I started playing Magic The Gathering when it was first getting started. I attended Humboldt State University which was close enough to their operations that we got cards much cheaper than they were anywhere else in the country – part of their plan to garner a ground level movement to make the game popular. The hard part with these card games is finding digital versions that give you the same feel – it’s just difficult to replicate. I didn’t really find it in the Magic The Gathering video games. Blizzard’s Hearthstone has done an excellent job and tied in characters we have come to love from the Warcraft franchise. So why go for any other ones? Boss Monster tries to tie the old school,  NES-style graphics together with cards from the popular Boss Monster tabletop card games for just a $5 price tag. I have played the actual card game and it’s a blast – so how does the video game stack up?

The best-selling indie card game has arrived to Steam! Boss Monster is a dungeon-building card game that challenges players to become the ultimate villains: video game bosses.
Thousands of players around the world have enjoyed the paper version of the game, but now Brotherwise Games has partnered with video game developer Plain Concepts, creators of Wave Engine, to bring Boss Monster from the tabletop to the digital world!

– Play against up to three AI opponents in solo play.
– Challenge other human opponents online.
– Play with ALL of the bosses, rooms, and spells available in the base game …including rare out-of-print cards!
– Explore new “digitally-enhanced” cards: four rooms, three new Bosses, and a new spell that all take advantage of the digital platform, allowing stats and treasure values to change as you play (coming in future expansions).

Hands On Deck:
Boss Monster hides a fairly complicated card game beneath its retro, NES graphics and MIDI chiptune music. At first it seems like a tower defense game where you play a monster boss who builds his dungeon to keep adventurers from slaughtering you. You get 5 rooms and start with simple monsters and build up elaborate traps, each room damaging the hero in a certain way so that hopefully by the last room he/she dies. If they get through you get wounds, five wounds and you die, if you kill them you get souls, collect 10 souls and you win. Then there is the opponent aspect – the other monster bosses you are competing with. You get to play against one to three opponents, whichever one of you lives longer or get the 10 souls first wins. Adventurers won’t just wander into your dungeon of their own choice though, you have to trick them in by having your room cards provide lures as well such as treasure, weapons, books and relics which can lure thieves, fighters, mages and clerics. They will be drawn in by the dungeon with the most lures for their class. So you may wind up with a beautifully built dungeon but with not enough lures all the adventurers will still go to your opponent.

This can actually work to your advantage if your opponent doesn’t have enough damage in their dungeon to kill the adventurers or if you have a spell that can neutralize an opponent’s room damage, steal a kill or send the adventurer back to town. Did I say spell? I did indeed as besides being able to setup monster rooms and attach traps to them there are also spell cards that can be played at specific times that can turn the tide of the game as well. It looks so simple at first glance, five rooms, one to three opponents but this simple looking field that appears like a tower defense built with rooms instead of towers and it gets really complicated fast. I played the tutorial provided a few times before settling in for an actual game against the AI and still felt a little unsure going in. I went on a winning streak but never a resounding victory, it always seemed a close call.

There is a multiplayer mode but the community hasn’t built up quite yet, given a bit of time it probably will. The game has in-app purchases available, and the base price of the game is $4.99. The in-app purchases consist of additional card packs to add to the base game so that it doesn’t get stale. Just make sure you don’t wind up spending more in mirco-transactions than you feel the game is worth.

Last Draw:
Boss Monster is a fun game with a throwback style and deceptively complicated play much like Magic The Gathering if it had been made on the original Nintendo Entertainment System. It’s a nice game to play to fill time here or there or when you want a solid distraction. Also, it is a small file on your computer, has great nostalgic feel and a hidden depth which is nice to keep the mind sharp, and the price can hardly be beat either.

Boss Monster on Steam

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Dustin "Ripper71" Thomas has been a staff writer with for over 10 years and has taken on the role of Editor with a brief stint as Editor-In-Chief. He is also a co-founder of @IsItOctoberYet where he covers haunt nightmares, amusement park fun and Golden Knights hockey.