Provide Comfort for Creatures from Another Dimension in Monster Baby Rescue | Casual Game Revolution

Provide Comfort for Creatures from Another Dimension in Monster Baby Rescue

Monster Baby Rescue

This tile drafting and set collection beast from legendary Euro designer Vladimír Suchý offers a surprise in both its theme and its relatively simple, yet deep gameplay.


Monster Baby Rescue is a game for 2-5 players in which each player takes on the role of a neighbor on Maple Avenue, helping out a Cerberus, Basilisk, Dragon, Orc, and Manticore who have wandered into our world thanks to a portal. They are tired, dirty, and looking for comfort. It is up to each player to try to appease and clean up their selected monster until the baby monsters can safely (and happily) return to their homeland.

Play begins with each player taking their respective monster baby tiles. There are six double-sided tiles, each of an increasing level to denote the status of one’s baby monster. The goal is to continually improve the state of the monsters by drafting tiles from a central board and meeting the criteria of goal tiles and final scoring tiles. Market tiles range from improving a specific part of the cute beasts (head, torso, and feet) from levels 1-4 as well as providing monsters with comfortable beds to sleep on, rope ladders to climb, witch doctors to deliver additional care to creatures, want tiles that indicate what your monster desires you to have in your tableau, and gems that can help players bling out their baby monsters.

Market tiles, in addition to all of the above improvements, will earn players hearts, which act as the victory points of the game. Some tiles will also have one of the two diamond colors (green or red) shown on them, indicating that by having one of these diamonds players may "activate" these hearts at the end of the game. 

As players begin to improve the statuses of their baby monsters and gain market tiles that make their monsters happy, they will also begin to fulfill the needs of the 10 goal tiles, want tiles, and the four final scoring tiles. The double-sided goal tiles provide players with some direction beyond want tiles, in their pursuit to gain hearts. The first player to meet these goal thresholds (examples include having 4 beds or being the first to get one body part to level 4) can claim the tile and place it on top of their monsters to be scored at the end of the game. These goals work well with witch doctors, which act as multipliers for the goal tiles (for example, having two witch doctors will give a player double the number of hearts on the goal tiles during end game scoring). Also, as players begin to accumulate monster beds and rope ladder rungs, they may also gain three hearts per completed row (which is two beds and one rope ladder rung) they gain at the game’s conclusion.

Players will begin the first round by selecting one of the displayed market tiles from the central board. Each market tile will have a movement cost associated with it, ranging from 2-4 spaces. After a tile is claimed, the player will move their monster representative around one of the six zones, occupying the first available space in each. Any unclaimed titles are adjusted (potentially reducing the cost of some), a new tile is drawn, and the next player takes their turn. Play continues until all players have drawn a tile and moved their monsters to the appropriate zones and open spaces on the movement track. After this initial round, turn order is determined by where players are on the track, with the player furthest back getting to go first and the player in the lead going last. 

Play continues in this fashion, with new turn orders determined by track positioning after each round, until the last tile has been placed into the market. After this, all remaining players receive one more turn and the game concludes. Hearts are tallied based on any hearts shown on claimed tiles, those activated by diamonds, those gained by goal and want tiles, any witch doctor and row bonuses, and the collection bonuses on the final scoring tiles with the highest score winning.

Monster Baby Rescue also offers a simplified version, where players will ignore the row bonuses and remove the want tiles as well as final scoring tiles from the game. Scoring simplification is also offered as a means of making the game easier to pick up and play with younger and/or new gamers.

Monster Baby Rescue components

Image provided by Rio Grande Games


Despite the pedigree of designer Suchý, Monster Baby Rescue offers gamers a fantastically fun experience that is accessible for beginners and a theme that delights children. As one would expect, the artwork is colorful and playful, with each of the baby monsters looking adorable even when they are messy, dirty, and confused at level 1. While the theme itself could be considered pasted on, it’s a great, silly theme that makes the gameplay more fun. And the art and components allow players to get into the theme just enough to role play as concerned citizens wanting to take in these adorable monsters and nurture them until they can return home.

The game’s mechanics rely on simplified Euro mechanics in a manner that introduces them to some of the more complex ideals of deeper, thinkier experiences — yet the instructions are well written and plot out exactly what does what and how it affects the game in all phases. And just to make sure it’s kid appropriate, the simplified rules that remove some of more cumbersome parts (want tiles and set/row bonuses) makes it easy for children and newcomers to grasp the goal — gain the most hearts to win — without removing Monster Baby Rescue’s beating heart. It’s a fantastic "point salad" experience (where every move is beneficial) that can provide inexperienced gamers a sleek Euro-like game experience in just 30 minutes.

Everything a player does in Monster Baby Rescue has a rhyme and a reason, and will result in accumulating hearts during the end game scoring. The appeal of every decision being worthwhile is simple: it keeps players engaged. Likewise, it’s easy to know what to do during a turn: pick a tile, move the totem around the board into the number of sectors the tile costs, and perform its actions or add it to one’s tableau. Paralysis isn’t even a concern, because if two tiles are equally good, a player will take the lowest costing one. If tiles provide the same action but one has additional hearts at a higher cost, players are going to take the tile that gives them extra hearts because an extra move or two is not going to cost them the game. 

Yet, it’s this simple movement mechanic that is the one glaring issue of Monster Baby Rescue. The six sectors and moving from one to the next can be confusing at first, but it becomes easy to pick up quickly as the game progresses. Yet, the consequences for being far ahead on the movement track are few. At worst, a player may covet two tiles available in the market and find that due to positioning, they will not be able to maneuver themselves into a rare double turn (going last in one round and still being the last person on the movement track to get to go first in the next round). And since all tiles provide some sort of benefit, missing out on an optimal tile isn’t going to make or break one’s strategy. 

However, as play moves into later rounds, it can become hard to remember who is positioned where on the movement track. If a player is willingly taking all the four cost tiles, they can easily lap the field and if no one’s paying attention, turn order can be affected. We used the 30 point chits the game provides for keeping track of end-game scoring to denote which player was in front, but in a five player game, even that became confusing for the other players in line as a couple of players had lapped others. 

At this point, it may seem that scoring can get out of hand if a player is aggressive in their choices but that is not the case. No matter the player count, scores always were close and competitive. Again, this is the positive outcome of making every tile acquisition meaningful toward end-game scoring, even in the simplified version of the game. Since everything is a scoring opportunity, and points are tallied at the end, it adds an air of intrigue as players suss out who is doing what but ultimately decide to draft tiles that work best for them. 

The only real penalty the game offers is losing two points if any part of a monster remains at level one at the end of the game. This is meaningless because there are enough incentives and tiles for people to upgrade every part of their monster throughout the game. If Monster Baby Rescue suffers from one misplaced negative effect, it’s that there is no penalty for being so far ahead on the movement track at the end of the game. That said, the game does not need a negative scoring component at all, so at least it is minimized and a rare occurrence. 

Overall, Monster Baby Rescue is a quick, yet addictive game that delivers the best of both worlds: a cute game with a unique theme that is a wonderful point salad. Suchý has proven that even when designing short, whimsical games that he can create the same magic he does in heavier fare such as Shipyard and Underwater Cities

Pros: Fun and light point salad where every move is beneficial, great components, light game with some complexity and depth thanks to multiple rule sets

Cons: Theme is unique but not integral to gameplay or mechanics, movement track can be confusing and feels slightly meaningless