Monday, 29 June 2015

Review - Monsuno

Monsuno


Monsuno
Designed by... someone
Published by Topps
For 2 players, aged 6 to adult

Monsuno Cards
The contents of the starter set... Enough cards to start a nice fire.


Hi.

You've been here before, right? You know about my "special" condition.

Course you do, I can see it in your eyes.

It's okay. Don't be afraid. Take a seat.

Go on, take a seat.

TAKE A SEAT!


You've been here before, so you know about the trading card game issue. You know the one, where I keep going into Poundland and buying starter sets for discontinued card games. Games like Huntik, Chaotic, and Gormiti.

Terrible games.

Really, really terrible games.

I honestly don't know what I'm expecting.

Starter sets for trading card games are notoriously rubbish, because they only give you a glimpse of the "complete" game, and they are intended as a gateway to encourage people to buy more cards.

Starter sets for discontinued games are even worse. After all, if the game was good, why has it been discontinued?

But still I sneak into Poundland (or the 99p Store if  my latest pay cheque hasn't cleared), looking for those starter sets.

It's a problem.

Admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery. Right?

Still, the road is long, and littered with bad card games. Take Monsuno, for example.

Go on, take it; I don't want it.

(I'm showing my age with gags like that.)

Monsuno is terrible. I'm not going to dress it up. I'm not going to beat around the bush and waste your time.

It's bloody awful.

I bought a starter set that had two complete decks in it, and that's all I've played with. Maybe the game comes alive once you start building your custom decks, or exploring killer combinations of cards.

I don't know.

Don't care.

I played with the starter set and it was awful.

The game is pretty simple. Each player has three Monsuno, which are these creatures which I suppose are a bit like Pok√©mon, only bigger and angrier. They look like pissed off polar bears, and mutant hybrid things, yet they still seem to look a bit boring and generic. They remind me of the monsters from any other trading card game.

Monsuno Rules
Look, a pissed off polar bear.


Anyway, each player has three Monsuno, stored on a "clip." I guess this is like a PokeBall. Don't know. Never watched the cartoon.

(Of course there's a cartoon.)

Each player also has a hand of five strike cards, which have loads of symbols, numbers, and special powers on them.

On a player's turn, he or she can summon a Monsuno into battle, attack with a summoned Monsuno, or pass to recover all exhausted Monsuno and draw strike cards up to the hand limit of five.

Summoning involves looking at a Monsuno's summon value, and then discarding cards from hand that have a total summon value that meets or exceeds the required amount.

That's it. Pick Monsuno, discard cards, end turn.

Attacking involves selecting a summoned Monsuno and then selecting an opponent's Monsuno. You pick one strike card and play it face down, and your opponent does the same. Then you flip them.

Monsuno strike cards
A selection of striking cards.


You compare the domination symbol on each card, with the strike symbol on the opposing card. If the symbols match, the card with the matching domination icon strikes first, adding together the strike value of the Monsuno and the strike value of the strike card. The dominated Monsuno then retaliates using only the strike value of the Monsuno.

Monsuno rules book
Rules for domination... Remember your safe word.


After all that tedious comparing, you allocate wounds and both Monsuno take a nap. They can't do anything else until the controlling player wastes a turn to recover them all and draw up to five cards.

And that's all she wrote.

There is nothing else to the game.

Okay, some of the strike cards have special abilities that trigger in certain conditions, but these generally just add a bit of strike value to the attack.

Oh, and if the strike symbol on the strike card matches the strike symbol on your Monsuno then you can upgrade your Monsuno by...

You know what? I'm boring myself.

The game is randomly flipping cards, and then comparing loads of little coloured symbols to see what happens.

Simply put, it's dull.

Dull and slow.

Summoning a single Monsuno takes a turn. Attacking with it takes a turn, after which it is exhausted and useless until you recover it. Refilling your hand and recovering Monsuno takes a turn. Even killing a Monsuno takes an age, because they generally have over 100 hit points, yet many Monsuno have printed attack values of 0, and only inflict damage when they dominate and get to use the strike value of their strike card.

Monsuno Cards
Three types of spiky bird thing.


And you don't really get any choices. Summoning a Monsuno uses two or three of your five cards. This drastically limits the cards you can choose from to attack with, unless you burn a turn refilling your hand first. And as you have no idea what card your opponent will play, whether you dominate the round is down to blind luck.

Now look, I'm probably being a bit unfair here. It's not quite as simple as I'm letting on, and occasionally, you do get a chance to make a decision. For example, a ready Monsuno is allowed to attack a Monsuno that is still on the "clip." When this happens, the defending player must play his or her strike card first. This increases the chance of the attacker dominating. However, to compensate, the defender then gets a free recovery action so has the ability to come back strong.

Also, I suppose it is possible to figure out what strike card your opponent might play. If your opponent has a Monsuno that upgrades using black and red strike cards, there is more chance that the player will drop a card of that colour, so you know to play a strike card that has a red or black domination icon. Of course, you only really get that decision when you have the cards in hand, and as you often only have two or three cards, your options are always limited.

So yeah. Okay.

Sometimes you might get to choose a card, but I reckon you have as much chance of winning by randomly flipping strike cards and seeing what happens.

It's like playing Top Trumps without the numbers.

And is every bit as bad as that sounds.

It's so bad, it almost cured me of my acquisition disorder. I even walked straight past a Poundland the other day.

Straight into a Pound World.

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