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Terror in Meeple City

Entry updated 22 April 2016. Tagged: Game.

Board Game (2013). Repos Production. Designed by Antoine Bauza and Ludovic Maublanc.

Monsters are attacking Meeple City! They are roaring their terrible roars and baring their terrible teeth and eating everything in sight! Meeples everywhere are fleeing for their lives, but the hungry monsters have no remorse!

Terror in Meeple City is a dexterity game for 2-4 players, a lighthearted take on Monster Movies in board game form in which the players take the role of giant Godzilla/Gojira-type Monsters. The object of the game is to destroy as much as possible of the City, which is built up on a three dimensional board, and eat as many of its people or meeples [see below] as possible. Points are scored for collecting matching meeples and pieces of destroyed buildings. The game was originally called Rampage, but concerns about similarity to the 1986 Midway Videogame of the same name led to the current title.

The physical nature of the game means that players are often moving around the board itself, and Terror in Meeple City frequently takes longer to set up than it does to knock down. The game is part of a solid tradition in boardgames with a central narrative of B-movie monsters destroying a city; other examples include King of Tokyo (2011) and King of New York (2014) (see also Richard Garfield).

The board, the size of a large chessboard, is marked with a city map; Meeple City is constructed at the start of play by stacking alternating cardboard tiles – each representing one storey of a building – with meeples, who support each of the four corners and serve to elevate the playing area and make the "buildings" relatively precarious. The board then resembles a cityscape seen from above, and is split into sections marked by borders. Players each control a monster; a 5cm tall figure of a Dinosaur placed on a wooden disc, upon which is printed a picture of the dinosaur's feet. During the game, players take two actions of four possible moves. Unless they have a special ability allowing them to do so, they cannot repeat an action on their turn. They can stomp their monster around the board, by removing the monster from its disc and flicking the disc across the board, which may cause the piece to come to rest underneath one of the "buildings" or place it strategically on the board. They can attack a building by lifting their piece up directly above the "feet" disc and dropping the monster from a great height (although their arm must be parallel to the board) on to the board below. Monsters are oddly cognizant of jaywalking, so this action can only take place if the figure is on a sidewalk (marked on the board) or if its disc has come to rest underneath a building. They can replace the monster piece on its feet and breathe fire by resting their chin on the top of it and blowing at the board to dislodge meeples or buildings. Finally, they can pick up a car piece (if they are in the same section as one), and throw it, by placing that piece on their monster's head and flicking it. Collectively, these actions all serve to damage the buildings and scatter the meeples around the board and surrounding area.

After this wanton destruction has taken place, the monster whose turn it is may eat people and collect pieces of destroyed buildings. Meeples can only be collected from one area of the board, and they cannot be touching any building or sidewalk in the section where they have ended up. Storey tiles from buildings that have collapsed and which no longer have meeples touching them are also collected. All these actions score points at the end of the game. If meeples are knocked off the board by any actions, they are added to a "runaway meeples" card, which adversely affects the player if any of the lines on the card are filled at the end of each turn. If a player is flicked off the board, either by themselves, or through the actions of other players, they lose a tooth, reducing the number of meeples that they can eat after their turn has finished. Players also have three cards that affect their play; for example, the cards may allow a player to repeat an action during their turn. The game ends when the last piece of building has been claimed, or when the runaway meeples card is filled.

Terror in Meeple City is a good example of a Gateway Game which can be quickly learnt and played by people with little or no experience of board games, and which serves as a good introduction to the genre. Similar titles like Colt Express (2014) and Flick 'em Up (2015) develop the relatively simple gameplay by introducing such elements as cards that dictate movement or abilities that allow the players to alter aspects of play.

"Meeple" is a term originally derived from pieces in the game Carcassonne (2000). The word, coined by Alison Hansel, is a conflation of "my" and "people" and denotes a small game piece representing a person. A meeple often has its legs and arms spread to aid balance on the board or tiles of any given game. The term is commonly used in board-gaming. [EMS]

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