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Friday, November 13, 2009

I've gone mad for Monsterpocalypse!

A lot of you probably remember how over the summer I made this video on behalf of HyperMind - that groovy game store in Burlington - for a contest entry. It was for the Monsterpocapalooza event sponsored by Privateer Press for that company's Monsterpocalypse collectible miniatures game. Well as is usual whenever I'm about to get involved with something, I research the bejeebers out of it! I never get involved with a project regarding something new to me without giving it the hard hairy eyeball and reading everything that I can find on the subject. The store's owners gave me a copy of the Monsterpocalypse rulebook and I scoured the Internet for whatever I could find, and in the end we banged out a darn good video. It even made the top ten of the Monsterpocapalooza finalists. And I also have a nice letter from the president of the company praising how we parodied Cloverfield with it!

Along with the letter, Privateer Press also sent over some boxes of limited edition minis from the game. Between seeing how pretty those were, and observing how everyone in the store was way enjoying Monsterpocalypse, it was more than enough to entice me to give it a try. And that's how it all started...

So now five months and several booster box purchases later (in addition to scouring eBay for a few hard-to-find minis) I must confess: I am officially a Monsterpocalypse junkie.

Awright well, what exactly is Monsterpocalypse and why am I feeling obligated to sing its praises here? It's a game based around the "giant monsters" genre... and it's a heck of a lot of fun!!

Monsterpocalypse is a game between two players (although some ambitious folks have created custom maps that let four, six and even eight people play against each other). The game is played on a playmat. On each player's side of the mat there's "storage" spaces for your various units and both forms of your monster (more on that later) along with "wells" for your various dice. Taking up the bulk of the mat is the city map, arranged in a grid. At the beginning of the game players take turns putting various building figures onto the map, constructing a city that they will soon proceed to destroy.

Gameplay revolves greatly around how you use your dice. You've got ten "action dice", ten "power dice" and you can use any number of "boost dice" depending on what figure you're using and other factors. If you want to "spawn" a unit - which are classified as either grunts or elites - onto the board you have to spend a die (and it'll cost ya two dice for an elite). Want to move a unit? It'll cost ya one die. Attack with it? That'll cost ya a die as well. But "spending" means moving the dice from your unit pool to your monster pool... which will let you wreck even more carnage with your big monster. So there's not only a lot of strategic thinkin' that Monsterpocalypse calls for, but also a good sense of economics and wisely using your resources. If all that sounds too complex, don't worry: it's not. Games are usually very fast paced and most last under an hour. Hey, this is about ginormous monstrosities unleashing death and destruction, not... chess!

The object of the game is to destroy your opponent's monster. Which ain't as simple as it sounds. Ya see, you and the other player actually have two figures representing each of your respective monsters! The primary is the "alpha" form, which is what that monster looks like in its natural state. But accumulate enough power dice (earned by destroying units and brawling building into rubble) and you can switch your monster from its alpha to its "hyper" form: a bit more powerful and often with even cooler abilities than the alpha. Your goal in Monsterpocalypse is to inflict enough damage that both of the other player's monster forms have zero on their health trackers.

Monsterpocalypse came out a year ago and it's become a huge success for Privateer Press. When the game first came out it introduced its first six factions: G.U.A.R.D. (sorta like G.I. Joe or S.H.I.E.L.D. from the Marvel comics), Martian Menace (from the red planet), Lords of Cthul (my personal favorite faction, take a guess why), Terrasaurs (think Godzilla's kinfolk hooking up with radical environmentalist terrorist wackos), Planet Eaters (also a favorite) and Shadow Sun Syndicate (sorta like the Power Rangers on steroids). Last month Series 4 of the game, Monsterpocalypse Now! was released and rolled out six new factions: Elemental Champions, Tritons (a threat from the ocean), Savage Swarm (Them!? You'll wish it was just them), Subterran Uprising (molemen... really big molemen), UberCorp International (run by a thinly-veiled parody of Howard Hughes) and a group that's fast running up players' lists of most-liked factions, the Empire of the Apes (see the gun that Kong-sized gorilla is wielding? That's really a salvaged howitzer).

So, all of this sound like oodles of fun? It most certainly is! Nothing feels quite like building up a town only to thrash it to pieces with exotic weaponry and kaiju critters. And you can find Monsterpocalypse at most of your friendly local game stores. A lot of those usually have a dedicated group of players that meet regularly. I've started playing at HyperMind in Burlington on Thursday nights, and we've a good bunch that congregates there (including one particular 11-year old who handed my butt to me with his Subterrans last night despite my use of G.U.A.R.D.'s heavy air support... but he won the Mega Mantacon figure and is happy, so it's all fine :-).

One of my favorite online resources for all things Monsterpocalyse is Team Covenant and if you're looking for any particular figures, Team Covenant's online store is well worth visiting! They not only carry the starter box sets and boosters but also special bundles and some very good custom Monsterpocalypse dice that if you start getting heavy into this game you might wanna consider getting, 'cuz the blast markings on the regular dice have a tendency to "wear off" after several games. And 'course there's also eBay, that good ol' standby (and maybe your last, best hope of scoring a Mega Yasheth figure... hey, I am big into the Lords of Cthul, y'all ;-) And it goes without saying that the official Monsterpocalypse website is a must-see if you're thinking of getting into this game. Privateer Press just overhauled the site and among other things there's a gallery featuring every mini the game has to date, including stats. There's also a lively message board for players to discuss various aspects of the game.

Monsterpocalypse gets this blog's highest recommendation for entertainment worth checking out. There's a little something for players of all ages to enjoy... and they certainly do. And if you're in this part of North Carolina, drop me a line at theknightshift@gmail.com and let's see if we can hook up and play a round some evening :-)


Mallory Sizemore said...

Our family loves Monsterpocalypse too! We have two boys and their younger sister who collect and play it and now they've got their parents learning and playing too (:

-Mallory, and I own Mega Nova ESR and I know how to use her (;

Chris Knight said...

That's one thing that I've observed a lot from Monsterpocalypse, Mallory: this really IS a game for the entire family! At HyperMind it's very common to see parents bringing in their kids and both playing each other and other people.

I think this kind of social gaming is enjoying a huge upswing in recent years, across the demographic spectrum. Given a choice between playing an MMO on the computer or some other video game, and spending an evening with people you can actually see and laugh with, I'll always pick the latter and it's great to see the kids enjoying that too :-)

I just wish that I could play at HyperMind this coming week too, but we've got play rehearsal for the next several days! But when I come back, the Lords of Cthul shall wreck all kinds of unholy terror!! :-P

Anonymous said...

Actually after seeing one of the Shadow Sun Syndicate, they're more inspired by Ultraman than with *with a cringe* Power Rangers. If you haven't seen an Ultraman series you should. The fansub group I work with have subbed two Ultraman series, and we're working on subbing our third series.

P.S. Power Rangers sucks. Super Sentai is far superior.

-Drew M.

Anonymous said...

have you seen this guy's maps?!?!!