Monday, May 27, 2024

‘Horrified: Greek Monsters’ Ups The Aesthetic While Maintaining Near-Perfect Co-Op Formula

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Re-themeing of popular board game formulas is incredibly common, with most major companies working to reuse their best-selling designs in new ways to not just keep the game fresh but also target new audiences. Ravensburger is maybe the biggest example of this tendency among publishers, with titles like Villainous getting new looks and tweaked gameplay. They’ve also done this with their Horrified line, the original being themed around the Universal Monsters and its 2021 sequel featuring American Cryptids. Today I’m looking at the newest implementation of Prospero Hall’s co-op formula that moves the game away from more modern horror and into the terrifying ancient world of Greek Mythology. Featuring famous monsters Cerberus, The Minotaur, The Siren, The Basilisk, and The Chimera as well as “civilians” like Jason and Midas, it’s an absolute feast for classicists and anyone wanting something a little more old (I mean REALLY old) school with their horror.

What’s In The Box?

Horrified Greek Monsters board
  • 1 gameboard
  • 6 monster mats
  • 6 monster figures
  • 7 hero tiles
  • 7 hero standees
  • 10 legend standees
  • 19 bases
  • 60 item tokens
  • 4 lair tokens
  • 26 monster tokens
  • 1 terror marker
  • 1 frenzy marker
  • 30 monster cards
  • 20 perk cards
  • 5 reference cards
  • 1 item bag
  • 3 dice
  • Rulebook
Horrified Greek Monsters minis
(l-r) The Minotaur, Cerberus, Chimera, Medusa, The Siren, The Basilisk

The look of the game is where most of the changes came in and I tell you this is not just the best looking Horrified game, it’s one of the best looking games I’ve ever seen from Ravensburger. Which is saying something bc Ravensburger does not make ugly games. Everything about it just drips with flavor from the artwork to the detailed minis to the monster sheets, each of which is rendered as a faux-temple complete with columns. The board is bright and colorful without being cartoonish and the characters all have this almost timeless look given to them by mixing modern and ancient looks interchangeably. The Hoplite might be the best example of this, looking like a modern battle jacket punk with a phalanx shield and spear. You can tell they had a ton of fun designing the visual appeal of the game.

How’s It Play?

Horrified: Greek Monsters follows the same general formula of the other games. Each player has a set of actions that they can use to move, pick up items, help civilians, and work towards defeating the monster. The Player Characters for this game are a fun mix of looks and styles, including what I can only assume is some sort of gay pegasus. They each have similar powers as the PC’s from other games, none of which are so strong they make any one character better than the others. Players also can use Perk cards to get powerful one off abilities, which they earn by helping Legends get to their home location unscathed.

Horrified Greek Monsters player characters

After each character takes their turn it’s time for the monsters, and this is the real core of the game. Each monster has their own special abilities and whether they move or attack is dictated by the monster card that the active player draws. Some monster cards have other events that occur, while others introduce new legends on the board to be saved from the monsters.

Monsters each have a level of “difficulty” to be defeated, generally by gathering certain items or solving puzzles. The Siren, for instance, requires a little matching game to deduce her “countersong” while the Minotaur requires locating and piecing together pieces of the Labyrinth with which to trap it. As you work to destroy the monsters, they’ll be moving to destroy you and the Legends. If a PC or a Legend gets knocked out, the Terror marker goes up. Get the Terror to high? You lose! Monsters also can become Frenzied, which has different interactions with events and can even lead to some monsters attacking twice!

Horrified Greek Monsters monster cards

The “big” addition to this game are the Lairs, four different locations placed each game that are tied to four of the monsters. This was a big selling point for the game but really doesn’t add a ton to the gameplay. They just are an extra annoyance for players to deal with as they play and if the monster isn’t in the game they do literally nothing. They are thematic, however, but I was expecting a lot more from them.

The Verdict?

Horrified: Greek Monsters is an incredible title from a line of incredible titles, mixing exciting co-op strategy with an incredibly cool theme fully realized by stylish art and high production values. The ability to ramp up the difficulty and mix-and-match monsters means it has a lot of replayability but also means it’s easy to pick up and teach. The monsters all fit their lore to a tee and even the low complexity monsters take some thought and strategy to defeat. While the Lair mechanic is underused it is nice to see them innovating a little with each game and for all the annoyance of it it’s not too much of a detriment. For fans of Greek Mythology (hello Percy Jackson!) this is something I think is an auto-buy, but anyone who needs a new spooky co-op title for their collection should give this a hard look.

You can grab Horrified: Greek Monsters from the Ravensburger shop, Target, or your FLGS at an MSRP of $34.99.

Images via Ravensburger

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