How to Play
To begin the game each player needs to pick a monster (either by random choice or personal preference). The parts and trade cards are then shuffled and every player is given six cards. If any of the cards are trade cards, the player gets additional cards until they have six monster pieces. The player gets to keep any trade cards they acquire in this fashion.
During a players’ turn they can do one of three things.
- Pick up the top card from the parts draw pile. If the player drew a monster part they must discard a monster part card (you can discard the card you just picked). If the player drew a trade card they can either play it right away or they can save it for later.
- Pick up the top card from the monster part discard pile. The player needs to then discard one of their own monster part cards.
- Play a trade card. For a trade one card the player gets to take a part card from another player but must give them one of their six part cards in exchange. With a trade two card the player can either take two cards from one player or one card from two different players making sure to exchange the cards with one from their own pile. A garbage trade allows a player to take any card from the monster part discard pile and exchange it with one of their current parts. After being played the trade card is discarded into the trade card discard pile.
When one player acquires all of the pieces for their monster, they win the game.
Monster Maker is a game made by Buffalo Games in 2007. The simple premise of Monster Maker is that you need to acquire all of the different pieces of your chosen monster in order to reassemble them. Having not played the game with any children, I have to say that the game is not particularly deep and pretty boring for adults not playing with young children.
The recommended age for Monster Maker is six plus. I think children under the age of six could play the game especially if their is some adult supervision/help with reading the trade cards. The game is quite simple to play since the players essentially get to choose from one of three actions. You either take a card from the draw pile, take the top card from the discard pile, or play a trade card. These three options are pretty self explanatory.
Very young children may have a little difficulty figuring out what pieces go to each monster but the game does a good job helping them out. All of the monsters are pretty unique in color and shape so it should be pretty easy to determine what monster a particularly piece belongs to. In addition the game has small colored circles on all of the cards that when compared to the large monster reference cards help indicate where each piece belongs in every monster.
Due to being simple enough for young children to understand, the game has little strategy. You get to make a decision each turn on what action you would like to make but for the most part the right decision to make is obvious. If the top card in the discard pile is a card you need you obviously take it. If its’ not and you don’t have a trade card to play, you take the top card from the draw pile.
As far as discarding cards you obviously don’t discard any of the pieces that you need unless it is a duplicate. You also need to try and avoid discarding pieces that your neighbor to the left needs. Otherwise you should first try to discard cards that another player needs so they get buried in the discard pile making it hard for them to get. If that is not an option though you should discard pieces for a monster no one is currently trying to get (in games with four or less players). These cards are valuable to keep in your hand though because no one will try to steal them from you.
Since there is little strategy, luck is the determining factor in the game. If you don’t draw a lot of your own monster cards and/or trade cards, you are not going to win the game. Theoretically if you are very lucky, you could win on your very first turn. That is highly unlikely though. If you draw a lot of your own cards though you are then able to use your trade cards in order to steal cards you need from other players.
The trade cards are necessary in the game because otherwise players could stall forever. The trade cards are kind of rigged though especially the trade two and the discard trade. The trade two card is rigged since if there are two pieces currently in play that you need, the card essentially helps you build one-third of your monster. The discard trade card is rigged since if you keep it till the end of the game, it is almost guaranteed that there is at least one piece you need to complete your monster that was discarded at one point. If you leave the discard trade until you have all of the pieces except for one, you have a good chance of winning the game.
The trade cards also add an annoying back and forth mechanic to the game. Since at most times every player has at least one trade card, if someone makes a trade the other player can just as easily reverse back the trade that just happened. Players won’t have enough trade cards to let this keep happening, but it is annoying when turns are essentially pointless when this happens.
One of the strongest parts of the game is its’ theme. The gameplay doesn’t have much of a theme since all you are doing is assembling a monster with cards showing different parts of the monster. Being a children’s game you can only add so much theme to the gameplay. That being said I think the artwork on the cards does a good job creating a kid friendly atmosphere for the game. The artwork isn’t fantastic but I think it is well done. The monsters are creatively designed and should appeal to children who like monsters.
While I thought the artwork on the cards is well done, the cards themselves could have used some work. The thickness of the cards is okay. They could have been thicker but if you take decent care of them it shouldn’t be much of an issue. The cards are too small in my opinion though. The cards are about half to two-thirds of the size of a typical card. The small size makes the cards harder to shuffle. I don’t know why the game couldn’t have made the cards the normal size.
The included play mat is pretty pointless since it is just a sheet of paper with three spots for the draw pile, monster discard pile, and the trade discard pile. You could just as easily just create three stacks of cards which is what I ended up doing because my copy was missing the mat.
Simply put, Monster Maker is a children’s card game. The game is simple to play and would probably be pretty enjoyable for younger children and their parents. Unfortunately the game is too simplistic/boring for adults since there is essentially no strategy to the game. The game is pretty much entirely luck based.
If you don’t have any young children to play the game with, I don’t really see the point of playing the game. If you do have young children though and they like monsters, I think they will like the Monster Maker card game.