Boss Monster 2: The Next Level Review

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Boss Monster 2: The Next Level is a game by Johnny O’Neal and Chris O’Neal, published by Brotherwise Games. It is for 2-4 players. In this game, players will be strategically trying to build a dungeon full of rooms as they try to lure in unsuspecting adventurers only to kill them off and collect their souls. They’ll have to be careful though as any heroes that make it through their dungeon alive will cause wounds to their boss. If they collect enough wounds, they will be eliminated. The player that is best able to build and survive will be declared the winner.

To begin, depending on the number of players certain cards will be left out of the decks. For example, in a 3 player game, the cards with the 4 player icons on them will be left out. Each of the decks of cards are shuffled separately. Players are they dealt a Boss card which is placed face up in front of them. The hero deck is built by placing the previously shuffled Epic Heroes face down on the table and then placing the regular Heroes face down beside them. Players are each dealt 5 room cards and 2 spell cards. The room and spell decks are then placed face down on the table. If a player is dealt 4 advanced rooms or 4 of one treasure type, they are allowed to shuffle their hand back into the deck and draw a new hand. Before beginning the game, players will each choose one regular room to build in their dungeon. This card is placed face down to the left of their boss. Rooms will be built to the left each time. Players then reveal their chosen rooms based on XP level starting with the highest XP. Any effects created by the room are resolved. Once the last player has finished with their first room, play now begins.

Each turn in the game consists of 5 phases; beginning of turn, build phase, bait phase, adventure phase and end of turn. Just like earlier when building the first room, play begins with the highest XP value. The first phase is the beginning of turn phase. In this phase, heroes appear in town and each player draws a card. What that means is that one hero is revealed from the ordinary heroes deck for each player in the game. Once the ordinary heroes deck is emptied, the epic hero deck is used. Players will then draw a card from the room deck.

The next phase is the build phase. In this phase, players take turns, in XP order, building rooms in their dungeon by placing them face down where they will be placed. Rooms can be built to the left of the player’s leftmost card up to a maximum of 5 rooms visible. They may choose instead to build on top of an already existing room. This is the only way to build advanced rooms. Ordinary rooms can be built on top of any room. Advanced rooms can only be built on top of a room that has at least one matching treasure icon. A player also has the option of not building, if they so choose. Room abilities and spells that are marked with the build hammer can be used during this time. Players will then simultaneously reveal their room cards, placing them in their dungeon in XP order. Once a player builds their fifth visible room, they are able to use their level up ability printed on their boss card. Level up abilities and “when you build this room” abilities take effect in XP order once all players have placed their rooms.

The third phase is the bait phase. This phase is divided into 3 steps. The first step is to compare treasure values. This is done by counting the treasure icons of each player’s dungeon that corresponds to each hero in town. The next step is to lure. This is done by moving the hero to the dungeon with the most treasure icons that correspond to the hero card. The hero card is placed to the left of the player’s leftmost dungeon room. The last step is tie. If there are no treasure icons that match the hero card or if all players have the same amount of the matching treasure icon, then the hero stays in town until the next turn. Multiple heroes are placed in the order that they were revealed from the hero deck.

The next phase is the adventure phase. In this phase, the heroes are run through the player’s dungeons starting with the highest XP. There are 5 steps to this phase. In the first step, heroes enter a player’s dungeon and move through each room. In the second step, the room’s abilities take effect. The room then deals it’s damage. After damage is dealt, the third step takes effect, spells and abilities. In this step, players are able to play spells or abilities that are marked with the adventure axe icon. These may be played by any player to either aid or hinder the active player. The fourth step is death. Once a hero exits a room with damage equal to or in excess of it’s health, it dies. The hero card is moved to the player’s scorekeeping area and placed face down. The coin on the back indicates how many souls that hero is worth. The last step is survival. If the hero is able to completely make it through the player’s dungeon without dying and reaches their boss, it applies wounds to the player. The hero card is then placed face up in the player’s scorekeeping area. This whole process is repeated by any remaining heroes that have been lured to the player’s dungeon. Once completed, the next player in XP turn order follows the same steps.

The last phase is the end of turn phase. Once all players have completed their adventure phase, the turn ends. Any “until end of turn” effects are then resolved and deactivated rooms are turned upright. Players then check to see if any player has 5 or more wounds. If so, that player is eliminated from the game. Players then check to see if any player has 10 souls. If so, that player is the winner. If two players meet either the victory or loss conditions mentioned above, the players must then subtract their wounds from their souls. The highest result wins.

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COMPONENTS
This game consists of several decks of cards. The artwork on them is really great and reminds me of pixelated video games like Super Mario and Metroid. There’s lots of great pop culture humor on each card. The card quality is really great and has a nice finish on them. What makes this different from the first Boss Monster is that this version has a lot of new cards and a new variety of cards. There are new Dark Heroes and Hybrid Heroes. The dark heroes make it possible for a player to discard a certain type of room card to boost the health of the hero, thus making it harder to kill. The hybrid heroes are lured to the dungeon with the most of two treasure icons combined. For example if a hybrid hero has both a cleric and warrior symbol on it, the player that has the most of those symbols combined will lure it to their dungeon. Other than that, the game has the same stylized look and feel as the previous Boss Monster. Overall, it looks and feels great.
10 out of 10

RULEBOOK
The rulebook for this game is really well designed and looks great. There are lots of great pictures and examples throughout the book. Everything is explained really well for players both new and old. Each of the different card types are thoroughly explained. There’s even a really nice looking set up example to show you how the game should look on your table. Each of the different game phases are detailed out and include pro tips for making the game run even smoother. Also included are 5 game play variants, including classic mode, hard mode, I choose you (my personal favorite), machinations and unlimited lives. There is also a really nice glossary of game terms that explain things in more detail. If that weren’t enough, the back of the book has a great player aid that points out the sequence of play just as a reference. The game also comes with a quick play reference guide for those players looking to jump right into the game. I’d recommend this be used by players that are already familiar with the game. For us, this was all we needed thanks to the great explanations on each of the cards. For me, everything was simple to understand and looked great.
10 out of 10

GAMEPLAY
This is a truly great game. Being a fan of the original Boss Monster, my son and I really enjoy this one too. We really love the new room cards and are crazy about all the new bosses. For some reason, he’s played as Porkus almost every time that we’ve played. Don’t know how that’s happened. I really like that there are specialty bosses for each of the different icon types. We haven’t really exploited the new dark heroes like we could have, choosing instead to save those rooms for our own dungeon. We like the new hybrid heroes really well. You really have to keep an eye on more than just one treasure type with them. Yes, the game has a small bit of luck thanks to the card draws but the real strategy of the game comes in room placement and when to play spells to maximize their effect. Most of the times our games have went to the player that was able to survive the longest instead of who could collect the 10 souls required to win. There’s lots of fun to be had with this one. The only thing that bothered me was there were no rules or explanations on how to combine this with the original game. I’m sure it’s just a simple matter of swapping out decks or something to that effect. It just would have been nice to have had some instruction to that effect. Still, as a stand alone game, this is great by itself. I’d even say that it’s better than the original. My son was even able to talk his mom into playing, that’s hard to do. Even she enjoyed the game. In any event, this is another win in my book for Brotherwise Games.
10 out of 10

OVERALL
Boss Monster 2: The Next Level is a light weight game of hand management and room building. It’s really fast and easy to learn and play. Most sessions can be played in about 30 minutes. The artwork is really great and has the humor and pixelated look that we’ve come to enjoy. I really like all the new card types especially the new bosses. My only complaint was there were no instructions on how to combine it with the original game. That’s a very minor gripe for an awesome game. There is a very small amount of luck involved in the game as most of the strategy of building rooms and playing spells can balance things out really well. I love all the extra variants that are included in the rulebook. I’m a big fan of the I choose you variant that allows you to be dealt 2 bosses and you choose the one you like best. Gives you a little more choice than just getting stuck with a boss you don’t like. Fans of the original Boss Monster will definitely want to get more of this goodness. Even new players will enjoy this game immensely. If you’ve never played Boss Monster, get out from under that rock you’ve been living beneath and try this one. I guarantee you will love it as much as we do. I highly recommend it. It’s great for everyone.
10 out of 10

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For more information about this game, please check out Brotherwise Games at their site.

http://brotherwisegames.com/

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About Gaming Bits - Jonathan Nelson

I'm a happily married man with 2 wonderful kids. I love my family very much. I'm a big fan of board, card and RPG games and have been playing for over 20 years. As a board and card game reviewer, I'm hoping that this blog will inform, educate and entertain you. If you like it, please tell your friends and have them join in on the conversations. Thanks and GAME ON!!
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