The Annual Monster Conference, known as MONCON, is being held in San Francisco, California, and the highlight of the gathering is the Monstrosity Reanimation Competition. In order to win this event, you need to create a unique monster and bring it to life. This underground competition is not only controversial, but also unconventional with not the most competent organizers. Therefore, your time and selection of body parts are limited. It will take all of your skill and ingenuity to win and don’t be afraid to sabotage your competition along the way.
Monstrosity is a card-based game for 2-5 players, ages 14 and up, and takes about 30-45 minutes to play. It’s currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, with a pledge level of $20 for a copy of the base game. The deluxe version of the game, which includes the base game as well as five high-quality rubber playmats with edge stitching, is available for $40. There are also early bird specials for the first 2 days of the campaign with prices reduced to $18 and $35 respectively.
Monstrosity was designed by Chris Sehenuk and Shawn O’Malley and published by 3to4 Games, with illustrations by Chris Sehenuk.
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Note: My review is based on a prototype copy, so it is subject to change and may not reflect final component quality.
Here is what you get in the box for the base game:
Body cards are what you use to create your monster. There are six different types of body parts: head, torso, left arm, right arm, left leg, and right leg. Body parts come in different colors as well including red, blue, green, gray, and black. The first three colors are used to meet the requirements of some of the hearts. Gray body parts can often be used as any color for these requirements. Each card has a body diagram illustrating which type of body part it represents as well as a point value.
Every player gets a heart card at the start of the game. It is kept face down until revealed by a player who brings their monster to life. Heart cards have a point value as well as requirements. For example a blue heart may require a monster to have at least 3 blue parts with gray parts counting as blue. Some even have optional requirements that provide additional points for your heart. A player’s heart helps set up their strategy for the game.
Power cards are used to bring your monster to life once you have enough points and all the required body parts. Power cards also have a point value which they add to the total value of your monster. Once you get a power card in your hand, it is a good idea to hold on to it so you can activate your monster as soon as you have all the parts together.
Action cards have a wide range of effects. Some let you take a card from one of your opponent’s hand, to rummage through the dumpster and take a card of your choice, or even to change the color of a body part on your monster. They benefit the user and at times can affect other players as well.
Both upgrade and degrade cards are played on body parts and either add or subtract to the point value of that body part. Be sure to upgrade your own monster and degrade the monsters of your opponents. A body part can never be worth less than zero points. The game also includes Sabotage cards which allow you to remove the specified body part from an opponent’s monster. That body part, along with any modifiers attached to it, is placed in the dumpster with the sabotage card on top. If an opponent is just about to have their monster completed, use a sabotage card to slow them down.
Special item cards are played with the advanced rules and can be added to a game once players are familiar with the basics. Each of these cards can be played as an upgrade on a certain colored body part, or be used as a degrade if placed on a body part of a different color. Each card offers both options.
You can download a copy of the rulebook here.
The goal of the game is to assemble a complete monster with the most points and bring it to life. There are two requirements to bring a monster to life. First, a monster must have a total value of at least 15 points. These include the point values on the body part cards, the heart card, and the power card. In addition, the color requirement of the heart must be met.
When setting up the game, organize the cards by the design on their back. Place the dumpster card face up in the middle of the table. This serves as the discard pile. Set aside the two ribbon cards for use later in the game. Now shuffle the 13 heart cards and deal three face down to each player. In a 5-player game, deal only 2 heart cards to each player. Players select which heart they will keep and then return the rest face down to the box. Now shuffle the monstrosity card deck and deal 7 cards face down to each player. These cards form that player’s hand which is referred to as their lab during the game. Place the remainder of the deck face down near and perpendicular to the dumpster card to form the draw pile. You are now ready to play Monstrosity.
Decide which player will go first. The game suggests choosing the person who has had the most stitches in their life. Play continues clockwise after the first player takes their turn. Each player on their turn may do only one of the following actions.
Seize the Day lets a player draw a card, play a card, and discard a card. They can do this in any order and can choose to do only one or two of the actions. The only restriction is that players cannot play a body card or a power card. Any other cards can be played. Once a player has completed their Seize the Day, they let the next player know they are done with their turn.
Assembly lets a player play a body part card. You can play any card you wish and they do not have to connect to another card. For example, you could play a head on one turn and then a left leg on the next without playing a torso first. You can also replace a body part card. Just play the new body part card and then discard the old part of the same type to the dumpster. Any modifiers on the old body part are discarded along with it.
Power lets you play a power card to bring your monster to life. This can only be played if all the requirements (15 points minimum and color requirement for the heart) have been met. The points on the power card count toward the point requirement. So if you have a monster with 13 points and play a power card with 2 points, you have met the requirement.
Go Freegan lets you draw the the top card from the dumpster. You can only pick up a body part or a power card and then add it to your lab.
Trash Day lets you discard 3 cards from your lab and then draw 2 cards from the draw pile. You must show your opponents the three cards you are discarding and you can place them on top of the dumpster in any order you choose.
When assembling your monster, place the body part cards in front of you with the torso in the center and the other body parts attached to it. Most cards can only be played in one spot. However, some can be played in multiple slots. The body icon on the card shows how that part can be used.
The final round of the game is triggered when a player is the first to bring their monster to life. This last round is known as the All Nighter. This gives the other players one last chance to bring their monster to life. Beginning the the player to the left of the one who powered up their monster, each player can do all of the actions with the exception of Trash Day. In any order, they can draw a card form the pile, play one non-body part or non-power card, play a body part card, draw the top card from the dumpster, and play a power card. Sabotage cards cannot be played on monsters once they have been brought to life, but modifier cards can be played on them. Body parts also can’t be replaced or removed to these monsters.
The first player to assemble their monster is awarded a ribbon work an extra point and the first player to power their monster is awarded the other ribbon also worth an extra point. Once all of the other players have completed their All Nighter, players then add up the total point for their monster. Only living monsters count. The player with the most points is the winner. In case of a tie, the player who brought their monster to life first is the winner.
My family had a great time playing Monstrosity. The monsters we made each game were all unique. We discovered that picking the right heart can make a difference. While you might want to get one worth more points, it also has more requirements which make it more difficult to assemble your creature. I really like the different types of actions players can take on their turn. Often you will either do a Seize the Day or Assembly action. However, Go Freegan can be great for grabbing a body part that someone else has discarded. Plus Trash Day lets you get rid of cards you can’t use to try to get some that you can use. Each of these actions are fairly quick, so the game keeps moving with little down time between player turns. The “take that” aspect of the game can frustrate the best laid plans as players can use degrade or sabotage cards to lower the value of a body part or remove it completely. But it is so much fun when you are the one inflicting the pain on others.
It is important to pay attention to what other players are doing during the game. If a player completes a monster, you have to assume they have a power card they can play the next turn. Therefore, you really only have two turns left. The All Nighter is a great mechanic which gives the other players a last chance to complete and power up their monster once a player has brought their creature to life. However, while you can take several different actions, you can only place one body part during the All Nighter, so you need to be sure to not let your opponents get too far ahead of you.
One feature of the game that I really enjoyed was the decisions of how to play the game. Do you try to be the first to get a monster to life with the bare minimum points with the hope that no one else will be able to finish their monster during the All Nighter or do you try to go for a higher point monster by waiting for more valuable body parts while risking not being able to finish your monster before the game ends. Games of Monstrosity don’t take a long time to play, so you can often get in 2 or more games at a sitting. And you will find yourself wanting to play it over and over again to try something different or see if your luck of the draw improves. As soon as we finished one game, my family wanted to play another. In fact, they were very disappointed when I had to send back the prototype so it could go to another reviewer. Monstrosity is a great, light game that is easy to learn, has humorous cards with artwork that really fit the theme, and will hit the table on a regular basis. I really enjoy playing Monstrosity and can’t wait to get my hands on the final product.
For more information or to make a pledge, visit the Monstrosity Kickstarter page!
Disclosure: GeekDad received a copy of this game for review purposes.
This post was last modified on April 29, 2021 5:29 pm
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