Those Pesky Humans!
It’s been a while since I’ve played a dungeon crawler themed board game. The last one I remember playing was HeroQuest, featuring that menacing barbarian on the front of the box that looked like he had skipped his regular morning dose of Zoloft. I don’t recall ever playing that game correctly either…I just enjoyed making the plastic figures fight each other. I’ve always wanted to get into D&D and other RPGs, but as I got older, I found myself losing patience for things that were overly complex in nature. If I had to spend days understanding the three hundred page rulebook, I tended to just file the game away to be addressed later…much, much later.
Fortunately, I came across “Those Pesky Humans!” and I was able to understand the game mechanics fairly quickly. Before we get started, I wanted to extend another “thank you” to James Mathe from Minion Games for sending me a free copy to review…the same person who sent me Nile DeLuxor, which I covered here:
“Those Pesky Humans!” is a two to four player game where one player takes on the role of the monsters while the other players take on the role of the humans. The humans are attempting to find three magical gems hidden throughout the dungeon and escape before the monsters slay them all. Let’s take a look at what comes in the box and how the game is played before heading into the review.
Hexagonal Room Tiles – Room tiles serve as the main playing board. Monsters and humans alike will be moving through these rooms, each trying to accomplish their own objectives. There are also smaller hex tiles that indicate starting positions for both sides.
Doors – Doors mainly serve to slow down the humans. The base covers the status of the door so that the humans don’t know what kind of door it is until they attempt to open it. Doors can be locked, regular, or trapped.
Resource Tokens – Resource tokens are placed facedown throughout the dungeon for the humans to reveal. Three of those tokens are the gems that the humans need to collect before making their escape.
Character Sheets – Both the humans and monsters have their own character sheets. There are four sheets for the humans and one sheet for the monsters.
Decks – There are two decks that players will be drawing from throughout the game, one for the monsters and one for the humans.
Special Ability Cards – The monster and human avatars have a set of special abilities that they can choose from at the beginning of the game and play them as the game progresses.
Counters – These tokens are placed on the appropriate character sheet as the humans and monsters take damage.
Dice – The dice are rolled during combat and as needed during special circumstances. The red one is given to the monsters and the blue one is given to the humans.
Avatars – These cardboard figures represent the humans and monsters that will be making their way through the dungeon.
Please be advised that the below is simply an overview of the rules and does not cover every little detail found in the manual. There are also minor differences based on how many players are playing the game. For purposes of this review, I’ll cover the rules for the normal two player game, though the pictures will feature us playing the three player variant.
(This setup is for the player controlling the monsters)
1) Shuffle the ten room tiles and flip them at random. Arrange them any way you like, assuming that there is a path leading to every room. Place the doors between the rooms however you’d like, up to ten doors.
2) Pick out ten resource tokens, making sure that three are gems and two are secret passages. Place them strategically throughout the dungeon, as you like, one resource token per room.
3) Place the starting tiles for the humans and monsters on opposite ends of the dungeon. The monster avatar goes on the monster starting location.
4) Pick out three special ability cards…they are used once per game, so choose wisely!
5) Shuffle the monster and human decks and place them near the board. The monster deck has four encounter cards…put those aside. Draw five cards from the monster deck.
(This setup is for the players controlling the humans)
1) Pick out three human avatars, then three special ability cards for each human.
2) Place the human avatars on the human starting location.
3) The human avatars all share one hand and draw five cards from the human deck.
4) The humans go first.
The monster player and the human player take turns performing the following actions:
Phase One: Draw – The human player draws one card and places it in their hand while the monster player draws two. Regardless of who’s turn it is, both sides can play cards, with a few exceptions. Minion cards, for example, can only be played on the monster player’s turn. There is no limit to how many cards you can play during this phase or how many cards you have in your hand.
Phase Two: Movement – Only the player who’s turn it is can move their avatars / monsters. Each avatar can move as many hexes as is indicated on their move stat. There are quite a number of rules regarding movement so I’ll skip that in the interest of getting to the review.
Phase Three: Combat – You can initiate combat if you are adjacent to an enemy avatar. The goal of combat is to score hits against the other party…which can be accomplished by comparing the attacker’s total attack value with the defender’s total defense value. Both sides will roll a die, add their character sheet’s appropriate attack or defense stat, and finally add in any special abilities or resources they may have. If the attacker wins, they score a hit and a counter is placed on the defender’s character sheet / card. If the number of hits equals an avatar’s life points, they die.
Both sides will continue taking turns until either the humans have escaped back to their starting tile with all three gems or until the monster player is successful in slaying them all.
First, I’d like to comment that the artwork is great. The game manages to maintain a dungeon crawler theme while still being light and somewhat silly…and I say silly in the best way possible. My eleven year old son Vinnie Jr. commented on how funny some of the cards were, which only served to draw him in more than he already was.
I personally love how flexible the game allows you to be. I prefered playing the role of the monsters for a couple of reasons…the main one being that I could change the rules as I needed to in order to keep things fun and fair. If I thought that the kids were having a tough time with the monsters, I’d back off and not spawn as many, giving them a little breathing room. If I thought that they were having an easy time, I’d continuously spawn monsters until I felt that their egos were put back into check. This game allows me to adapt to the current situation and control everyone’s play experience…as both a parent and “dungeon master”, that turns out to be a lot of fun.
You can also play solo, if you’re willing to be creative. One person could hypothetically play both sides and make up their own rules as far as how aggressive the monsters are and etc. As you’ve probably gathered by now, I’ve always been of the belief that one can bend the rules (in regards to games) to make their play experience best suited for them. Who knows, maybe you’ll come up with a great variant that others might enjoy adapting…use your imagination!
The game only takes between an hour or two to play, which significantly ups its appeal in my book. As a full-time accountant and full-time dad, time is a precious commodity. I simply don’t have the time to devote entire weekends to one long dungeon crawler. This game progresses at just the right pace…that is…producing the end result fairly quickly while maintaining the feeling that you just embarked on an epic journey. The quick play variant included in the manual is also a welcome addition.
My son particularly liked managing a party and slaying a bunch of monsters…who wouldn’t? Out of all of the humans, he favored the magician class, mainly because he could teleport and “fry” a monster instantly with his special powers. Anthony Jr, the sixteen year old, enjoyed playing the rogue because she was able to get out of a lot of bad situations. He ended up using her to grab the gems and make a quick dash for the exit while using his paladin and a distraction card to pull my monsters away…quite ingenious.
I highly recommend this game for people who enjoy light dungeon crawlers. There are certainly others out there that are much deeper and take a lot longer to play, but if you aren’t the kind of person that gets enjoyment out of spending two hours to resolve one combat action, then “Those Pesky Humans!” is right for you.
Final Verdict: 8/10
You can learn more about Minion Games by visiting their official site and BGG, here: