Game: Giant Monster Rampage
Publisher: Mystic Eye Games
Series: Giant Monster Rampage
Review Dated: 25th, July 2002
Reviewer’s Rating: 8/10 [ Really good ]
Total Score: 21
Average Score: 7.00
Stomp! Crush! Destroy!
Giant Monster Rampage is a set of rules from Mystic Eye Games, perhaps better known for their The Hunt: Rise of Evil d20 series, that gives us the means to turn our old monster toys and leg… oh, sorry, stackable plastic blocks into a giant monster war game. The old monsters toys, when you find some on a similar scale, are, of course, the models for the battling giant monsters and the stackable plastic blocks will briefly be buildings before they’re destroyed in titanic battles.
It’s not a complex set of rules. The back of the book suggests the game is suitable for players 12 years of age and older. I’m [age censored] and it appeals to me! Giant Monster Rampage is an easy read. It’s a lightweight book, 56 pages in total and that’s large enough to escape the dreaded staple binding. There are plenty of pictures inside; pencil sketches rather than colour or even stills from those infamous Japanese movies but the black and white illustrations are enough to get the ambience across.
The rules aren’t complex but the scope of the game is surprisingly impressive. At a glance Giant Monster Rampage seems to extend as far as finding a cool looking monster (or robot, or alien, etc) and then working out which way it faces, whether its going to be stronger than it is faster or even what special abilities it might have. There are pre-built monsters ready for use (you’ll have to find your own toy) if you don’t want to do this. On the other hand, I was pleased to see that when it comes to custom building your own monster there is a fine mix between spending points for powers and just seeing what the toy looks like. Once the monsters have been finished (and there’s a monster sheet at the back of the book rather than a character sheet) play begins with an equal straight forwardness. The actual battle rules have a bit more twists and turns than the monster creation but they’re such that you’re left scratching your head. For example, at the start of the turn there’s a simple d10 (the system uses d10s) just to see if anything happens to your monster – you know, like annoying fly-bys from the local (and entirely doomed) air force. The Atomic Power score is determined randomly each time around too. I think this might frustrate serious war-gamers since it’s such an important attribute but the randomness helps lighten the mood and reflects what seems to happen in the old monster rampage films which inspired the game (so the reason why Godzilla simply didn’t start the fight against Gigan by breathing radio-active fire everywhere was because he didn’t roll high enough for this atomic power in that turn). Another important factor from these wonderful films (and yes, I’m a great fan of these movies) is that whole cities are turned to rumble as the gigantic wrestling match rages on. This is why buildings are represented by stackable bricks in Giant Monster Rampage; so you break your buildings apart and scatter the rubble everywhere when your monsters smash into them.
Terrain is nicely dealt with in Giant Monster Rampage. Hills, woods and river have their effect but they don’t bog the game down. The movement penalty for those monsters that wade through woods and rivers is simply half and hills only get in the way if they’re too steep the climb. The book quickly suggests means and methods by which you can find model terrain or improvise your own; such as using a circle of green felt for woods or a pile of books with a cloth over them for hills.
Combat is as simple. Flying creatures on the “battlefield” are deemed to be at an altitude where they can hit and be hit by other giant creatures. Melee and ranged combat is covered, as is the monster habit of picking things up (including other monsters) and using them as a thrown weapon.
Then there’s experience. I wasn’t expecting to see experience points in a game like this because its inclusion implies that the game can be run campaign style rather than a series of disjointed one offs. Since the players are likely only to have one monster on the go (perhaps more) at any time experience becomes possible when trying to deal with experience points for ten thousand imperial troops would simply be a nightmare. If you’re playing a campaign of battles then your monster gets more powerful with experience but picks up wounds and scars too.
That’s it. Well. No. After this there are a number of optional more advanced rules. If you want to run your giant monster rampages underwater or, say, while a mad scientist is playing with his weather-making machine – then you can.
It’s ability to run Giant Monster Rampage as a campaign, as a tournament or as a one off game which (provided you’ve got the bits and pieces together) doesn’t drain everybody of energy before the actions get underway that helps boost this from a good set of monster combat rules to a great one. Even better than the different types of games is the ability to change the victory conditions. You don’t simply have to “Destroy All Monsters” but you can award the winner’s title to the monster that smashes up the most buildings. In fact, there are a number of suggests possible scenarios, for a different number of players and this even includes a single player game.
I really rather liked Giant Monster Rampage. I am a great fan of the genre though and the game appeals to the ‘can’t-be-bothered-to-collect-and-paint-and-set-up-epic-battles’ gamer that I am. If you have a little bit of the war gamer in you and you can name a giant monster who isn’t Godzilla or King Kong then I’m pretty sure you’ll enjoy a rampage with Giant Monsters too.