Before I begin, I was sent a prototype copy of the game, and will receive a copy of the game should it fund. This is not a paid preview.
Monsters? Mayhem? Sounds like my daily work as a teacher! Wakka wakka. I review all kinds of games, and really enjoy when a game shows up that I can use to engage my students in a meaningful way.
Monster Mayhem was potentially one of those games, so I was happy to give it a look. In this game every player takes on the role of a different monster trying to prove that it is the best monster, by demonstrating that they have the most swagger. To prove this the monsters will traverse through a gauntlet of rooms. Each different room contains a choice.
For example, in the “rickety bridge” monsters have to choose to take the safe choice, earning one point, by crossing the stone bridge; or they can choose to show how awesome they are by crossing the rope bridge for three points. However, if half or more of the monsters go that way, the bridge breaks and every who fell loses points. Or perhaps you will face a crumbling wall. You can stay and hold it up, or go and earn a guaranteed point. If enough monsters stay, you earn more points, but if too few monsters stay the wall falls on you and you lose points. You get the idea.
After progressing through all the rooms, whatever monster has the most swagger is the winner…and yes there is a sudden death to break ties!
I created a lesson for my students where they got to intellectually think about, and discuss the conflict between “looking out for yourself”, and “sacrificing for the good of the group.” After that we played the game, and they got to talk about how things changed for them once there was a chance to “win”. It was good fun for them to intellectually think about the concepts, and then “apply them” in the game.
So what do I think?
I love the monster art. They are adorable, and absolutely look like the kind of monsters that would feel like they need to “prove” they are the best. At the same time I really like that on the voting chips, they have both the “head” and “tail of the monster on them. It is a delightful addition.
I also think the scenarios are all solidly thematic, and almost all of them have really solid decisions that need to be made, and rarely is there one answer that seems to be the “better” choice.
Finally the game is very easy to understand, and plays quickly.
I have already praised the artwork of the monsters, and the artwork on the room cards is cute as well, though currently they have a, in my opinion, boring white border to them, it gives them an unfinished look, the monster swagger trackers have the same issue as well. Note: I was using a prototype, so it is definitely possible that this will change.
While the scenario cards are all interesting and offer good choices, in the prototype, there simply are not nearly enough of them. I would want double or triple of them to really make the game pop, and always feel fresh (again, this is just a prototype, so that may well change).
In theory the game can be played with as few as three players, but honestly, why bother? What makes the game interesting is having 10 or 12 people making these monstrous choices. It is delightfully fun, having to count up how many players made a choice, and having that moment of tension, which you just do not have at 3 or 4 players.
Bringing it all together
Monster Mayhem is a cute family style party game. I think it is a great option to play with a large group of youngsters, and it worked quite well with my students. I think the monsters are adorable, and am hopeful that the finished art assets will be fantastic. I think the game needs more scenarios to choose from to really make it pop, and though you CAN play with a small number, I do not know that you really should. Stick to the large numbers for this bad boy.
Monsters no read good!
* Cute artwork
* Plays well at high numbers, less interesting at low numbers
* Scenarios are fun, but the final product will need more of them
* Very good game to play with youth
* Easy to learn, fast to play