Monster Party Review

Monster Trap Review – (And I Would Have Gotten Away With It Too)

Monster Trap is what happens when you make a game about every ending to the older Scooby Doo cartoons. You know the ones I’m talking about, where the gang sets up an elaborate and overly complicated plan, captures the villain and reveals who would have gotten away with whatever they were trying to do, if it weren’t for those meddling kids and their dog. Monster Trap is exactly that. Except instead of the gang taking off the monster mask to reveal the old gardener underneath, it actually is a monster. Who wants to eat Farmer Brown’s sheep. Why is every farmer named Brown? Can every farmer trace their lineage back to great old Jedebedediah Brown?

What You Do

Monster Trap is a family-focused cooperative game in which you and your friends/family will take on the role of a child (or perhaps a dog) and attempt to lay absurd traps to impede the Monster’s progress towards Farmer Brown’s lovable little sheep. If you successfully trigger enough traps before the Monster reaches the sheep and, presumably, gives it a big ol’ hug, then you successfully drove the Monster back into its lair and you win! To do this, you must carry specific colored resource cubes from conveyor belts in a nearby factory to fulfill the recipe displayed on each trap. How convenient that every time a Monster comes calling for Farmer Brown’s sheep, the local factory makes a killing in resource sales. I’m not saying Monster Trap was an inside job, but…

Pie Catapults Can’t Satiate Purple Monsters – Monster Trap Was An Inside Job

How You Do It

On your turn you have (usually) 3 actions. You can use these actions to do one of the following: move (self-explanatory), pick up a resource from a conveyor belt (keep in mind you have limited inventory space), place a resource on a trap card, trade (as much as you want) with an adjacent character, use a special ability, stand up after a fall (more on that later), and then either spend one action to swap out trap cards or use ALL your actions to pick a specific trap card.

Each character also has a special ability, such as an expanded inventory, the ability to move two spaces per move action, etc. So players will find themselves more suited to certain tasks than others, which is great, it forces players to choose when it is best to follow your role and when you inevitably have to deviate from your specialization. Bonus tokens will also spawn at the end of each round, granting boons to those willing to spend the actions to reach them.

So where does the challenge come from? Well, first off each turn that Monster consistently slinks toward that delicious looking side of lamb in Farmer Brown’s barn. Those precious resources you need to build your Rube Goldberg machines of monster mayhem will slide down the conveyor belt until they are recycled, no longer accessible. And event cards will be drawn that do such horrible things as open your backpack and make you lose your resources. Or just trip you, Like in grade school, they just make you fall down, and then you have to spend one of your precious few actions to stand up. Seriously, the characters in this game cannot stay on their feet to save their lives. It’s like watching Disney on Ice, but instead of skates everyone is wearing banana peels.

Slipperiest Board Known To Man

So Is It Good

When I first started playing Monster Trap, it had me grumbling. Where are the difficult choices, I asked myself. Where do I find the meat of this game that will keep me playing this over others? And then I sat back and had to reevaluate the way I was thinking about this game. Monster Trap is not meant for me, the hardcore gamer. It says it right there on the box: Ages 6+. This is a game to be played with your entire family, no matter what kind of gamer they are.

It’s not meant to be the next Terra Mystica; it’s more of a My First Terra Mystica. It is not meant to be the pinnacle of deep thought; it is meant to guide younger players toward those pinnacles, to be that first taste that prepares them for a future full of gaming. And when viewed in that light, Monster Trap sparkles.

I play a lot of games with my children: Animal Upon Animal, My First Orchard, and Go Cuckoo are some of our favorites. They all teach very simple things. Animal Upon Animal teaches hand-eye coordination, My First Orchard is a great introduction to cooperative play, and Go Cuckoo is another great dexterity game. But those teachable moments are very limited in how much they set you up for a future in board gaming. Monster Trap is different.

Those different special powers that the characters have? Your children will have to learn how best to use their specialty, when it is more helpful to do what they do best, and when to deviate from their normal activity. The character with a larger move speed, for example: when is it better to zip around the map vs. collecting resources? This will be useful later in games like Pandemic, where you have a special ability that factors heavily into how you play the game.

Your kids will also have to learn how to prioritize, as certain trap cards will need to be completed before others or even abandoned altogether as the Monster gets too close to be able to finish them. These are not the kind of things games like Go Cuckoo teach. Go Cuckoo and Animal Upon Animal are kid games to get your children interested in gaming with you. Monster Trap is the family game that will prepare your children for their bright and glorious and expensive future in this great hobby of ours.

One last thing it will teach your children: how to lose. Because this game is brutal. It might look sugary but underneath that candy-coated exterior lies a game that will punish you over and over again and kick you while you’re down. Like children. Hi-yo! The difficulty comes not so much from what decision you should make but rather from those blasted event cards that will be constantly stealing your resources or knocking you down. So that is kind of obnoxious in that you will sometimes be losing even though you feel like you are making the best decisions you can.

However I strongly believe that suffering defeat is a skill that needs to be learned, not only in gaming but in life. Monster Trap will punish you, you will suffer setback after setback which will often end with your team losing the game, the sheep messily devoured by the fiendish Monster.

So cute… So delicious…

And even in those defeats, there can be growth. You can learn how to lose with grace, how to persevere through adversity. All things that games like Go Cuckoo, though a wonderful children’s game, do not teach.

Overall, Monster Trap is an extremely solid family game that I would recommend to play with your children, as it teaches valuable skills that can be used to foster a love of board gaming further into their lives, while encouraging their developmental growth.

Monster Trap is set to launch on Kickstarter May 9!

EDIT: The Kickstarter campaign is now live! Check it out here!

Tom Henrich

Tom finds solace in cardboard and computers. He smashes words together, sometimes coherently. You can find him smashing words on Lizard Lounge and 2 To 4 Players.
Monster Trap
  • Admiral Ackbar Approved
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Summary

Overall, Monster Trap is an extremely solid family game that I would recommend to play with your children, as it teaches valuable skills that can be used to foster a love of board gaming further into their lives, while encouraging their developmental growth.

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