FILD Renegade Monsters is a simple turn-based digital board game for two players. It’s a territory conquest game in which each player has a colour and uses pawns of different monster families to spread their colour on a tile board. It works a bit like a faster version of RISK, with multiple connected areas being taken and taken back at once.
The core mechanics is contagion. By placing a new pawn of a monster family in one colour next to connected pawns of the same family in the other colour, the new pawn’s colour spreads to the other pawns. This contagion wave is oddly satisfying to the player, a bit like the effects of match-3, bubble shooting and cube blasting puzzle games.
The game mixes skill and chance in a proportion comparable to Backgammon. However, the chance element isn’t realised by the throwing of dice, but by the random, turn-based distribution of pawns of different families. A player can be lucky for a couple of individual games or even a small sequence of games, but on longer runs, skill will always win.
Boards can take multiple shapes and sizes, as long as the number of tiles keeps a specific ratio to the number of monster families (which always have eight members). The bigger the boards, the higher the number of families. Experienced players will adapt their tactics and strategy to the shapes, but even more to the sizes of the boards.
Score counting is intuitive, with bigger series being worth exponentially more points than smaller ones. Pawn family series tend to be bigger at the end of the game and the penultimate or last pawn placed will regularly bring in a large amount of points. The winner will often only be decided at the very end of the game, with a last turnaround, and the suspense will keep up until then.
The starting player in FILD Renegade Monsters has a slight disadvantage, especially on small boards. Experienced players will adapt their strategy and tactics depending on their starting position and will alternate between two sets of slightly different guidelines.
Four year old children readily understand the basic rules of the game by trial and error, without any instructions; they enjoy the contagion effect and understand whether they have won or lost. Casual players can play the game and develop sound strategies that will provide them with some success. Deep strategic gamers can find as much pleasure in the game as in Backgammon.
This is a game with a new “contagion” core mechanics. It mixes colours and families. There are several board shapes and sizes. The players must keep track of a score. And there is a second player advantage that players can compensate by adapting their strategy. How can such a game be simple or, at least, feel simple?
If it were a physical board game, it would be extremely complex. The digital version of RISK is automatised and can be played in a fraction of the time it takes to play the physical version. It would take aeons of time to play a complete physical version of Civilisation VI. It’s the available digital tools that make playing FILD Renegade Monsters feel like playing noughts and crosses.