Published on December 18th, 2014 | by Justified Croak0
Terror In Meeple City – Review
Average time per game: 30 minutes
Suitable for ages: 8+
Number of players: 2-4
Terror in Meeple City (formerly Rampage) serves as a reminder of all those classic monster movies we all loved as kids, except with all those pesky human sub plots removed and with more destruction than you could waive a kaiju at. Terror in Meeple City is a face paced dexterity game for 2 – 4 players of ages 8 and up which is quite honestly going to bring the house down.
After a brief scrap with Warner brothers this year over the rights to the name Rampage, the newly titled Terror in Meeple City is back with a vengeance, and sporting some rather nifty new box art to boot. Players take on the role of giant lizards, stomping around downtown Whereever as they jump on buildings, gobble meeples (mini people), use breath attacks and knock out each other’s teeth as they compete for territory and a full belly.
Terror in Meeple City is not a game to be played first time, straight from the box. The board takes some time to assemble as certain components need to be stuck on to the board itself. The meeples and monsters also require stickering, which, while not entirely necessary with all the pieces, can help to bolster the strong thematics of the game – I prefer my meeples au naturel. The silver lining of course is this only needs to be done once.
To get the board ready for play, buildings are assembled by randomly choosing meeples and placing them in the corners of the floor tiles, stacking them up several layers. Vehicles are then placed at their starting locations across the board according to their colour. The rulebook does a great job of illustrating how to do all this in easy stages. Once these steps are complete, the board is almost ready for action and players move on to readying their monsters for carnage.
Monster setup requires each player to take a monster and its matching screen. Monsters start with 6 teeth (2 permanent and 4 teeth tokens). Next, the Runaway board is placed near the game board where it can be seen by all players; more on that later. The player may then place his paw token in the corner of the board closest to him and then the monster token on top.
Final stage of set up sees each player draw a character, power, and secret super power card – with cards not used this game returned to the box. Character and power cards are revealed to all whilst the secret super power, unsurprisingly, remains secret until the end of the game. These cards decide just what type of giant hungry lizard you’ll get to play this game.
The winner of Terror in Meeple City is the player with the most points at the end of the game. Players accrue points by devouring meeples, smashing buildings and clobbering monsters. The game begins with selection of the first player. Get ready for this – “the player who does the most convincing imitation of a giant monster starts the game” I won with my rendition of Mothra. Each game round consists of 1 turn for each player. On a turn a player has two actions. They may pick from any of the below and may perform the same action twice in one turn.
Move: Players may attempt to roam the city by flicking their paw token about the board. Where the token stops is where your monster ends up. If your token leaves the board then you loose a tooth and go back to the start position.
Demolish: If a players paw token is touching the sidewalk of a building then that player may attempt to smash it open to get at its meeples. The monster token is removed from the base and held above the building with arm parallel to the table and player seated. The player drops the monster on the building.
Toss a vehicle: If a players monster shares a neighbourhood with a vehicle then the vehicle can be placed on top of the monster token and flicked either at buildings, meeples, monsters or occasionally players depending on house rules.
Breath: Players may hold their monster token in place whilst resting their chin atop it. The player may then exhale attempting to knock over buildings or push meeples in to different areas of the board.
Monsters may also attack each other with in the city. If a player can use any of the above actions to knock over another players monster token then it may claim one of its teeth tokens. The attacking monster gobbles the tooth and the player places the token in its stomach (behind the monster screen)
Stomping, breath attacks, vehicle tosses and demolition almost always send meeples sprawling. If any make it off the game board, then they are considered to have escaped meeple town and are safe. Escaped meeples are placed on the runaway board which may end up punishing the monster careless enough to let the points/snacks flee successfully.
At the end of a player’s turn they have the opportunity to chow down. If meeples or floor tile pieces are in the same area as a monster and not supporting any game elements then they are considered to be on the menu. At the end of each turn a player may gobble as many meeples as they have teeth and unlimited floors. Anything gobbled goes behind the players screen and is considered in the monsters stomach.
The game ends when all monsters are out of removable teeth, the runaway board fills up, the final floor is gobbled or a player gets a vehicle flicked into their eye. The points are awarded for teeth, floors and sets of all 6 colours of meeples gobbled. Players may also receive a bonus for their power and/or secret super power which is now revealed. Highest score wins.
Terror in Meeple City is without a doubt a wonderfully thematic take on the dexterity genre. It works brilliantly for a monster themed geek session complete with dinosaur onsies and your monster movie of choice on in the background, or for a kids party that’s just a little different. With the random dealing of power and character cards in each game you’re almost certain to play each game a little differently from the last, Additionally, the plethora of game variants on the back of the rulebook can keep the game fresh play after play. I’m glad to see the main components in wood, with a nice finish as with any dexterity game like this you can be at risk of battering all parts involved fairly quickly but for the meeples and monsters at least, they should be around for many games to come. Last but not least is the price – it may not be the cheapest game on the shelf but given the amount of components included and the replayability I really think this one has a lot of bite for its buck.
Yet for all its strengths, there are more than a few shortcomings. First off there is a fair amount of faff involved. Initial set up can be a nightmare, especially if you’re intending to use all the stickers which don’t always fit the meeple or monster perfectly and require more dexterity to apply than the game itself does to play. I also found myself constantly referring to charts in the rulebook for information that could so easily be printed on the cards. I also have to question the manufacturing of the cardboard components. A few people seem to have had issues with warped boards or components not sticking to the board where they should (myself included) which can be a real pain. Most retailers are likely to exchange or refund for such problems but this is still a nuisance. These faulty boards seem to be in the minority however. On a final note – whilst the cards add a little personality to each monster, I really think they missed a trick here not having different monster models. It’s a small point I know, but could we not have had a gorilla? A giant moth? A beetle with a tortoise shell and drills for hands? Sigh.
I’ve always like my games steeped in a cool theme but generally tend to go for strategic game play over anything dexterous, so when I saw Terror in Meeple City I was stoked for the Giant Lizard Monsters eating people, but not so much for the flicking and dropping of pieces. Having put the game through its paces I certainly feel a little more affection towards the dex games because it does it well. Yes, there is certainly room for a couple of improvements but that won’t stop me playing this again. If you’re looking for a Kaiju romp with more strategy and less physical movement required then stick with the likes of king of Tokyo/New York but if you’re after some thing a little easier on the brain and don’t mind shuffling round your gaming table each turn to get a better angle on that sky scrapper, then get your claws on Terror in Meeple City because if you’re a fan of all things colossal and scaly then you could do a lot worse. I’m talking about you Godzilla (1998)