Monster Slaughter – Ankama – Review

Monster Slaughter - Ankama - Review 1

"There is very little analysis paralysis too because of the tight time restraints forcing you to make the more direct decisions most of the time… “ATTACK!!!” “KILL!!!” etc"

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Theme and What is it?

Have you ever wanted to play the bad guys in a classic horror movie? well, now’s your chance!

Monster Slaughter puts you in the shoes of a family of cinematically evil villains. Everything from Vampires down to Critters has been covered in this humour filled romp of a game.

As a family (mother, father and child) you stalk the cabin in the woods and try to find the pesky teenagers so you can have your wicked way with them… unfortunately there are other families out to do the same darn thing. 

As you play through the 9 turns that make up the game you collect cards, take actions, deal with events and hopefully slay some victims. However, they will fight back, and they won’t be alone, the other families will be assisting them by providing them with weapons and traps etc. 

Every family wants their pound of flesh and they’ll help the teens if it gives them one more chance to get the kill themselves. 

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Gameplay Mechanics

Each player has a variety of classic and thematic actions to take throughout the game. You have 3 cards that represent each member of your family and each member of the family is strong in different areas. For example, the child is normally the fastest and the father is the strongest meaning he normally rolls more dice when attacking. 

To add to this, each race of monsters also has bonuses that make them different from each other. For example, the Ghosts can move through walls without having to open doors. All the abilities seem to fit the characters very well but I haven’t had a chance to play all the families yet so this variety may lead to balance issues.

The actions specifically consist of Move, Peek, Search, Smash and Attack. Unfortunately, we found that some of these actions, although thematic, were a waste of time. Peek, for instance, allows you to creepily peer through the window of the cabin and sneakily have a look in the deck for that room and see if one of the teenagers are in there. For all that sounds like something right out of a scary film this felt like a waste of turn to me. You might as well barrel in and just search in each room. Remember this game takes place over 9 turns, that’s 3 actions per family member, wasting an action on peek seemed preposterous to me.

The rest of the actions really explain themselves. Moving through or around the house, searching in the room decks to see if the teenagers are in your current room, smashing doors for points and to scare the teenagers and attacking the teenagers once you find them.

 

Everything is decided by dice rolls which can leave some players frustrated and aggravated when they couldn’t even smash down a door let alone wound their cornered victim. This can sometimes be mitigated with card effects but more often than not you’re left waiting for your next chance to take a bite out of those juicy teenagers.

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Initial Impressions

The game plays out over a very short period. This makes it very hard to process regarding the level of enjoyment. 9 turns are not a lot of time to really get a grip of the teenagers and have a chance to take them all down, especially when visitors get involved. We were left scrabbling around as the last actions came around and we hadn’t even found all the victims let alone killed them all yet.

However, all the actions we took all felt substantial. Searching the deck in a specific room hoping that you’ll uncover a teenager hiding behind a bookcase helped to build anticipation.  Then the moment you find one and it becomes a mad dash to get the kill as soon as possible is a rush… It sounds pretty grim when I put it like that but everything about the game does a great job of lightening the mood. Even the items the teens use to fend you off are wacky and stereotypical.

From the very first turn, while some of us peered through windows and others smashed down doors, I knew I liked this game. I just felt maybe another 3 turns might have given us a more satisfying conclusion.

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Game Build Quality

This being a kickstarter is always a worry. You never know what the quality of the game will be like when it arrives a year and half down the line. However, I was not disappointed with Monster Slaughter. The miniatures quality is outstanding. And considering how many individual sculps there are, they really didn’t scrimp. 

The cabin itself is a very novel idea and not something I’ve seen done so well before. Unfortunately, there are a few caveats to that. The card inserts are just that, card! They will bend and I fear will eventually disfigure with enough play and use. 

Also, the card board doors they provided that slot over the card inserts have a tendency to split apart under the slightest amount of pressure. I believe the game producers are aware of this issue but as of this review I’m not sure if they have a fix or replacements for it yet.

 Also, the amount of playtesting that must have been required to ensure the balance on all these factors must have been excessive.

I wouldn’t normally mention the rule book but for this game it seemed prudent. The rule book is excellent, however, could have been structured slightly better. We were left scratching our heads and had to make group decisions in the end as to how to proceed. I’m sure those kinds of grey areas in the rules will be ironed out in FAQ but mine is the kickstarter edition so it still has a few blips.  

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Artistic Direction

The art work is a delight and really emphasises the 80’s classic horror feel. The card art and quality is at the top end of the scale. There are so many various items, character cards, events and scenarios which all have their own art which I find incredible. 

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Fun Factor

The whole group I played with really enjoyed this game, from the theme to the quality of the components, it all comes together really well. The game play is quick and snappy and timer keeps the game moving along well. There is very little analysis paralysis too because of the tight time restraints forcing you to make the more direct decisions most of the time… “ATTACK!!!” “KILL!!!” etc

I can’t wait to get this to the table again. 

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Age Range & Weight

The box states 14+ and I would tend to agree with that. For all this might have comical undertones it is still monsters killing innocent teenagers in a cabin in the woods. I think that would be a hard sell to any parent with a child under 14yrs old. 

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Conclusions

Monster Slaughter is a fun filled classic horror romp flipped on its head where you get to play the bad guys. I can’t think of many games that give you that opportunity. Not only that but it pits classic monster from cinematic history against each other meaning you could have the mummy and the critters searching around in the same room and chasing teens around a creepy cabin, I personally think that is pretty awesome.

As I’ve said above I think the game plays too quickly and can be over before you have a chance to really get started but I’m sure that could be said about many games these days that are based on a turn timer. Maybe that was the designers plan, leave you wanting more… sneaky devils!

All in all though this is a great game and worth a play especially for anyone who happens to be a fan of the classic horror genre.