Ten Year Monster Stomp
No, its not Trick or Treat ... just
GM Mark Love's monster prizes giveaway.
The campy Monsters Ravage America
game trends to draw a younger crowd.
MONSTERS Ravage America (MRA) celebrated its
10-year anniversary in 2008. It had broken the convention attendance
record in 1998 (topped only by Titan the Arena that same
year.) The game is coached, but demos were also available for
three of the four heats, which included strategy tips. This has
always been a good choice for a pickup game for an open time
slot, and scheduling times were coordinated with Eric Freeman's
group. Attendance rose 40%, as a whopping 32 of the 77 players
(or 42%) were new to the adult tournament in 2008. 23% of the
players were female, who won 19% of the games played. International
players included Nick Page from Toronto, Ontario, and Haim Hochboim
from Rehovot, Israel.
Well over 400 different people have played this game or MONSTERS
Menace America (2005) since MRA was introduced by co-designer
Ben Knight at the 1998 Avaloncon. While 61% of the 2008 games
used the Ravage version, half of the semi-finals were
Ravage games, and Ravage was restored as the Final
for its 10-year anniversary.
To celebrate the 10-year anniversary, supper from Andy
Nelson's BBQ was provided to the surprised folks who ran
the game auction, where a shrink-wrap copy of Ravage had
been sold for $80. Prizes from Halloween stores and MONSTER-themed
DVDs were provided to anyone who won a game in the tournament.
The gamemaster lent a Mad MONSTER Party (1969) DVD to
the Host, which played it on the big screen at the pool on Friday
night. A hat with a bunch of eyeballs hanging from it was offered
to the first player who won Menace with Zorb (the eyeball
MONSTER), if they promised to wear it at the convention. Codoley
Kerry claimed the hat, but swapped it for the low-budget Blood
Car (2007), a dvd about a time when gas is $36 per gallon,
where a guy invents a car that runs on human blood. (He was still
laughing about it after watching it on the television in the
room next to the Host 's Good Spirits bar.) David Pack,
who taught Menace for the Junior tournament, claimed the
of the Mutants!
In 2007 the MONSTERS that can choose two mutations and keep
the best one (usually the best one for the fight at the end)
were both SHUT OUT: Bronacle in Ravage and Toxicor in
Menace had not won a single game. But in 2008, these two
MONSTERS came back with a vengeance! Josh Githens set the standard,
winning with Bronacle at the Wed. Late Knight Fight with
what was the highest Ravage scoresheet in the entire tournament,
with 50. Toxicor won 33% of the Menace games while Bronacle
tied Tomagagi to take 23% of the Ravage games:
Menace Winners: Toxicor 6, Zorb 4, Megaclaw
3, Konk 3, Tomanagi 2, Gargantis 0
Ravage Winners: Bronacle 3, Tomanagi 3 (champion),
Frothomir 2, Ixitpla 2, Konk 2, Glow Wyrm 1, Swamp Lasher 0,
Dust Devil 0.
Today's Army: Ravage, not Menace
Players controlling the Army excelled in Ravage but
did poorly in Menace. Despite instituting house rules
and map overlays provided since 2005 to weaken the Ravage
Navy and strengthen the Ravage Marines, the Marines still
Menace Winners controlled: Navy 7, Air
Force 7, Marines 3, Army 1
Ravage Winners controlled: Army 6, Air Force 4,
Navy 2, Marines 1
The 10 Ravage winners included two players new to the
tournament, Josh Detamore 21, and Danielle Zack 15, who brought
Stef Speck to roll her dice. Two-time champion Nick Henning may
have nine years Ravage experience, but he's still 21.
At 18, Alex Bell added to the Youth for Ravage group.
Other Ravage winners: Paul Bolduc, David Brooks, Francis
Spencer, Steve Packwood, and Paul Weintraub. Three-time champion
Marvin Birnbaum became the father of a newborn baby five days
before the convention, and did not play, being lured back to
his lair, after appearing at the Host Tuesday night. The GM told
David Brooks prior to his Heat 2 win that he had a premonition
that David was going to win the championship; (he'd taken 2nd
in a narrow loss to Rebecca Hebner in 2001.)
David Pack, 16, became the top seed in the tournament by winning
Menace with both Toxicor and Zorb. After first-time player Carol
Haney attended a Menace demo, she reluctantly helped fill
a Ravage board. She praised David Pack for taking her
under his wing and helping her learn that version. The gamemaster,
Mark Love, had never won a Menace game in its four years
at this convention, but had the highest scoresheet in the entire
tournament in 2008, with 54 points using the infamy-happy Megaclaw.
Menace winners who were new to this convention were: Jason
Levine, Kerry Codoley, Lexi Shea, Kimberly Gregson,, Matthew
Morgal, William Sparks, and James Sparks Sr. Returning Menace
winners included: Dave Denton, Joanna Melton, Mike Gibson, Rod
Davidson, Katie Dougherty, and Greg Kulp.
Thanks to the convention's new advancement rules that allowed
a five-player option, all 25 winners could have advanced. But
there were six no-shows, so Mary Ellen Powers advanced as the
only alternate. She had the three highest alternate scores, which
included the 2nd and 3rd highest scoresheets in the entire tournament,
despite losing those games. She played Menace against
2007 finalist Dave Denton and Matthew Morgal, but they all fell
to Jason Levine, who used Konk to accumulate significantly more
health with 36. In the other Menace semi-final, David
Pack stomped both New York City and Los Angeles, but only got
8 health for both combined. None of the MONSTERS got much health,
and Lexi Shea had 11 infamy markers, but she, Joanna Melton,
and Rod Davidson all fell to David Pack's Toxicor.
In the first Ravage semi-final, GM Mark Love once again
could not resist the health-rich northeast, and drew the attention
of all three of his opponents' militaries, who beat him to a
pulp! Francis Spencer had decent health points, and Danielle
Zack got a lot of infamy markers, but Alex Bell's Frothomir had
31 health and 2 infamy, which was enough to send him to the Final.
The other Ravage Final was a close game where all players
had good health at the end. Paul Weintraub had the same experience
as Mark, drawing lots of military attention for hanging around
the northeast, (which has 60% of the health points on the map.)
He was in a rematch with Nick Henning, who won the plaque in
their 2004 Final. If this were a Euro-game, Nick would have clearly
won, with the highest scoresheet of 45. But in this game, accumulating
health, infamy, and mutations is how you try to build the strongest
MONSTER. You still have to fight to the finish! 2001 finalist
David Brooks smartly got control of the Challenge, something
that was recommended to everyone who attended the demos. David
rolled up the starting health of the two Paul's: Weintraub and
Bolduc, and became strong enough to overcome Nick and return
to the Final.
Ravage remained the default game and three of the semi-final
winners thoroughly understood it. Jason Levine (who really
wanted some Andy Nelson BBQ), was a first-time Menace
player in 2008, so he was given a quick run-through of the differences.
Ravage was actually a Coached game before Menace
was published in 2005. All four militaries are needed for game
balance, so the GM was dragging first-time players in to fill
boards. (The new player, usually a wargamer, typically won those
games.) David Pack had to catch a flight, so there was constant
pressure to keep the game moving fast.
David Brooks of Tennessee, Tomanagi the Carnosaur & Army,
Lair #4, the Bermuda Triangle.
David Pack of Colorado, Glow Wyrm & Marines, rolled doubles,
Lair #6, Luray Caverns.
Jason Levine of New York, Bronacle of the Depths & Air Force,
Lair #4, Great Lakes.
Alex Bell of Maryland, Konk the Great Ape & Navy, Lair #6,
The GM silently observed that this was going to be a bloody
match, with all four MONSTERS starting the game just outside
the health-rich northeast, which meant that all four militaries
would also concentrate there. Despite that, everyone managed
to stomp something good within several turns. David Brooks' Tomanagi
stomped Boston but was then retreated. David Pack's Glow Wyrm
sat to metamorphose so he could fly at 5, and then stomped Chicago.
Ravage has a goal site for an extra die of health, which
was not part of Menace. Jason Levine, unfamiliar with
this difference, walked Bronacle past his goal and then backtracked
to stomp it, wasting a turn. Alex Bell used Konk to stomp both
New York City and Philadelphia. This drew the attention of Jason's
Air Force, who pressured him to disappear off the map. After
mutating with Gamma Goo at Three Mile Island, David had Tomanagi
disappear as well.
By mid-game, David Pack's $5 billion attempt for military
research succeeded and he became Guard Commander, allowing him
to now move the eight National Guard units. He beat down Jason's
Bronacle to 6 health with seven Marines and one Guard, prompting
him to disappear. Alex had Konk reappear out west, and stomped
Los Angeles, and sent his military after David Pack, who responded,
"You will pay dearly for that!" David Brooks brought
Tomanagi back in Lair #6 at the St. Lawrence River. Glow Wyrm
mutated and got Beserk, which provides an extra attack in the
first round of combat in the Ravage version (as opposed
to five extra attacks in Menace.) Jason brought Bronacle
back in Lair # 2, Great Salt Lake, near three mutation sites.
Alex stomped his own base to get San Diego, and picked up Fusion
Cells from military research.
The shape of the game changed dramatically, as David Brooks
picked up Cutbacks from military research. All
information is public in MONSTERS, including any diplomacy. David
Brooks made a deal with David Pack: he would NOT use Cutbacks
to eliminate David Pack's Guard Commander card, as long as the
National Guard units were not used against him, for the remainder
of the game. David Brooks had made a similar non-aggression pact
in the 2001 Final, but his opponent later broke the deal and
attacked him, when David's strength surpassed that of Rebecca
Hebner. The 2008 deal made a lot of sense for both Davids. It
became the first deal in the history of the tournament to contribute
heavily to the outcome of the game.
As the endgame approached, Pack used the Guard with his Marines
to attack Bell's Konk in Baja, causing him to disappear. David's
Tomanagi reappeared in the Gulf of Mexico and waded into Tampa.
He picked up Laser Mines from research and put them in Phoenix.
Pack's Glow Wyrm disappeared, as did Levine's Bronacle. Bell's
Konk reappeared in Albany and he got Mecha-Monster through research.
Pack's military beat Konk down to 2 health. Levine pulled the
Blonde Lure, which became the turning point of
the game. He placed it on Pack's lair #6 which required him to
reappear there and face a large military force. The young Pack
sharply used the Chopper Lift as part of his military move, which
precedes combat resolution, to move his own MONSTER away from
the military. But this only delayed the inevitable. Since Pack
was using his Guard against Levine and Bell, he made himself
a target. Levine attacked him with Anti-matter, Super Colossal
Guy and three Air Force units, sending him to Hollywood.
The Davids Pact drew Bell's attention to Brooks,
attacking Tomanagi with three Navy cruise missiles, with the
chance to inflict 12 damage. Brooks failed to knock any of them
down! Bell then rolled 1-2-1, which meant ZERO hits, AND he mutated
Brooks TWICE! gifting Brooks with War Spikes (do 4 damage instead
of 3) and High Octane Blood (attack first in the Challenge.)
There was silence for a second, since Brooks had 25 health, while
Bell and Levine each had 6, and Pack was in Hollywood with zero.
Bell extended his hand to shake Brooks', saying, "THAT was
AWESOME!!!!" The outcome of the game was now
Pack rolled to break out of Hollywood and got a 2: too little.
This was the first time in the 10-year history of the tournament
that a finalist was in Hollywood and unable to participate in
the Challenge. (Disappeared MONSTERS always participate anyway.)
He ran to catch his plane. Bell observed, "I have NO infamy.
Oh, that's NOT a good thing!" Brooks controlled the Challenge
and quickly dispatched Konk, then Bronacle, then Super Colossal
Guy. He rolled three 6's to knock out Mecha-Monster. He had lost
to Rebecca Hebner by the outcome of a single die in 2001. But
now, seven years later, he won handily with the gentleman's agreement.
David Brooks donned the king's crown and red velvet robe the
GM provided for the 10-year anniversary. Alex Bell's two toys
from ravaged bases gave him 2nd place, breaking the tie with
Alex Bell (left) won this game
Finalists assemble for the Monster
MONSTERS Menace America Junior
GM Mark Love provides lots of monster
prizes for the kids.
Mark does monster impressions for
his little monsters.
19 little monsters, aged 12 or under, played in the 2008 junior
tournament, but the best critters were:
1st: David Rennert (improving from 2nd last year)
2nd: Matt Leader
3rd: Brian Pappas
4th: Joseph Mansfield
5th: Brian Sherwood
6th: Thomas Melton