MonsterPocalypse: The need to know about 2.0
MonsterPocalypse by Privateer Press went off the radar a decade ago as Tim Burton optioned the movie rights then let the IP lay fallow. We got the Pacific Rim movies instead. But, don’t fear, MonPoc is back! Privateer Press is once again at the helm of their truly unique Monstrous Miniatures Combat game. Here’s what you need to know about MonPoc 2.0 and using your old collectible models in the new non-collectible format.
In 2008 Privateer Press released MonsterPocalypse to rave reviews. It was a thematic miniature rampage through cities as monsters flew, threw, and power attacked their way to the destruction of rival monsters. Left behind were the smoking (and often radioactive) ruins of buildings as well as trampled tanks, dinosaurs, and alien spaceships – the units that had bravely tried to aid their monster in battle against rival behemoths. The setting is a future Earth, the stakes the survival of the planet itself, and the factions of the Destroyer agenda clashed head on with the factions allied as Protectors.
MonPoc was classic Privateer Press. The game itself is tense and exciting with the heavy focus on resource management that’s the hallmark of PP games. Even though it’s an I-go-u-go game both players are fully engaged the whole time. It came in painted collectible format in blind boxes that, generally, contained a set number of random units and a building or a random monster. As with all collectable games it was best undertaken with a buddy or two so you could trade monsters, buildings and units back and forth in order to complete your faction, agenda, or full set if you were a completionist.
Then, they cancelled the apocalypse.
With rumours flying around faster than GUARD Strike Fighters the story resolved into the narrative that Tim Burton’s company had optioned the movie rights and wanted to make a movie in the MonPoc world. That would have been the best thing ever for MonPoc fans, if it had actually come to fruition. Instead, there was a (no doubt iron-clad contract enforced) complete media blackout on the full stop production of anything MonPoc – no more monsters, factions, units, maps, or buildings or official support and no official news at all except to say, “No comment.” The closest we got to a MonPoc style movie was Pacific Rim (2013). It certainly scratched that itch and got more than a few gamers to pull their MonPoc models out of deep storage, for a game or two at least.
In order to fight monsters, we created monsters of our own. – Raleigh Becket
A decade (and a ten-year contract?) later Privateer Press re-released MonPoc. Here’s how it compares to the original and the full MonsterPocalypse Rulebook 2018 if you want to read it for yourself.
The biggest change is the non-collectible hobby oriented figure focus. No more random or blind buy boxes. The new figures update the original sculpts to great advantage and are a lot of fun to work with. The grey resin is just the right hardness to allow fast and effective cutting, scraping, and filing away of the injector plugs and slight imperfections. They take primer well (I used Tamiya Fine White Primer) and provide emphasized detail for the new hobbyist but are equally receptive to advanced painting techniques.
My Defender X monster figure from the Protector GUARD faction was really fun to paint. It’s a huge chunky model with strategically placed details and panels lines. You can pose the torso and arms a little to get a unique pose.
The units too are a marked improvement over the original sculpts. They are slightly bigger and have a lot more crisp detail. All the nooks and crannies are designed to allow a final pin wash to seep into the spaces and emphasize the depth of detail. Although the monster I got in the starter box was blemish free the same cannot be said for the units. In total I bought twenty unit figures from the first wave releases. Two of them had casting issues. The first had a big bubble of air underneath an injector plug. The second was badly deformed and unfixable using hot water to soften and realign the resin. Privateer Press sent me replacement models ASAP when I went through their online complaint process; however, considering the cost of these figures a 20% failure rate is too high. Hopefully, they’ll get their resin casting and quality control process up to speed before wave two releases. Cleaned and primed models in hand they were a joy to build and paint.
There are six buildings to collect and paint from wave one. In name and, roughly, in rules they are the same as the original. The old favorites are here:
The buildings were all cleanly cast and not warped at all. That’s a good thing as a couple of the buildings are huge chunks of resin. The skyscraper is a full four inches high. With a minimum of cleanup they look great with lots of detail that will allow priming, painting, dry brushing, and a pin wash to bring out their best with a minimum of effort. I’ll post pictures of the finished buildings in a future post.
Rather than an exhaustive summary I’ll keep things to a point form list and assessment of the key rule changes. Privateer Press has managed to simplify the game without compromising strategic play or the reward practiced players can get from executing combos to best advantage.
√ The key dice pool mechanic has stayed the same. Dice as both a resource to be produced and earned and then rolled for action and combat resolution keeps this I-Go-You-Go game ticking along at a rapid pace. Three colours of dice have a different distribution of strikes and super strikes. The white dice are essentially activation dice and move back and forth between monster and unit pools. The blue dice are boost dice, gained as a static bonus from using an ability to best advantage. This is how PP has built -in faction flavour. Blue dice tend to steer you in a certain direction. For example, the starter box GUARD faction tends to get blue dice when they do ranged or blast attacks whereas the starter box Planet Eaters are rewarded with blue dice for melee attacks. The red power dice are earned by both units and monsters but spent by monsters only to do power attacks like Body Slam, Ram, Rampage, Stomp, Sway and Throw. Sounds like fun doesn’t it!
√ The number of special rules, triggers, advantages, and myriad of rule benders and breakers has been drastically reduced. MonPoc 2.0 is greatly streamlined so synergies and combinations are intuitive and limited to two or three factors at a time. Gone are the dozens of special rules, triggers, reactions, and advantages and multiple cheat sheets that weighed down the original version near the end of its print run. You no longer have to be a walking rules encyclopedia to play MonPoc.
√ Units are more efficient now to spawn, activate, and attack with. You can get more units on the board and do more with them quicker. They also further emphasize and reward playing to a faction’s strength. GUARD tanks have high defense and can shoot a long way. They are best deployed in the player’s ‘backfield’ to secure buildings so as to produce power dice and grant bonuses. If a stray unit or monster gets too far forward, combined attacks from tanks can quickly ruin their day.
√ Similarly, buildings have had their abilities and special rules distilled down to simple but fun and rewarding effects. It must be said, however, this is one area where you can see that PP has sacrificed intuitive game play for over-simplification. Most buildings now produce hazards when they are destroyed. These hazards do damage to units and monsters that are thrown or swatted onto them. Inexplicably, the nuclear power plant produces a rubble tile instead of a hazard tile. This was done so that the GUARD faction has a reliable building to heal its monsters so that it is on par with the Planet Eaters in this regard but, still, a missed opportunity for a special radioactive tile!
Despite a few miscasts and rules quibbles MonsterPocalypse 2.0 is a leaner, meaner, and hands down better game than the original. The new painting aspect of the game will put a few people off but PP knows its audience is primarily hobbyist gamers. The high cost of the buildings as well will be a deterrent for some; particularly, for those who want to participate in the organized competitive play format of the game. For most, however, the ability to use their old MonPoc models with the new rules combined with the streamlined rules and fantastic new miniatures will make sure that the Monsterpocalypse isn’t cancelled this time around.
What are your thoughts on the new format of MonsterPocalypse? Do you like the new version or the first one better?