I’ve spent the last few days reviewing small, clever and unique board games – and I’m continuing the theme today. It’s almost Christmas, after all – and surely the festive period is the ideal time to be checking out board games!

As tiny games go, Terrible Monster is one of the smallest there is. It’s comprised of just sixteen cards in total, along with life and counter tokens. It’s minuscule! Despite this, there’s a really satisfying game here.

Players are voodoo practitioners – from what I can gather – battling it out for supremacy of the bayou (probably). I’m not 100% certain what the backstory is, but the art clearly suggests a voodoo/bayou theme. The object of the game is to reduce your opponent to zero life points (from the four they start with), casting spells by playing cards and summoning monsters to injure your opponent. All cards except the Terrible Monster itself can simply be played on your turn, with the Terrible Monster – and its four damage, which will wipe out your opponent in one turn – requiring a specific summon card before it can enter play. Players can strategically use one of their counter tokens to stop a card’s effect being carried out too, adding a further decision to be made on every turn – careful timing of counter tokens is often vital for success in Terrible Monster!

It’s a wonder of game design, given that it consists of only sixteen cards (and tokens!); each card proves to have a use and you’ll quickly learn the ins and outs of the deck, along with how best to use every card you have access to at any time. With games lasting five to ten minutes at most, it’s a quick, simple and surprisingly strategic game.

The Terrible Monster ‘Desperation’ Expansion

An expansion is available (called ‘Desperation’), adding a few extra cards into the mix as well as character roles for each player, from a nicely varied selection. The base game alone is well worth checking out – especially given how inexpensive it is – but the expansion does add further options and is similarly cheap. It has the feel of a game such as Magic: The Gathering, with spells, counterspells and monsters, albeit in a much smaller package and a very focused design that’s easy to learn but – and I recognise that this is a cliché – hard to master.

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