Please Take Note: This is a review of the game’s final prototype. The art, game bits, and the rules discussed are all subject to change. The game is being reviewed on the components and the rules provided with the understanding that “what you see is not what you might get” when the game is published. If you like what you read and want to learn more, we encourage you to visit the game’s Kickstarter campaign. Now that we have all that disclaimer junk out of the way, on with the review!
- For ages 5 and up (publisher suggests 6+)
- For 2 to 6 players
- Approximately 30 minutes to complete
- Counting & Math
- Logical & Critical Decision Making
- Pattern/Color Matching
- Hand/Resource Management
- Child – Easy
- Adult – Easy
Theme & Narrative:
- Saddle up and wrangle some of the most bizarre cows you have ever seen
- Gamer Geek rejected!
- Parent Geek approved!
- Child Geek approved!
Well, howdy, stranger. Looks like you’ve arrived at the right place. We have lots of work to do and you look willing and able to get it done. We’ve got more cows than I care to count and I need you and your fellow wranglers to gather them up. I have everything you need here…brain on a stick for the Zombie Moos….um…oh, you’re going to need this EMP rifle for the Cyborg Moos, and don’t forget to wear your steel Stetson when approaching those Dragon Moos. They can be a bit twitchy!
Monster Moos, a self-published game by designer Dominique DeMille, will reportedly be comprised of 1 game board, 4 Moo dice (custom six-sided dice), 60 cards (that contain Tool and Action cards), and 180 Moo tokens (four different types by color: red Dragon Moos, yellow Cyborg Moos, blue Ghost Moos, and green Zombie Moos). As this is a review of a prepublished game, we will not comment on the game component quality.
Home, Home on the Intergalactic Transdimensional Range…
To set up the game, first unfold and place the game board in the middle of the playing area.
Second, shuffle the cards and deal out to each player 5 cards. The players should keep their hand of cards hidden from their opponents at all times. Place the deck of cards to one side of the game board, face-down. Leave room for a discard pile.
Third, place each Moo token type into its own pile. We suggest using small cups to keep the table clean and the game organized.
Fourth, place 1 Moo token of each type (color) on the corresponding game board space (referred to as “Portals”) that matches the token’s color.
Fifth, place the Moo dice to one side and within easy reach of all the players.
That’s it for game set up. Let’s wrangle up some of those little monster dogies! YEEEEEEEEEHHHHHHAAAAAAAW!
Where the Metallic Deer and Monster Moos Play
The game is played in turns with no specified number of rounds. A player’s turn is comprised of 4 phases. These phases are summarized here.
Phase 1: Rustle
During this phase, the player draws the top 2 cards off the top of the deck or the top face-up card from the discard pile; not both. If at anytime there are not enough cards to draw from the deck, the discard pile is shuffled and placed face-down to create the new deck. This can happen after or before the player chooses to take their cards from the deck or the discard pile.
Phase 2: Round-Up or Sit-A-Spell
During this phase, the player has two choices regarding what actions they want to take. The player can take one or the other of the following; not both.
The first choice is to Round-Up the Monster Moos currently on the game board (referred to as the “Field”) which requires the player to play the cards in their hand. There are two types of cards. These are Tool cards and Action cards.
Tool cards represent the various piece of equipment a cowboy or a cowgirl will need to collect and wrangle up a specific Monster Moo type. For example, a “Stick on a Brain” for the Zombie Moos,a “Ghost Trap” for the Ghost Moos, a “Techno Screwdriver” for the Cyber Moos, and “Fireproof Dudes” for the Dragon Moos. Each Tool card has a colored border that matches the Monster Moo token color it can be used for. There are also a few Wild Tool cards that have all four colors of the Monster Moos, making them very useful tools indeed.
Action cards are special rule cards that essentially break the game for just a moment and usually in the player’s favor. Each card has a specific requirement and action. Players simply follow what the card says and then discard it.
To Round-Up Monster Moos, you play 3 cards of the same color. These cards do not need to be the same tool, however, and 1 of the 3 cards can be a Wild Tool card. These are played to the table so all the players can see the colors on the card. The player then collects all the Monster Moos of that color that are currently clustered in a herd. A herd is is a group of Monster Moos comprised of the same color that are all linked via continues adjacent spaces. This means a herd could be as small as 1 Monster Moo or as big as 30. All of the Monster Moos wrangled up are removed from the game board and placed in front of the player. This space in front of the player is referred to as the “Ranch”. Tool cards used are sent to the discard pile.
The second choice is to Sit-A-Spell, which allows the player to discard any number of cards from their hand and then draw the exact same number of cards back from the deck.
There is no limit to the number of cards a player can play during their turn and there is not specific order they must be played.
Phase 3: Portal
During this phase, the player takes and rolls the Moo dice. The die roll results will show which Monster Moos will “portal” onto the game board. Each die roll result will represent one Monster Moo of the matching color shown when the die come to rest. It is also possible that a die result might show no Monster Moo, meaning it is perfectly possible that nothing is added during this phase. The player takes these Monster Moo tokens from the individual piles and then adds them to the game board adjacent to any other Monster Moo of the same type. For example, a red Monster Moo can only be placed next to another red Monster Moo, where “adjacent” is any free hexagon space that touches the side of the currently occupied hexagon space. Monster Moos can also be placed on the corresponding space on the game board that matches the token’s color if it is free. Only one Monster Moo can occupy a single hexagon space on the game board at a time.
If a player is unable to place a Monster Moo, a stampede occurs! All the Monster Moos currently on the game board break loose and are cleared from the game board. When the dust settles and the fences are mended, place 1 Moo token of each type (color) on the corresponding space on the game board that matches the token’s color.
Phase 4: Mosey
During this phase, the player moves 1 Monster Moo of each color on the game board one space to any adjacent free space if possible. Monster Moos will not mosey away from the herd, however, and will only move to another space if it keeps them adjacent to another Monster Moo. Put another way, a Monster Moo will not break off to become a herd of one. The only exception to this rule is for a Monster Moo that was placed on the game board as a single Monster Moo of that color. For example, at the beginning of the game and after a stampede.
It is perfectly possible that one or more Monster Moos cannot be moved (which is a sure sign that a stampede is about to occur). If such is the case, the player moves what they can and then discards down to 7 cards.
This completes the player’s turn. The next player in turn order sequence now has their turn starting with phase 1 noted above.
The End of the Cattle Drive
Players continue to take turns until one player successfully wrangles up 25 total Monster Moos or 15 Monster Moos of one type in their Ranch. Congratulations are given all-round for a job well done and everyone sits by the campfire to drink strong coffee, hot beans, and listen to Old Mike play a tune or two on his harmonica.
To learn more about Monster Moos, visit the game’s Kickstarter campaign.
Now here is a game theme I have not yet had the pleasure of playing with. Dragon cows? Zombie cows? Cyborg cows? Ghost cows? Never before have I seen the like. Theme aside, the game itself does not appear to be all that complicated. I like the level of thought it takes to manage the Monster Moos on the field and the easy hand management and card play should make this game an enjoyable and light game playing experience.
Speaking of cards, I am digging the obvious pop culture geek references. Doctor Who, Ghostbusters, Army of Darkness, The Exorcist, and even Hellraiser! WITH COWS! A neat and very unique idea, to be sure. But how will the game play? It won’t matter if the game’s theme and narrative is the next best thing to a deep-fried Twinkie if the game play isn’t engaging. But I don’t think the game will have a problem here. The game rules are light, easy to follow, and the speed of the game certainly appears to be swift.
Teaching the game to all three of our groups shouldn’t be a problem. There is some reading needed, but not to a point where reading a card for a younger player will reduce the level of fun the game provides. The primary focus is to cluster like colored tokens and collect like colored cards. That’s something a player as young as 5-years-old should be able to do with little issue.
I predict the game will do very well with the Child and Parent Geeks. I think the game will also do very well with the non-gamers, as the game play is not terribly complex. The Gamer Geeks might not enjoy this game as much. While I think they will enjoy the logical and critical thinking necessary for the game, there doesn’t appear to be much in the way of tactics or strategy. Really, all a player needs to do is cluster the cows, have the right cards, and hope they can beat their opponents to collecting them. If the hand management portion of the game was a bit more complex other than collecting colored cards, it might be a sure thing. As it is, I don’t really know if there is enough to the game to appeal to the Gamer Geeks or not. I have no doubt they’ll enjoy the theme, however.
Teaching the game to my little geeks took almost zero effort. Most of my time was spent on making sure they understood the importance of managing not only their hand, but also the game board. All the players need to keep the herds as tightly packed and as distant from each other as possible so to reduce the chances of a stampede. Of course, there is some wisdom is starting a stampede, too, especially when it looks like your opponents are about to wrangle up some serious numbers and you need to stop them from doing so. The only questions I received from all our groups were if the Tool cards needed to match not only colors, but also tools to be used. No, they do not. At least not with the current rule set (keep in mind we are playing a prepublished game here). Other than that, no questions and everyone was eager to play.
As I shuffled the deck and my 5-year-old placed the initial Monster Moos on the portals in the field, I asked my two oldest little geeks their thoughts on Monster Moos so far.
“Ha! This is awesome. I love the idea of monster cows!” ~ Liam (age 8)
“I’m going to be a cowboy and get me a zombie burger, Daddy!” ~ Nyhus (age 5)
Parenthood: you know you are doing it right when your little geeks know that zombie burgers come from zombie cows. Let’s play Monster Moos and see if we can’t wrangle ourselves up a great time or this game stampedes itself over a cliff.
The Child Geeks loved Monster Moos. And by “love”, I mean “yelling out in excitement and screaming STAMPEDED! at the top of their lungs.” The noisy and excited kind of love that adults miss and can only grasp nowadays when our favorite sports team makes a point with 10 seconds left on the clock or we find out a new season of Game of Thrones has been approved by HBO. Their level of enjoyment was evident, as was their level of understanding of the game play. The older Child Geeks did better than the younger Child Geeks, obviously, but even our youngest player at age 5 did a superb job of wrangling up cows and making some serious points. Action cards were not used as well as I thought they would be, but the Action cards make up a small portion of the deck of cards to begin with. Primary focus was on the game board, which is exactly what I would expect to see from players who know their game. And not only did the Child Geeks get and play this game like a Boss, they also fully approved it.
The Parent Geeks also had a wonderful time with Monster Moos. “A perfect family game for the gaming family!”, exclaimed on Parent Geek in a fit of obvious ecstasy after retrieving no less than 12 Dragon Moos. The sentiment was shared, albeit a bit less boisterous, by all the Parent Geeks and the non-gamers to boot. Be they familiar with board games or not, all the Parent Geeks had a good time with Monster Moos and played it well. A number of the Parent Geeks doubted the game would go over well at a peer level, however. One Parent Geek said, “This is a great family game, but I don’t know if it’s a game that can be taken seriously when just adults are lassoing the mutant cows.” That might very well be the case, but it didn’t stop the Parent Geeks from fully approving the game.
The Gamer Geeks didn’t know what to make of this game at first. They liked the theme and enjoyed the obvious pop culture geek references (the Boom Stick Tool card is a solid node to Army of Darkness, for example), but the game play sounded a bit too…well…childish for them. Collecting cards and playing matching colors in groups of three sounds like the rules to a game designed for non-elitist gamers. After the Monster Moos started coming out and the Gamer Geeks saw that Monster Moo placement and “moo management” was essential to victory, that started to like the game. They enjoyed their time with Monster Moos, but not to a point where they were willing to say the game was Gamer Geek approved. One Gamer Geek summarized it very well when he said, “This is a solid game. It has everything a game needs to keep gamers and non-gamers engaged at the table. The only problem I have with it is the card play. The Monster Moo placement and movement can be highly tactical. Love that part. But the card play is nothing more than matching card colors. It’s a strange mix of Gamer Geekness and Child Geekness that works, but not to a point where I think this is a true Gamer Geek game.” The majority of Gamer Geeks agreed and gave Monster Moos their node of respect, but not their vote for approval.
There’s a lot to like about Monster Moos. It’s light, it’s fast, it’s fun, it’s challenging, and it can snowball on you quickly. Many were the game sessions where everyone at the table yelled, “STAMPEDE!” The game doesn’t require it, but smack talk was exchanged from player to player in long southern drawls and tips of invisible hats were common when a player made a good move. The game does two things very well. First, it is easy to learn and to play. There is nothing about Monster Moos that requires a player to be highly familiar with board or card games to play and understand what Monster Moos is all about. Second, the game takes a simple concept and makes it into an exercise of critical and logical thinking with timing and logistics being very important and pivotal to a player’s success. This is not a fluff game by any means. Players need to really think about their Monster Moo groupings, keep track of what their opponents are moving on the game board, what cards their opponents are grabbing from the discard pile, and hope they can manage their hand right to get the cards they need for some serious wrangling.
I am personally surprised that the Gamer Geeks didn’t enjoy Monster Moos more, as I loved it. Although, in truth, that might say more about me and my current taste in games. I have always enjoyed board, card, and dice games that can be played with my children, friends, and family, and yet can still keep me excited and engaged at the gaming table. I know how to play very complex games and love any gaming experience that makes my brain hurt. It is correct to assume that any game that does not provide such an experience would be poo-poo’ed by me, but not in every case. If a game can keep me interested, thinking, and laughing, I’m always pleased with it. More so when my children are laughing beside me. Monster Moos kept us all laughing, cheering, and wanting more.
I highly recommend Monster Moos to Parents and to Child Geeks. While our Gamer Geeks didn’t believe Monster Moos is a Gamer Geek game, I am certain a Gamer Geek would enjoy their time playing it at the family gaming table. It’s light and fun, is quick to set up, and is perfect for family game nights, short game play sessions, or whenever you think you want to experience the exciting lives of intergalactic transdimensional space cowboys and cowgirls in the comfort of your own home.
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.