I've played this game 5 times now and I've had a blast every time! Needless to say I'm quite a fan of it. Monsters Menace America has been quite a hit with my game group. Every one of us has played it at least once and each time there have been smiles, laughs and good times had by all.
What is about to follow is a template review that I've put together. Please feel free to leave comments about the game and the review style.
This review shall be broken down into the following parts. Each part is based out of 5, with 1 being low and 5 being high. The Overall Score is based out of 10 and not necessarily an average of the other points.
Game Pieces - Do the components suit the game? Do they have a wow factor?
Cards - Are the cards thin and flimsy or thick and sturdy?
Game Board - Is the board cramped? Too Big?
Game Art - How is the art? Does it fit the game? Does it look good?
Overall Look and Feel of Components - What's my opinion on the overall look and feel of the game's components?
Theme - Is there a theme? Does the game need one? How well is it implemented?
Mechanics Used - What are the main mechanics the game uses? Are they implemented well?
Player Downtime - Is there downtime? How bad and how often?
Re-playability - What's the burnout on this game?
Entertainment Value - How much fun is this game?
Overall Score: What's the final score? What's the BGG Rank? This is not necessarily a sum and average of the other scores.
Here we go.
The bits for this game are fairly impressive and there is a decent amount of them.
Six different fully painted and detailed monsters with which players can destroy America with.
40 military units in the form of tanks, planes, missiles and rocket launchers. These represent the 5 different military branches (Army, Navy, Airforce, Marines & National Guard) that players use to try to stop / slow down other monsters.
On top of those Military Units there are a couple of special ones:
Mecha Monster & Captain Colossal. Unfortunately these are not painted or colored and are simply a dull battleship grey. The miniatures are still nice looking, but they could have been oooh so much better with a quick slather of paint on them.
Next up are the dice. There are 3 standard 6 sided dice included in the game. They could have included two or three more dice but that's just a minor quibble.
Finally we get to the cardboard chits. There are two types of cardboard chits in the game and they are both made equally well. There are stomp tokens (shown below) which are placed on a hex when a monster...well...stomps, and then there are infamy tokens. These are sturdy cardboard tokens that will definitely put up with regular board-game punishment.
One additional thing that they should have shipped with the game is mutation tokens. There are four mutation sites on the board and a player is only allowed to stomp each one, once. You'd think it would be easy to remember which ones you've already hit...but at least once in every game I've played I have heard 'did I already stomp this one?'. little reminder tokens would have worked well here. Again a minor quibble.
Game Pieces rating: 4.5 / 5
We'll start with the Military Research Cards and Monster Mutation Cards (seen below). Both are your standard card size and are very useful through-out the game, but I wish they were made of slightly better card stock. And I mean slightly.
Next there are Monster Cards, Military Branch cards and Special Military Unit Cards. Each player gets the Monster Card and Military Branch card that corresponds to the monster and Military branch they have chosen to play. These cards are a great size, are made of very heavy card stock and are excellent quality. They feel good, look good and are quite impressive.
The problem is...
There are numbers on the side of the Monster cards that indicate monster health. The tens are on one side of the card and the ones are on the other side. Small plastic pieces are used to slide up and down the cards to mark the current health. The problem is that you attach the little plastic pieces to the card, and you have to be careful or else you'll tear the card. And then when you slide the piece up and down over the tear it will, simply put, get worse and worse. This one part is the worst (components wise) that Monsters Menace America has to offer. I shudder everytime one of my friends attaches one of the plastic pieces to their heavy cardboard Monster Card. I've started to leave the pieces attached, but it's no guarantee that it will. You can see the little red pieces attached to the side of the cards in the picture below. To be sure, this isn't horrible and surely isn't reason enough to avoid buying / playing or enjoying the game. I personally just shudder when the little red pieces of death are attached to the cards.
MMA Card Rating: 3 / 5
The Game Board
The Game Board for Monsters Menace America works quite well. Every usable space on the board is covered by hexes which is used for the movement of units throughout the game. The board is a good size and represents The United States along with small parts of Mexico and Canada. A worst case scenario would be with four players you could potentially get 40 or 50 units on the board. This would be a little tight and perhaps slightly annoying but still workable. There is really nothing to complain about with the board and I find that most people are impressed when they see it. The board works very well for what it is needed for.
Game Board Rating: 4 / 5
Monsters Menace America shines very well in this category! When you sit down to play Monsters Menace America, you are inserted into a cheesy 1950's science fiction movie. Alot of that theme is pushed through due to the art of the game. Monster Cards, Military Research Cards, Board Art...the whole ball of wax captures, pushes and accelerates the theme of the game.
Game Art Rating: 4.5 / 5
Components: Overall Look and Feel
The only real negatives I can come up with here are the very minor thin cardstock for the Military Research & Monster Mutation cards & the very real problem of the Monster Health pieces.
Outside of that, the components are really good. It's fun to push the tanks around pointing them at the monsters and saying 'pew, pew, pew'.
Components Overall: 4 / 5
This game really excels in this category. As I said earlier, when you sit down to play this game it feels like you are part of a cheesy 1950's sci-fi monster flick. Gozilla, King Kong, & The Blob don't have nuttin on the monsters represented in this game. The game art doesn't pull you into the theme, it pushes you headlong without remorse. It's not just the art either. I mean who doesn't want to play Godzilla or King Kong running around stomping cities and fighting off the military? Monsters Menace America really captures this theme well and runs with it.
Game Theme: 5 / 5
BGG has Dice Rolling and Variable Player Power listed as mechanics for this game. To be sure, Monsters Menace America makes really good use of Dice Rolling. Dice are used when you fight with your monster, roll for health when you stomp a city, fight with you military units and ESPECIALLY, VERY ESPECIALLY at the end of the game when the Monster Challenge happens.
Variable Player Power shows through in the Special Abilities that each monster has and the different units each military branch has. For a monster example, Konk (think King Kong) gets +1 attack against fighters, while Gargantis (Giant Radioactive grasshopper) can cash in mutation cards to gain health.
There are five (I think) different military units that are offered from different branches of the military: Tanks, Rocket Launchers, Cruise Missiles, Submarines, and Jet Fighters. Each one has different move values and defense values. Sometimes even the same unit from different branches of the military will have different values. So a tank in one branch may not be equivalent to a tank in another branch.
I'm not sure if it's a mechanic, but there is something else I'd like to mention. As a player you basically control two seperate forces in this game. You control your monster and you also control your branch of the military. You use your monster to run around stomping American Cities and famous sites. Then you use your military to try to slow down your opponents monsters. It's a pretty good balance. Like I said, I'm not really sure I'd call that a mechanic, but it's a pretty neat feature of the game. Besides, I'm not sure where else I'd mention it. I guess I'll have to revise my little template review...
The bottom line here is there is nothing complex or new regarding mechanics here. It's not that type of game. This is meant to be a quick & fun, stomp and romp. The ease of the mechanics fit the game.
Mechanics Used Rating: 4 / 5
There is the possibility of a little bit of player downtime in this game. But it won't be bad. The worst of it would be if you were involved in a four player game and the other three players all had combats to resolve AND you were not involved in any of them. See, when it's not your turn, there is still a good possibility that the other players will either move into a hex that contains some fo your military units (meaning you have to fight) or move their military units into your monster's hex (meaning you have to fight). With less players, downtime of course becomes less and less of an issue. I've never felt bored with this game and unless your game group suffers from severe Analysis Paralysis I wouldn't expect you to run into much downtime.
Player Downtime Rating: 4 / 5
Monsters Menace America has some strategy but it is not a deep game. If you played this game over and over for a week you would be burnt out on it and probably not want to look at it for some time. I could do the odd double header for this game, but I certainly wouldn't want to do it too often. In 5 plays I haven't noticed any pattern to winning, so the game doesn't appear to be broken in any way. The dice rolls keep things exciting enough that it's never a foregone conclusion to who is going to win. I expect that this game won't ever get 'boring' with my game group if I don't try to bring it out too often. It's a lite, fun, stomp and romp, not meant to be played (or analyzed!) to death.
Re-playability: 3.5 / 5
Another spot where this game shines. Simply put, this game is F-U-N. When you try to force a monster to retreat with your military units and it comes down to that last dice roll -- thats fun! When you stomp a Mutation site and get to draw a Monster Mutation Card -- That's fun! When you stomp a city and are rolling 3 six sided dice to see how much health you get --it's fun. And...when you get to the monster challenge in the end, and are facing off against your friends monsters...well it's intense and fun. I know you've heard it before, but this game really is a Wine Barrel full of monkeys.
Entertainment Value: 4 / 5
Overall Score: 7 / 10 I've given this game a BGG rating of 7. Which in Board Game Geek terms translates into:
7. Good game, usually willing to play.
Just so you know where I'm coming from, other games I've ranked a 7 are as follows:
Doom : The Board Game
Thanks for Reading!
Images humbly used in this review were submitted by:
droberts441, Jezztek, paw, Banelord, kakupacal plus probably a few others that I have missed.
Editted for: formatting errors, spelling errors, and general stupidness on my part.
- [+] Dice rolls
- The absolute WORST aspect of this game (and this is where your cards complaint comes in) is the confusing way the rules are laid out in general.
- [+] Dice rolls
Great review. I really like MMA as a game that fit sinto the 'good silly fun' part of my collection.
I also enjoy yelling "Smash" when I roll a 6 in combat.
- [+] Dice rolls
I should mention that we do play with one variant rule. We only let a player use as many infamy tokens (re-roll) in one combat round as they have attacks (some mutations allow for more attacks).
This variant ,in my mind, is a required change. Otherwise the challenger gets too big of an advantage.
- [+] Dice rolls