At Maricopacon 2014 the Land of the Nerds staff had a chance to play a couple of interesting card games specifically for review for our readers. We played the game at Maricopacon, and generally liked it, but decided the best way to review the game would be when we had a mixed audience of players that did not include the game’s designer (who stepped in to show us the rules after initial attempt to play the game).
From the box:
“Teratozoic (from Greek Terato- of monsters, -zoic, of an era; “A era of monsters” is a game of building the best monsters you can in an age of rapid, random mutation and retaining the best traits from each generation in your own slowly-stabilizing gene pool.”
The era of play determines the following rules of the game:How many cards the players use from their starter deck
How many cards the players use from the full deck
How many cards the players MUST play each era
How many cards the winner of each round can steal from others
How many cards all players get to retain from their own monsters
No matter what era, the players use 5 cards to build monsters, until the very final era, when the players must build 3 large, complete, single-color monsters.
Each card has a score on it, and in most cases, whichever player has the highest score wins the hand.
The eras end when the common deck is empty of monster parts.
There are three basic monster colors: Purple, Green, and Orange, and each monster color has a coding on the card to dictate color (to aid the color blind). Each card has a score to help determine how useful it is to the ultimate monster.
Cards are divided into basic types:
Era Cards: Let players know what the era is and what it’s rules are.
Basic Rules Cards: a guide so players know how to score
Basic monster parts (Brains, mouths, limbs, bodies)
Advanced parts (weapons, genetic advantages) that deviate from basic rules (Doubling scores, for example)
Cheater cards: Okay, that’s not what they are called, but that’s what I’m calling them. These cards are WONDERFUL to have in your hand, but are HORRIBLE if others get them. These include:
Breathing Fire (21 points)
Robotic Body (15 points, doubled if the monster is complete)
A Phoenix (11 points, but if you lose you still get to steal cards from your buddies)
a Bomber (3 points, but lowest score in the hand wins)
The game is fun, and can create some amazing monster combinations.
The printed rules have a quick-start guide and there is a card for each player to help understand the rules.
This is going to sound silly, but our initial play-through happened at a dealer’s table at a convention, where we were distracted with a lot of noise and passers-by whilst peddling our wares. So, even with the quick Once we figured out how to play, the game was actually quite fun. Players build as many monsters as they can every single hand of play, and have a chance to steal genetic traits from other players to hold on to for future monsters.
The biggest thing against this game is how overpowered the cards I call the “cheater cards” can be. If you noticed, three of them are worth an obscene amount of points, especially when the bulk of the cards are only worth 1-6 points.
The second biggest negative is that after a certain point in the game, it can be next to impossible to break a winning streak. Breathing fire and Robot Body cannot be gained by a winning hand (they must be discarded). About the only way to beat them is with the bomber.
There should be more than just one “bomber,” which might make it easier to break a winning streak.
Overall, Teratozoic is a fun game, just a little difficult.