The problem with most of the board games on the market that deal with this theme is that they don’t always convey the theme successfully. Even one of my all-time favourite games, King of Tokyo, doesn’t always bring the feel of monsters destroying a city across as successfully as I would have liked it to. Now imagine my excitement when I heard about Terror in Meeple City. The first images I saw of the game started to wake the little kid in me. It had everything I wanted in a monster board game. There were buildings, terrified meeples (mini people) and of course monsters.
So the question that needed answering was, is the game as good as it looks?
Each player is a monster in Meeple City. Your objective? Eat as many of the meeple residents of the city as you can while trying to fight the other player’s monsters along the way.
The humour and sheer ridiculousness of the game is visible from the moment that you pick up the big game box covered in bright visuals (and I mean really big). The art is great and each picture conveys the theme of the game in a very humorous way.
I found the components to be really nice and sturdy. This, of course, is important as you will be dropping, flicking and smashing them into each other. The monsters, vehicles (which your monster will be throwing) and meeples are all made of wood which not only feels good but looks great as well.
Obviously the part that I think a fair amount of people would not enjoy is sticking the stickers on the various wooden pieces. I am really bad at this. I usually end up with stickers stuck everywhere except where I wanted them to stick.
The cardboard used for the board, tokens and building floors is nice and thick. I was really worried that they wouldn’t be able to stand up to the punishment dealt to them throughout the game. I was pleasantly surprised when they did.
The game board has some great artwork on it. Scattered around the game board are little Easter eggs, from Captain America’s shield to the hoverboard from Back to the future. I found myself spending a fair amount of the downtime between turns scouring the board for them.
The cards and player screens are made of a good quality card stock. I found the player screens a bit redundant as players move around the table frequently during play. This makes it hard to hide anything behind the screens. I did like the art on the screens as it helped build on the theme. In a few games, I played players gave their respective monsters backstories and of course their own roars and growls. This was just another indication of how the theme sucked in the players.
There is a fair amount of setup beforehand, considering that you will be knocking everything over that you just build. Obviously this is worth it.
I really couldn’t find anything to complain about regarding the components and was very happy with them.
So the components are great, but how does the gameplay? Well, at its heart, Terror in Meeple City is dexterity game with a hint of set collecting (I will get to this in a moment).
Each player is given a player screen, movement disc, a wooden monster piece and four tooth tokens.
There is a variant where each player receives one character card, one power card and one superpower card. I found this the best way to play. I did notice some of the cards seemed more overpowered than others.
Each turn player turn consists of two actions. These actions are:
Move – This is done by flicking your monster’s respective disc to where you would like to move.
Demolish – When a player’s disc touches the sidewalk of a building, that player can drop their wooden monster piece on that building (seated with your arms parallel with the table and not thrown like I did the first time I tried it).
Toss a vehicle – A player can toss a vehicle that is in the same neighbourhood as their monster. This is done by placing the vehicle on top of the wooden monster piece and flicking it (I almost caused a player to lose an eye doing this).
Breathe (or as I like to call it using your nuclear breath attack) – The player places their chin on top of their respective monster and blows. It is imperative that you blow and not spit as this may gross out fellow players.
The players need to knock over buildings and meeples (trust me this is a lot of fun). Players can keep any floors which do not touch any meeples and can eat any meeples which do not touch any floors or sidewalks. Meeples can only be eaten when they are in the same neighbourhood as the monster.
We found the rules to be unclear in some circumstances and had to make up a few house rules (after a few blows were thrown). When is a meeple in a certain neighbourhood? How far should a meeple be off the board to count as having run away? These are some of the areas where the rules were unclear. This was a bit distracting, although once the house rules were decided upon we didn’t have any further problems (and no further blows were thrown).
Now I mentioned that the game has a bit of set collecting. The reason for mentioning this is that in order to score points with meeples, the player must eat one meeple of each colour to get a set. This means that any meeples not part of a set does not count towards your points. Points are also scored for each floor the player has, as well as any teeth the player took from fellow players.
See each player can also knock another player’s monster off the board. When this takes place the player that is knocked of the board looses a tooth to the player that knocked them over. The fewer teeth you have the fewer meeples you can eat (you can never have less than two teeth).
Meeples that fall off the board counts as having run away. Each meeple that runs away is placed on a separate runaway board. The player that fills up the last space in a row on the runaway board suffers the indicated negative effect.
The game ends when the runaway meeple board is filled or if there are no more floors available.
Now the question on your mind is probably was Terror in Meeple City everything I hoped it would be?
I would have to answer both yes and no. It might seem that I am taking the easy way out by not saying yes or no but, let me explain.
I was really impressed with the game’s artwork and components. This game bulges with theme; from the game board to the wooden components, it all conveys the theme of giant monsters destroying a city successfully.
I did however feel that a few aspects hindered us from fully enjoying the game and being immersed in it. One of these hindrances is the scoring system. Now I love set collecting, but the set collecting in Terror in Meeple City feels out of place and a bit clunky to me.
You are a monster destroying a city and eating its residents. Why does it then matter if you have eaten a certain set of meeples? Theme wise this doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. This is even more evident if you take into account that the meeples are placed randomly and that you don’t really have any control of where the meeples fall. There were also a few occasions where I realized early on that I would end up last because I couldn’t collect the meeples I needed for a set.
It took away from that feeling of being a monster destroying a city that the designers tried so hard to bring across.
I feel it would have been better if each coloured meeple was allocated a different amount of points. It tends to feel a little clunky.
As mentioned above the power and character cards although fun to play with seemed a bit unbalanced. I would still encourage players to play with these as they add another layer of strategy.
The game is a very polarizing game. People I played with either loved or hated it. Most of the people who didn’t like it found it a bit chaotic and didn’t enjoy dexterity games in general.
It might sound like I didn’t enjoy playing Terror in Meeple City. On the contrary, I enjoyed it very much. It’s just that I came so close to being a great lightweight monster board game, but instead turned out to be a good one.
If you like dropping things, blowing things (not spitting) and breaking things and you are willing to look past its weak points, Terror in Meeple City might be a game for you to try.
Game play: 7/10 The game was easy to teach, I did find some of the rules to be unclear. The game is great fun if you can look past the unbalanced powers and clunky point system.
Components : 5/5 The artwork is colourful and full of humour. I loved the feel and look of the wooden pieces. The cardboard floors and game board is nice and thick and stood up well to the punishment it received when playing.
Complexity vs. Depth: 3/5 The game is easy to grasp and is a great lightweight dexterity game. There is a bit of strategy involved when using power cards but not a lot.
Theme : 5/5 The game bulges with theme. From the wooden components to the player boards, the designers have created a game that pulls you in from the moment you pick up the box.
Overall : 3/5 Terror in Meeple City is a good monster dexterity game. It could have been a great one but, its clunky scoring system, unclear rules and unbalanced powers prevent it from reaching the heights I hoped it would. I would still suggest you give it a try.
Board game supplied by Timeless Board Games (www.timelessboardgames.co.za)