Review: Ink Monsters

Albino Dragon Games
Designers: Erica Hayes-Bouyouris and Daryl Andrews
Player count; 2-6 Players
Ages 6+
Play time : 20-30 minutes

MSRP: $18.99

A review copy of Ink Monsters was provided by Albino Dragon Games. I want to thank them for supporting my blog.

Ink Monsters

In Ink Monsters, you’re moving a pen around a circle of cards, trying to collect sets of Monster Cards to score the most points. Simple and straight to the point. The reason my intro is so abrupt, is the instructions are one sheet of paper front and back, so not a lot of material to run on about. So let’s get right to it and see if I had a good time with Ink Monsters.

The Recipe

  • Set collection
  • Hand management
  • Card drafting
  • Very light take that

My Pet Monsters

(If you’re an 80s child you might catch the reference)

If you can’t tell, the art in Ink Monsters has a similar look to the Monsters Inc. movie series. I’m diggin the design of the Monster Cards. The bright colors pop, the silliness meter is off the charts, and I like how BIG the monsters are. Two of my personal favorites are the Wookie Bear and Pea Buddy cards.

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Card Anatomy

Each card has a couple areas you need to pay attention to and it’s easy to figure out everything after a short explanation. The number in the top left corner is amount of positive or negative points you receive at the end of the game. The color strips and monster type icons are used for set collection purposes at the end of the game. Ink Spill Cards give negative points for having multiple cards, which is indicated by (– x) points. The text on most of the cards you draft will steer players towards collecting specific colors and types of monsters during game to prepare for end game scoring. Some cards have immediate “take that” mechanics or provide additional benefits to the acting player. Here is an example of how one card card can affect your final score.
The picture below shows how a card can give negative points, but also has conditions that award you positive points for collecting Ink Spill Cards. So at the end of the game you can turn a bunch of negatives into positives. How about that! Ink Monsters has a decent amount of strategy and you have to pay attention more than you would think for such a small box game.

No one wants negative cards, but Barney over here likes Ink Spill Cards. He turns them into positive for end game scoring.


A game of Ink Monsters is played over three rounds. Each round players will start with three Action Cards and draft Monster Cards based on the position of the pen. The play area is created by placing twelve Monster Cards in a circle. On a player’s turn you can play an Action Card or take the card in front of you. The pen is the marker that determines what monster you draft, so you have some strategy of where you’re drafting to set up opponents. The Pen Card naturally moves in clockwise order and some Action Cards change that rule or move the pen to specific number monster (Move the Pen). At the end of a players turn, you draw another card. The round is over when all twelve cards are gone, so expect a lot of negative cards being left behind. That could be a good or a bad thing though based on how you’re preparing for the end game. That’s it! The gameplay is simple, but the set collecting ramps up the level of strategy and the end game scoring will determine who drafted the best collection of Monster Cards. Take a look at the slideshow to see a small bite of the gameplay. Bad monster joke…sorry not sorry

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End Game

The end game scoring is the most challenging part of the game. You add the points in the top left corner, simple. Next, calculate the additional points based on the collection conditions on each card. This is the moment where things get tricky. In a two player game, you could have a lot of cards to calculate and then find all the icons to match up with this card and that card. It’s not the end of the world, but it leaves the wrong impression on the game as a first time experience. The real issue with scoring is the age posted on the box. A six year old will probably leave the table by the time you whip out a pad of paper and tally their score…..and then your score….and then maybe another kid’s score…then your spouse’s. Not exactly family fun if this is your first time playing, but that depends on how much of a “gamer” family you have. I contacted the publisher and they just created an app on IOS to assist with scoring. Thank you Albino Dragon Games!

End game scoring is a bit of a chore, but you’re in luck IF you have an IOS device!

The Good

  • Monsters Inc. theme
  • Easy set up and tear down
  • The rules get you up and running quickly
  • Easy gameplay
  • More strategy than I thought
  • IOS App support to help with scoring

Not So Good

  • Too many icons on certain cards
  • Age recommendation is a little off (probably 8+ instead of 6+)
  • Scoring is a bit of a chore for this type of game, definitely could use a scoring pad

The Verdict

I’m a little on the fence with Ink Monsters. I really like the theme and the gameplay is easy to pick up. On the other hand, I don’t feel compelled to play this as much as other set collection games. I would play this again because I like it, but I don’t love it. A scoring pad would be nice for people who don’t have access to the IOS App. Of course, you can whip out your own pad, so that’s not a big deal. My biggest hang up is there’s a lot text and icons to translate at the end of the game. For younger gamers, you may have to take over the scoring part completely. A couple adult I played with were a little sour on the scoring part, but the majority of people thought the game was fun. With that in mind, this game is really more of a game night game for adults and less of family weight game. If you have kids around eight and above, then Ink Monsters is the target age for this game. Maybe I’m being too nitpicky here. This is an decent game for families to try out and possibly slide this in as a filler for game night. For now, I think Ink Monsters is an ok game that I really wanted to be amazed by. I have high expectations for little games too. If this game gets an updated version with Android support, then I’ll get it back to the table.

I hope today’s review will help you make an informed decision about Ink Monsters and steer you away from finding a My Pet Monster doll! Thank you for your time.

If you have zero idea who My Pet Monster is from the 80’s, here is the atrocious monster that was marketed towards me instead of Cabbage Patch Kid dolls.

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