Tabletop Game Review – Big Monster

Big Monster by Opa! Games
Price: ~$35.00
2 to 6
20-30 minutes
Perfect for:
Groups who clever strategic tile-drafting and set collection games.

Big Monster is a game of exploration and optimization! As an intrepid space traveler, you and your crew have just discovered a new planet teeming with exotic creatures and rare minerals. The mission is to categorize all the incredible aliens and gems you can—or at least more than your opponents—to be named the ultimate explorer!

To begin Big Monster, two to six players retrieve a starting random spaceship tile which will also determine additional bonus scoring for that particular player at the end of the game. The specifics of the drafting mechanic vary depending on the number of players at the table, but essentially people will be choosing a tile (which typically has a combination of aliens and occasionally gems on them) and placing it in front of them as part of building an on-going mosaic. Placement will ultimately determine value. For example, one particular alien has two tiles (the left and right side of their body) which when played individually score 1 point, but when the correct match is placed the monster scores 11. Other common bonuses are multipliers for the number of particular alien tiles, or the first person to collect a certain number of tile types.

In the team-version of Big Monster, undrafted tiles are then purposefully passed to another individual of the person’s choosing (assuming they don’t have a tile pile yet). In non-team games, tiles are chosen and discarded in player order. Once everyone has placed 18 tiles over several rounds, players score the combinations in their mosaic depending on their placement and bonuses. The person with the most victory points wins!

RELATED: Tabletop Game Review – Ecosystem

What works in Big Monster is the evolution of a core gaming mechanic (tile-drafting/set collection) into a highly immersive, clever, and engaging experience. While there are several similar games to Big Monster, the combination of the delightful artwork by Ivan Nikulin with the variation of intentional passing coupled with the mosaic building to score points, results in a delightful interplay. The length and complexity also perfect—the rules are easy to grasp and the game moves expediently so even if takes a playthrough to grasp the underlying strategy, players will be ready to give it another go soon after a game concludes.

Players who prefer games with less luck and more direct competition may not enjoy Big Monster as much as others. The randomness factor is a bit on the low-end, but it is possible for players to go all-in on a particular tile type only to have them make a minimal appearance throughout the game. Instead, Big Monster is about playing probabilities and making the most with what’s available. And finally, the level of aggressive and immediate conflict is a bit player-dependent. One available tactic is to purposely sabotage opponents by discarding the tiles they are collecting, but that’s not necessary.

Big Monster is the perfect family/game-group light quick game that nearly all players—experienced or new, young or old—will relish. While the structure is undeniably familiar, there’s more than novelty to give it a space on yourself and high enough replay value with universal that it’s likely to get to the table often.

Recommended if you like: Kingdomino, Sushi Go, Ecosystem  

Final Grade: A

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