Beast Board Game Review

Polyhedron Collider Beast Board Game Review
Beast is a cunning game of escape, survival, and of course, hunting.  No matter which side of the table you are on, you will, at turns feel like everything is well within your control and going according to plan, or, moments later, feel a terrible injustice at how unfair Beast is.

Beast isn’t a fair game.  It isn’t equal and balanced, but that is kind of the whole point of it.  Balance and power in this game shift continually, ebbing and flowing as cunning and guesswork pave the way for knowledge and victory.

Polyhedron Collider Beast Board Game Review - In Play

Beast, is a one-versus-many game, pitting a band of hunters against the eponymous, gigantic and terrifying beast.  Over the course of three rounds (days), play will alternate between beast and hunters with each playing up to two action cards.  Each Beast and Hunter has a different specialisation that is represented by unique action card abilities, the rest of each player’s hand is built up from a shared deck that is drafted at the start of each day.  These common cards are dual-purpose, with both a hunter and beast action on them.  As with most games that feature a draft mechanism, this means each player knows what they are passing along.  In Beast this acts as an overture for the upcoming round, setting the tone and tension for what will follow.

By the end of the draft each side will have a pretty good idea of what they can expect, will there be a lot of movement, a slew of attacks, traps etc?  There is a degree of excitement here and the game hasn’t even started yet.

Once the first day breaks and the game gets underway the turns happen very quickly; the action here is punchy and dramatic.  It doesn’t take too long though for the game to reveal its true core mechanism, and you’ll be forgiven for thinking that Beast is a hidden movement.  Yes, there is some hidden movement, but at best Beast is a game of translucent movement.  

Polyhedron Collider Beast Board Game Review - In Play Longshot

As the beast player, each attack reveals your location, regardless if the victim is a villager, hunter or just a sheep.  This means each attack has to be strategically timed, and an exit strategy must be in place the escape is just as important as the attack itself.  In reality, only a few movements are hidden, for the most part, the hunters will know, or have a very good idea, where the beast is, most of the time.  

Beast movement, like all actions, first requires an action card, but it is also tracked with a separate deck of cardinal direction cards (the beast player can also make use of a secret mini-map to track movements) the key thing here is that the hunters see how many movement cards are played, and thus, how far the beast could have gone.  The hunters aren’t just wandering the forest blindly, they are throughout each action slowly drawing a net around their prey.  Each time a hunter player moves over somewhere the beast has been, track tokens are played to the map - the hunters are close.
Equally, so is the beast.  

Polyhedron Collider Beast Board Game Review - Cards Close Up

Hand management is a key aspect of this game and one that is all too easily overlooked.  Hunters need to move to find tracks, then they need to search to reveal the beast, and only then can they attack, you’ll need to have the right cards available at the right time, but also be in the right place at the right time.  Despite being huge and terrifying, the Beast player starts the game in quite a vulnerable position, not only do the hunters know the starting location, but the Beast’s initial attacks don’t pose too much of a threat.  As with many aspects of this game, change happens quickly.

The end of each day allows players to trade in any grudge tokens earned for upgrades.  For the hunters, these grudge tokens seldom appear, so a hunter might only ever take one upgrade all game.  The beast on the other hand earns grudge tokens with each kill, and the bigger the better.  On day one, the beast is a nuisance.  Day two; a risk.  By day three though, the beast is a certifiable threat.   

Polyhedron Collider Beast Board Game Review - Beast Close Up

No matter which side of the table you sit on, you will feel hard done by with this game.  You will feel that the other team has more power, more control, more knowledge.  The thing is, all players will feel this way, at the same time.  There is a trill of excitement when you discover some tracks where you weren’t expecting them, and a greater trill when you were.  As the beast it is often hard to keep the smug look off your face or to keep from wiping the beads of sweat from your forehead when you manage to sneak right past a hunter facing the wrong way.

Beast creates great moments of tension, it delivers genuine surprises, angst and excitement.  Moreover, a game of Beast tells a story.  It’s obvious now, writing this, but a game, or rather, a story of Beast is told over three, increasingly dramatic acts.  

Polyhedron Collider Beast Board Game Review - Mini Map

It is not for everyone though, this is neither a light, playful party game, nor is it a crunchy, deep Euro.  Beast can be over very quickly, it can be loud and animated.  It can also be played under a pall of dark tension and menace.  Some players may not like how unjust the game feels at times, or how quickly the stakes can change, but Beast delivered exactly what I believe it is meant to.  

It asks players to play loose and fast with the rules (which are also quite loose and fast).  It encourages you to not get bogged down in rules and mechanisms but to just roll with this thrilling action/horror game and enjoy the story that you’ll experience around the table each time you play.  
We discuss Beast in Episode 135 and again in Episode 140 (best games of 2023).

This review is based on a full retail copy of the game provided by the publisher. 

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