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The 1980s gave us a plethora of memorable Monster films such as Aliens, The Evil Dead and The Thing. Inevitably, each movie ends with the hero escaping the clutches of the monster in the final death-defying scenes. Whilst this makes for a happy ending for our hero, has anyone ever stopped to think about the monsters? When will they get their happy ending? Monster Slaughter attempts to make this right, by flipping the script and giving players the opportunity to take on the persona of a family of monsters who are hell bent on hunting down terrified guests hiding in the cabin Today I will be reviewing Monster Slaughter a miniatures game published by Ankama, designed by Henri Pym with art by Edourd Guiton and Kim Ettinoff Monster Slaughter is a 2 – 5 player game and plays in 45 – 60 minutes.
Monster Slaughter is action point, dice rolling miniatures game where players take on the father, mother and child personas of a monster family. The objective of the game is to enter the cabin, find the hiding guests in each room and slaughter them. During a single round each player will activate one of their monster family members and take actions, which in most cases require a dice roll to determine their success. Along the way you will collect tokens as reward for successfully completing tasks such as smashing a door or wounding a guest. Each token has a victory point value associated with it and after 10 rounds the player with the most victory points wins.
There is a lot to like about the production, but for me the standout is the game board and the way it has been integrated into the box. The base of the box is used to create the cabin and inside the box are 4 semicircular pieces that fit around the makeshift cabin to create the game board. You then insert some cardboard dividers into the numbered slots located inside the cabin, slide on the cabin doors and voila, you have yourself a dimly lit cabin hidden in the woods miles away from civilization. Without a doubt this would have to be one of the most ingeniously designed game boards I have ever seen. If you love miniatures this game has you covered, it comes with over 50 miniatures each using a different mould. You can see extra attention to detail was given when designing the moulds, with great care taken to give life to each miniature. Some of my favourites include the ghost monster family, an Indiana Jones lookalike, a member from a ghost busting team and a little furry Mogwai who gained stardom in Gremlins. The artwork is what drew me to the game when I first saw the campaign on Kickstarter. Each miniature is given a distinct character and is drawn in a great comic style befitting of the theme. The art also gives each monster family a cohesive look which helps bring the miniatures to life. The cards have been linen finished and feel great in hand, although they do feel a little thin. While not game-breaking, I feel even an extra 1 mm in thickness would have made the cards feel a little more premium. You’re also provided custom dice that are good quality and the punch board tokens use thick cardboard making them nice and durable. Overall the game components are incredible, and you absolutely get value for money.
Monster Slaughter is played over 10 rounds. The game starts just before midnight when all the monster families arrive outside the cabin ready to slaughter the guests who are hiding within. Before starting the first turn, each player has a set of 5 tokens depicting the guests hiding in the house. Each player secretly assigns a “death order” using these tokens to guess the order they think each guest will meet their untimely demise during the night. Once each player has set their order, they then select one of the five guests as their own personal target. At the end of the game extra victory points are awarded for any correct guesses and an additional reward is given if you land the final blow on the guest you have targeted. During a player turn you choose to activate one of your 3 family members: ·
In addition to these actions the player may also make one free move action per turn. After the player has taken the above actions for the chosen family member, they then flip the card over to show the character has been used and play proceeds to the following player, who follows the same steps. After all players have completed their turn the round ends and an event card is drawn. This will apply an effect for the upcoming round that may hinder or help the players. The token marking the hour is then moved to the next hour and the second round commences. This process repeats itself until 8am, when any remaining guests in the house escape and the players tally up their victory point with the highest point scorer crowned the winner.
Monster Slaughter is a fun ‘push your luck’ dice rolling game. The rules are simple to learn but it may take a few rounds to get the feel for the game. While Monster Slaughter requires an element of strategy to win unfortunately due to the random card draw and the luck of the dice rolls, not only can your best laid plans come undone, so can your plan B, and plan C depending on how badly you roll. To some this will make the game unappealing. However, as the game is targeted for families and gateway gamers, this luck element means gamers of all ages and experience can play the game and have a real chance to win. The flow of the game is very smooth and the turns are quick, with the game only lasting 40 -50 minutes once everyone is familiar with the rules. The ‘death order’ mechanic gives you something to think about and will force you to spend turns scaring victims away and thwarting the attacks of other players as you try to slaughter the victims in the order you’ve chosen. However, what really makes this game standout is that it oozes theme, from the design of the game board, to the cabin doors you smash open and the frantic 9-hour chase that follows, as monster after monster clambers through the cabin doors searching high and low for those guests. This hide and seek aspect is represented well with the rooms being empty upon entry and players having to use actions to search the card decks to find the hiding guest. Then there is the manic rush of adrenaline when a guest is revealed and everyone races to either kill or protect them according to your death order. It is moments like this that makes Monster Slaughter feel like you really are a monster causing havoc in a small cabin hidden away in the woods.
For the 45 to 60 minutes you play this game you will absolutely feel like you are monster running around a cabin looking for victims to slaughter. This game works better with higher player counts, the more monsters in the house the more manic the game becomes which adds further tension to the chase. The game is easy to learn, easy to teach and is accessible for all ages. This game is suited for family orientated gamers who have children 14 years and up. Whilst the theme does sound weird in that rulebook states you are slaughtering guests, the gameplay feels more like you are chasing and capturing the guests opposed to slaughtering them and the artwork, miniatures and theme is certainly not gory. Your kids will love running amok in the cabin, growling and scratching and doing what monsters do. The variety of options for the different monster families will give everyone plenty to choose from and keep you coming back for more. Monster Slaughter is a great game that I’d happily recommend to anyone to play.