Introducing Boss Monster Revised

Same game, better qualityFrom the day Boss Monster hit store shelves last July, it’s been a wild ride. Every time we received a shipment of Boss Monster from our factory, it sold out within a week or two. Whenever we manufactured more units, we thought we were pushing our luck with the quantities we ordered, but orders from our distributors kept increasing. Because our manufacturing partner was based in China, this often left us out of stock for weeks at a time as new units were produced and shipped overseas.

While we’d be lying if we said it wasn’t cool to see that much enthusiasm for our game, we were kicking ourselves every time we went a month without new units in stock. So this year we made a big decision to shift our production to the United States. Our new production partner is Cartamundi USA, the company famous for printing the original editions of Magic: the Gathering. We spent the 90’s playing with their cards, and we couldn’t think of anyone better to take over Boss Monster.

With a new production run, we knew it was time for a new edition, and we’re calling this one Revised Edition. For anyone who already has Boss Monster, the Revised Edition won’t introduce any new cards or anything that would make you need to purchase it again. (Nor does it include Anererak, a Boss card that appeared in Alpha as a bonus for early adopters.)

So what’s new about Revised?

  • We edited the rulebook to make it clearer, more consistent, and slightly shorter.
  • We added a new Quick Start Guide that condenses the key rules of Boss Monster onto one (double-sided) page.
  • Card ability text is a little bigger and easier to read from across a game table.
  • We’ve switched from the slightly thicker, glossier cards of Alpha edition to a high-quality matte finish that’s easier to shuffle and less prone to deterioration.

There’s nothing mind-blowing in that list, but we think all of these changes will make Boss Monster easier for people to pick up and play. At the end of the day, a game’s success comes down to how many people are willing to try it, and we think these improvements will make the game even more approachable.

The rulebook has been updated to remove any inconsistencies with our Advanced Rules Guide, but the actual game rules have not changed. Even card text remained largely intact, with only one or two minor tweaks like this one:


We were tempted to adjust a couple of cards – we’re looking at you, Crushinator – but decided not to do anything that would “invalidate” the earlier edition. If you want new cards, you’ll have to stick to our Tools of Hero-Kind mini-expansion or wait for the set we’re currently developing.

To any new fans out there, Revised will give you the best rulebook and highest-quality cards we’ve done. To existing fans, there’s no need to “upgrade” your current set. And to both groups, stay tuned to our Facebook page, because we’ll have much bigger news in the future as we continue work on our next major expansion!

Boss Monster: Revised Edition

All About Item Cards

ToHK_coverNow available in game stores across North America, Tools of Hero-Kind is a 26-card mini-expansion for Boss Monster that introduces a new card type: Items!

Intended for players who are already familiar with the base game, Items increase the challenge of Boss Monster by buffing Heroes. If you’re used to Heroes being pushovers, get ready for a few surprises when Item cards hit the table. You might find a Hero hopping past Rooms with the Boots of Jumping, boosting one another with the Staff of Healing, or plowing through your traps and monsters with an Oversized Sword.

The rules for Items are pretty simple, and the instructions fit on two sides of a single rules card. Here’s a look at those rules:

Tools of Hero-Kind Rules
Pretty simple, right? But if you’re like us, you want to know a game’s rules inside and out, so here’s a more detailed breakdown of those quick rules above.

  • “The Item deck sits beside the Hero decks. At the Beginning of Turn phase, before Heroes are revealed, reveal one Item (two Items for a four-player game) and place it in town.”
    This part should be pretty straightforward. Every time you’d reveal Heroes, reveal an Item or two first. We recommend placing Items in a row above or below your Heroes.THK020_Ring_of_Invisibility
  • “Each Item attaches to the first Hero in town that matches its Treasure icon (or the matching Hero who has been in town longest).”
    As you reveal each Item, check each Hero that’s already in town, starting with the Hero who has been in town longest. (If you’re following the recommendation from the core game rulebook, that would be the Hero closest to the Hero deck.) If a Hero matches the treasure type of the revealed Item, attach it to that Hero!
  • “A Universal Item attaches to the first Hero that appears in town (or the Hero who has been in town longest).”
    Universal Items attach regardless of treasure type. Usually this means they attach to the Hero who’s been in town longest, but if town’s empty it means they’ll attach to whoever shows up in a moment.
  • “A Hero may have only one attached Item…”
    This is an important one! The rules say each Hero may have a maximum of one Item, and so far there are no cards in the game that override this.
  • “…and Items do not attach to special Heroes marked with a star icon.”
    If you’re lucky enough to be playing with promo cards like Demigod or Trap Master, do not make them even deadlier by attaching Items. (However, there is one card in the game — Orcish Smithy — that allows you to ignore this restriction.)
  • “Place the attached Item underneath the Hero, with its Hero Ability text visible underneath. The Hero now has this ability until it is killed.”
    We designed Item cards so they fit under Heroes when attached, and we even included an icon so you can still identify them from across the table without squinting to read the ability. This special Hero Ability is now active, though most Hero Abilities aren’t relevant until a Hero is in a dungeon (or at a dungeon entrance).THK025_Excavation
  • “If a Hero with an attached Item survives your dungeon, place the Item face-down in your scorekeeping area.”
    If the Hero makes it out alive, it stays face-up as a Wound and the Item goes face-down, granting you no benefits. You’ve kept it away from your opponents, and cards like Excavation or Burial Mound might get you a second chance to access the Item, but for now it’s useless to you.
  • “If you kill a Hero with an attached Item, you may place the Item face-up in your scorekeeping area. However, you may only have one face-up Item. (You choose which item to keep face-up.)
    If you kill an Item-equipped Hero, you get to claim the Item! However, you can only have one face-up Item at a time. Before you claim the new Item, you have a choice: A) immediately use your existing Item, B) turn your existing Item face-down, or C) leave the existing Item face-up and turn the new Item face-down.
  • “During the Build or Adventure phase (whenever you could use a Spell), you may expend an Item to use its Boss Ability.”
    Like Room abilities, Item abilities can be used whenever you could use a Spell. They obey the same rules, which means that if you use an Item while you are the active player, it resolves before anyone else can react. If you use an Item when someone else is the active player, they may play any number of Spells or abilities before your Item’s Boss Ability resolves.
  • “Declare the effect and flip the Item face-down to show that it is expended.
    To show that an Item is used, flip it face-down. There are also some other effects in Tools of Hero-Kind that can flip an Item face-down, but these do not trigger the ability — they just knock the Item out of commission.

Most of the Hero Abilities and Boss Abilities you’ll see on Item cards are pretty self-explanatory, but here are some important terms to keep in mind.

  • Enter: A Hero “enters” a Room when it moves from the dungeon entrance into a Room, or from one Room into another. When a Hero enters a Room, apply any Hero or Item abilities, then any Room abilities, then the Room’s damage (in that order).
  • First: The “first” Room in your dungeon is the leftmost Room, adjacent to your dungeon entrance.
  • Last: The “last Room in your dungeon” is the rightmost Room, adjacent to your Boss.
  • Next: When a Hero is in a Room, the “next” Room in a dungeon is the adjacent Room immediately to the right.
  • Previous: When a Hero is in a Room, the “previous” Room in a dungeon is the adjacent Room immediately to the left.
  • Survive: When a Hero exits a Room without dying, it “survives.” If a Hero did not enter a Room (because it was deactivated or ignored), the Hero did not survive that Room. If a Hero survives the last Room in your dungeon, leave it face-up in your scorekeeping area and take a Wound!

If you have any other questions, you’re in luck! We have fully updated our Advanced Rules Guide & FAQ to include details on Item ability timing and individual clarifications on nearly every card in the set.


With that, you should be fully armed with the knowledge you need to take on adventurers armed with Tools of Hero-Kind. Good luck, and happy hero hunting!

Our Top 10 Boss Monster Moments

Our names are Chris and Johnny O’Neal, and we are the founders of Brotherwise Games. Last year we launched a Kickstarter for Boss Monster, a card game that we co-designed. At the time, we were pretty nervous about our ability to raise $12,000 in 30 days without any existing fan base. A year later, Boss Monster is one of the most successful new tabletop games of 2013. The entire experience has been mind-blowing, but here are our favorite moments.

      10-prototype-cards 10. The first time we played what would become the final design of the game.
After hundreds of playtesting sessions and dozens of variations of the game, we hit upon our core mechanic of “bidding” for heroes with treasure icons. (It wasn’t until later in development that Chris made the fateful suggestion to illustrate our side-scrolling dungeon-building game with pixel art instead of black-and-white doodles.)

9-Indiecade9. Indiecade 2012, the first time we ever showed Boss Monster in public.
We were totally unprepared …and unaware that we should have reserved a table months in advance. A friendly fellow designer shared half of his table, and before long Boss Monster had drawn the biggest crowd in the tabletop section. (Fun fact: the guy in the glasses enjoying the game was Daniel Dranove, a designer of Cards Against Humanity.)

8-Day-One8. The first five minutes of our Kickstarter.
As soon as it went live, when we saw more pledges every time we hit refresh, we realized we weren’t going to have to beg cousins and coworkers to back the game. We spent the whole day excitedly texting each other, totally freaking out, and in a little over 24 hours we’d hit our goal.

7-Final-day7. The end of our Kickstarter …and what came next.
Over the course of our Kickstarter campaign, every time we expected to falter, our community of backers managed to surprise us. We had no marketing budget or industry connections, but our backers kept our campaign growing by spreading the word across message boards and social networks every day. Whenever we weren’t sure how to handle something, or what to do for our next stretch goal, our backers were there with advice and support. Most amazingly, our backers were incredibly supportive when we announced that the delivery of our project would be delayed, and they waited with more patience than we would have ever expected.

6-strategicon6. Strategicon 2013.
Two months after our Kickstarter, we’d provided all files to our manufacturing partner and were just waiting on the physical side of production. To pass the time, we attended the local Strategicon event in LA. Even though we didn’t have a real booth, we had a blast running demos. And we got to play Boss Monster with Scott Everts (pictured here) and Chris Taylor (slightly off-camera). They created Fallout, which is easily our favorite non-Nintendo video game series!

5-Worldbuilders5. An e-mail from Patrick Rothfuss.
On one particularly awesome day, the world’s coolest fantasy author found out we made a parody of his character Kvothe. Instead of asking us to cease and desist, he asked if he could buy a few hundred copies of the card (and the game) to sell for charity. We’ve kept it up, and are now a proud sponsor of Worldbuilders.


4. Comic-Con 2013.
During Comic-Con, Boss Monster politely crashed the Tabletop party in downtown San Diego and ran some low-key demo games. The highlight was meeting internet superstar and board game kingmaker Wil Wheaton. Johnny’s fumbled attempt to explain Wil’s connection to our “Anererak” card was super geeky and awkward, but Wil was very nice about it. (Now if only he could get us on Tabletop…)

sourcefed3. Boss Monster hits YouTube.
It was pretty delightful seeing the creators of Super Apartment Bros make an animated Boss Monster video for Machinima. It was even cooler going on SourceFed Nerd, which exposed Boss Monster to tens of thousands of new people.

2-Around-the-world2. Fun around the world.
When we set out to design games, our goal was to make something that the two of us could play during our weekly gaming sessions. When we were feeling ambitious, we phrased our goal as “design a game enjoyed by at least dozens of people.” At this point, we can say we’ve designed a game that has been played in dozens of countries, by thousands of players. Imagining people playing Boss Monster in Singapore and Sweden never ceases to delight us.

1-brothers1. The chance to experience all of this serendipity and awesomeness as brothers.
Running a business together has a ton of relationship pitfalls, but we have 33 years of experience putting up with each other’s shit. We’ve been able to argue about rules, money, and all the aspects of running a business without ever losing sight of the fact that our relationship as brothers comes first. The rest of this list was in chronological order rather than order of coolness, but this is #1 for sure. No matter where things go from here, this will always be one of the coolest things we’ve ever done.

We are thankful for an extremely lucky first year, but the great thing about this little retrospective is that it’s just the beginning. New people are discovering Boss Monster every day, we’re close to releasing our first expansion, and we have another big Kickstarter in our future.  Thanks for reading this list, and for being a part of this amazing experience!

Tools of Hero-Kind

Release Date: Coming February 5, 2014
Contents: 26 new cards (20 Items, 4 Advanced Rooms, 2 Spells)
MSRP: $9.95

Tools of Hero-Kind is the first mini-expansion for Boss Monster: the Dungeon-Building Card Game.  If you have grown accustomed to Heroes as puny resources to be gathered and slain, get ready for the adventurers to strike back! This mini-expansion introduces new Item cards that make Heroes more formidable. But if you can defeat these heavily-armed Heroes, you can claim their Items to gain new offensive abilities!

This expansion is designed for 2-4 players who already have a copy of Boss Monster: the Dungeon-Building Card Game. Power up your game with Tools of Hero-Kind!

Pre-Order Now!

THK019_Star_of_InvulnerabilityFor more details on Item cards, visit the Boss Monster Wikia. For weekly previews of cards from Tools of Hero-Kind, be sure to Like the official Boss Monster Facebook page!

Digital Boss Monster Open Call

Since we first launched Boss Monster, players have been asking when we’d convert it into an app. After all, the only thing better than a tabletop game based on classic video games is a video game based on a tabletop game based on classic video games!

Now we’re issuing an open call for app developers to submit licensing proposals for Boss Monster. We are considering everyone from well known developers to independent programmers, but we’ll ultimately choose the partner who we believe is best equipped to give the world a kick-ass version of the world’s greatest Hero-slaying card game.

If you’re a developer visiting this page who’s new to Boss Monster, be sure to check out some of the great press we’ve received, spend some time with the rules, and pick up a copy of the game! Then download the RFP and contact us with any questions.


Boss Monster has a huge final day

During the last 31 days, Boss Monster has grown from two brothers’ dream project into a Kickstarter hit. With 4,689 backers and over $215,056 raised, Boss Monster is officially the #6 tabletop game of all time on Kickstarter, and the #1 card game. As a project that started with no pedigree and minimal marketing, it’s clear that something about the retro theme and playful pixel art just clicked with gamers. But it’s also a huge testament to the game’s passionate and supportive community of backers, who liked and posted and tweeted tirelessly to spread the word about this project.

The Kickstarter page freezes as soon as a project concludes, so we’re posting our final tally of stretch goals right here:

In the weeks and months to come, expect to see some new here at, as well as occasional updates at our Kickstarter page and on Facebook. For now, we have to shift our attention from promotion and community management so we can handle the thousand details that come with sending our files to print, reviewing samples, planning for fulfillment, and paying our vendors. It’s not as fun as designing games or replying to comments from our community, but it’s crucial to ensure we can deliver a quality game in Q1 2013.

For those of you who just missed the campaign, never fear: we’ll be setting up an online store to take pre-orders this week, at the final suggested retail price of $25. We’ll also be updating our website with backer forums, timed to go live in time for discussion once Super-Speed and Unlimited Lives backers receive their prototype copies in December.

To everyone who brought us to this point, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts. The year ahead will be a big one for Brotherwise Games, and all of you will be right at the heart of what we’re doing. Stay tuned, because there’s a lot to look forward to!

Boss Monster crosses the $100,000 mark!

Yesterday, Boss Monster hit its biggest milestone yet by achieving $100,000 in funding! For two brothers who started out with a $12,000 goal, hitting six figures was beyond our wildest dreams. We’re thrilled, humbled, and totally thankful to our amazing community of backers.

Part of what makes Kickstarter exciting is the phenomenon of “stretch goals” — product enhancements that a project unlocks when it hits various funding levels. Here at Brotherwise we had some stretch goals in mind, but never expected to move through them so quickly! Here’s what we’ve unlocked so far!

We don’t have an illustration for the NEW BOSSES stretch reward yet, because the custom card art will not be completed until the close of the campaign. Similarly, there’s no way to depict the improvement we unlocked with the PREMIUM PRINTING level other than to compare a Magic: the Gathering card to a Munchkin card. But check out some visuals of the other rewards!

At $40,000 we committed to developing A FULL EXPANSION for Boss Monster in 2013. It will have at least 150 cards, it will be called Crash Landing, and it will bring a whole new set of sci-fi-themed Monsters, Traps and Bosses. Here’s an under-construction look at the logo:

That doesn’t mean current backers will get Crash Landing for free (look to our $150 “Unlimited Lives” pledge level for that), but it does mean everyone who is registered as a Brotherwise Games Playtester (backers at the $40 “Extra Life” pledge level and above) will get an advance print-and-play copy of the expansion. This is in addition to the physical playtest copy that Extra Life backers will get of our 25-card mini-expansion, Tools of Hero-Kind.

When we hit $80K, we unlocked a very special upgrade to our packaging. The awesome, retro-style black box will still be there, but Kickstarter backers will get a totally exclusive GOLD EDITION sleeve for the box to show that they are the game’s original patrons.

For the all-important $100K stretch reward, we held a vote to determine the outcome: holofoil cards or arcade-style “level-up” tokens. In the end, backers decided they wanted the collectible coins, which have real gameplay value as markers to show when your Boss has used its once-per-game Level Up ability. They’ll be one-inch metal coins stamped with the Boss Monster logo and the Boss Icon, and we think they’re pretty cool.

With $130K up next — and looking very achievable — we have created and playtested some all-new cards to reward our backers. Each one had a bit of a story, which you can read about in our Boss Monster Kickstarter update announcing the coins.

We’d like to give a special shout-out to our friends at Pixel Lincoln. We have looked up to them as a successful Kickstarter game project with similar themes and a shared commitment to awesomeness, but we were a little nervous when designer got his hands on a review copy of Boss Monster. The good news is that he liked it so much he asked us to put Lincoln himself in the game! We were honored to comply.

Thanks again to all of you who are making this possible, and if you’re new to Boss Monster, don’t hesitate to pledge today to help us unlock even more stretch goals!

Boss Monster has an explosive first day!

Today, Brotherwise Games launched our Kickstarter campaign for Boss Monster. We started the project with a lot of trepidation about whether our $12,000 goal was realistic and achievable, and worried that we hadn’t done enough to promote the project.

Less than twenty-fours later, we are 80% funded and still growing. To anyone who has already backed our project, thank you! You are amazing, and we are humbled by the support. To anyone playing wait-and-see, join the party! We are definitely track to funding, so your pledge is very close to being a true pre-order. For those awaiting more information before you decide, stay tuned. We’ll be posting a much-requested gameplay demo soon. And for anyone in the LA/Pasadena area would would like to give the game a try, Johnny will be doing demos at Game Empire Pasadena this Saturday from 2-5 pm. Visit their Facebook page for more details!

As two brothers with a lifelong love of gaming, seeing Boss Monster move toward successful funding is a dream come true. Thanks again for all your support, and keep spreading the word so we can unlock our stretch goals and keep up the momentum!

Johnny & Chris O'Neal, founders of Brotherwise Games

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!

Boss Monster 101: Boss Cards

This is the first in a series of articles about the cards in Boss Monsterthe new “dungeon-building” game from Brotherwise Games. And what better way to kick off a series on card types than to talk about the first type of card you’ll hold in a game: the Boss card!

Given that the game is called Boss Monster, you’d be right to assume that Boss cards are pretty important. In fact, the first thing you’ll do in a game of Boss Monster is to randomly deal a Boss card to each player. For the rest of the game, your Boss will sit at the end of your dungeon, and its attributes can have a major impact on the game. Here’s a closer look at Cerebellus, the Father Brain:

Cerebellus, a.k.a. "Father Brain"

Cerebellus artwork by Katrina Guillermo

First, there’s an icon (A) indicating that this is a Boss card. While a Boss card looks a lot like the game’s Room cards, it does not count as a Room and can never be deactivated or destroyed.

Each Boss in the game has a special “Level Up” ability (B). This triggers the first time your dungeon hits its maximum length of five rooms. Because these abilities happen only once per game, they’re pretty powerful. The game gets tougher as you reach the endgame  (with Heroes being replaced by much stronger Epic Heroes), so these abilities can really come in handy!

Every Boss also has an XP value (C). This simply indicates who goes first: the player with the highest value takes the first turn. During the course of play, if there’s ever a question of priority, the player with the higher XP value must act first. Going first isn’t a huge advantage in Boss Monster, but it’s always nice!

Finally, the Boss card shows a treasure icon (D). Like every Room card, each Boss has treasure that lures a particular sort of hero. Cerebellus has a magic tome, which lures Mages. Holy relics lure Clerics, magic weapons lure Fighters, and sacks of gold lure Thieves. Luring Heroes with treasure is the heart of the game’s unique dungeon-building mechanic …but that’s a story for another article.

Thanks for learning about Boss cards, and click here to learn about Rooms and dungeon-building!