Let’s set the scene. Dr. Frankenstein’s dark and dreary basement laboratory. He’s building his monster—wait a minute, are those googly eyes? Is that blob wearing a flower hat? I can’t say the purple blob creatures of Monster Factory are the “stuff of nightmares,” but I will say they are weird and fun.
Monster Factory is a tile game in which players take turns adding pieces to their creations, forming a MONSTER! The game plays a lot like Carcassonne except everyone has their own area and there are no meeples (monster meeples would be pretty awesome though). For those not familiar with Carcassonne, in Monster Factory, tile after tile is placed, gradually increasing the size of your monster. Each tile has 4 sides (that was probably obvious) and each can be connected to a section of your monster based on its design. That is to say that if your tile has green limbs, it must connect to an existing green-limbed area on your monster. If your tile has purple blob area then it needs to connect to a purple blob area on your monster.
If you can’t place your tile on your monster, you can place it on another player’s monster. Actually, if you draw a piece that might strategically make it hard for another player to complete their monster, you might decide to play it on their monster anyway—even if it can be played on yours. Here is where the first strategic balance comes into play. The choice to place tiles on your opponent’s monster increases their scoring potential. Monsters are scored based on number of tiles used to create it, so when you decide to toss a wrench into their creature creating by adding an odd tile to their monster, you are actually giving them a point. This is a nice give and take, and something that adds to the gameplay in an interesting way.
Once someone completes their monster, they have the ability to start making minions. Minions are just additional monsters created using the same tiles you’ve been using the entire game; however, this time your goal is to give your minion as many eyes as possible. Minions are scored based on number of tiles that contain eyeballs, tiles without eyeballs score 0 points. Weird, but awesome.
The way points are tallied helps dictate your strategy (but, isn’t every game like that?). I’ve already mentioned that monsters give you points for each tile used to make it and that minions get points for each tile that has an eye on it. The game continues until the last player yet to complete their monster finally does or there are no more tiles left to play. Only completed monsters and minions are scored and the person with the most points wins.
Monster Factory is a really fun game. It’s strength is in its wide range of appeal. The game can easily be played with kids ages 5 and up. You can also easily play this game with adults and have fun chuckling at the monsters you create. Yes, the strategy is low, but the entertainment and fun is high. The ease in which you can teach this game to non-gamers is also a huge plus. Clocking in at around 20–30 minutes, Monster Factory is a great filler game on a game night or just a game with friends who aren’t fans of playing a game for an hour or two. When I heard about this game, my money was spent the moment I heard the words “monster” and “game”. I’m not ashamed of my monster fanboy bias with game themes—but beyond my bias this game is worth both a play and a spot on the shelf if you have kids or friends with a sense of humor.