or places we could do so. Hopefully he’ll ask in the near future, and we can give it another try.
5. Mini Monster Stealing
The final game involves the mini monsters, tiles, and plugs. I, unfortunately, have to admit, that we haven’t tried this game at all. Even after reading the rules three times, I’m still a little confused about how to play it so I can’t explain it to my son. Maybe I need to be in the right brain space for it, and I haven’t been there, but, essentially, each player draws three monsters and then steals monsters from other players in an effort to get three of each kind. A stolen monster is added to a player’s “hand” and then one is put back into the middle pile. The player who gets three of the same first wins. I think we’ll have to just give it a go next time we get the game out to see if playing it helps it make sense to me.
All of the games suggest an adult also play, and while that’s probably important for learning the games and on some of the setup initially, my son loves playing the games by himself as much as he does playing them with us. Obviously your mileage will vary depending on the age and skill set of your child. One of the other possibilities for this game not mentioned in the rule book is that the little monsters are also great for just playing with and making up stories which my son loves to do.
Note: I received a copy of this game for review purposes but all thoughts and opinions above are my own.