Welcome to The Game Shelf!

After getting into the board game hobby at the end of 2014, we've decided to share our thoughts on the games we're collecting on our shelves. The collection has certainly expanded over the last few years and we've been making up for lost time!

Sometimes our opinions differ, so Amy will be posting reviews every Tuesday and Fi will post on Thursdays. We hope you enjoy reading some of our opinions on board games - especially those for two players.

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Thursday 13 May 2021

Thoughts from the Yellow Meeple:- Overboss: A Boss Monster Adventure

Game: Overboss: A Boss Monster Adventure

Publisher: Brotherwise Games

Designer:  Aaron Mesburne, Kevin Russ

Year: 2021

Boss Monster is one of the earliest games I remember playing when I was introduced to board gaming. Amy's friends were not board gamers at the time, but they were geeks and video gamers who were dipping their toes into the hobby. Boss Monster is exactly the sort of game, alongside Munchkin and Catan, that university students with a geeky disposition were playing 10 years ago. It's not a game I ever really revisited, finding it too be a bit basic, but it certainly has an audience, is perfect for comic store shelves and has spawned many expansions.

Overboss takes that same theme and 8-bit artwork, but applies it to a tile-laying game, co-designed by Kevin Russ who designed the fabulous Calico - a truly special puzzly tile-laying game. With those credentials, we had to take a look at what twist on tile-laying Overboss has to offer

Overboss is a drafting and tile laying game, where pairs of tiles and tokens are drafted from a central market. The larger tiles represent different terrain, and each terrain has a different scoring ability, perhaps collecting many of the same terrain, or placing the terrain next to the mountains or ocean that are printed on your player board. The smaller cardboard tokens primarily represent the monsters, and you will be rewarded if you can make it so that the appropriate monster is placed in the right terrain time on your board at the end of the game. A single turn is simply drafting an placing a pair from the market. Typically you'll place the monster on the tile you just took, unless there is not a space, in which case you can place it elsewhere in a space on your grid. The small token might also be a gem, which rewards end game points, or a portal, which allows swapping of monster positions during the game.

If you are playing with more advanced rules, you might also have a personal character who has both a one-off ability as well as end game scoring effects. Alternatively, the Command Cards give you a way to mess with other players boards, should you want to throw that into your game.

With two layers to this tile laying puzzle, you'll be grateful for the scorepad when it comes to end game scoring, where you'll evaluate the map you've created. In general, you'll be rewarded for terrain points, a single point for each token on a matching tile, and then points for each column or row of matching monsters on your map.

The retail edition of Overboss comes in a box that lets you know it was a Kickstarter game, and makes it very clear that you've missed out on loads of content! In spite of the gaps in the inserts, you still have lots of options to customise each game. Will you play on the small or large grid, which terrain types will you play with, and will you add one or both of the mini expansions? Depending on the options you pick, you'll have a different level of player interaction and a slightly different length of game, but a game of Overboss still only takes 15-20 minutes for two players.

Overboss is a tile-laying game that offers more and more interest with each new variant you explore. After throwing new aspects in slowly but surely, I'm certain I'd want to play with all of the content every time. The basic game is very standard tile-laying fare, with elements of set collection and some, but not very many, spatial puzzle elements. The twist that makes the game stand out is that you're really building out two puzzles on two layers, with monster placement potentially worth just as many points as tour terrain placement. You can use portals to help you optimise both puzzles in the base game, with the Command Cards in particular bring the multiple layers of the puzzle to life.

I was initially very skeptical of the Command Cards, because messing with your opponents game in a tile-laying game just sounds like a d**k move. But, once I understood you could use Command Cards to manipulate your own board it became really interesting to try and use them to keep making your own player board better and better, really focusing on your strategy as it develops later into the game.

The base game in Overboss is fine. It's nothing spectacular, but the nice production and 8-bit theming will definitely give it some appeal. Playing with all the content really elevates it and makes it a tile-laying game that has something different to offer. For me, the depth of puzzle is still not quite there, but this game could be both someone's entry point in board games through its theme and then it also offers a more complex, 'next-step' experience, all in the same box. For the Yellow Meeple, it's a 6/10.


Overboss: A Boss Monster Adventure was a review copy provided by Asmodee UK. It is available at your friendly local game store or can be picked up at http://www.365games.co.uk  

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