Imagine dueling with a great adversary over the power to control, say…The Lockness Monster? Or Bigfoot? In Terrible Monster, you yourself will fight your opponent to the death for greatness and glory, but most of all, the power harnessed within the Terrible Monster by Sweet Lemon.
About the Game
Terrible Monster is a hand-management game in which two players battle to defeat the other by reducing their life token count to zero. Players each begin with a hand of five cards dealt from a shuffled deck, four life tokens, and two counter tokens to use throughout the game. The deck is made up of two types of cards: spells, and monsters. Spells are used primarily to perform special actions such as draw more cards from the deck, steal cards from an opponent, or even deal direct damage, forcing the opponent to discard life tokens. Monsters are, well, monsters. Monsters are what you are looking for, because they are the primary cards which deal damage to your opponent. Each monster has a special action it performs, especially the Terrible Monster. It cannot be played from a player’s hand, only put into play. It requires a little bit of wombo-combo’ing to play, but it deals the most damage of any monster, so it can be a game winner.
The first player’s first turn is different from the rest, but in general, on a player’s turn she draws one card, and plays one, two, or no cards. When she’s ready to pass her turn, she discards cards from her hand until her hand size is five or less, and it becomes her opponent’s turn.
Players will take turns playing spells and monsters on their turns, trying to reduce the amount of life tokens their opponent has to zero. Players do possess two counter tokens from the start of the game, and may use these to counter an opponent’s card just played. This comes in handy when an opponent plays a card which may kill you, because you candiscard a token to counter the card, canceling its effects. However, the opponent may in turn counter your counter by spending two counter tokens in response to your one. There are cards in the deck which allow a player to earn counter tokens back, but these cards are few and far between, so choosing when to spend counter tokens is a vital part of the game.
Eventually a player will run out of counter tokens, and their opponent will get just the right cards to defeat them. Once a player loses their last life token, their opponent is deemed winner.
The game is very simple in terms of what you have to do. Draw a card, and play (or don’t play) cards. Regarding the hand management: yes, players do need to plan ahead with their monster cards to successfully deal damage to an opponent as there are ways to prevent damage. However a lot of the game is just straight luck. Both players are drawing cards from the same single deck and unless a player uses a spell card to pull something from the deck or the discard pile
specifically, they’re blindly searching for monsters. Once a player has a monster however–be it in play or in hand–it makes the game suddenly become more interesting to the player with the monster because now they have damage options (typically, some monsters act in a different manner) which is the whole point of the game.
With the Terrible Monster, a player must find a way to get the monster into play without their opponent doing it first. It’s difficult, because the Terrible Monster cannot be played. The only way to get it into action is to activate it from the discard pile, or find a spell which allows you to put it into play without using a play action. If it’s in the discard pile, it can be any player’s game. It’s all about having the right combination of cards, and saving the counter tokens for the perfect moment.
I received a final version of Terrible Monster. The rules were very easy to understand. I was also sent an expansion, the Desperation Expansion, which brings some more spells and monsters to the game, as well as hero cards, which provide the player who possesses it a bonus ability. Both the expansion and the core game were easy to read through and understand.
I enjoyed the art, but the theme was just “meh” for me. I believe its supposed to take place in a swamp-like indigenous area, as you see locals who are using voodoo dolls and reading runes, and explorers who are wearing your typical scientific adventurer rompers. The theme’s colors are yellow and orange, also just “meh” for me.
The whole game was made with great quality. The box is nice and sturdy, and the top of the box fits snug so it shouldn’t spill the components, but will also come off easy enough. The life and counter tokens are nice sturdy cardboard, and the cards have a very nice linen finish on them.
Is It Fun?
Indeed I think so, but with a note. First, let me preface with saying I do not like comparing games to Magic the Gathering. However, it was my breakthrough game, and I find that beginning my game career with it has made other games much easier for me to understand how to play.
I played this game with someone who is in avid MtG player, and someone who has never played MtG. My opponent who has never played MtG had difficulty in seeing the synergy within her cards. She felt it was much more random than it was, in my opinion. My other opponent who plays MtG frequently found the game to be too…Small, per se. One deck, going back and forth through the deck, trying to attack and maybe being successful, maybe not. He seemed bored while playing, like he wished for more synergy.
I understand both of their viewpoints, however I feel this game is A) a game which is random enough, but requires enough attention on a player’s part to really require some synergy harnessing, and B) is a filler game, and is not meant to be intense and drawn out. I think the balance of hand management and luck was really well done in this game. I liked it, and if you like two-player fillers, I think you will too. As I said, your draws may be random, but your planning ahead is not. You won’t win by luck! Use your counter tokens wisely, and you just might become the victor of Terrible Monster.