Overboss: A Boss Monster Adventure
Ready to rule?
I’m an ’80s kid. I grew up in a time when Saturday morning cartoons were still a thing, and video games were the rage. I spent countless hours playing games, scrolling through maps, and fighting level bosses. Never did I realize how much work it must take being the boss, trying to maintain their evil empire! Enter Overboss, a puzzley map-building game designed by Aaron Mesburne and Kevin Russ, published by Brotherwise Games.
In Overboss, players take on the role of a level boss emerging from their dungeon aiming to conquer the Overworld and rule the land. A game plays in a brisk 3o minutes for 1-4 players ages 13+. We think it can skew younger for seasoned kids.
To become the Overboss, you’ll need to be clever in building up your world. Draft land tiles and monsters, then place them optimally to score higher than your fellow bosses. The Overboss with the
most deadly highest scoring Overworld wins!
There are no rounds in Overboss: players take consecutive turns until the game ends. A turn consists of two steps: Draft and Place. To draft, take a dungeon tile and token pair from the market.
Then, place the terrain tile onto an empty grid space on your map board. Be mindful that some terrains require placement next to mountains or water to score. Then, place the token on the board. Monster and Miniboss tokens can go onto any open terrain tile; even previously placed ones. Portals and Crystals go into your lair at the bottom right of your board.
End your turn by replenishing the market. Then play passes to the player on the left.
Getting to know your Terrain
For your first game, the rulebook suggests using basic types: Forests, Caves, Graveyards, Swamps, and Camps, along with the eight Dungeon tiles. Each terrain has a different scoring mechanism.
- Dungeons award one point for every different type of terrain surrounding it.
- Forests award a total number of points for the number of Forests you have.
- Graveyards award five points to the boss with the most, and two for second most.
- Orc Camps grant points based on the number of unique camps present on the map.
- Caves are worth one point, but bordering any mountainous edge, they are worth three.
- Swamps have a base point of one. When bordering a watery edge, it’s worth an additional point, and another point if next to at least one other swamp, for a maximum of three points.
Portals assist (once each!) in rearranging Monsters and Minibosses that count towards end-game scoring. Once per turn, you may use a single active Portal to change the positions of up to two Monsters or Minibosses on your map. Then flip the Portal over to its inactive side.
Overboss scores once all players have completely filled their map boards. First, score the terrains and Dungeons using the guide in the rulebook. In the example above, I scored the following points: Graveyards: 0 (I had the least), Forests: 1, Swamps 12, Caves: 6, Camps: 9, and Dungeons: 5.
Next, score Minibosses, matching Monsters, and bands of Monsters. Each Miniboss is worth two points, and Monsters that match the terrain they’re on score one point. Bands are alike monsters in a horizontal or vertical line. Bands are scored based on size; up to seven points. A single monster can be counted in multiple bands as well. I scored two for the single Miniboss, four for Monsters matching their terrain, and a total of nine for bands of Monsters.
Finally, Crystals are worth one point per terrain tile of that Crystal’s type on your map.
The Boss with the highest combined Power score wins the game!
Once you’ve mastered the base game, incorporate these variants to ramp up game play:
Advanced tiles add more scoring variety, with five more complex tile types. Deserts score points based on each connected group’s size. Volcanoes are worth four points each but are destructive. After placing a Volcano, return all bordering Monster and Minibosses tokens to the bag! You can discover the other types on your own.
The Big Board is a 4×4 grid that can be found on the reverse side of the map board. It extends the game four more rounds with no other rule changes.
Command Cards grant powerful actions that affect any player’s map, including your own. At the start of the game, shuffle and deal 4 Command cards near the play area. To active a Command card, complete a pattern of same type terrain tiles as shown on the card this turn. The pattern may be flipped or rotated. There are three types of Command cards to discover.
Boss cards also add strategic depth to Overboss. At the start of the game, each player gets a secret Boss card, with a Reveal ability they can use once per game. Each also has a unique end game scoring condition that only applies to the player with that Boss.
Overboss is the follow up to the highly successful Boss Monster card game and it shares the same pixelated art theme. However, Overboss is completely different, with drafting, tile placement, and set collection at its core.
Overboss uses many of the game mechanics I enjoy most. The puzzley nature of the game keeps me completely engaged, even though sometimes I need to pivot my terrain goals due to the randomness in the market.
While the base game is great for learning, it really sings with with the Big Board and Boss card variants. The extra couple of turns with the Big Board lets me rack up higher scores, with more chances to chain terrains together.
Command cards add a little take-that to the game. On the other hand, because you can target yourself, they can also come in handy moving (or removing) tiles on your own board. Since the game ends when boards are filled, it’s a opportunity to take a step back.
My biggest challenge in Overboss was creating bands of monsters. Luck may be on your side, but it takes some finagling to get them lined up. Use Portals to shift monsters around, but keep in mind, they can only be used once.
Overboss for Families?
If your family has experience playing games like Sushi Go or Carcassonne, Overboss will be a quick study. The game is well balanced with no disadvantage in turn order.
Although the box says ages 13+, experienced gamers as young as 10 years old can handle it. Overboss plays the same at two and at four, although more tiles will hit the marketplace at higher player counts.
This would make a great gift for any family or friend who dabbles in both tabletop and video games. The blending of the two genres are a perfect match.
Brotherwise Games provided The Family Gamers with a promotional copy of Overboss for this review.
This post contains affiliate links, which do not change your price, but help support The Family Gamers.
Overboss: A Boss Monster Adventure
Age Range: 13+ (We say 10+)
Number of Players: 1-4
Playtime: at least 20-30 minutes