Header AD

Battle Bosses Kickstarter Preview


Quick Look: Battle Bosses

Designer: Alex Kessler, Michael Grothe
Artist: Henning Ludvigsen
Publisher: Kess Co.
Year Published: 2019
No. of Players: 1-6
Ages: 13+
Playing Time: 20-80

Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com

WARNING: This is a preview of Battle Bosses. All components and rules are prototype and subject to change.

Review: 

Battle Bosses is a new brawler where you can smite your friends using a wide variety of monsters including orcs, Cthulhu, a ghost ship, a mad scientist, a giant robot, and a samurai dragon.

Each turn you will roll dice to generate resources, then spend them to summon minions, move around, upgrade, and play tactic cards. Resource generation balances well with the cards to make the gameplay quick and fun. You have several options each turn, but not enough to bog it down or trigger AP.

Despite the dice and random drawing, this isn't a luck-driven game. Each faction has unique cards and powers that make them play very differently, and each boss you play against requires a different adaptation of that strategy. There are tons of possible combinations and replay value.
  

Rules and Setup:
The rules are simple and self-explanatory. Like most brawlers, the complexity comes from card interactions and variable player powers. Unlike most brawlers, this doesn't have a bunch of terms that will have you referencing definitions every time you play a card. I like highly technical systems, but they are much harder to get to the table. Battle Bosses doesn't have forty pages of rules to slog through. There are two resource types and two card types. The cards are generally self-explanatory. You can teach this in about five minutes.



Setup- Each player selects a Boss and takes the relevant components:

  • Minis
  • Boss deck
  • 6 dice
  • Character dashboards for the boss and minions.

This is a prototype, and neither the dashboards nor boss standees made it into the package. These pictures will feature Cuppy McCupface as Captain Boat, and a Starchild from MOM as the great Cthulhu.


The rules show how to lay out the tiles and where to put the bosses.

The first player is determined randomly, and you're ready to play.

Theme and Mechanics:

You couldn't ask for a more on-the-nose title. You battle with Bosses. The Bosses have minions that do most of the actual work. A good boss knows how to empower those minions and create synergy. Only the best Bosses know when and where to intervene so that the minions are an extension and embodiment of the business model, rather than mindless cogs. While this is a battle game, it's more about being a good Boss than it is hitting the enemy in the face.

This is Captain Boat's dashboard.
Your dashboard will tell you the things your boss can spend power to do. The other abilities are on cards and cost crystals.



Every turn you will role resource dice and gain the resources on them. If you roll an exploding die, you get the resources on it and then reroll it. This can be done any number of times. The first player will roll three dice on their first turn. From then on, everyone will roll at least four. Some upgrades will give you more.


There are two types of resources:

Crystals are spent to play cards.

Power is used to summon minions, move minions or bosses, discard cards, or activate a hero power.

The triangle tokens are damage markers.

Cards come in two types:

Upgrades provide permanent bonuses or abilities.
Effects are single use.


Combat:

  • If a minion enters a space with another minion, they both immediately die.
  • If a minion is in a space with an opponent's Boss at the end of a turn. The minions attack it doing one damage each. Then they die.
  • If your boss is in the same space as another Boss at the end of your turn, you do one damage to them.
  • If your Boss is in a space with opponent minions at the end of your turn, they all die, and your Boss takes 1 damage per minion.

At the end of your turn, draw back up to five cards and discard any unused energy. Crystals stay with you until spent or stolen. If your draw deck runs out, shuffle your discards into a new draw pile. Most upgrades can stack. Upgrades do all kinds of nifty if-X-then-Y stuff.

I only have Captain Boat and Cthulhu, so it's hard to comment on the game as a whole. Captain Boat is pretty on-theme. He's a boat full of pirates, whose main strategies are theft, ransom, and making the opponent place treasure chest tokens around the board. Chests can be used to spawn minions or heal your boss. Chests can't be destroyed, but they are spent when activated.

Cthulhu's a little weirder. His minions are zombies. The faction strategy is to trip up your opponent while amassing power. He gets mighty once he has a few upgrades in play, but so does Boaty. Cthulhu's main boss power is that he can spend seven power to search his deck or discard pile for any card and play it for free. Nothing inspires madness faster than the ability to infinitely spam cards.

That's all you need to know to play Cthulhu and Captain Boat. Effect cards have a nice variety of effects, from ranged attacks and big spawns to healing and stealing.

Game Play:



Turns go quickly, but games can run a little long if you don't know what you're doing. In a two-player game, you start pretty far from your opponent. Even if you charge right at them, it takes a few turns to get to them.  The first four rounds probably won't see much action, but you need that time to get set up.



My first time playing Cthulhu, I kept rolling lots of energy and hardly any crystals, so I ran over to Captain Boat and hit him in the face with a tsunami of zombies. I knew that was a bad idea, but I couldn't resist doing eight damage (out of 15) that early in the game. Erin was rolling almost all Crystals, so she built a vast tableau of upgrades that made Boaty an unstoppable powerhouse of calamari-munching fury. If I had set up a defensive formation, I could have easily stayed alive long enough to get my engine going.

Subsequent games played very differently because we knew what we were doing.

Artwork and Components:

I have a prototype, so I can't say what the final product will be. The art and mini designs are very nice.

The Good:

  • This is a light, fast-moving brawler with a really cool variety of factions.
  • A great gateway game.
  • All signs point to a very nice looking product at a reasonable price point.
  • The mechanics are intuitive and easy to teach.
  • It's nice that you have the option to buy only the factions you want. The base is only $30 for two factions, and you can add more on for $15 each.
  • Plays 1-6.
  • I can't think of another brawler with a solo variant.

The Bad:
The gameplay was solid, but it didn't wow me. It's a lot of mechanics I've seen before streamlined and fitted with a slightly humorous theme and cool minis.

Final Thoughts:
This falls somewhere in between King of Tokyo and Cthulhu Wars. I prefer heavier games, so I don't think I would get $120 worth of gameplay out of it. However, if I were trying to get a 10-14-year-old into board games, this would probably be one of the first things I'd try.

For Players Who Like:
Brawlers. Minis. Tactical card playing. Rolling for resources.

Check out Battle Bosses on:

             





Stephen Gulik - Reviewer

Stephen Gulik is a trans-dimensional cockroach, doomsday prophet, author, and editor at sausage-press.com. When he’s not manipulating energy fields to alter the space-time continuum, he’s playing or designing board games. He has four cats and drinks too much coffee.

See Stephen's reviews HERE.
Battle Bosses Kickstarter Preview Battle Bosses Kickstarter Preview Reviewed by S T Gulik on August 02, 2019 Rating: 5

No comments

Sponsor

Zorro The Dice Game