The chair creaks as you settle onto it. The candlelight flickers. All around you the ravenous faces of your so-called friends twist in delight as you slowly open the box laid out on the table. Welcome to Dangerous Games! Each week, we'll feature a horror/thriller/monster tabletop game you should be playing. Don't be scared… roll the dice… what's the worst that could happen?
Monsters Menace America (Avalon Hill Games, 2005)
All right, you big lug, time to start smashing some cities! Don't get distracted now, focus on leveling Pittsburgh! Those fighter jets blasting past your head? Don't worry, keep stomping. Those tanks rumbling down Route 66? Forget 'em, keep blasting your terrible eye beam. Whether you're a giant lizard, a mutated crawfish, or a bloodthirsty abomination, your goal remains the same: you must menace America!
Monsters Menace America is a light strategy game from Avalon Hill for two to four players. In the game you and your opponents each control a giant monster stomping around a map of the United States. You each also control a branch of the military, and the game becomes a tug of war between military might and monstrous power. In the end the last monster left standing wins!
Before the game begins each player will roll a die to see who gets to choose their monster and branch of the armed forces first. There are six different monster characters: Megaclaw (the mutated crawfish), Zorb (the giant eyeball), Gargantis (the huge praying mantis), Toxicor (the shambling toxic waste monster), Konk (the giant ape) and Tomangi (the Godzilla-esque lizard monster). Each character has a different set of statistics like: their health value, their move speed, their defense rating, and the number of attacks they can make each round.
Monsters race to destroy cities, gaining life and "infamy points" which allow them to attack more often. Each player will also, in the beginning rounds of the game, attempt to use their military strength to slow down their opponents. But all militaries will most likely fall by the end of the game. When twenty cities are leveled, the monsters focus on each other, and a final showdown takes place. The last monster standing is declared king of the monsters, and the game is finished.
This is the type of game that looks more complicated than it is. When you open this box up to begin to set it all up your friends may balk at the size of the board. But if you can convince them that this game is as simple as it really is then you and your friends will come back to it time and again. This is a great game for middle-grade kids, too, because the monsters and miniatures are great looking, and the rules are quick to learn.
While some complain that this is a dice-rolling game and little more, I think they're not giving it the benefit it deserves. There isn't a ton of deep strategy to this game, but the game is a fast, luck-based, wild ride. In the game world this is designated an "Ameri-trash" game, a semi-derisive term meaning a game based solely on luck (as opposed to modern European games which use little or no luck at all). But who cares! It's a damn fun game, full of smashing cities, flying rockets, and special powers. I'm a new convert, and I think you should check it out too.