Skip to Content

How To Play Boss Monster: A 5 Minute Guide

How To Play Boss Monster: A 5 Minute Guide

Everyone has had their fill of playing the role of the fearless hero, challenging monsters and bringing home the glory. Who doesn’t want the chance to play as the bad guy for a change? With Boss Monster, that is exactly what you get to do! This 2-4 player card game, designed after 8-bit video game sprites, casts players as villainous Boss Monsters aiming to build the biggest and badest dungeon out there. It’s a race for who can lure the most heroes to their deaths, with some colorful opportunities for sabotaging your competitors as well.

If you don’t own Boss Monster already, check it out here on Amazon.



In Boss Monster, your objective is to build an appealing yet dangerous dungeon for Heroes to explore. If a Hero is killed in your dungeon, you gain a Soul. If a Hero bests your dungeon, you receive a Wound. The first player to 10 Souls wins, and any player who hits 5 Wounds is eliminated.

Setting up:

Boss Monster requires 5 different decks of cards for playing: Boss Cards, Room Cards, Spell Cards, Hero Cards, and Epic Hero Cards. Separate the cards into their various categories.

The number of Hero and Epic Hero Cards used for each game will change depending on how many players are present. Sort through the Hero and Epic Hero Cards, noting the player icon located at the bottom of each. Remove any cards that list more player icons than there are active players. For example, if there are two players, any Hero or Epic Hero Cards with player icons of 3 or 4 should be withdrawn from the game. Remaining Epic Hero Cards can now be stacked underneath the Hero Cards, as they only come into play once all Hero Cards have been drawn. Place them just off center on the playing table, leaving room to the right to serve as the Heroes’ “town.”

Each player should now draw a random Boss Card. The remaining Boss Cards can be discarded as there is no further need for them. Players should place their chosen Boss Card at the right-hand side of their playing area, leaving ample room for their future dungeon to be built. Turn order is decided by the players’ Boss XP. Whoever has the Boss with the highest XP goes first, then second highest, third highest, and so on.

Each player now draws 5 Room Cards and 2 Spell Cards, selecting 2 cards to discard afterward. The 2 discards can be any combination: 2 Room Cards, 2 Spell Cards, or 1 of each. If at any point a player draws a deck including only Advanced Monster or Advanced Trap Room Cards (indicated by a gold circle on the upper left-hand corner) or rooms with all matching Treasure Types (located along the bottom right-hand side), the player can discard their pile and draw a new one.

Once this is done, players can select their first dungeon room to build, placing the Room Card face down beside their boss. Once everyone has placed their Room Cards, flip them over in unison. Read the card descriptions, and if any have “When this room is built” effects, those go into effect now. After this, the set up is complete.

Gameplay Variation Note:

In expansions of Boss Monster, it was no longer recommended to discard two cards in the setting up phase. Feel free to choose what method you prefer.

Strategy Note:

Be mindful if choosing to discard Spell Cards. There is no regular way to draw Spell Cards further on in the game, and they can generally only be drawn through room effects.

Beginning Phase:

In this phase, one Hero Card is flipped over per player, and set in the “town” area just to the right of the Hero/Epic Hero Cards deck. Note that Heroes abide the “first in, first out” rule in regards to leaving the town.

Next, each player draws 1 Room Card to add it to their hand. No other cards or effects can be played in this phase.

Building Phase:

Players may now choose (but are not required) to build a room either to the left of their existing rooms or on top of an existing room. Only five rooms may be present in a dungeon at any given time (the Boss does not count as a room.) If a player has five rooms already and wishes to build another, it must be placed over an existing room. Rooms that have been built over lose their effects while covered.

Normal Monster and Trap Room Cards, indicated by silver circles in their upper left corner, may be built on top of any other Room Card. Advanced Monster and Trap Room Cards, indicated by gold circles in their upper right corner, may only be built on top of the normal Monster and Trap Room Cards, and only if they share at least one Treasure Type. Treasure Types are indicated by symbols at the bottom of the card; either swords, books, bags of gold, or anchs.

The player whose boss has the highest XP gets to move first. While placing their chosen room face down, they are considered the active player, and may also cast any spells at this time. Only spells marked with the Build symbol (a small hammer icon) may be used during the building phase.

 After all players have placed their chosen Room Cards face down, they are flipped over in unison. The rooms are now consider built, and any “When this room is built” effects can be resolved in the same XP-based rotational order.

When a dungeon reaches 5 built rooms, the Boss’s Level Up ability takes place. This only happens the first time the dungeon reaches 5 rooms, and the effect cannot be saved until later. If the player does not choose to utilize the effect, they will lose it permanently.

Optional Rule:

Many players will elect to place a token of some sort on their Boss Card once the Level Up ability has been triggered. This helps players keep track of who has already used their Level Up ability.

Bait Phase:

During this phase, players analyze what the flipped over heroes are most drawn to. This will be displayed by a large Treasure Type icon in the upper right corner of the Hero Card. Whoever’s dungeon has the most of that Hero’s treasure type will place the hero at the beginning, or left-hand side, of their dungeon.

If two or more players have an equal amount of a particular treasure type, the Hero will remain in town.

Adventuring Phase:

Players now take turns in the same XP-oriented fashion as before, with the player who has the highest level Boss going first. Heroes are navigated through the dungeon left to right, taking however much damage is indicated in the lower left-hand corner of the Room Cards as they proceed. Some rooms have special effects on surrounding rooms, or if a hero dies in them, so be sure to read the card descriptions.

If a Hero is working its way through a player’s dungeon, that player is now the active player and can cast spells. Any spells marked with the Adventuring symbol (a small ax icon) may be used during this phase.

If a Hero is killed before reaching the dungeon Boss Chamber, that Hero now becomes a collected Soul. Flip the Hero’s card over to show the small golden gem that serves as a Soul counter, and place it to the right of your Boss. If a Hero instead makes it to your Boss Chamber, this counts as a Wound against you, noted by the blood drop in the righthand corner of the Hero Card. Place the Hero Card face up beside your Soul pile.

Note that Epic Heroes are worth double: 2 Souls if you defeat them, and 2 Wounds if they defeat your dungeon.

End of Turn Phase:

Any rooms that were deactivated are now active again, and any effects that come to an end with the ending of turns is now over. Heroes who only went partly through a dungeon for whatever reason now have full HP restored.

If any players have 10 Souls at this point, players can proceed to the End of Game Phase. If any players have 5 Wounds, leaving 0 or only 1 other player standing, then players may also proceed to the End of Game Phase.

If neither of those conditions is met, the cycle begins over again at the Beginning Turn Phase. If there were players with 5 Wounds but there are still at least 2 intact players, then the players with the 5 Wounds are eliminated from the game going forward.

End of Game Phase:

If one player has reached 10 Souls, or there is only one player remaining without 5 Wounds, that player is declared the winner.

If two or more players have all reached 10 Souls, then the players subtract the number of Wounds from their Souls, and whoever has the highest total is the winner. If there is still a tie, then the player whose Boss has the lowest XP is the winner.

If all remaining players reached 5 Wounds, then the player whose Boss has the lowest XP is the winner. Note that this does not apply to players who were eliminated prior to this turn.


Time to Play:

30 minutes

Alternate Names:

  • Boss Monster: Baue deinen Dungeon!
  • Boss Monster: Costruisci il tuo dungeon
  • Boss Monster: gra karciana o budowaniu podziemi
  • Boss Monster: Le jeu de cartes de création de donjon
  • Boss Monster: Master of the Dungeon
  • Monstruo Final
  • Босс-Монстр

Suggested Player Age:


Community Suggested Player Age:



  • Boss Monster: The Lost Levels (2013)
  • Boss Monster: Tools of Hero-Kind (2013)
  • Boss Monster: The Golden Dragon (2013)
  • Boss Monster: Quothe Promo Card (2013)
  • Boss Monster: Power-Up Pack (2013)
  • Boss Monster: Epic Multi Heroes (2013)
  • Boss Monster: Creator Pack (2013)
  • Boss Monster: König Croak Promo Card (2014)
  • Boss Monster: Killa, Man Eating Gorilla Promo (2014)
  • Boss Monster: Bom-Boy Factory Promo Card (2014)
  • Boss Monster: Bastas Promo Card (2014)
  • Boss Monster: Bast Promo Card (2014)
  • Boss Monster: Paper & Pixels (2015)
  • Boss Monster: Mirrax Promo Card (2015)
  • Boss Monster: Hidden Secrets (2015)
  • Boss Monster: Collector Box (2015)
  • Boss Monster: Reactor Core (2016)
  • Boss Monster: Klonos Promo Card (2016)
  • Boss Monster: Get Over Here! Promo Card (2016)
  • Boss Monster: Game Night #2 Season One Event Kit (2016)
  • Boss Monster: Crash Landing (2016)
  • Boss Monster: Final Form! Promo Card (2016)
  • Boss Monster: Totale Zerstörung! (2017)
  • Boss Monster: Malakill Promo Card (2017)
  • Boss Monster: Implements of Destruction (2017)
  • Boss Monster: Kingkiller Hero Pack (2018)

Community Rating:


Popularity Rank:

OVERALL 1,699  –  FAMILY 614



Published Year:


Creator/Publisher Credits:

    • Johnny O’Neal
    • Chris O’Neal
    • Christopher O’Neal
    • Beau Buckley
    • Francisco Coda
    • Katrina Guillermo
    • Kyle Merritt
    • David Nyari
    • Alexander Olsen
    • Andres Sanabria
    • Brotherwise Games
    • Edge Entertainment
    • Pegasus Spiele
    • Redbox
    • Trefl Joker Line




2014 Origins Awards Best Traditional Card Game Nominee