Friday, 16 August 2013

Mighty Monsters!

A few weeks ago I went to see 'Pacific Rim', and came back all fired up to do some giant monster gaming. So tonight Caesar and I gave Ganesha Games' 'Mighty Monsters' a go. I'd only given this game a couple of solo run-throughs before, and that over a year ago, so I wasn't too familiar with the rules, and Caesar had only read them, so we knew we'd spend a lot of the evening looking stuff up or trying to clarify things.

I decided to keep things simple and set up a very basic city defence scenario. There were sixteen C2 buildings scattered around the board. One player would have a single 'attacking' monster, who had to destroy at least ten of the buildings to win. The other player had a 'defender', who had to take down the attacking monster before they could reach their objective. Nine buildings would be considered a draw. I added some shallow water on one side of the board and some rough terrain on the other.

Here's the table set up.

For the first game we had to have Godzilla himself, run by Caesar. All of the monsters were built at 450pts.

Since we were in 'Pacific Rim' mode, I wanted a piloted mecha, but I don't really have any suitable figures to represet the ones in the film. Instead I went for a Toho Studios classic - Kiryu, the most recent incarnation of Mechagodzilla. Unfortunately the establishing shot I took of this wonderful machine was too blurry to use here, so here's one Google found for me.

Godzilla moved off first, and starting molesting buildings, but with little success.

Initially, anyway. At this stage Caesar was getting used to possible attack options, and also moving to keep as much architecture between himself and Kiryu.

After a couple of hesitant initial moves, Kiryu got a clear line on Godzilla, but he was really out of effective range of the mecha's array of missile attacks.

Godzilla turned, and unleashed his atomic breath. A really good roll, with a powerful attack, saw Kiryu badly damaged in the first shot - those are his damage dice in front of him; he now had two yellow activation dice, which meant that anything he now did was risky in terms of taking additional damage effects.

I closed up to get optimal shots with my weapons, and unleashed lasers and missiles at the big lizard, but with no effect. At 450pts, Godzilla is quite tough, and Kiryu's multiple attacks were just a touch too weak. He has one powerful ranged attack built into his chest, but it only has one use; I needed to use it to finish off Godzilla after the other attacks had done some damage.

An unfortunate effect of the damage dice; Kiryu stumbled and fell whilst trying to move. A subsequent attempt to force Godzilla to back off or fall by using a tail-sweep also met with failure, as the tail shorted out. Kiryu was in a bad way.

Godzilla stepped back, and unleashed more atomic doom on the mecha. I was now on the dreaded red damage dice, which meant that any activations were very risky indeed. But I was desperate, having inflicted no damage on Godzilla at all. I took the risks and attempted full activations of the lasers and missiles. But Godzilla just shrugged off the volley of fire.

One last chance - the one-shot Absolute-Zero Meson Projector in the Kiryu's body. I rolled the activations, got three failures, rolled on the damage table and - BOOM! Kiryu blew up!

(Effects via Photoshop, of course).

And that was it - game over. Godzilla had only destroyed one building, but the city was now at his mercy.

We swapped roles for the second game. Caesar took the giant turtle Gamera to defend the city.

And I took one of Godzilla's arch-enemies - the evil three-headed space-dragon Ghidorah. I immediately set about demolishing the city.

Caesar, forgetting Gamera's hyperflight ability, plodded after me as I flew from one act of destruction to the other.

The two monsters face each other along a street whilst Caesar considers his option.

But the city was looking very unhealthy by this stage - Ghidorah has a few attack options, and plenty of mobility, and I was able to shake off the worst of Gamera's fire blasts.

Finally! Gamera gets airborne.

And counters Ghidorah's multiple ranged attacks by closing in. In fact Caesar was beginning to inflict some proper damage on me by this stage, but I concentrated on the objective - flattening the city, hoping I could achieve it before Ghidorah as defeated.

The effects of damage started to show - Ghidorah was grounded with crippled wings, and one of the heads could no longer fire lightning. But I was still racking up a steady number of building demolitions.

Gamera closed in again, trying to bite off one of Ghidorah's heads.

But a tail sweep drove him back.

Free to use my lightning blasts I took out some more buildings to win the fight.

Ghidorah roars in triumph.

In fact I had taken far more damage than Gamera, but the important thing in any scenario is to focus on the objective rather than just taking the other person out (as much fun as that is). Gamera was very tough defensively, and I wasn't sure I had the ability to inflict damage on him as fast as he could inflict it on me.

So, what did we think of 'Mighty Monsters'? We certainly enjoyed both games, and loved the options offered by the different attack types. I suspect that 450pt monsters were a little too tough for a starting game - if you had decent defences you are fairly immune to damage. I will look at using lower point builds  and see how they play out. We felt that the rules could have done with more playtesting and tighter editing. They have a number of obvious errors and contradictions in them which, whilst I was able to get some of them clarified by the author in the week before the game, shouldn't have really been there in the first place. In a few cases we made assumptions about how things should work. For example, we assumed that to fly from 'grounded' you had to spend the first movement action taking off. That's implied in the rules, but not explicit. Since flight in various forms is a staple of giant monster moves, I thought that the rules for it could be clearer.

There's an implication in the rules that they're designed more for fights between teams of monsters, possibly with lower points. We shied away from that last night as we thought that more than one monster each would be too much to keep track of. However it would be interesting to see the dynamics of a game with, say, two or three 300pt monsters each.

I'm not sure how I feel about it in comparison to 'Giant Monster Rampage'. 'Mighty Monsters' is certainly more interesting tactically in some areas. We loved deciding the order in which the monsters would activate their individual parts in order to achieve their goals, and the various combat options allowed. I also think that it's got a better integration of human forces, although we haven't tried those yet. However I find the build options, and monster design system in 'Giant Monster Rampage' more intuitive to use, and the combat system, with a roll to hit followed by save rolls against damage, makes it easier to model different damage effects. I also think it reflects the different types of monsters better; 'Mighty Monsters' really just gives you creatures or 'artificial' monsters, and the Artificial ability doesn't really capture some of the possibilities. However 'Giant Monster Rampage' has been around for a while, and has gone through a few editions, so has been tweaked and polished into something that hangs together well, whereas 'Mighty Monsters' is still in its first edition. 'Mighty Monsters' is a good giant monster game. I think in time it could become a great one, but it needs some work. 


  1. Thanks Alan for a really fun evening, complete with genuine Japanese Godzilla films playing in the background, adding "massively" to the atmosphere. They're corny, somewhat rediculous and I love 'em! Mighty Monsters is essentially a great game with the very sound activation system of Song Of Blades And Heroes used in a brilliantly novel way for monster limbs and attacks. It turns what could have been a charge-at-the-enemy smashfest into a demanding game of chance and wits. The editing tweaks you've mentioned are all that is needed and I look forward to a future edition of the game. Happy to give this a try with slightly weaker monsters or other units anytime.

  2. Nice report and the game looks like fun. Love the figures you used and the use of legos for the buildings.

  3. I'll have to give this a go sometime, it looks like great fun.


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