Thursday, August 17, 2017

Isle of Monsters (Mayday Games)

Somewhere in the middle of the ocean is a small isle that has long been forgotten by most. On this mysterious land, there are monsters with the power of earth, fire, and water. The locals of this island have learned to feed and train these creatures to keep outsiders away and be the Protector of the Island. This is Isle of MonstersIsle of Monsters is a game for 2-5 players, ages 10+. It takes between 20 and 45 minutes to play and retails for $30.
Setup
1. Place the Center Island Board in the middle of the table.
2. Place a Cage Board in front of each player.
3. Place an Outer Island Board between each cage board, so that each player is always adjacent to two.
4. Shuffle all the Creature Cards and remove a certain number depending on player count.
5. Deal a number of Creature Cards face-down to form a pile on each Outer Island Board.
6. Once these cards are dealt, flip each pile face-up to reveal the bottom (now top) Creature Card. Put any remaining Creature Cards not dealt near the board for future replenishment.
7. Put the Food Tokens in the Draw Bag and mix them up. Draw tokens from the bag equal to the player count and place them on the Center Island Board. Then, draw and place two Food Tokens on each of the Outer Island Boards.
8. Put all the Scare Point Tokens face-up near the play area.
9. Pick a starting player and give them a draw bag.
Game Play - The game takes place over several rounds with four phases each round:
1. Nurture Phase - Beginning with the starting player and moving clockwise, take one of three actions:
a. Capture - Take the top Creature Card on either adjacent Outer Island Board and place it in an empty cage on your Cage Board.
b. Feed - Take one Food Token from the Center Island Board or either adjacent Outer Island Board and place it on a matching feeding space of one of your Creature Cards.
c. Pass - The first player to pass takes the Draw Bag and becomes the start player next round. After all players have passed, proceed to the Mature Phase.
2. Mature Phase - All players check their Cage Boards to see if any Creature Cards are fully fed (no empty feeding spaces). Remove fully fed Creature Cards from the Cage Board, return all Food Tokens on those fully fed Creature Cards to the draw bag. Place the matured creatures face-down next to your Cage Board.
3. Scare Phase - Repeat the following three steps to score Scare Points until everyone is out or only one player has Creature Cards remaining.
a. Player Creature Cards - Take your mature Creature Cards into your hand. Everyone who has at least one Creature Card must choose a single type (water, earth, or fire) to play. Once you decide, place them face-down on the table covered by your hand. When everyone is ready, simultaneously reveal the Creature Cards.
b. Scare the Crowd - Add up the Scare Value of all the Creature Cards you just played. If you have the highest total, take a 3 point Scare Point Token. If there is a tie, players instead take 1 point Scare Point Tokens.
c. Scare Other Creatures - Take a 1 point Scare Point Token for each adjacent player with a played Creature Card type that you scare. (For example, fire scares earth.)
4. Clean-up Phase - The player with the draw bag draws Food Tokens from the bag and places an amount equal to the number of players on the Center Island Board. He also places two Food Tokens on each Outer Island Board. Next, a Creature Card is drawn and placed face-up on each Outer Island Board.

When the last Creature Card is dealt from the deck, the final round begins. The player with the most Scare Point Tokens is the winner.

Review
Isle of Monsters is a cute and clever game that is perfect for children and families. The choices you make are simple but meaningful. Which of the two creature cards will I pick? Will I pass on taking a creature in favor of feeding a creature I already have? Do I remember what types of creatures my opponents had this round, and can I play the correct type of creature that will defeat theirs? There is a little bit of randomness to the game, because you will only have access to two different decks of creatures and this might give you powerful enough creatures to capture the scare the crowd bonus. Also, you never know what type of food will come out and be available to you on the outer islands. Knowing this, it is important to see what type of food the player after you needs, so you can take it before them and prevent their creatures from maturing.

The thing I like most about this game is the artwork. It is very colorful. Each of the creatures has a number on them ranging from 1 to 9. The 1 creature is a tiny little baby monster. As you increase in numbers, you see different stages of growth of that same creature with the level 9 creature being a fully grown and "terrifying" monster. The game has a bit of a Pokemon feel to it with the collecting of creatures, feeding of creatures, and different artwork kind of like evolution of Pokemon. At least with this game, you have everything you need in the box and don't have to go out and hunt down hundreds of different cards. With eye-catching art, simple mechanics, a fast playing time, and the ability to play five, this is a family game I would strongly recommend.

This game was provided to me for free by Mayday Games in exchange for an honest review.