Here at EN World, I discuss all-ages tabletop role-playing games, board games, or card games. Does it engage the players at the kids’ gaming table? Would it cut it at the adults’ table? Is it genuinely fun for every age? Monster Slayers: Heroes of Hesiod and Champions of the Elements are a pair of all-ages light board games/light tabletop RPG encounters from Wizards of the Coast. Promoted as an introduction for 6-year-olds to a stripped down version of the world’s most popular role-playing game, these PDFs are based on Lukas Ritter’s Monster Slayers YA series of novels. Both print-and-play games are written by Susan J. Morris and contain combat rules, pre-generated characters, monster and hero tokens, and boards, all for free.
Each player takes either one of five pre-generated heroes or the Dungeon Master’s role. The pre-gens have three stats – Armor Class, Hit Points, and Speed – as well as an Attack Power that deals one point of damage, and a Special Power.
The rules are covered over a single page. Each round, the monsters go first then the heroes take their turn. During each side’s turns, they can move up to their Speed in squares, use their Attack Power, or use their Special Power.
The heroes have several built-in advantages:
- There are never more than two (of the four total) monsters in play at a time
- The Champion of Fire counts as one creature despite the fact that it can appear as four independent creatures
- The monsters attack the hero with the most Hit Points
- The monsters never attack the same hero two rounds in a row
- The heroes are healed periodically
The game boards are eight squares by ten squares. The heroes are placed on the board as the players or DM desires while the monsters have specific starting locations. Effectively, the battle continues until the heroes win.
The art by Emi Tanji is the biggest win. Highly stylized and cartoony, it captures the aesthetic of games for 6-year-olds.
Do the Monster Slayers games win the kids’ table? As role-playing games, no. Despite a story introduction, there are no reasons to make in-character statements causing this product to miss the atmosphere of a RPG. As a light board game, it is a win. The look is right for an all-ages game. While the results are a foregone conclusion, that is by design and not a fault when considering the target audience.
Would Monster Slayers work at the adults’ table? No. Both games slant too heavily toward the heroes’ victory to be a challenge. The games touch on a few pieces of D&D terminology, but stop well short of acting as a lead-in to 4e (the system at the time of Heroes of Hesiod) or 5e, or Lukas Ritter’s YA novels. However, for a quick night of family fun, the ease-of-play, look, and price points are worth the download.