Preview: Race to the Top of the Mountain to Appease the Cube Monster | Casual Game Revolution

Preview: Race to the Top of the Mountain to Appease the Cube Monster

Cube Monster

Leverage drafting and engine-building to gain rewards and traverse Mount Kubia before others ascend it first in this 1-4 player game currently on Kickstarter.


Players are chosen members of their village, looking to be the first to climb up Mount Kubia to win the favor of the Cube Monster.

The first player (also known as the feeder) will draw cubes from the bag at random, and then place them on the monster board. From these drawn cubes, the feeder will place one cube (making sure it matches an available open space’s color) on the 4-by-4 grid. As this grid fills up, it can cause chaos for the players if a row or column is completed. Once the cube has been placed, then the next players will take turns choosing one of the available cubes and placing it in their respective village boards. These cubes can be used to construct buildings within the village that will generate more cubes and choices, thus enhancing one’s engine. This is vital, not only in fulfilling the requirements of each step toward summiting Mount Kubia (which, of course, requires specific quantities and colors of cubes) but also may fulfill the requirements of quest cards that will provide further benefits once a player has taken the next step on Mount Kubia.

After players place a cube from the monster pit board into their free cube area in their village boards, they are able to either spend cubes to ascend Mount Kubia (if they have the prerequisites to take the next step) or they may build a factory or statue in their village. Factories require three cubes of the same color and allow taking an additional cube from the bag of that same color during a player’s turn. Players may have two factories of the same cube color, allowing them to take 3 cubes of the same color from the bag during their turn. Statues net reward cards based on where they are built, but also when an offering is made to the cube monster when a row or column is full.

Other buildings are unlocked as players go up Mount Kubia, including the Marketplace (allows players to swap 2 of the same color cubes instead of 3 for 1 of another color cube from their free area), the Shrine (allows for minimizing the number of cubes sacrificed during monster offerings), and the Temple (if the cube taken from the monster pit matches the color of the temple, players may draw a random cube from the bag – if that random cube matches a factory, the factory is activated).

Play continues around the table, with the feeder changing at the start of each round. Once a row or column has been filled on the monster board, an offering must be made. The feeder for that round will roll the die, and depending on the outcome, players will need to sacrifice that number of cubes from their free area. Players who can make the sacrifice will receive a number of reward cards corresponding to their statues. If any players cannot fulfill the requirements of a sacrifice, a Disaster card is drawn, and the effect is applied to all players.

Reward cards can provide bonuses on a player’s turn, at any point during the game, or at specifically instructed moments during the game. Disaster cards will make players lose additional cubes and potentially structures they have built. After the offering phase is done, the row or column is removed from the monster board and placed back into the bag.

As players climb Mount Kubia, they may also collect super cubes from fulfilling the requirements of the super cube cards on the mountain board. These can be collected if the player who has moved up the mountain has the correct structures indicated on the card. Players will then claim the card, which will show a number of super cubes on the bottom. These super cubes can be used to fulfill requirements in further ascending Mount Kubia as players race to the top.

Play occurs over 16 rounds, with the player who reaches the top (or is the furthest along after those rounds) of Mount Kubia declared the winner.

Cube Monster components


Though players are presented with plenty of options, Cube Monster is a rules-light affair. The rule book is but a few pages, because the actions needed to open up the game’s myriad choices are few. It’s a matter of taking cubes, using them to start or better the engine players have created on their village boards, and knowing when to build, ascend the mountain, or prepare for an impending offering phase.

As for the offering phase, it’s also a strategic part of the game. Feeders have the power to complete rows or columns on the monster board when it may serve them best, and it’s not always a benefit to do it with take-that in mind to other players, because harming them may result in creating havoc to your own plans due to the disaster cards.

Cube Monster is great at disguising its inherent strategy as meanness, but there really isn’t much metaphysical elbowing occurring during the game. Sure, other players may take the color cube you were eyeing, but it’s not always a matter of trying to set you back but to ramp up their engine by building something new in their village, or to ascend the mountain and complete a super cube card.

Despite having a prototype copy, the components are solid. However, some of the better upgrades will require a pledge to a much higher level, which may be a turn-off for budget-minded gamers. But those upgrades will not enhance the gameplay itself, just the overall presentation and function of certain actions (such as the ease of setting a cube on a multi-layered monster board so the cubes don’t shift in the rows and columns).

All told, Cube Monster is a great casual gaming experience that packs a lot into a small package that is easy to learn, but difficult to master. Choice is more engrained in the few actions and how it will impact one’s own plans as well as their opponent’s. It’s a fun, fair, and fully realized game that adds a bit of a puzzle to casual gaming.

Pros: Easy to teach/learn but full of choices in a few actions, Colorful and engaging graphic design

Cons: Upgraded components come at a costly premium