Today’s episode is about Kingdom Death: Monster, a cooperative boutique nightmare horror miniatures game. This is our mostly spoiler free episode. describing the game play, theme, and controversies surrounding this game.
Hello everybody, Jeremy here! I figured that John has earned a much needed break and so for the month of April I’ll be taking over the accompanying blog posts here on the site. Now normally these blog posts are in depth and well thought out extensions of the episode proper but since I’m writing this one let’s take a bit of a detour into my life as a gamer and let’s talk about how I became to owner of this massive black box of awesome misery and bloody survival.
So how did Kingdom Death: Monster even cross our radar? Even though it had not one but two of the most successful board game Kickstaters of all time, I personally found out about this game while wandering around Gen Con. My friend Chris and I saw this dark, very heavy metal inspired, booth and decided to check it out. This was awe inspiring. Unfortunately in 2016 the Kingdom Death booth had sold out of the core game.
I was disappointed but not terribly upset because, I mean, I had never even heard of this game before so it might not even be that good. But throughout the following year I kept hearing murmurs and mumbles in the gaming community about this impressive boutique game. I own over 200 different board games and expansions and I like to consider myself a bastion of gaming knowledge and so when I learned that this game was one of a handful of “prestige” games I was even more intrigued. A prestige game is one that even simply owning it increases one’s “nerd cred” and that are extravagant in the most over the top sense of the word. I had to find out more.
The Kingdom Death website was a functional place to find information about the game but frankly not a great place to find out about the actual meat of the experience. Likewise many different online communities were great for fielding rules questions they didn’t show what was actually fun about this game. If I was going to spend $400 on a board game I certainly wanted to know if I was going to get my money’s worth. For that same price I could get six great games. Was this game worth six other games?
I started hunting for information everywhere. The old Kickstarter page was impressive and full of promises but it also was unpolished and felt frankly unprofessional. Game play videos on Youtube often seemed slow and ponderous. I felt like I was running in metaphorical circles. The last place I could go was the reviewer community. Here was my last chance to find if this game was worth the time and effort and hype that was surrounding this mysterious dark game.
I was floored! Many reviewers were split but seeing the soul of the game was truly spectacular. Specifically the wonderful Paul Dean at Shut Up And Sit Down did a review that explained this game as rock and roll excess but that if that type of thing appeals to you then it might be worth checking out Kingdom Death: Monster. I was convinced. I wanted to explore this world. I was going to get this game!
Like a dragon seeking only the choicest jewels for its hoard, I made a plan. At Gen Con 2017 I would find and buy this game. The doors opened and I stood in line for ninety minutes just to get into the booth. It was just as I remembered, black metal fever dreams and loving nightmares surrounded every corner. I stepped up to the counter and made my purchase. The box was massive and by the end of the first day all of the picking up and setting down of this behemoth had caused my back to rebel. But even worse than that I was starting to have buyers remorse. What game could possibly be worth $400? Would I even like this game? I hadn’t even play tested it! I was a fool!
Fortunately my fears were relieved when I cracked the box open. Thousands of cards, tons of minis, beautiful dice, and a massive but approachable rule book all combined together to bring me into this world. Every piece and part was designed and crafted with love and care. This was someone’s passion project that actually seemed to work. I started assembling the plastic bits. The anticipation was killing me. And then I finally played it and it was wonderful. The combat was intense and brutal. The settlement building was straightforward but deep. The world lived in every corner of this massive box.
Is Kingdom Death: Monster a great game? I don’t know. I know that there are parts that are confusing or rules that are a little unclear. It’s often brutal, uncaring, and unfair. But I also know that the game is challenging and over time even rewarding. Is this game for everybody? No. With its mature themes and dark game play I can only think of a handful of people who’d enjoy it. Is this game for most gamers? Not at all. It’s expensive and long and frequently frustrating. Is this game for me? Yes. It has brought me hours of entertainment and I’m happy that I own it.
And, I think, that’s the best recommendation I can give any game.