The idea to make a game using tiddywinks mechanic is not new to the market but Marco Maggi and Francesco Nepitello are been the first to really integrate it in a strategic boardgame. In 2001 X-Bugs got a great success. It was a not so simple game (actually it was “quite simple” but not “so simple”) where 4 different races were fighting against each other. Every turn rolling special dices you was allowed to move some of your pieces trying to kill enemies (ending over them) or destroying enemy base (always landing over). The idea was presented again in 2007 in Micro Mutants: Evolutions with the adding of special cards and also a special carpet used to play. The game was still simple (but a bit more difficult than “quite simple” and far away from “so simple) but placed itself somewhere in the middle between a kid game and a adult game.
Marco and Francesco were not tired of ten years flipping counters so, this year, with the new publisher Ares Games, released a new evolution of the old X-Bugs, called Micro Monsters.
Micro Monsters is a “so simple” game that I really need few sentences to describe it: during your turn you roll a single die and move one of your pieces displayed on the result. Every army has 3 different kind of warriors: small and quick (little round), medium (big round) and heavy (long and rectangular). A total of 8 warriors. Every die has two faces for small round, two faces for big round, one face for rectangular and also a face depicting a special power. Autogators, Bigbears, Finbacks, and Turboturtles differs only for the graphics and for these special powers.
If you land over an enemy remove the enemy counter. If you land on an enemy base remove one energy token from the base and move your counter back to your base. Removing the last energy damage the base (flip the base on the damages side). Another hit and it is destroyed.
So simple and so funny.
Of course it is a kid game (and I have played already many times with my son and his friends) but with a bit of strategy. If you are not good at flipping counters you have no hope to win.
The powers of the 4 armies are: move two different pieces (Autogators), move two times the same piece (Finbacks), block and enemy counter (Bigbears) and protect the just moved counter (Turboturtles).
You can play Micro Monsters on a normal carpet or on a covered table and teach it to kids in 2 minutes.
Ares Games also released a sheet of “advanced rules” introducing special powers tied to the different kind of warriors. Actually only the rules for autogatars and BigBears are available but it is only a matter of time
I was a fan both of X-Bugs and Micro Mutants: evolution and we played this game for a long time as filler in my gamers association. Micro Monsters seems to be “too simple” for this audience but, on the other side, works perfectly with kids from 6-10. I also enjoy it and the “advanced rules” introduce more difference between the armies
[The pictures in this review are from Alessandro Accorsi]
Opinions from Other Opinionated Gamers
Matt Carlson: Count me in the category of folks fascinated with the tiddlywinks genre of dexterity games. I’ve not played the new version, but own both X-Bugs and recently bought some Micro Mutants: Evolutions during Fantasy Flight’s last holiday sale. My boys (pre-school both) are interested, but not quite able to make the bugs “jump” with any regularity (much less get them to go where they want…) We’re stuck working on Ants in the Pants for now. That said, I think the previous two games hit a nice bit of balance with simple gameplay with a bit of strategy coming in with the differences between army factions. Not too complex for this lightweight dexterity game, but just enough to give the game a bit of “game” flavor rather than simply an “activity”. If the newest version of the game (and I have NOT played it yet) take the rules and makes them even more lightweight, I’d be a bit more wary of the new incarnation. At a minimum, I’d much rather take the “special powers” options for a spin rather than simply the basic game. I’d expect to end up with an opinion somewhere between Neutral to I like it… depending on how the special powers sections play out.
Ratings Summary from the Opinionated Gamers
I love it!…
I like it… Andrea “Liga” Ligabue
Not for me…