Hello dear boardgamers! Welcome back for another boardgame dude boardgame review! Today I would like to talk about an interesting tile-drafting game named Big Monster.
I don’t normally start my review with the conclusion at the beginning, but now I feel like I should;
I really like this game!
I picked up my copy of Big Monster in a massive boardgame store after browsing a million other games for about an hour or two. I was specifically looking for a game that wouldn’t put my ability to make my monthly mortgage payments in jeopardy. I also wanted to extend my collection with a game that I could play with my fellow boardgamer family members. Also the game should not last for more than 30 minutes.
Big Monster is what fit the bill. I made my choice purely based on the description on the bottom of the box and as I already gave away at the start of this review.. I chose wisely.
Let’s get some stats out of the way first. Big Monster was released in 2018 through a succesfull kickstarter campaign. According to the manufacturer Big Monster is a smart draft and tile laying boardgame with a lot of interaction! (Note the exclamation mark).
The game is played by two to six players in the age of ten and up. One playthrough will take you about half an hour, may be a bit faster if your party has the ability to make decisions fast. (Looking at you boardgamer dude’s wife!)
The overall look and feel of the game are as promised. Lots of colors and cute monsters. The quality of the materials is excellent. You also don’t need an overly large table for this game.
Now I know that this information is wildly available from more than one website, so I think it is time to talk about my own experiences from playing Big Monster.
It was a sunny afternoon, quite sometime after me purchasing Big Monster that we finally got time and felt like playing the game. The unboxing took half an hour because of the 120 something tiles that I needed to punch out. But when that was done, we finally got to dig in! Or so we thought.
I spend the next two hours trying to make sense of the manual! It could be me, but I couldn’t figure out how to sort and setup the tiles for a three player game.
Let me clarify. The manual tells you that there are three game modes (bare with me):
- With 4 or 6 players; team mode.
- From 3* to 6 players; individual mode.
- With 2 players; special rules
Now to make no sense at all, look at some excerpts from the game manual.
Remember, we where trying to start a three player game, so according to the manual we should make 20 stacks of 6 tiles each.
The version of Big Monster that I have seems to have new rules for three players and that is where I think things go a bit sideways.
When you follow the rules it is impossible to make 20 stacks of 6 tiles each. Whatever I tried, however I interpreted the rules. I always came up short or had too many tiles to make precisely 20 stacks of 6 tiles each.
Now.. I don’t want to put you off of buying this game, so here comes my GOLDEN TIP when playing this game for this first time:
Turn over the manual. On the back is an explanation which tells you which tiles are actually supposed to be in the stacks.
So forget the parts in the manual where they try to tell you how to build your stacks for each game mode. Just look at the back of the manual.
One thing to note here is that you should take all the tiles in the 2+ or 5+ section. Don’t look at the back of the tiles for the 5+ symbol, and if you aren playing with 3 or 5 players in indvidual mode, you should remove the 20 tiles in the ‘For 3 or 5 players’ section.
If you setup your game like this, you should have no trouble getting your stacks in order (although it will take you a bit of time to get it all sorted). Also by doing this you should be able to avoid the stress (envision flying tiles and crying family members) I had before figuring out what the *beep* the manufacturer was trying to teach me in the manual.
Now I hope this all wasn’t to offsetting for you, because once you have the stacks setup it really is a fun game.
Each player may choose one out of two characters. This character marks the starting location of the newly discovered planet on which you are about to find all sorts of monsters!
Depending on how many players you have you are playing with, you either use the smart drafting technique or you don’t. Each player starts the game with one stack of six tiles. You then choose one of the tiles for yourself and place that stack in front of a player of your choosing. If all players already received a stack and you are the only one that doesn’t have a stack yet, you get to keep your own stack. This could be a tactic all by itself.
Now keep in mind that if you are playing with three players, this smart drafting mechanic doesn’t apply. In this case, you choose one tile for yourself, you discard one tile and then pass the tile to the player on your left.
After this stack swapping, you choose another tile (and in case of three players, discard one) until all tiles are used (or discarded).
The goal of the game is to accumulate more points than any other player. You do this by placing monsters in your play areas. By combining the same types of monsters, you score points. The player (or team in team mode) with the most points wins the games.
Now because of the smart drafting mechanic, it is very well possible to anticipate what tiles would be beneficial for your opponents and what tiles are not. This gives way for pretty tactical gameplay. You are really able to undermine the monsterplan of your fellow players! This surely will result in some heated discussions. This is what makes Big Monster such a fun game!
Now that we are at the end of the review, I would again like to say that Big Monster is a really fun game to play. The competition can be fierce, but the game can be very fulfilling when you are the player that despite all the mischief of your opponents gets the highest score!
Thank you for reading this review. For me it is time to play another round of Big Monster! But first I need to sort the stacks again..
The Boardgame Dude.