Runs with knives.
Theme&andn’What is it?
8-bit graphics, modern gameplay!
In Overboss, rival Boss Monsters emerge from their dungeons to conquer the Overworld. Each turn, players draft and place terrain tiles and monster tokens. Their goal: to craft the map with the greatest Power and become the ultimate Overboss!
Designed by Aaron Mesburne and Kevin Russ (Calico), this fast-paced game combines drafting, set collection, and puzzle-y tile-laying. It’s set in the retro-inspired pixel art world of Brotherwise Games’ best-selling Boss Monster, but this is an entirely new experience.
Build your map by drafting Forests, Swamps, Caves, Camps, Graveyards, Dungeon Entrances and other landscapes. Each terrain type has a different point value, and some increase in Power as you acquire larger sets. Players must balance optimal placement, set values, and disrupt their opponents’ sets. You’ll also need to manage monsters, which award points when grouped together or placed on matching terrain.
The game includes everything needed for up to 5 players: over 120 terrain tiles, over 100 monster tokens, 5 double-sided player boards, a scorepad, and more.
—description from the publisher (updated for added content)
Big Box, lots of replayability
Overboss arrives in a large, brightly-colorful box, the front of which is dominated by King Croak — who is just-evil-enough and not-that-scary. The cover also features a look at the lands you’ll be playing in, showing off the cartoony environment. In keeping with the style of the other Boss Monster games, the engaging world looks like it’s out of a video game. The box is heavy for its size, and the components are displayed on the back of the box.
Once inside, you find GameTrayz that securely hold all the components in an orderly fashion. Be sure to look under the larger square tiles as there are smaller tiles stored under them. The copy I was provided by Brotherwise Games also includes a wooden ’tile tower’ that assembles easily when you want to use it, and comes apart easily to go back into the box. Everything is held securely in the box.
Enjoyable mash-up of fun mechanics
One of the designers of Overboss (Kevin Russ) also designed Calico, and there are some similarities in mechanics.
In Overboss, players draw a terrain tile from 4 that are available in a display. Each terrain tile also has a smaller token, either a Monster, Miniboss, Portal, or Crystal, on it. The player must place the terrain tile on their personal player board, and the smaller token must be placed on an open terrain tile. There are some additional rules about placement and some specific exceptions (Portals, for example, are never placed on terrain tiles).
The various terrain tile types have scoring conditions for the end of the game. For example, the Forest terrain tiles are worth more points the more of them you have on your player board. If, at the end of the game, you’ve got 1 Forest terrain tile it’s worth 1 point. But if you’ve got 4 of them they’re worth a total of 10 points. In another example, Dungeons are worth 1 point each but also gains a point for every different type of terrain that borders it (orthogonal tiles only) to a maximum of 5 points.
The smaller tokens are another type of scoring mechanic. Each straight line of two, three, or four of the same Monster type is called a band. Bands are scored according to the size of the band, and a single Monster token may be counted in both a horizontal and a vertical band. Some of these smaller tokens have different benefits — like Portals, which allow moving other smaller tiles around on your board; or Crystals which grant bonus points for collecting a specific type of terrain; or Minibosses which are worth 2 points (but do not count — and actually interrupt) your bands. Additionally, if smaller tokens are placed on matching terrain types (like a Forest monster token on a Forest terrain tile) they earn extra points.
With more than 10 terrain types (and 5 used per game), there is a large amount of variability and replayability here. The player boards are double-sided, allowing for a shorter or longer game.
Also in my box are Boss cards and Command cards which are advanced game variants that also add variability to the game. The Command cards add the ability to impact any player’s map. If your game group doesn’t like ‘take-that’, it’s easy to leave the Command cards out of the game.
Bright, cheerful, and well-built
Overboss is well put-together. The game fits nicely into the GameTrayz. The cards are nice stock (no linen finish) — appropriate for this level of game. The printing is nice and colorful, and the cardboard tokens (there are a lot of them!) punched cleanly and were well-printed.
While I do not prefer the format of large, square manuals (they’re difficult to read in bed!), the manual for Overboss is well-written and seems comprehensive and free of spelling issues. It contains several illustrative examples that nicely solidify game concepts.
I would like a player aid that reminded me (in text) what each terrain type does, though there are icons on each tile to remind you. I didn’t find them intuitive so kept the rule book nearby. After repeated plays, I’m sure I would adjust to the iconography.
The graphics of the game are in the 8-bit style consistent with the rest of the Boss Monster line. While the graphics in Overboss are good, clever, and well-executed, I don’t think the game is well-served by the 8-bit limitation. Especially the terrain tiles, which appear flat and a little lifeless. But I understand the choice considering the constraints of the existing design.
Fun and Light Game
Overboss is a fun, light game. It’s weight on BGG is 2.06/5.00 and that seems about right. The plusses to this game are the ease of getting it to the table, the fast gameplay, and the variety inside the box. It’s not a brain-burner though there is a little strategic thinking in considering how to maximize your points either through terrain tile placement or smaller tile manipulation.
It reminds me in many good ways of Calico, so if you like Calico’s mechanics you’ll find much to enjoy in Overboss.
Overboss is rated on the box as “8+” and “6+” on BGG. I think kiddos can easily understand the mechanics of the game and will be attracted by the tiles and characters. There is nothing objectionable in the game, so it’s well-suited for all ages.
If you like a colorful, lightly-strategic game with good 8-bit art set in a fantasy universe, you’ll like Overboss. It is fun to play especially if you are playing with younger players or want to avoid player-to-player conflict. There is sufficient variety in the box to keep it fresh for many play-throughs. It’s easy to get to the table and plays really quickly.