Micro Monsters Game Review

The Basics:

  • For ages 4 and up (publisher suggests 6+)
  • For 2 to 4 players
  • Variable game length depending on number of players

Geek Skills:

  • Logical & Critical Decision Making
  • Hand/Eye Coordination & Dexterity
  • Strategy & Tactics
  • Visuospatial Skills

Learning Curve:

  • Child – Easy
  • Adult – Easy

Theme & Narrative:

  • In a small pocket universe, trouble is brewing…

Endorsements:

  • Gamer Geek approved!
  • Parent Geek approved!
  • Child Geek approved!

Overview

Micro Monsters, by Ares Games, is a quick action/dexterity based game of control and conquest that is played out in a pocket universe. The players will be leading a small army of even small monsters into battle, jumping them (literally) into the fray. Careful and thoughtful placement of the monsters is needed to always be as offensive as possible while never making yourself an easy target. And while the game is simple in its design and execution, true skill is needed to be victorious. Best of all, it is highly accessible making it a game you can play with your little geeks very early on and fun enough to play with adults, too. Mix these two groups together and you are guaranteed a good time!

Micro Monsters is comprised of 4 different armies (red, blue, yellow, and green). Each army comes with 3 small plastic monster discs, 3 large plastic monster discs, 2 plastic monster rectangles, 1 plastic rectangle shooter, 3 cardboard energy tokens, and a six-sided die (rolled to determine what monster can be used and if the monster’s special ability is activated). The smaller discs might prove to be a choking hazard for baby geeks. Also included for each army is a large cardboard circle that is double-sided that represents the monster’s gate to their world. Two of the monster armies come with special cardboard disc that is utilized when the player rolls the special power on the six-sided die for their army. The illustrations throughout the game are bright and colorful making them a joy to play with and to look at.

Game Set Up

Note: Prior to game set up, you will be required to apply stickers to all the plastic monster discs, rectangles, and dice. This took us about 15 minutes but was not terribly difficult. Make sure you apply the rectangle stickers to only two of the rectangles (on both sides), leaving one rectangle piece with no stickers. This rectangle piece without any stickers is the shooter.

To set up the game, have each player pick an army of their choice and take all the pieces of that color. The playing surface should be fairly large (at least 4 feet by 4 feet) and on a surface that allows for the discs and rectangles to be jumped in the air and not shot across the playing the surface. We used a thick felt mat on a hard table and on a carpet. Both surfaces worked juts fine.

The players should stand or sit around the playing area and place their army’s gate in the playing area directly in front of them with the gate showing the non-damage side, face-up. The monster discs and rectangles are now placed around the gate in any order they want, but not stacked, no further away than about a palms length. The energy tokens, special power tokens, and dice are set aside and off the playing area, but within easy reach of the owning player.

Choose who will go first and start the game!

Micro Combat

On a player’s turn, they will roll their die. The resulting image will depict one of the three monsters in that player’s army or the monster’s special ability.

  • If the rolled result displays a monster that is on the table, the player picks any of the available monsters of that type and attempts to land it on one of their opponent’s monsters or gate
  • If the rolled result displays a monster that is not on the table, the player picks any available monster they want and attempts to land it on one of their opponent’s monsters or gate
  • If the rolled result displays the special ability, the player takes their turn using the special ability and attempts to land it on one of their opponent’s monsters or gate

Any monster that is jumped and lands outside of the playing area is returned to the owning player who places it around their gate, ending their turn.

Unless otherwise specified, the player gets only one chance to jump their monster disc or rectangle using their shooter. Jumping a disc or rectangle is done by placing the shooter on the edge of the monster and applying pressure until the monster jumps as a result. More pressure will result in a higher and longer jump. The player will have to judge distance and aim their monster, applying the appropriate amount of pressure. There is a bit of a learning curve and each monster jumps slightly different being of different size and weight.

Special Powers of Specialness 

Each of the four armys have a special power. These powers can only be used when rolled on the six-sided die. Those special abilities are as follows:

  • AutoGators (green): player may move two monsters of their choice, but cannot move a single monster twice
  • BigBears (yellow): player may move one monster of their choice and then place the special power token on any opponent’s monster causing that specific monster to be unavailable on the following turn
  • FinBacks (blue): player may move any one monster twice
  • TurboTurtles (red): player may move one monster of their choice and then place the special power token on that same monster causing it be immune to attacks for one round

Gate Crashing and Monster Squashing

When a player’s monster lands on top of an opponent’s monster, it is considered “squopped” and the opponent’s monster is removed from the game. If the player’s monster lands on more than one opponent’s monster (because it is stacked or touching more than one), all of those monsters are removed from the game.

When a player’s monster lands on an opponent’s gate, one of the opponent’s energy tokens is removed from the game. If all three of the energy tokens have been removed from the game, the gate flips to the damaged side. If the gate should take another damage, it closes and the player is out of the game. This essentially gives each player 4 lives per game before they are removed.

Note that a monster disc or rectangle is not counted until it comes to a complete stop.

Winning the Game

The game continues with each player rolling the dice and taking a turn until only one player remains. That player is the winner of the game!

Game Variant

For a shorter game, reduce the number of energy tokens players have. You can also use this rule to give the little geeks and inexperienced players an advantage by letting them keep all three of the energy tokens and having the more experienced players reduce their energy token count by 1 or 2.

There are also optional rules that provide new power expansions for the monsters available for free as a downloable add-on.

To learn more about Micro Monsters and get your hands on the optional powers, see the game’s official web page.

Prediction

This  is pretty much going to be a “sure thing” for the little geeks. Small, fast, and fun, Micro Monsters all but screams “little geeks games”. The only level of complexity is the actual act of shooting the monsters which can be improved by game play and practice. The special powers need not be memorized if an adult is present who can remind them what it is and how to use it.

When I showed my little geeks the game, they were ready to fall in love with it before I even opened the box! All they knew (and cared about) is that the box “looked cool”. When I told them they would be jumping pieces on the table, they almost jumped out of their pants. You see, my little geeks love action/dexterity games. They play Angry Birds: Knock on Wood,  Knock Your Blocks Off, and of course, Hungry Hungry Hippos a great deal. Micro Monsters is a natural fit and as familiar to them as Saturday Morning Cartoons.

Explaining the game took about 1 minute and then we spent the next 5 minutes practicing with the shooters and monsters. My little geeks had difficulty at first, but quickly learned how to shoot with impressive distance and accuracy. They were ready to play! As we set up the table, I asked them their thoughts on the game so far.

“AWESOME!” ~ Liam (age 7)

“This is the best game ever, Daddy!” ~ Nyhus (age 4)

Strong praise for a game they haven’t even played yet. Let’s see how they feel after their first game.

Final Word

We finished our first game and then immediately played another. And then another. And then another! We only stopped playing because it was dinner time and my wife was demanding the table transform from epic micro battle zone to a boring old dinner table. To say my little geeks enjoyed the game is a gross understatement. Kind of like saying the shark in Jaws liked to nibble.

Not only did the little geeks love the game and want to play it again and again, they became really good at it really fast. Creepy fast. The first half of the first game was something of a mess as their monsters went hither and yon, never really striking their intended target or landing in the right area. Understandably, you’d think they would become frustrated, but not once did they show it. They just shook their fists in the air like Captain Kirk and impatiently waited for their next turn. By the time the first game was over, they had shown much improvement and were taking less and less time to squash my monsters and crush my gate.

The second game was the most intense game I have ever played with my little geeks and it was a blast. We were standing around the table this time and jumping up and down at hits and groaning at our misses. Game three and four were the same, but even more cutthroat and much more tactical. I spent a majority of my time in game four maneuvering my monsters and taking out my little geeks army, doing all I could to avoid being squashed in the field and watching helplessly as my little geeks surrounded and then decimated my gate.  Victory was theirs and it was sweet. Being ganged up by them and being crushed is one of my most favorite game experiences so far.

Parent Geeks also had a wonderful time playing the game. The same level of excitement and sounds could be heard from the same table surrounded by adults that was only an hour before surrounded by little geeks. This is a true testament of how much fun and accessible the game is, as non-gamers were just as active and excited as the more experienced players next to them. Unlike the game with the little geeks, the Parent Geeks used more colorful language and hand gestures to express their disappointment and enjoyment.

Gamer Geeks also had a wonderful time playing the game. The didn’t have an easier time playing the game despite their many years and countless hours of playing complex games. In fact, they were hard pressed to fend off the Child Geeks and Parent Geeks. The said the game lacked depth, customization, and suffered from not having enough uniqueness and special powers, but not one of them left the table when they could and ready to play another game when offered.

Epic combat at the family table! My two oldest little geeks strategize their war with me as my youngest and I look on.

Gamer Geeks, yes, this is a kids game. Yes, it is rather light and lacks complex rules and the ability to customize. And, yes, the game is small. None of this matters because the game is fun and challenging. The level of intensity it can generate with the right crowd can be overwhelming as players aggressively attempt to crush their opponents. The dice randomizes what monsters you can use, which some believe to be an unnecessary luck element thrown in. I tend to agree, but it works very well in the game because there are multiple monsters, providing the player the ability to make meaningful choices. This game is approved for its level of enjoyment it will offer more than what it can ever hope to provide in the way of depth of play. Perfect for starting your game night, a quick break game, or a nice way to end the evening.

Parent Geeks, clear off your table or your floor and get ready for a fun combat game that will be making you jump up in down in frustration or joy. Possibly both. The game is perfect for families and is easy to teach with very little rules. Non-gamers will have no problem learning this game and contributing to the warfare at the table. Little geeks as young as 4 can play this game (based off our test group) and be competitive and victorious.

Child Geeks, this is an awesome, awesome game. You’ll be jumping your monsters and putting the smack down on your opponent’s in no time. Seriously, go play it. Now.

Micro Monsters is the not as grand as its big brother Micro Mutants: Evolution. Not by a long shot, but that’s OK. Micro Monsters is meant to be smaller, faster, and more accessible. This turns out to also be a wonderful boon for the game as it doesn’t have much in the way of depth to support anything longer. Short set up and play time with some rather intense moments trump the missing complexity and variety the game does not provide. The end result is a wonderful little game that can be set up in a minute and played many times in a row without it ever getting old. For the little geeks, this was exceedingly enjoyable. For the Parent and Gamer Geeks, it proved to be a good time. I am most pleased with the game and I wouldn’t mind bringing it to the table any day of the week.

This game was given to Father Geek as a review copy. Father Geek was not paid, bribed, wined, dined, or threatened in vain hopes of influencing this review. Such is the statuesque and legendary integrity of Father Geek.

About Cyrus

Editor in Chief, Owner/Operator, Board Game Fanatic, Father of Three, and Nice Guy, Cyrus has always enjoyed board, card, miniature, role playing, and video games, but didn't get back into the hobby seriously until early 2000. Once he did, however, he was hooked. He now plays board games with anyone and everyone he can, but enjoys playing with his children and wife the most. Video games continue to be of real interest, but not as much as dice and little miniatures. As he carefully navigates the ins and outs of parenting, he does his very best to bestow what wisdom he has and help nurture his children's young minds. It is his hope and ambition to raise three strong, honorable men who will one day go on to do great things and buy their Mom and Dad a lobster dinner Cyrus goes by the handle fathergeek on Board Game Geek. You can also check him out on CyrusKirby.com. Yes, he has a URL that is his name. His ego knows no bounds, apparently....
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