Review: Horrified: American Monsters

Two years ago, I reviewed the cooperative board game Horrified: Universal Studios Monsters here on Boing Boing. I loved it. Still do. So, I was excited when Ravensburger contacted me about their follow-up game, Horrified: American Monsters.

On Halloween night, we got a chance to play. Horrified: American Monsters is a faithful re-skin of the first game. Where the original featured monsters from Universal Studios films (Dracula, Frankenstein monster and bride, Wolfman, Mummy, Creature from the Black Lagoon, and the Invisible Man), American Monsters pits players against all your favorite American cryptids: Mothman, Chupacabra, the Jersey Devil, the Banshee of the Badlands, the Ozark Howler, and Bigfoot.

Everything about this new game is essentially the same as the first. The monsters have changed but they work the same way. The town depicted on the game board map is obviously different to reflect the new theme (from European Gothic village to vintage small town America). The Citizens you are tasked to protect are different (e.g. Nora from the diner instead of Malvena the shopkeeper), as are the Heroes you can play (e.g. the Journalist and Cryptozoologist instead of the Professor and the Archeologist). Like the original, the art is lovely, the components are high-quality, and the miniatures are fun.

One of the coolest things about the original and this follow-up is that each monster has their own defeat conditions, tracked on their own Monster Mat. You can play against two to four monsters in a game, allowing you to dial up game length and complexity as you desire. To defeat Chupacabra, for example, you have to deny it the food it craves: goats. After the players have collected 6 goats, they have a chance to fight and defeat Chupacabra. The Banshee of the Badlands has a skeletal violinist sidekick whose playing drives people crazy. The Banshee's Monster Mat has a musical staff on it and each player is represented by a colored violin. As players win encounters with the banshee, they get to move toward the Treble Cleft (save zone). If a player's violin reaches the skeleton at the end of the staff, they are driven crazy and defeated. If the players' violins all end up on the Treble Cleft, they have a chance to attack and defeat the monster.

Like Horrified: Universal Studios Monsters, one of the principle tasks of the Heroes is escorting the Citizens to their home bases on the map. Like the original, this is one of my favorite parts of American Monsters. I love everyone talking through our next moves and and how to best get the townspeople to safety.

I really liked the original Horrified and like American Monsters almost as much. My only criticism is that because it's exactly the same game, there's not much of a need to own American Monsters if you already have Horrified. I guess fans of cryptozoology might want to pick this one up too or buy it over the original. Personally, I prefer the Euro-Gothic setting of Horrified: Universal Studios Monsters and its classic monsters, but your mileage may vary. I wonder, given this first reskin of such a successful game with a solid mechanic, if Ravensburger has plans for future versions.

Horrified: American Monsters is currently only sold at stores like Target. You can pick up Horrified: Universal Studio Monsters on Amazon.