Boss Monster: Brotherwises Dungeon Building homage to videogames.

Posted by: Jason Silverain / Category: , ,

In my post early this month made mention of Boss Monster and the history of it creators Chris and Johnny O’Neal of Brotherwise games, having now had the chance to thoroughly play it with all intended group sizes I feel that I can now give a fair assessment of it. 
First of all I want to clarify that I own the Revised edition that has a updated and clarified rulebook and improved quality cards from the kickstarter release so if you see pictures of certain cards

The Contents and Theme
So what do you get in a £20 box of Boss Monster?

In total, there are 155 cards, that is pretty good and that is before the fact there are 96 unique cards, with several of the duplicate cards featuring alternative artwork which helps with visual appeal and replay value of the game.

Speaking of the artwork it is beautiful pixel art with every cameoed character clearly recognisable and each Room and Hero in particular having a personality, Katrina Guillermo (Super Apartment Bros) and Kyle Merritt (EvoCreo) have given no quarter in the jokes and visual humour of their artwork and while not technically 8 bit the style close enough to homage the NES era in the best of ways. The card quality itself has improved greatly in the revised edition with the cards been much smoother and easier to shuffle as well as the higher print quality, the choice to make the writing larger on the cards has also helped gameplay substantially and reduced the possibility of print errors rendering it unreadable.

Here are a few examples:

The box itself is rather study and fits all the cards nicely even with thin card sleeves and rubber band bindings, there is also a glossy well written rule book and a quick start guide both of which are clear enough to introduce a new player to the game in 5 minutes.
Actual Play

Now I've had a few messages since my last post that there is very in depth How To guide and some gameplay footage for the basic game by Watch It Played so I've include the videos below and put my summery beneath them:

My only criticism here is that you should keep the spell and room discard piles separate as it makes dealing a new game or putting it away much quicker. 

While this game took quite some time (mostly due to the instructive nature of the videos) in my experience actual play for a two player game takes anywhere between 5 to 15 minutes, 10-30 minutes for 3 players and finally 20 minutes to an hour for four players.
Though in the hour long game I had I did have a player who was rather indecisive and took 5-10 minutes to make any decision so that may of skewed my experiences somewhat.   

I hope that it is obvious that the game is easy to pick up even for younger players and that it has a decent level of tactical depth though the player is at the mercy the deck and and a bad hand can very much set back a player for good portion of the game, however this is something many card games suffer from and thus I can't really be too hard on Boss Monster for this issue.

Ultimately Brotherwise games has aimed towards a game that is short quick and fun with players often trying to make they best out of the resources they have, it is not meant to be in depth dungeon keeper table top game like Dungeon Lords.

In this regard its very much like the NES games its references, simple, fun, occasionally unfair even frustrating but you'll finish each game with a smile.


Tools of Hero-Kind is currently the only available expansion at this time and continues the parodying of the early consoles by resembling a box for the original gameboy.

I think my favourite thing about it is they have even copied the Nintendo seal.

Tools Of Hero-Kind brings a whole new mechanic into the game which is the item deck, this deck equips the hero with unique items and turn a coga line of easily disposed of heroes into a deadly menace however should the hero be defeated the player can use these items to great effect.

Brotherwise Games have continued their great theme parodies often referencing items from popular fantasy or video games. A particular favourite of mine is the Ten Foot Pole as not only does it reference the ten foot pole from Dungeons and Dragons the character on the card is Diana from the Dungeons and Dragons cartoon and looks absolutely adorable in the art style.    

The actual mechanicals changes are extremely simple but add a depth of challenge which may cause issues for novice players but the main changes are that:
  • heroes are now a bigger threat and with certain combinations are more likely to cause a wound or damage to a dungeon.
  • The single use Boss Abilities give players access to Spell-like abilities without needing to invest in certain rooms.
  • Many of these Boss Abilities include offensive effects that target other players' dungeons and promote more competitive cross-table play.
While the price at £9 is somewhat steep considering the contents are just 26 cards it is a great addition to the game and gives the heroes a bit more depth and individuality between the classes.

Another expansion which has been dubbed "Boss Monster 2" is in development but Brotherwise Games have been rather hushed on the subject though Kickstarter backers will be getting a sneak preview sometime this year.

The Future of Boss Monster

 Brotherwise Games haven't been content to sit on their laurels since creating their game they've been working on a digital version of the game which be released sometime this year approaching May/June, while I confess I am once again frustrated by missing the Kickstarter opportunity I'm still looking forward to this and its certainly a viable option for those who don't wish the hassle of carrying a box of cards to a friends house or want to game on the go.

Also much like in the similar development vein of Munchkin a stand alone expansion called Boss Monster: Crash Landing which is a Scifi variant is in the works however it is currently on hold until the development of Boss Monster 2 is complete and will quite likely require its own Kickstarter, what we do know however is that it should have around 150 cards and share the same treasure types (with a possibility of one additional new type) so should be compatible if people wish to combine the sets.


In short I love this little game on a lot of levels, the art style the humour and the rules are all things that have stood out as excellent so far and I personally think that its a great buy for anyone who enjoys a quick competitive card game that favours a little luck and is faster paced than munchkin.

That said it does have it issues, I've found that by having such desirable Kickstarter backer rewards for their projects that some would be customers who have only just discovered Boss Monster have expressed extreme disappointment and decided to not bother purchasing the game as they feel like they are getting an incomplete product. I must confess I was interested in obtaining a copy of the card creation software and while Brotherwise Games have stated they are happy with people passing on this software for free it is frustratingly difficult to find.
However even without a Kickstarter version there is such variety in the cards I don't imagine my group will be growing bored with it any time soon.

Thanks for reading, if you find yourself enticed by this excellent little game then you obtain your own copy through the links below:
Boss Monster, Boss Monster: Tools of Hero Kind

If you wish to learn more or be posted on any developments of Boss Monster then click the following links below: The Home of Boss Monster and all of Brotherwises projects
Boss Monster Facebook Group: Frequent updates and occasionally free goodies.
Boss Monster Wiki: Filled with card descriptions, background history and most importantly custom creations of the community.  
Brotherwise Games Forum: The Old Boss Monster Forum still in use by several of the community.
Boss Monster at Boardgamegeek: Boss Monster forum at for further reviews and rule variants.

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Febuary Fallout: Boss Monster and A Little Paranoia Never hurt Anyone.

Posted by: Jason Silverain / Category: , , , ,

Hey all I had hoped to have posted this on the 16th but its been a little hectic recently but the big gaming news this month is I have manage to purchase a copy of Boss Monster thanks to Ben down a The Battle Bunker.

 I was intending on writing a review for it this month but I've only managed to have a few two player games of it so far and every time my group have attempted to gather to play it for the full four player game experience we've had random events of life suddenly prevent us. So far it been illness, car problems and work overtime if this keeps happening I'm going to suspect my copy is cursed, on the bright side the delay has resulted in me obtaining Boss Monster: Tools of Hero Kind as well so I'll be able to review both at once.

For those unfamiliar with Boss Monster and Brotherwise Games they are Chris and Johnny O’Neal a pair of brothers currently living California, the concept for Boss Monster was created in strange fashion when the two  had a bet on who could create an original game first.  
After spending two years creating their concepts and play testing the end result was the rule set that would become Boss Monster however requiring fund to hire artists and print the game the two turn turned to Kick Starter with staggering results and on November 19th 2012 the $12,000 goal was met by a pledge of $215,056.

For the basic gameplay mechanics see the video below:

If you can't wait for my review and want the game right away links are below:
Boss Monster, Boss Monster: Tools of Hero Kind,

In addition I've managed to get a hold of the Boss Monster Card designer so look forward to some custom cards to download in the future.

Other than Boss Monster my groups regular DM has had to suspend our usual game due to increased work load from his Open University Course so I'm taking up my role once as High Programmer.
Its been a few years since the last time I ran a game of Paranoia but I'm sure I can lure them all back to Alpha Complex as after all failure to attend is treason.

My group knows the style of adventure I like to create for Paranoia, typically the Trouble Shooters are assigned a mundane task such as changing a light bulb which turns out to be far more dangerous than first expected. So since its been a while I thought I would share my adventure with you all once the write up is complete.

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