Monster Hunter World: The Board Game is a Streamlined Game Experience
Monster Hunter World: The Board Games comes in a really big box, regardless of whether you get the Wildspire Waste set or the Ancient Forest Set. Each has its own unique fighters and monsters, but the core concepts remain the same. I’ve had the chance to begin my ‘campaign’ to play each of these games, and have come away quite impressed. Video games adapted to board games don’t always go as planned – this one does, and captures the essence of the video game magnificently!
Out of the Box
There is a lot going on when you first unbox Monster Hunter World: The Board Game but don’t let the myriad of cardboard pieces and cards get you down. Try to also not become overwhelmed with the size and detail of the rule book either. Listen, I won’t sugar coat this – there is a lot going on in Monster Hunter World and to understand it all will take a bit of time. However, the game flows so incredibly well that after a few turns things will quickly start becoming second nature.
The sculpts on the Monsters are second-to-none, and while I wish the Hunters themselves had a bit more detail (although because of their small size, the lack of it can be understood). I think the artwork on the cards could have been more interesting to look at, but overall the components all do the job well. One piece of advice – don’t put the monster health dial together backwards (10s on the right, ones on the left)…you will NEVER get that undone.
How Does it Work?
Players have the option of just battling a monster or working their way through a campaign book. Battling a monster can be done as a one-off, setting up the game board and placing a monster, setting up the various decks and then just having a good time. If you want, there is a campaign to play, which is incredibly light on story, but walks you through the various monsters, all at different levels too.
There is a narrative adventure to complete first, before laying out the board and beginning your monster fight. The concepts work well and the game flows very nicely. As I said off the top, it might appear pretty overwhelming when you get started, but work through it – it all comes together nicely and will be second nature before you know it!
What I really Like about Monster Hunter World
The reason why companies adapt video games into board games is two fold: first, you want to bring fans of video games over to the board game world where they might want to enjoy the franchise again, just in a different way; and two, they want to capture the essence of the video game in board game form.
I’ve played many video games adapted into board games and some of them have been VERY bad. Recently, The Witcher: Old World (link) got me really excited about video game-board games again, so I was very excited when Monster Hunter arrived.
I wouldn’t say I have an extensive history with Monster Hunter – I briefly played Monster Hunter World, and put in a significant amount of time into Monster Hunter Stories 2. That being said, I’ve played enough of the franchise to understand how the systems work on Xbox, and I can say with confidence that it extends to the board game VERY well. Specifically, I think three things transferred well: 1) Exerting yourself (using Stamina) to attack monsters; 2) Attacking monsters from specific sides to create an advantage (weak spots); and 3) Breaking items off monsters to use in crafting!
Using Stamina to Attack Monsters (and more)
Monster Hunter is not a hack and slash video game – it is a tactical battle that requires awareness and strategy. Part of that is using your stamina effectively, as comboing together too many slashes, dodges, etc. will deplete your stamina and make you vulnerable to attack. The same goes for the board game. As you play cards, dodge, or take hits, you will be placing cards on your stamina track, slowly filling it up. Once it’s full, you won’t be able to perform actions until cards are removed from the stamina row.
I think the design team did an excellent job implementing this into Monster Hunter World: The Board Game. Deciding when to place cards into your stamina row is very important, and could be the difference between winning and losing.
Attacking Monsters From Specific Sides
A key aspect of Monster Hunter is what side of a monster you choose to attack. Monsters have a variety of different body parts that might contain a weakness the Hunter’s can exploit. As Monster Hunter World is an action game, maneuvering your character to make key hits is pretty easy.
Once again, I think the board game does a fantastic job of working this into the games mechanics. Each monster base is broken down into quarters by two small lines, and this will indicate what ‘side’ of the monster you are attacking (depending on your position on the board). If you want to maneuver your Hunter into a better position, you’ll need to use movement to do so. Again, another great strategic element that makes the board game feel like the video game!
Breaking Items Off Monsters to Use for Crafting
Crafting better gear is another key element of Monster Hunter World and that is alive and well in the board game as well. What I love is that the board game found a way to make breaking materials off monsters work so well. Attacking specific monsters in the video game to get crafting parts is very important – I had full monster hunts specifically just to find crafting pieces. Crafting is alive and well in Monster Hunter World, and again (do I sound like a broken record?) the design team did an excellent job.
On the Monster cards, each “section” of the monster can be broken to obtain crafting materials. Once enough break pieces have been placed on the monster, materials will be broken off and then can be used for crafting. Each player has a board that indicates all the items that can be crafted and what it takes to craft said item. You will look through a deck of cards pulling the items you are using and placing them around your board. Again, this works incredibly well and I’m so thrilled.
There isn’t much in the way of negativity to throw towards Monster Hunter World: The Board Game. Perhaps over time, small things might come to the surface, but so far I’m incredibly impressed. The production value is top notch (although a few cardboard pieces tore when removing them from the punchboard) and the gameplay works so well. If the goal was to capture the essence of the video game and deliver it in board game form, they nailed it. I cannot recommend Monster Hunter World enough!