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- March 2019
Kingdom Death: Monster - A Hobby Game
   March 17th, 2019, 7:03 pm

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This is the type of board game you are only ever likely to meet once in a lifetime of dice rolling. It is an enormous boutique cooperative hobby adventure game that comes in a massive 8.6 kilograms (19lbs) ‘coffin package’ priced in at something like $400 for the base set alone on the US market. What you get for your money in the first instance is several months worth of resin sprue miniature model assembly and decorative painting.

Part of the point of a hobby game is the cooperative experience of spending several months glueing together armies of baroque miniature model monsters with your circle of fellow gamers, and then painting the assembled models to your satisfaction with toothpicks and micro-brushes. Assuming you get that far, you then need to read and master a 225 page narrative rule book along with a main board, a plethora of secondary boards and summary data sheets, large numbers of packs of cards (625 cards in base set) and several sets of D10 dice.

The upside is the stunning artwork of the board and its paraphenalia, along with the unforgettable stark simplicity of the opening ’Survivors’ scenario. You and three other characters awaken mute, without human language, clad only in loincloths, with a flickering lantern in your hands. You find yourself standing on a stone floor made of an endless mosaic of stone human faces. In the centre stands a giant white lion that attacks and tries to devour you all. The first challenge is to find out how to survive this initial showdown encounter by defeating the lion monster.

The game has an inbuilt episodic campaign style structure. It is designed to be played over a cycle of from 5 to 30 ‘Lantern Years’ and can take six months to complete the full campaign cycle. The main phases of the game are known as ‘Lantern Years’. The sub-phases of a Lantern Year include; preparation, the ‘Hunt’, a ‘Showdown’, followed by a ‘Settlement’ or civilization building phase. During these episodes, your little community of surviors will develop new skills - starting with language, and also acquire new weapons and technologies that will increase their chances of surviving by defeating new and even more terrifying monsters which, once slain, become important sources of new resources needed to sustain the community.

The game has attracted a certain amount of controversy amongst gamers, partly because of the 17+ mature sexual content aspect of some of the artwork, which in all honesty is no different from some of the slightly lubricious imagery found in graphic adventure novels of the same genre. Another source of concern was the refusal of the designer to make a PDF of the core rulebook for the game available online. Nowadays it is almost de rigeur for publishers of a new board game to make a PDF of the rules available to potential buyers so they can get some idea of whether the game is likely to appeal to them. Adam Poots the designer however chose to buck this trend and flatly refused to make the 225 page rulebook for Kingdom Death:Monster available online. A number of owners scanned the entire book and posted the PDF on Reddit anyway in defiance of Adam Poot’s wishes, and they have been playing ‘whackamole’ ever since. Given that this game costs US $400 (£299 UK), Poots’ position on this issue is unusual to say the least.

Adam Poots first began thinking about developing this game while on jury duty in 2008. He was reading a rulebook for a roleplaying game and thought he could do better. The miniatures came first by around 2010. Poots then began designing the game itself, culminating in a successful Kickstarter project in 2012. Another Kickstarter project was launched in 2017 to produce an upgraded 1.5 version along with 16 expansions. This Kickstarter raised $1million in just 19 minutes, and a phenomenal total of $12.4 million from 19,264 backers by the campaign’s close. A funding campaign to create an iOS app version failed, but a number of 3rd party apps to simplify the record-keeping system have subsequently been developed.

Last edited by toucana on March 17th, 2019, 8:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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