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Theme and What is it?
Ink Monsters is an upcoming card game for two to six players from Albino Dragon. I received a preview copy at Gen Con 50 in advance of the coming Kickstarter project. In Ink Monsters, players will try to claim the best monsters through skillful card play. Players will use monsters’ special powers to affect gameplay and collect monsters with matching attributes for potential set bonuses. See who can earn the most points through three rounds.
When I first sat down to play Ink Monsters, I had no idea what to expect. I like other games that feature line manipulation and I had not seen it done in a circle before so this would be a new take on that concept. While this might seem like a small difference, the potential for how this might impact an order manipulation mechanic had be intrigued.
Quality of Components and Insert
I previewed Ink Monsters from a beta copy. I do not know what the final box will look like or if it will have an insert. Above I have shown an early prototype box. Even with it being a the beta copy, the cards are of decent thickness and I would expect them to be either of equal or greater quality when the game goes into final production.
Ink Monsters is quick and fun at the table, particularly if players are using a lot of power cards to move the pen and interact with other players. In the rules as I understood them, players were not required to play a power card on their turn. However, I could see things getting very interesting if players were forced to choose one of their three power cards to play on their turn, thus making the best out of what they have available. Moving the pen to potentially setup a bad draw for another player is about as “mean” as the game gets. The trade card can let you steal a few points from other players, but again, relatively tame which keeps the game fun and enjoyable, particularly with younger players.
Difficulty and age range suggestion
The primary mechanism in Ink Monsters is collecting the monster that is under the pen and understanding how to best manipulate the pen’s location through your power cards to get the most points. The game indicates that it is for players ages 6 and up and I agree that they should be able to understand the game well enough to play. However, they might be a little young for understanding the best strategic and tactical choices to make in obtaining ink monsters and players of that age will certainly require assistance in tabulating their points as the end of game set bonuses begin to stack, though regularly acquiring multiple bonuses may be more frequent on lower player count games.
I enjoyed Ink Monsters. It is a fun, light, set collection game that plays in about 15 to 20 minutes. The bulk of the game is not particularly complex. The main complexity comes from trying to orchestrate your power cards into facilitating the set collection, but it doesn’t bog down because you only ever have three powers to choose from plus any monsters you may have acquired that have a power. There are some nice moments when players are able to string together a combo and acquire two or even three monsters in a turn. The end game tabulation of scoring can get a little squirrely if player’s have multiple monsters with set bonuses as most monster cards feature two to five set icons. However, since all the points come from your final collection of monsters, it is easy to recalculate and/or check your math if it is a little late in the evening and focus is starting to wane. I like that the artwork is so kid friendly and does not ever veer into scary or frightening territory. Kids will likely laugh at more than a few of the monsters and it makes for good family fare. I look forward to seeing what’s in store for the future of Ink Monsters from Albino Dragon.