FEATURED REVIEW BY JOHN KAUFELD:
The game testing team (also known as “the rest of the family”) and I sat around the kitchen table playing a quick cooperative card game from Yaya Play Games called “Monsters in the Elevator.”
The concept is simple: It’s the start of a new work day and the monsters need to catch the elevator so they can head upstairs to their jobs.
Unfortunately, the elevator gets cranky if you put too much weight into it. The amount of weight the elevator tolerates varies depending on the number of people playing. The more players, the more weight you can safely pack into the elevator. But if you put too much weight in, the elevator breaks and the monsters can’t get to work. Talk about a bad start to your day...
Players begin each turn by revealing the top card from the 20-card elevator deck. It shows which floor the elevator is on, plus it may have special instructions to make one or more monsters exit or have you randomly add another monster to the mix.
Next, players each secretly select a card from their hands and place it face-down in front of them. When everyone is ready, they reveal the cards simultaneously.
Most of the cards are monsters who range from the diminutive Batfrog at weight 10 up to the colossal Mongo at weight 50, plus all the increments of 10 in between.
The other cards in the deck are actions - the kinds of random things that inevitably happen when a bunch of monsters try to use the elevator. From a timing perspective, players resolve actions before adding monsters to the elevator.
So, let’s go back to the rotten lunch and why it was a wonderful thing.
On that particular turn, our elevator was almost full. My three-card hand had a pair of Zaftigs (each weighing 40), plus a Mongo. Not the kind of hand you want at that moment.
The best I could do was a Zaftig, so I put one face down in front of me. This was it... I was about to break the elevator. Dangit.
Then, as we revealed the cards, a glorious thing happened: Someone revealed a rotten lunch action card. Yes!
The stench of that disgusting lunch made everybody run off the elevator. (I don’t know what they did next, but it probably wasn’t pretty.) My weighty Zaftig shrugged at the commotion and lumbered onto the elevator, accompanied by a couple of friends. The doors closed and off they went.
Whew - that was a close call! (For the record, we won that game, although the last two floors were real nail-biters.)
The rules fit on one double-sided card tucked in the box, so it’s fast to learn. Families can play together, plus it’s simple enough that younger kids can teach friends to play.
It makes adding and subtracting by 10 really fun, so the younger kids in the group won’t realize they’re practicing arithmetic as they track monsters getting on and off the elevator. And the adorable art makes it family-friendly for all ages.
There’s definitely a reason that Monsters in the Elevator won "Best Family Game" at the 2016 Boston Festival of Indie Games and then earned one of the five finalist positions in the 2017 Hasbro “Next Great Family Game” contest. Kudos to the game team of Jason Wiser and his 7 year-old daughter, Yaela. Good luck!!
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Disclosures: I was given a pre-production copy of the game to review. I have no financial stake in this product whatsoever.