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Tabletop Game / Monsterpocalypse

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Monsterpocalypse is a collectible miniatures game from Privateer Press.

The idea is pretty simple: players take the role of giant monsters representing one of several factions vying for control of the Earth. The game itself is a little more complicated...

In a game of Monsterpocalypse, each player's monster is supported by up to 15 smaller figures representing "units", most of which can assist in fighting and some of which provide additional abilities to other figures. There are also figures that represent buildings, from apartment buildings and commercial skyscrapers to industrial sites, radar stations, and headquarters installations for the various factions, most of which will get destroyed during the battle between the two monsters; each player brings 2 to 12 buildings with which to populate the play map representing the battlefield.

Gameplay revolves around a pool of Action Dice which are used to spawn units, or to move or attack with units or monsters. Action Dice spent on units are moved into the pool for the monster, and vice versa; thus, players usually alternate between a Unit Activation (where they spawn, move, and attack with units) and a Monster Activation (where they move and attack with their monster). Players can also "power up" their monster by rolling action dice; this gives Power Dice that can be spend on devastating Power Attacks, to enhance regular attacks, or to transform their monster from its default Alpha form to its more powerful "Hyper" form. The object of the game is to defeat the opponent's monster by killing both its Alpha and Hyper forms.

The game's first core set, Rise, offers six factions:

  • G.U.A.R.D. (Protectors), a paramilitary force backed by the United Nations, spearheaded by giant robots and supported by an army of high-tech combat vehicles. Think GDI backing up Mazinger Z, and you're not far off the mark.
  • Terrasaurs (Radicals), dinosaur-like giant monsters, akin to Godzilla, that primarily target heavily-polluting industrial centers, and have thus earned the support of the Eco-Terrorist group Green Fury.
  • Lords of Cthul (Fiends), giant, eldritch, extra-dimensional monsters summoned by a secret cult that now rampage throughout major cities, spreading fear and terror apparently for the sake of it.
  • Planet Eaters (Destroyers), enigmatic aliens who seek only to ravage cities and consume as much biomass as they can find.
  • Martian Menace (Invaders), desperate alien invaders from the dead planet Mars who seek to plunder Earth of its rich resources.
  • Shadow Sun Syndicate (Collaborators), an enigmatic criminal cartel based in Japan that plots to save (and then take over) the world by fighting off the other factions with Ultraman-like super-soldiers known as Zors that can grow to the size of skyscrapers.

The following sets, I Chomp NY and All Your Base, introduced new monsters, new units, and new buildings. The fourth set, Monsterpocalypse Now, introduced six further factions:

  • Elemental Champions (Protectors), heroic samurai monks who channel the power of the elements to conjure giant warriors in order to combat the various threats to world peace.
  • Empire of the Apes (Radicals), giant apes from Darkest Africa who fight savagely to protect the balance of nature. Think Gorilla Grodd leading King Kong and the Rise of the Planet of the Apes.
  • Subterran Uprising (Fiends), underground-dwelling humanoids who, at the behest of their tyrannical new Underlord, seek to take over the surface world and enslave humanity.
  • Savage Swarm (Destroyers), voracious mutated insects who have emerged from the American Midwest and started devouring everything in their path.
  • Tritons (Invaders), undersea conquerors armed with giant sea monsters and amphibious assault craft that seek to take Earth's coastal cities for their own. Second edition moves them to the Protectors side.
  • Ubercorp International (Collaborators), a sometime rival of the Shadow Sun Syndicate that has begun producing fierce robot duplicates of monsters from other factions for their own sinister purposes.

Big In Japan released even more monsters, units and buildings.

The game is also being used as the basis for a Voltron game, where Voltron and the Galaxy Garrison forces fight the Robeast Lo-Tron and the Drule Empire. All Voltron units use the same rules and stats as the rest of Monsterpocalypse (Galaxy Garrison are Protectors, Planet Doom are Fiends), and are fully compatible. So if you desire to have the G.U.A.R.D. to face down the Drule Empire, or want to see Voltron battle Martians, you can.

Desperado Publishing produced a Monsterpocalypse Comic Book series in 2008 to 2008.

In summer of 2010, a movie adaptation directed by Tim Burton and written by John August was announced.

A Continuity Reboot was announced in 2018, taking the game more in a miniatures wargaming direction: models that you have to assemble and paint, but getting rid of the blind-bags and allowing you to more easily convert the miniatures. Naturally, there are also more Monsters and Units, more Factions, and a few of the existing ones have been shuffled about. The Tritons have thrown in with the Protectors, and Green Fury is growing into their own force. Also, Radioactive Ooze, Invaders from alternate dimensions, and giant Space Dragons are all coming to play.

A standalone board game, published by Mythic Games was crowdfunded on Kickstarter in 2021.

This game features examples of the following tropes:

  • Adaptational Heroism: The Terrasaurs in the 2nd edition. The 1st edition had them as Radicals who would attack human cities. In the 2nd addition they fight in defense of Earth rather than attacking humans and most of them are stated to go out of there way to avoid hurting humans when they can.
  • Anti-Villain: The Martian Menace are aliens invading Earth, but are doing so because they exhausted their planet's resources and need a new home to inhabit.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: This applies to all the units in the game. We have Shinobi, G-Tanks, Carnidons, Task Masters, etc., which are all over-sized versions of ninjas, tanks, dinosaurs, eldritch horrors, etc..
    • Taken to a more literal point with Sgt. Titanica, a soldier recruited by Green Fury and grown to Kaiju-esque proportions.
  • Ambiguously Evil: The Tritons are Protectors in the 2nd edition meaning they are fighting to defend Earth from the other monsters, but they also killed anyone who discovered their existence and its unclear if they actually care about humanity's well being.
  • Author Avatar: One of the buildings available is the Privateer Press offices. It's indestructible, and very shiny.
  • BFG: There are quite a few Big Freaking Guns in Monsterpocalypse, Blastik-Rukivall and the Empire of the ape's Morpher have them among others.
  • Bland-Name Product: Applied to a few monuments:
    • Imperial State Building = Empire State Building.
    • Crystalline Building = Chrysler Building.
    • Tokyo Triumph = Tokyo Tower.
  • Captain Ersatz: Pretty much every monster in the game is a take off of another monster from another media source, though the most obvious examples are:
    • Terra Khan = Godzilla
    • All the monsters from the Lords of Cthul = Cthulhu
    • Defender X/Sky Sentinel = Mazinger Z. The uncanny resemblances to Gipsy Danger are purely coincidental, as the game predates the films.
    • Zor-Maxim = Ultraman
    • King Kondo = King Kong
    • Pteradax = Rodan
    • Krakenoctus = the Kraken
    • And then Ubercorp build Captain Ersatz versions of everyone else's monsters. Mechagodzillas for everyone!!
    • Sgt. Titanica = Attack of the 50-Foot Woman
    • Gausamal = Rayquaza
  • Chained by Fashion: Somebody apparently tried to capture King Kondo and force him to fight on their behalf. He broke free, but still wears the chains that once shackled him.
  • Chunky Salsa Rule: Under most circumstances, if a monster is thrown into a unit, or a unit is in the way of a charge, it's gone.
  • Crapsack World: Would you really want to live in a world where every giant monster movie and Super Robot show was going on at once?
  • Cognizant Limbs: Ancient Osheroth. In its initial form, there's four tentacles roving around, each of which can attack and be attacked separately while his main body remains hidden underground. When Osheroth goes into Hyper mode (whether voluntarily or because the tentacles were depleted of vitality) they get retracted and Osheroth itself makes an appearance.
  • Combat Tentacles:
    • Many units/monsters from the Lords of Cthul use tentacles as their main weapon, but Ancient Osheroth really takes the cake. Hell, he even has names for four of them.
    • The giant octopus monster; Krakenoctus.
  • Combination Attack: Two allied monsters can perform team-up attacks, such as the double head-butt.
  • Combining Mecha:
    • Morpher-type monsters, (naturally) introduced in the Voltron expansion. At this point all 6 of the original factions have them, although with any of the factions other than G.U.A.R.D. it's more like combining Eldritch Abomination or Giant Ninja. They consist of four units as the alpha form of the monster, and one monster as the hyper form that the four units combine to make.
    • Legionnaire and Galaxius-4 also.
    • Being a Ro Beast, Lo-Tron is both this and a Mix and Match Critter.
    • The Terrasaurs version is a subversion, as it's a giant egg along with Green Fury equipment to induce it to hatch.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Wallace Weir, President of Ubercorp International. Apparently the destruction of civilization by giant monsters is an ideal time to make a buck.
  • Darkest Africa: Home of the Empire of the Apes. At least until Kondo decided to reject the hierophants' advice and explore the outside world...
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The Draken Armada is comprised of evil looking dragons. Unlike the other aliens however they actually came to help Earth. A comet of Planet Eaters hit their planet and they decided nobody should have to fight such menaces like the Planet Eaters alone so they sent their armada out to fight evil throughout the universe.
  • Destructive Savior: ALL of the Protector factions as of 2nd Edition, though special mention goes to Armodax and White Dajan. The former just rampages around the area once a fight starts, leaving his allies to simply try and ensure the area is evacuated before he gets rolling. The latter has a hatred for large cities, seeming to go out of his way to ensure they get flattened whenever he fights in one, yet is strangely affectionate towards the human inhabitants, perhaps thinking the city is a prison from which he must liberate his small, hairless brethren.
  • Drill Mole: Most of the Subterran Uprising units are these, most notable is Drillcon-Vorionnik.
  • Eco-Terrorist: the "Terrasaur" faction (Godzilla-like giant dinosaurs) are backed by an eco-terrorist group known as Green Fury. (A shout-out to Godzilla's origins as a warning of the dangers of nuclear testing.)
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Lords of Cthul.
  • Elemental Powers: If you couldn't guess, this is how the Elemental Champions kill things. Every monster and unit corresponds to the 4 classical elements which leads to:
  • Enemy Mine: Every faction can be played along side one of two other factions in the game according to an "Agenda Wheel" provided by the game's manual. A faction may ally with whomever comes before and after them in the following list: GUARD and Elemental Champions (Defenders), Terrasaurs and the Empire of the Apes (Radicals), Lords of Cthul and Subterran Uprising (Fiends), Planet Eaters and Savage Swarm (Destroyers), Martian Menace and Tritons (Invaders), Shadow Sun Syndicate and Ubercorp International (Collaborators), and back to GUARD and Elemental Champions.
  • Energy Weapon: All over the place.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: Cthugrosh was summoned by the sacrifices of his worshippers and after he entered the world he killed those who summoned him.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Planet Eater units, such as the 'Belcher' and the Explodohawk'
  • Extreme Omnivore: Though the Terrasaurs do enjoy a human-sandwich now and again, what they really enjoy eating is industrial waste. See also the Destroyers Agenda.
  • Extra Eyes: Mogroth has two enormous ones on stalks that come out of his back.
  • Excuse Plot: So far the plot has been just background info for factions that provides why the monsters are here and why nearly any of them will fight. In that regard it at least does a good job.
  • Fastball Special: Oh yes, the rules make this possible.
  • Fem Bot: Nova ESR.
  • Flying Saucer: The Ares Mothership and an actual unit named Flying Saucer from the Martian Menace faction.
  • For the Evulz: The Fiends M.O. the Lords of Cthul like to destroy and corrupt everything because they can.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Globally United Advanced Research and Defense.
  • Gaia's Vengeance: Subverted. Though members of Green Fury claim that the Terrasaurs have awoken to punish man-kind for its rampant pollution of the earth, the ancient dinos actually seem more interested in eating industrial waste than extracting any kind of revenge.
    • The Empire of the Apes plays it more straight, though.
  • Geodesic Cast: Isn't it funny how all of the factions have the same numbers of units and monsters?
  • Giant Enemy Crab: The Tritons, naturally, have these. One of them counts as a building.
  • Giant Flyer: Several of the monsters are capable of flying through various means.
  • The Good, the Bad, and the Evil: Each faction falls into one of 6 "agendas" each having their own alignment and motivations for their actions.
    • Protectors (G.U.A.R.D. and the Elemental Champions) are the good guys. They want to protect humanity and civilization as a whole, even if it means demolishing a few priceless monuments by throwing monsters into them.
    • Radicals (Terrasaurs and Empire of the Apes) have a goal and will do anything to achieve it, if civilization stands in the way of that goal then it's going down. Could be considered Well-Intentioned Extremist.
    • Fiends (Lords of Cthul and Subterran Uprising) are classic villains, motivated by a desire to spread as much death and suffering as they can. Always Chaotic Evil.
    • Destroyers (Planet Eaters and Savage Swarm) are basically just HUNGRY and they aren't too picky. It's nothing personal, they may not even be intelligent enough to bear a grudge, humans are just good eatin'.
    • Invaders (Martian Menace and Tritons) want something the humans have, natural resources, land, people, and they're going to take it whether we like it or not.
    • Collaborators (Shadow Sun Syndicate and Ubercorp International) are motivated by self-interest and greed. They may help people, they may hurt people, but in the end they won't do anything that isn't of benefit to them.
  • Gravity Master: Xaxor.
  • Grievous Harm with a Body: Many of the Power Attacks, such as Smash, Swat, and Throw.
  • Heel–Face Turn: The Tritons were classified as Invaders in first Edition, but in Second are considered Protectors.
  • Highly-Visible Ninja: Both subverted and played straight. The Shadow Sun Syndicate features giant ninjas called Zors as their monsters. These Zors are as tall as a building and are normally impossible to miss. Some, however, like to employ a special form of cloaking technology which makes it impossible to see them (and thus, hit them with ranged attacks) unless you get right up in their face.
  • Horde of Alien Locusts: The Planet Eaters.
  • Humongous Mecha: GUARD's monsters, along with everything Ubercorp creates.
  • Jet Pack: The GUARD monsters Sky Sentinel, Defender X and Nova ESR all have giant jet turbines attached to their backs which act as jet packs. The Airborne Apes use jetpacks as well, although they're cobbled together from the engines of wrecked planes.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Several Empire of the Apes figures. The Frontline Ape carries a security truck and Gakura uses a train as a flail.
  • In a Single Bound: How the Terrasaurs' Raptix units can serve in their anti-air role, making astonishing leaps to snatch planes and saucers right out of the air.
  • Kill It with Ice: White Dajan removes all the subtlety from this by simply clubbing things with a giant icicle.
  • Laser Blade: Doubles as a BFS since it's carried by the giant robot Laser Knight.
  • Les Collaborateurs: The whole point of the Collaborators agenda, who are looking to profit from the conflict and as such will help or hinder any other faction as they deem necessary.
    • 2nd Edition Ubercorp are a bit more blatant, as they're using their fellow Destroyers in a bid to wipe the slate clean and leave an Earth ready for them to take over.
  • MacGyvering: Green Fury have this as their stock in trade, especially in 2nd Edition. One of their Monsters is a fallen G.U.A.R.D. mech they rebuilt with a Chainsaw Sword-arm and an Aircraft Carrier deck for a shield.
  • The Mafia: The Shadow Sun Syndicate.
  • Meaningful Name: Terrasaurs. Also, the monsters from the Martian Menace faction are all named after different parts of Mars and its moons.
  • Mega-Corp- The Shadow Sun Syndicate and UberCorp International.
  • Miracle-Gro Monster: If we assume that Tyrannix grows from a (relatively) tiny egg on the back of a truck to a full-sized monster instantly.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: Zor-Macros and Vorgax
  • Monumental Battle: You can smash monsters all over New York or Tokyo. Or some weird combination of the two.
  • Monumental Damage: One of the buildings that can be placed on the battle map (and destroyed) is the Statue of Liberty.
  • The Night That Never Ends: The ultimate goal of the Subterran Uprising is to block out the sun, allowing them to rule the surface without harming their photosensitive eyes.
  • Nuclear Mutant: Hint: Giant radioactive Bugs !
  • Nuke 'em: Averted. There are so many monsters on so many different parts of the globe that nuking them all would mean the complete destruction of the planet. None of the factions actually want to blow the planet up, as then it would be useless to all of them.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: If it's not a main monster, it's this.
  • One-Winged Angel: Alpha and Hyper forms.
  • Planet Eater: While they don't actually eat the ground they walk on, and they seem to be taking a relatively long time to do it, the Planet Eaters still fit their trope namesake.
  • Planet Looters: The Martian Menace are here for Earth's resources.
  • Pop Culture Pun Series Title: AllYourBase and Monsterpocalypse Now
  • Power Equals Rarity: Averted and played straight. The Mega versions of the monsters are only available through promotions. They have unique abilities and change the way the monster plays but generally they aren't any more powerful than the equivalent Ultra versions which can be bought in stores. On the other hand, promotional Shadow and Glass units are usually more powerful than the units they are based on.
    • They're also either one-shot units (while most units can be recycled again and again) in the case of Glass, or more expensive in the case of Shadow. In the end, it (probably) balances out.
  • Punny Name: The maps have some pretty bad ones, such as "Highway to Hellvue" and "Kill-Again's Island".
    • There are offices for a newspaper called "The End Times"
  • Rings of Death: Zor Magna has herself two of these.
  • Robeast: Everything not a Kaiju or Super Robot. Now with actual Robeasts!
  • Rock Me, Asmodeus!: Most buildings in this game produce either a rubble tile, fire tile, nuclear tile or chemical tile when they are destroyed. Rubble tiles just make moving more difficult, while fire/nuclear/chemical tiles actually do damage to models that pass over them. Destroy the Music Producer building, and what do you see? A gate to the netherworld.
  • Rocket Punch: Defender X and Sky Sentinel.
  • Shout-Out: To pretty much every giant monster movie/book/etc. ever made.
  • Sickly Green Glow: Just to add that extra touch of evil to the Martian Menace.
  • Sizeshifter: In the backstory, Zors start out the battle man sized, but then grow to the size of sky scrapers thanks to highly advanced Nano Machines that have been implanted into their bodies.
  • Standard Sci-Fi Army: They may be hi-tec but G.U.A.R.D. still relies on fairly standard tanks, choppers and jets to support their Super Robots.
  • Super Robot: G.U.A.R.D.'s and Ubercorp's "monster" of choice.
  • Take Cover!: Units can get bonuses to their defense stat by standing next to a building or friendly monster, or by standing in a tree square, making them harder to hit with ranged attacks.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: The 2nd Edition of the game reworks the Agendas system to have two broad alliances of factions working together rather than wheel-adjacency system. While the members of each new Agenda are willing to cooperate for now, such alliances are only going to last as long as the opposing Agenda still exists. Good news for you, though, is that now you have several more factions you can now include in your army at any time.
    • The Protectors (G.U.A.R.D., Shadow Sun, Empire of Apes, Terrasaurs and Tritons) are all very keen on there being an Earth left to live on after all this is over, and have mutually decided that squabbling over who gets what can wait until after they've dealt with the threats to their beloved home.
    • The Destroyers (Planet Eaters, Lords of Cthul, Ubercorp, Martian Menace and Subterranean Uprising) are all interested in ravaging or annihilating the Earth for their own ends. As to how that ravaging goes down, well, that'll be more important once the do-gooders who can actually stop them are out of the way.
  • The Tokyo Fireball: Tokyo's the setting of set 5, "Big in Japan". Maybe not a fireball per se, but you just know the commensurate amount of wreckage will ensue...(Poor Shadow Sun...)
  • Tokyo Tower: It's called the Tokyo Trimph, but it's there, and you can crush it!
  • Tome of Eldritch Lore: The Book of the Cthulax.
  • There Are No Coincidences: You might believe that it's really unfortunate timing that all these monsters show up at once, but the Tritons don't. The Zoa Prophecy predicts that the Monsterpocalypse would be heralded by a six-tailed star falling from heaven. The Planet Eaters came to earth on a comet that split into six parts and landed around the globe.
  • This Is a Drill: Subterran's weapon of choice.
  • Tractor Beam: The Abduct action either represents this, or Weapons That Suck.
  • Transformation Is a Free Action: Well, it doesn't use any action dice...
  • Tripod Terror: The Martian Menace monsters Deimos-9 and Phobos-7, and the Reaper and Despoiler units.
  • Turns Red: Defeating a monster requires you to defeat both the Alpha and Hyper forms. Those with a low hyper cost may be able to switch between forms almost at will with a good resource flow, but those with a higher cost may want to use this as a strategy, where they just use their power dice for attacks and only go Hyper if their Alpha form is defeated.
  • Ultraman Copy: One of the factions, the Shadow Sun Syndicate, is a criminal organization that has developed a procedure that turns selected soldiers into size-shifting bio-mechanical ninja named "Zors" (and although the name recalls the Power Rangers, their model design is significantly Ultraman-esque).
  • Ultra Terrestrials: The Subterrans and the Tritons.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Both the Shadow Sun Syndicate and Ubercorp International go to great lengths to keep up the appearance of being the good guys while making a tidy profit from the Monsterpocalypse to boot, at least in public. Ok, it's hard to view them as outright villainous when they are beating up the Lords of Cthul or the Planet Eaters but they certainly aren't the shining knights they want the world to think they are.
  • Weaponized Car: One of the Terrasaur units introduced in the All Your Base expansion is the Green Fury Van, a heavily-armed van full of heavily-armed eco-terrorists.
  • Weaponized Landmark: Your monster can throw another into the Chrysler Building to burn them, impale them on the Empire State Building, or roll the 'Pacific Eye', a huge ferris wheel, into them.
  • Weapons That Suck: The Subterran Opressor unit has vacuum weapons grafted to both of its arms. It uses then to suck up people!
  • We Have Reserves: The way the game works is that each player gets up to 15 units to go along with their one (or two) monster(s). Once a unit dies, it may be respawned during your next turn. This means that you can never exhaust your unit pool, leading to an infinite supply of cheap and disposable soldiers, unless they somehow decide to field all Fragile units.
  • Wrestler in All of Us: All of the Monsters can use 'Power Attacks', which include throws and body slams. Even Martian motherships.