Isle of Monsters Review


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Posted by Grace on Jul 11, 2017

In Isle of Monsters, you are feeding a set of monsters so that they will mature and go on to fight great Pokémon-like battles against your adjacent opponents. To accomplish this, you have three options on your turn: feed, pick a new monster, or pass. To feed your monster, you select food that matches his card from either the island on your left, right, or in the center. To pick a new monster, you simply grab one from the topmost face-up card on the island to your left or right. And to pass, well, that part is self-explanatory.

My baby fire monster is going to turn into a 3-eyed freakshow.

After all players have passed, monsters who are fully fed mature and are poised to face off in only way monsters know how: by scaring one another. In the scare phase, you prepare your battle-ready monsters for the ultimate showdown. (I inevitably hear the Mortal Kombat theme song in my head while doing this and I highly recommend you do the same. It will really spruce things up. But, I digress.) Simultaneously, players select and reveal one or more of their matured monsters of the same element (wood, fire, or water). Whosever monsters have the highest number value on them receives 3 scare points. Then you receive an additional 1 point for each monster on your left or right that you beat, as determined by the elements. Think rock-paper-scissors: water beats fire, fire beats wood, and wood beats water… because… uh… you’ll just have to go with that one. This whole process repeats until the monster deck runs out. Points are totaled and victory goes to the best scary monster wrangler on the island.

Sorry, no free-range monster farming here.

If you’re paying attention in the game, you can occasionally outwit your opponents by choosing monsters that will defeat the ones they are grabbing and maturing. However, as the game progresses, the scare rounds increase in number since players collect more and more cards. So, the second-guessing ramps up a bit here as you strategize which cards to play and how many of. Other decisions in the game revolve around the grabbing food. It can be a bit tense trying to decide if you should grab the blue food token on your left, right, or center, depending on whether or not you think it’ll still be there when your turn comes back around. Relatedly, you can yoink that last pink food from your neighbor, just to prevent their monster from maturing this round. Ha-ha! Suck on that, fellow monster trainer.

Isle of Monsters provides what I can only describe as a cute experience. The decisions are minimal, but the game is short enough that it’s not a problem. The small amount of take-that from grabbing a food token before an opponent does not feel all that malicious; it barely thwarts anyone’s long-term monster battle plans. However, admittedly, this is not a game I’d be grabbing off the shelf. As a gamer’s game, Isle of Monsters is unremarkable. There’s not much here to keep the hobbyists entertained, even as filler. As a family game, though, especially for those with younger children, I can see it being an absolute hit. The art is adorable (no surprise given it’s unmistakably from Kwanchai Moriya). The game plays quickly and smoothly. The rules are easy to understand and the rock-paper-scissors battles are mechanically familiar while still being novel. The theme is lighthearted and the gameplay matches it accordingly. So, parents, take a look at this one.