Boss Monster 101: Rooms & Dungeon Building

To build on our first Boss Monster 101 article about Boss Cards, let’s dig into Rooms. But Rooms are such a big part of Boss Monster that we can’t talk about them in isolation. Let’s start from the top with some basics about gameplay:

Boss Monster includes everything that 2-4 players need to play. It’s a standalone game where everyone draws from the same deck (not a trading card game like Magic), so you don’t need to purchase any extra cards to play. The first edition of the game includes 155 cards:

75 Room Cards
30 Spell Cards
25 Hero Cards
16 Epic Hero Cards
9 Boss Cards

One of those Boss cards is “The Hidden Lich,” which is exclusive to the first print edition of Boss Monster!

Getting Started
A game of Boss Monster typically takes about 20-30 minutes to play, but you should allow more time for your first playthrough. Make sure you have enough room to play, particularly in terms of horizontal space. Over the course of the game, players will build dungeons that consist of six cards (five Room cards plus the Boss at the end)… that can take up a lot of tabletop!

Dungeon Building
The heart of Boss Monster is dungeon-building. Your dungeon is like a level in a side-scrolling video game, with Heroes entering from the left side and moving to the right. Your Boss lurks at the end. If a Hero dies in your dungeon, you get a “Soul” (or two “Souls” for Epic Heroes, who are made of sterner stuff). But if a Hero successfully runs the gauntlet and makes it through alive, you take a Wound (two for Epic Heroes). Earn ten Souls before any other player and you win …but get five Wounds and you’re out of the game!

Every turn, you have the option to build one room. You can:

  • Add a new ordinary Room to your dungeon (always to the left of any current rooms)
  • Upgrade an ordinary Room by playing an Advanced Room on it (but the Advanced Room must share a treasure type with the room it’s building over)
  • Build over an ordinary Room with another ordinary Room (even if their treasure types don’t match)

Once your dungeon is five rooms long, you’ve hit your maximum and can only change or upgrade the rooms you have. Here’s a look at dungeon with just three rooms (click to expand):

A dungeon under construction

As you can see, every room has a treasure value, which lures Heroes of a certain type. (Clerics want holy relics, Fighters want magic swords, Mages want spellbooks, and Thieves just want money.) Each room also has a damage value. The balancing act of the game is that high-treasure rooms tend to be low-damage, and vice versa. So the game ebbs and flows depending on the dungeon you build.

A Room’s treasure value is all-important, because Heroes are drawn to the dungeon with the highest treasure value. Players build rooms face-down, then simultaneously reveal them, so you never know exactly who’s going to lure a particular hero. You could have four Fighter treasures in your dungeon, but if an opponent has five, you lose the bidding war. Similarly, it’s possible to corner the market on a Hero type even if you only have one relevant treasure, as long as no one else is competing for that type. Your treasure choices are limited by the cards you draw, but you also have to make tactical decisions every turn to lure desired Heroes and avoid those whose Health scores exceed your Damage. It’s a delicate balancing act, but that’s what makes it fun!

Different room types also have different flavors. Fighter rooms tend to deal more damage, Thief rooms have a lot of one-shot and self-destruct effects, Cleric rooms have discard-related effects, and Mage rooms help you get Spell cards.

Spells reflect your Boss Monster’s ability to directly affect the course of events in your dungeon …and even in other players’ dungeons! About half of the Spell cards help your dungeon deal more damage, which can be crucial in the last third of the game when Epic Heroes show up in town. Other Spells let you lure Heroes directly, repel unwanted Heroes, meddle with an opponent’s dungeon, or even directly Wound an opponent.

Spell rooms are precious, because you start with two and only get to draw more if you invest in low-damage Mage rooms to draw more. But the surprise value of a well-played Spell can be game-winning, so their benefits often outweigh their drawbacks.

The Rules
To learn more about Boss Monster, you can now download the full rules. Just click here:

Boss Monster Rulebook PDF

The rules strive to outline the game’s cards, phases, and terms in as much detail as possible. We’ll also be posting gameplay footage soon on our Boss Monster YouTube channel. Stay tuned!

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