Overboss is a new tile laying game from Brotherwise Games, the publisher who brought us Boss Monster a decade ago. I’ve got to be honest that I judged this game unfairly when it originally hit Kickstarter earlier in 2020 under the name Overlord. I wasn’t feeling the box art and I wasn’t really looking for another game experience like Boss Monster.
I’m writing this review because I’ve absolutely loved the experience in this box and I totally regret not jumping on this Kickstarter. Thankfully, Overboss is at retail now and there are plenty of reasons to pick this title up.
Most Powerful in the Land
Overboss is a 1 to 5 player experience where you’re competing to build the most dangerous and powerful overworld around. You can choose to play a 3 x 4 grid or 4 x 4 grid as you build out this deadly kingdom. On your turn you’ll draft a tile that is paired with a creature or monster token from the middle of the table. These random pairings of tokens and tiles are rarely a perfect match.
Each tile has a specific way that it scores at the end of the game. For instance, forest tiles will score based on the number of forests you collect during the course of the game. The more you collect, the more points you earn. Collecting camp tiles will score points based on the variety of different colored flags that appear on these tiles. Some tiles score based on placement on the board or based on the specific tile set a player collects.
The tokens that are paired with these tiles are randomly chosen from a bag. When a token matches the terrain tile they are placed on, they’ll award the player an additional victory point at the end of the game. Most of the time you’ll find yourself weighing the options and forgoing that additional bonus point.
During a game of Overboss you’ll see Miniboss tokens show up which award 2 victory points no matter what tile they are placed on. Players usually go straight for Portal tokens which allow the player to swap or replace tokens that are on tiles that aren’t a perfect match. These Portal tokens are super valuable.
Band of Monsters
Overboss is more than matching creature tokens with their perfect terrain. Tokens that are from the same terrain type can band together. This means they fall in the same row or column on your board. These “bands” score additional end game points.
I really enjoy the layers in the gameplay of Overboss. It can be easy to focus only on terrain types in your first game. As you gain more experience, you realize the various ways that you can out score your opponent. I’ve found playing on the 4 x 4 side of the player boards allows you a little more room to strategize by giving you an additional row.
Something for Everyone
I appreciate games that allow you to introduce new scoring mechanics or advanced features that add to the complexity of the game. Overboss does an excellent job with this by having 10 different terrain types. During a game you’ll use 5 terrain tiles and a set of dungeon tiles that are included in every game. Each terrain type has a different scoring mechanic and unique look. 5 of these terrain types are more advanced than the others and it’s a great way to bring more depth to the game.
Overboss comes with 10 Boss cards that give players an asymmetric ability and scoring objective. Once players are familiar with Overboss, this is a great way to bring a twist to the table. Each Boss card has a pixel art boss illustration and a one time ability that triggers when the player reveals their card.
If your looking for a little “take that” in your game, introduce the Command cards into the games. This deck of cards can throw a wrench into your opponents overworld or make a necessary adjustment to your own board. These Command cards can be devious and is a fun variant to add once you’ve played a couple times.
Overboss has been a big hit for our family. Our kids have enjoyed not only the gameplay but also the retro pixel art throughout the game. Drafting tiles each round is fast-paced and smooth. The game feels like a puzzle as players find just the right placement of each tile on their board.
With multiple variants in the game box, Overboss can please a wide range of players from new to seasoned gamers. The base rule set is easy to teach and a little light. It’s a great setup for introducing the more advanced tiles and additional variants in the box.
So Many Tiles and Tokens
I was surprised by how quickly Overboss plays, I was also surprised by how tedious the game is to put away. Brotherwise Games uses GameTrayz to keep the components sorted and organized. Every time you open the box you feel like there’s a menu of tiles that you build your game experience from. After playing a 20-30 minute game, we spend at least another 10 minutes or more sorting tokens, tiles, cards and placing them back into their trays.
We have plenty of games with loads of components that have to be sorted and stored after each play. The difference is that Overboss plays so quickly that setting up and putting the game away feels like more of an inconvenience than normal. If your family is pressed for time on a weeknight, this can be a deciding factor in whether Overboss comes to the table.
The tedious setup and packing away of Overboss is just about the only negative in this otherwise fantastic tile laying game. There’s so much fun packed in this box and the game variants allow the game to grow as you play. Darren Calvert nails the retro pixel art style that brings this overworld to life on the table.
Now that I’m done writing my thoughts on Overboss, it’s time to wake the kids up and get this game back on the table.
- Multiple variants in the box means lots of ways to play
- Retro pixel art style stands out
- Tile drafting and placement is smooth and fast-paced
- No shortage of point scoring opportunities
- There’s no great way to shuffle 60 tiles during game setup
- Tack on 10 to 12 minutes to clean up the game