- Designer: Romain Caterdjian
- Publisher: Mandoo Games
- Players: 2-4
- Age: 6+
- Time: 5 minutes
- Played on review copy provided by Mandoo Games
Box Monster is a wonderfully illustrated family/kids games from Mandoo, one of the Korean companies who have been producing games for our hobby. In this game, the box represents the stomach of a silly monster who has somehow invaded your house. Because he’s a monster, he’s eating everything in sight – rubber duckies, chocolate bars, toy guns, cellphones and much more!
In this game, the players must cooperate with each other to try to solve 3 XRay cards. These cards show a number of different things which must be retrieved from the stomach of the monster. Interestingly, there are entry points on each side of the box, and since this is a family show, we’ve just told the nephews that this particular monster must have four heads and thus four mouths to try to grab stuff from! :)
Before starting, find the two medicine capsules and place them next to the box. The remaining 42 tiles (3 instances of 14 things) are placed in the box and then the box is shaken to mix everything around. The blue (hair) side is placed up, and then the xray cards for the game are chosen. There are 3 different colors of cards, each with 3 cards in each of 3 levels. Choose one color for the round, then randomly choose one card of each of the three levels.
Each of the colors has a different style. The blue cards have simple pictures of the things that you have to find. Some of the cards have a multiple hands symbol which mean that the pair of objects on the card must be found simultaneously – that is all 4 things must be extracted at the same time. The yellow cards have only outlines of the objects, and in addition, they have a mute symbol on them so the players may not talk while they are searching. Finally, the pink cards have objects in order on a string; they must be found in that particular order. The difference here is that only one object must be found, not a pair.
Place the cards in a stack, with the 1 on top, on top of the box. Players now place their hand(s) in the mouths closest to them – all 4 mouths should be used – and the game can start.
The hourglass and the top card of the stack are flipped over. Then all players must try to identify the objects in the box using only their sense of touch. Unless the card has a mute icon on it, the players are allowed to discuss what objects they have in their hand. As soon as two players each think they have one of the pictured items, they announce the thing and then pull their hands out of the box. If they do in fact each have the same announced thing, the pair is put on top of the box as a successful find. If not, back in the box, and keep trying to find the right things!
When all of the things on the first card are successfully found, then flip the next card on the pile and keep going. If the hourglass runs out before you complete all the cards, you can put a medicine capsule tile into the monster and then flip the hourglass over. You can do this twice in the game. If you are able to finish the third card before the end of the third timer, you win the game (and you can judge your success by how many capsules you have left over). Otherwise, the poor monster has eaten too much and you must play again. The rules don’t specify, but I suppose if you were done, the monster would have to go to the emergency room and have his stomach pumped. But, that’s not a concept you can explain to a six year old, so better off to avoid this whole situation…
The game is a lot of fun, and good for families and small kids. The tactile nature of the game makes it easily accessible. I have found that the youngest gamers had a few more issues with the yellow cards which only had the outlines of the objects (though i’m not sure why because you only use your sense of touch – so to me, it doesn’t matter that you can’t see the art of the specific object that you’re looking for…
The game itself is simple to understand, and it plays quickly. Some games, it has taken me longer to explain the rules than to actually play the game! The sand timer in my box runs for about 90 seconds, so three times through the timer is 4min 30sec max.
The art is wonderfully done, as you would expect from Marie Cardouat. The cartoonish art is well done, and I like the way that each of the shapes has at least one unique element to help you identify the exterior shape, but also has many similar curves and straights to make the job challenging. The tiles are nice and thick – which is good – as they will be handled a lot in the lifetime of this game, so you want them to be sturdy enough to hold up to this amount of use.
For families with young gamers, this is a great game to choose when you want to involve everyone (well at least four people in larger families!). I suppose you could even say that it’s a bit educational, but let’s not tell the kids that lest they not want to play it!
Until your next appointment
The Gaming Doctor