Saturday, January 14, 2017

Board Game Review: Push a Monster

Sometimes, it's nice to play a very simple game that's suitable for children as well as adults. Games that don't require a lot of thinking, and don't even involve a lot of luck. Games of skill, like Run Yourself Ragged (which has apparently been renamed Screwball Scramble). I'm not one to shirk a 'kids' game.' Labyrinth is one of my favourite games, after all!

So when I was asked to join in a game of Push a Monster, I agreed. It's a very simple game, so let's jump right into it. Here are some numbers:

Strategy and Randomness are rated from 0 to 6. A 0 means the rated aspect plays no part in determining the game's outcome; and a 6 means that it is the only factor that determines the game's outcome. Complexity is also rated from 0 to 6; a 0 means that it's so simple a six-year-old can play it, a 3 means any adult should have no trouble playing, and a 6 means that you'll need to refer to the rulebook frequently. Humour can be rated as 'None,' meaning the game is not meant to be funny, or it may have one or more of the following: Derivative (meaning the humour is based on an outside source, such as a game based on a comedy film), Implicit (meaning that the game's components are funny, such as humourous card text), or Inherent (meaning that the actions the players take are funny). Attractiveness has nine possible ratings. Ideal: the game is beautiful and makes game play easier. Pretty: The design is beautiful and neither eases nor impedes game play. Nice: The design is beautiful but makes game play harder than necessary. Useful: The design is neither beautiful nor ugly, but eases gameplay. Average: The design is neither beautiful nor ugly, and neither eases nor impedes gameplay. Useless: The design is neither beautiful nor ugly, but makes gameplay harder than it needs to be. Utilitarian: The design is ugly, but eases gameplay. Ugly: The design is ugly, and neither eases nor impedes gameplay. Worthless: The design is ugly, andmakes gameplay harder than it needs to be. Average Length of Game Play describes how long an average game will probably last, give or take. Gamer Profile Ratings measures how strongly a game will appeal to players based on their interest in one of four areas. These areas are measured as High, Medium, or Low. Strategy describes how much a game involves cognitive challenges, thinking and planning, and making sound decisions. Conflict describes how much direct hostile action there is between players, from destroying units to stealing resources. Social Manipulation describes how much bluffing, deceiving, and persuading there is between players. Fantasy describes how much a game immerses players in another world, another time.

Strategy: 1
Randomness: 2
Complexity: 0
Humour: None*
Attractiveness: Ideal
Average Length of Gameplay: 15 minutes
Gamer Profile Ratings:
   Strategy: Low
   Conflict: Medium
   Social Manipulation: Low
   Fantasy: Low

The point of Push a Monster is to do exactly what the title says: push a monster. The game consists of five components: monsters, monster tokens, a die, a table, and a monster pusher. It looks something like this:
A small cardboard 'table' with an irregularly shaped tabletop. There are several wooden tokens, each adorned with a sticker of various monsters, arranged on top of this cardboard table. You can see some more of these tokens lying nearby. The hands of a player can be seen, holding the monster pusher, which consists of two rectangular pieces of cardboard, each decorated with monsters pushing at one another. The longer of the pieces is held in one hand, with a wooden monster token lying on it, and the smaller piece is used to push the wooden monster token off the bottom piece and onto the cardboard table.

The game starts with the two purple monsters on the table. On your turn, you roll the die. Five sides show one of the five main monster colours: white, green, yellow, orange, or red. The sixth side is a question mark. Whichever side the die shows determines which colour monster you must slide onto the table. If you roll the question mark, you get to choose.

You take the monster pusher, which is two rectangles made of cardboard, one slightly longer than the other. Place a monster of the appropriate colour on the longer one. Then use the shorter one to push the monster onto the table. You must slide it on, so that it does not sit atop any other monster.

Very quickly, the table starts to get crowded. Eventually, someone will cause one or more monsters to fall off the table. When that happens, all other players get a token in the same colour as the monster(s) that you knocked off.

These tokens are of varying widths. The red one is the narrowest, with the green one being just slightly wider. The white and yellow ones are next, followed by the orange. The purple ones are the widest of all, but they are also the rarest, as there are only two of them, and they both start already on the table. In a sense, the wider the token, the more 'points' it's worth. But remember, every time you knock a monster off the table, you're giving these 'points' to the other players. So if you have to push someone off, it's better to try to shove a red or green monster out, and avoid pushing the purple ones off if you can avoid it at all.

The game goes until the die rolls a colour that is not available (because they're already on the table) or until one colour of the tokens is gone. At that point, all players line their tokens up. Whoever has the longest row of tokens is the winner.

It's a very simple game. It's great for kids, and if you're in the mood for a nice easy game that doesn't involve a lot of thinking but you don't want to play a luck-based game, then Push a Monster certainly delivers. The monsters are kind of cute (and regarding the asterisk on the Humour rating above, I wouldn't say that the artwork is humorous per se, but the cute paintings can be a source of a mild chuckle. Certainly, it's fun to draw comparisons to various animals. For example, the orange monster has some sort of elephant trunk, and the white monster appears to be related to the rhinoceros in some way).

Anyway, I think it's a neat little game that can be fun in the right circumstances. Don't be afraid to give it a try! And with that, I bid you

Game on!

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