Brotherwise Games’ Boss Monster 2: The Next Level is a game I had to have because of how much I liked the first one. I was introduced to it by a friend on holiday and enjoyed it so much I had to have my own copy once I got home.
Two to four players take the role of a SNES style game boss and must build a dungeon that will lure in heroes and kill them before they reach their chosen boss.
Boss Monster is simple to set-up, with each player first given a random boss card. The spell and room decks are shuffled, then five room and two spells cards are dealt to each player. Next, four room cards and two spells are taken from their decks to form a discard pile.
The heroes are split into two groups, normal and epic, and after removing any cards marked for more players than are present, they are shuffled and set with the spell and room decks.
Playing Boss Monster 2: The Next Level
Play order starts with the boss that has the most exp and works clockwise. At the start of each turn, each player draw one room card. Then, draw the same number of heroes as they are players, first from the ordinary heroes deck then the epic heroes when the deck runs out. These heroes are waiting in town, where they probably spend their time in the local guild hall, inn, shrine, or just looking shifty outside the items shop.
Then there's a Build Phase where players may secretly create a room in their dungeon. New rooms are always placed in the leftmost space in front of the boss, but you may cover up any rooms that have already been built. In fact, advance rooms may only be built on top of an existing room. Players then take turns revealing their chosen room and triggering any effects that apply when a room is built.
Each room has a set of treasure symbols on the bottom that lures matching heroes to the dungeon and the player with the most of these symbols will have all relevant heroes attempt to clear their dungeon.
Here is where something new from the first game comes in. There are the usual classes of heroes from the first game; the standard fantasy classes, Fighters, Rogues, Mages, and Clerics. Boss Monster 2: The Next Level adds in the sub-classes called Dark Heroes, they are the Barbarian, a Fighter, the Hitman, a Thief, the Witch, a Mage and the Vampire, a Cleric. These differ from normal heroes as any player may discard a matching room card to give them a boost of three health.
So, the heroes stand at the entrance to your dungeon, now it's time to let them in during the Adventure Phase. One at a time they will go through the rooms in turn and take the damage marked in the hearts in each one. If the damage exceeds their health they are killed and become a Soulstone, gather 10 of these and you win, if however they make it through alive then they do the damage equal to the number of Blood drops on their card. Take five damage and your boss is slain.
What about those spell cards? Well some can be used in the Build Phase, others can be used in the Adventure Phase and a few can be used in both. The phase they are used in is marked on the card by either an axe, a hammer or both. Spells are one of the best improvements over the first game they are a little harder to get and not as overpowered as the first.
The game starts off slow, no one wants to lure in heroes before they can kill them. But once everyone has a few rooms ready it becomes a fight to lure in heroes. Another significant improvement is how many rooms have effects that let you build new rooms, so if one player is being flexible with the classes of heroes they are luring in, they have an edge over any player only trying to lure in one class.
This was a problem in the first game as changing lure types was slow, especially in four-player games with each player luring in a different class meaning games would be won on the luck of the draw. It means players must think ahead a little more and plan their way to victory rather than hoping more of their chosen class turns up in town than the other players.
There's a good deal of take-that to Boss Monster with players able to throw spells around to ruin other player’s plans, but also a new introduction is that you can now destroy some rooms to interfere with other dungeons.
Where Boss Monster 2: The Next Level really shines through is when it's mixed with Boss Monster 1. The two games blend perfectly and unlock some truly crazy combos like being able to filter through the room deck, building and demolishing rooms to make more as long as you want. With the new game's less powerful spells, even if someone does focus on building rooms that grant them spell cards they won't be able to run away with the game as easily as just playing Boss Monster 1.
Closing Thoughts on Boss Monster 2
Boss Monster 2: The Next Level is a great growth to the base game both as a standalone and an expansion to the first. But it's not just its gameplay that sets it apart, it has a rich theme and perfectly fitting art style. The box is reminiscent of a SNES game box, the wear and tear is actually printed on to give it an authentic feel and the pixel art depicts parodies of famous video game characters and levels.
My biggest complaint, however, is that the game is still limited to four players. There are plenty of extra bosses and with both games it seems like it should work with two more players. Also, when I busted out Boss Monster 2 for this article I found the cards had curled quite badly, which is a shame for a game that has seen a lot of play without any wear.
With Brotherwise Games launching Boss Monster: Rise of the Minibosses on Kickstarter back in February now is a perfect time to delve into the world of Arcadia and slay the heroes poking their noses into your dungeon.