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The Meeple Guild: Fun with great big monsters

Monsterpocalypse has players battling with monsters
Three Zerkalo Monsters from Monsterpocalypse.
YORKTON - As we draw nearer the night of witches, goblins and other greebleys, it is perhaps natural to also think of the great monsters of legend and lore. 

In terms of modern lore, thanks to the big screen, two monsters stand out above the rest, King Kong and Godzilla. Which one is the ultimate monster is the stuff of protracted geek debates for years. 

But they are not alone on the big screen. 

Pacific Rim and its sequel gave us skyscraper tall Jaegers, (giant human driven robots), battling massive monster Kaiju. Frankly the first movie in the franchise is better than any rendition of Kong or Godzilla in my mind. 

So, we still love our monsters, although in some cases being big and scary-looking does not mean you are bad, a storyline going back at least as far as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein released in 1818. 

Not surprisingly then is that monsters make it to the gaming table. 

One that has proven interesting for lovers of miniature games is Monsterpocalypse – generally referred to simply as MonPoc by its fans.  

The game was first released in 2008 by Privateer Press, the company which first hit the marketplace with Warmachine, a battle game with huge ‘steam jacks’ controlled by warcasters leading varied forces into large scale battles. It is a great large battle mini game with outstanding quality sculpts and detailed lore. It is easily our group’s pick for big battles. 

MonPoc is lite fair by comparison. 

Players initially took control of one ‘monster’ supported by a few easily destroyed forces, and rumble through a cityscape smashing buildings, and looking to pummel the rival monster. 

Out of the gate Privateer Press covered the big monsters, or at least paid homage to them. A giant gorilla might not be specifically named King Kong, but everyone knows the big screen monkey was the inspiration. 

A dinosaur was an early release might well have Godzilla, and some big ‘bots’ were very much a tribute to Japanese Gundam – giant fictional military robots from cartoons. 

Privateer Press went for simple play over depth here. There is some balancing, when to attack with finite supply of dice to roll on a turn, but this is in-your-face, smash-mouth fighting. Grab the opponents monster, toss it into a building to do damage, then shoot in the face with a rocket and repeat before it returns the favour in-kind. 

The game went through a relaunch, has added rules for playing with two or three monsters a side, and of course a plethora of added monsters. 

There are now Martians straight out of H.G. Wells’ 1897 release War of the Worlds, beasts from the world of H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos first seen in a book from 1926, plus giant plants and subterranean mole monsters. 

More recently the designers threw off the shackles of popular lore and are being a bit more self-creative with funky space dragons and geometric weirdness coming out of the ‘8th Dimension’, and we are now getting early looks at forthcoming monsters from Aztec lore – easily Privateer Press’ best work on MonPoc to-date. 

Along the way they have added rules regarding buildings too. When you smash some you gain benefits. In other cases, it behooves you to protect certain buildings as they offer benefits to you while standing. This has offered an added layer to the game, and is brilliant marketing as Privateer Press markets buildings to populate the city game map. 

So you have a few more in-game decisions now 13 years after first release, and certainly more monsters – we must have 35 and are drooling in wait of the release of several more, but this is still about as simple a mini game as you can find, yet it is fun smashing monsters into goo in the rubble of a power plant, or newspaper headquarters. 

Well worth a try, but beware the desire to buy monsters quickly becomes an addiction.