Can You Defeat the King of Monster Island? | Casual Game Revolution

Can You Defeat the King of Monster Island?

King of Monster Island

A huge, terrifying monster has arisen and is wreaking havoc across the island, as the volcano erupts and terror reigns! Can the players band together to save the day?

Published by IELLO, King of Monster Island is set in the same world as King of Tokyo and shares some of the same mechanics, but is a cooperative board game with some key differences to gameplay. It is designed for 1-5 players and has a playtime of 45-60 minutes.

Gameplay

Players choose which boss they are going to play against then set the boss's token in one of the six zones of the board and place the boss sheet off to one side. Each player chooses a monster to play and places his monster on one of the other zones of the board. In the center of the board the volcano dice tower is placed.

On your turn, you start with the boss phase. This begins by checking the boss sheet for any powers it might have and activating them when specified during his phase. As the boss gains fame points, it unlocks more powers. Next, you roll the boss dice. Each boss has a certain number of boss dice available to him at the start of the game. In each boss phase, you take any of his available boss dice that are not currently on the board and drop them into the volcano, which will cause them to roll out and land in random zones around the board. You then move the boss. When moving the boss, you check its current zone and the two adjacent zones and move the boss to whichever of these three has the most boss dice present.

Next, you activate any minions that are in the boss’s new location. Some of these might cause damage; one of them places a crystal. If three crystals are ever all in a zone, you then build a pylon there. If there are ever three pylons on the board, players lose the game. After activating minions, you then resolve each boss die in the boss’s current zone and remove these dice from the board. Boss dice can place crystals, have you add more minions to the board, or earn the boss more fame.

Once the boss’s phase is over, it is now the active player’s phase. You take six dice and roll them. You may reroll as many of these dice as you wish up to two times. After rolling, you resolve your dice. During the resolving phase you may choose to lock dice to your current zone for another player to use its result on a future turn.

Rolling hearts allow you to regain health. Energy allows you to gain energy cubes. A foot allows you to move to an adjacent zone or deal one damage. A claw deals two damage. When dealing damage, you must always defeat any minions in a zone before you can attack the boss.

A star gains you fame. When you have at least one fame, you select an ally sheet and place it in front of yourself. Allies have powerful, special abilities you can use, and they unlock more abilities, the more fame you gain. When you gain fame, you can also remove a boss die from your current zone to earn an extra fame. This can make the boss’s future turns more unpredictable, but can also help mitigate bad results on the boss dice.

Three to four wrenches can be turned in to draw a support tile and add it to your current zone. At any point on your turn, you can use a support tile in your zone to add the symbol shown on the tile to your dice results. When you use a support tile, you flip it face-down. You can also flip a support tile face-up on your turn (you cannot use a support tile you flipped this turn).

After resolving your dice, you can use your energy points to buy cards from the power card display. These have special abilities that can help you. Some are one-time abilities, while others remain in play in front of you.

If players defeat the boss, they win the game. If a player has no health at the start of their turn, if there are no more minions to be added to the board when you must add a new one, or if three pylons get built, the players lose the game.

King of Monster Island Components

Review

King of Monster Island does a good job of transforming King of Tokyo mechanics into a cooperative board game. A lot of that original game is still here and a lot of what makes it fun, with the added element of the board and trying to maintain the situation; there is enough to make the game feel different and like its own game.

The game has a solid escalation, as well, as the boss becomes stronger — but players potentially grow stronger also, with allies leveling up more and more power cards are gained. There’s a lot of the push-and-pull that many good co-op games have, where you’re trying to solve multiple issues simultaneously. In this case, there’s the boss’s current zone where you want to go and fight him since you need to start whittling down his health, but you can also set your team up for more successful turns if you deal with other zones, lock in useful dice, or set up supports around the island.

There is no denying that the game looks great. The volcano is a fun game component that is easy to set up each time you play, has a great table presence, and also has a functional use. It is a bit noisy when you drop the dice in, and the rules don’t address what to do if a die falls between zones (we simply decided to reroll when this happened), but it’s a very fun component.

Unfortunately, the game has a lot going on and there is a bit of a learning curve for new players. There are player aid cards provided for the flow of turns, but important information is left off of them, such as what each minion does or the movement rules for the boss, so you have to keep double-checking the rulebook. You also have to get in the habit of checking the boss’s fame levels and seeing what powers he can activate and when. This results in a game where it is easy to make mistakes with the rules, especially as you’re starting out.

We would also not recommend this for the full player count of five, as the downtime is going to grow fairly significantly. There can be some discussion of plans and what players want to try to roll, but since a lot is left up to the dice, there can only be so much effectiveness to these discussions.

It’s fun to have a game with the dice-rolling mechanics of King of Tokyo, minus the player elimination aspect. The production quality is high, and it can be nicely challenging and suspenseful. A little complicated, it’s still quite enjoyable and we had a good time with it.

Pros: Production quality, enjoyable dice gameplay, challenging

Cons: Easy to mess up the rules, downtime at the higher player counts

Disclosure: we received a complimentary review copy of this game.

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