Monsters Menace America

Avalon Hill, 2005, 2-4 players, ages 12 and up. In Monsters Menace America, each player gets to play one of six different 50's style horror movie monsters - a giant gorilla, a giant dinosaur, a giant eyeball, a giant mantis, a giant toxic blob, or a giant mutated lobster (the operative word here being "giant"). The goal is to wreck havoc on the US by "stomping" cities, military bases and "places of infamy" (touristy sites worthy of a monster's ire). To make matters more interesting, each player also controls a branch of the armed forces (army, navy, air force or marines), units of which are used to slow down the progress of the other monsters. With each successful stomp, monsters earn more health points and "infamy" tokens (which can be turned in later on for extra attacks during battle). Once the last "stomp" marker is placed on the board, monsters enter the final "monster challenge", where the winner of the game is decided in a series of epic one-on-one monster combats. Pretty much all of this is accomplished via rolling dice, so luck is a huge factor in the game. Others are bothered by this, but our group has always had a soft spot for dice-based games. As in "Axis & Allies", I think the sheer ubiquity of all that bone tossing inevitably causes fate to even out in the end, but there's no question that the best laid plans of monsters and men can go awry when faced with a run of bad luck.

The game components are first rate, particularly the monster figures. The rules are pretty short and very easy to follow. You should be able to get going playing in under 10 minutes (and with only maybe a minute or so of review in subsequent playings - something that is quickly becoming an important consideration for me). Games play fast (60-90 minutes), and are just a ton of fun. And despite the light hearted and humorous themes, this game has a surprising amount of strategy associated with it. The stomp markers always seem to run out faster than you think they are going to, so you really have to plot your monster moves carefully to make sure you are ready to take on the "monster challenge" end game. And at the same time, you have to make careful use of your military units so as to whittle down your opponants as much as possible. This game really is a blast, and one of the best new games to come out in quite a while.

Spookshow Home