Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Board Game: Monolith

Last night we did a little character jiggery for Marvel Heroic Roleplaying and fought a giant mechanical hippo (to remind everyone how the system worked). I really wish I had cheat sheets for that game; mayhaps I'll make one.

But that didn't take all night, so we played a board game. Mostly.

The Game: Monolith
The Publisher: Goblin Army Games, which seems to have gone under
Time: The box says 30 minutes and if you know how to play it, I can believe that. That wasn't our experience.
Players: Me, +Michelle+Dirty Heart+John

Game play: So, the big problem with this game is that the rulebook ain't real clear, and neither are the cards. The basic gist is to move your little square around a maze and to the victory square; you do that by getting Victory Points. But there are a few squares on the track that have a cost; you pay that cost with gems. You also have Skills and Powers (represented by cards) that let you screw with other players, get extra points, spend like gems, and so forth.

Every turn, you roll some dice, and then slot them on cards (going round-robin, starting with the player with Primus token). Then, after everyone's done that, you resolve the cards left-to-right, top-to-bottom. The cards themselves are dealt randomly, so it's a different "monolith" every time.

Sarah doing setup. 
That seems simple, but it's really not. Some of the cards allow any die to be slotted in, some required dice that show specific numbers. Some slots give you VP, some give you gems, some give you Power or Skill, some do weirder stuff. Going first gives you first pick of where to slot your first die. You need VP to advance, but you need gems to buy your way past the tolls. And then cards mess everything up, so there's definitely some strategy.

John, strategizing.
The problem is that the gameplay isn't explained very well. All of the resolution of dice placement happens at the end of a round (except when it's not) and the cards have weird symbols on them that seem like they should mean something, but there's a lot of introducing terms before they're defined and otherwise making things unclear.

Opinions: Basically what I said. Michelle and I played this at a con a few years back, bought it, and haven't opened it up until now (which is a not-uncommon thing for us). I think that this game would be fun once you learned it. As it was, we only got about halfway through before John had to leave for work (30 minutes, my butt) and we didn't feel like starting over.

Keep? Yeah, I want to give it at least one more go.