Board Game Review

I’m All Thumbs, Noses and Tentacles Today! (Hideous Abomination Review)

This game was sent to us by Tettix for a free, unbiased review. We aren’t paid for any media produced.

There’s something about things that writhe, jiggle and squirm that sends a chill down people’s spines. Tentacles, suckers, feelers. The sort of stuff you expect a monster from a bad 80s horror flick to have. And the sounds! Oh lord the sounds. That shlucking, squelching wet but stuck noise. It’s enough to make you wretch! However, once you’re past that initial grotesque overload of spaghettis shaped masses, there’s a comedy to how the look. They’re almost thrown together and are just a mass of limbs, noses, ears and tails. That repulsion can often become morbid curiosity! And what game celebrates that more than Hideous Abomination by Tettix Games? It’s a card laying, set collection game for 2-5 players that runs in around 25 minutes.

Gameplay

The concept and play for Hideous Abomination is simple: everyone builds a monstrosity using cards and aims to achieve specific goals. These may be to have the most of something, be the smallest monster, be the most colourful etc. Players score points based on these achievements and earn points for consistency as well. The game ends when one player has built a complete monster. To set up, players need to lay out the grand prize cards and four of the awards cards, distribute a torso and secret objective card to each player, lay three body parts from the parts buffet out and deal three cards to each players.

Taking a Turn

On a player’s turn they follow a set routine. Roll the die, resolve, play a monster part. The die dictates what bonus action a player may take, with every result causing a player to gain a card except the bolt action – which allows them to roll again. The exception here is the first turn, where players simply draw then play a card.

  • Steal – steal a body part from another abomination and add it to your hand. The player being stolen from gets the “All Seeing Eye” and cannot be stolen from again.
  • Recycle – remove all existing buffet parts and add new ones, then draw a card.
  • Bolt – bolt two body parts together, preventing either from being stolen. Then reroll.
  • Take a card – take any card from the buffet and add it to your hand.
  • Wild – choose any die result and use that action.

Once the die result has been resolved, players play any card from their hand to any abomination. From this, players can make other abominations further from being finished and more awkward to complete. Once any player has completed their abomination, the game ends immediately and scoring begins.

How It Handles

Hideous Abomination is a tile laying game with two types of monster. The monster you’ll create slowly by laying tiles and building sets of cards, and the monster you’ll unleash as you do everything in your power to hinder your foes! That’s not to say the game becomes vicious or nasty. However, there’s a real sense of friendly competition to being both the first to finish, and the player with the most noses!

Beauty Is In The Many, Many Eyes Of The Beholder

Is it weird that I think this games gorgeous? Because I do. But I’m a Mythos fan at heart so I don’t mind a tentacle or six. The sets come in distinct flavours and themes that are very identifiable. From the Cronenberg inspired mash ups of flesh to spaghetti inspired tendrils to the scales of something that crawled out of the swamp. They’re all very visually identifiable and eye catching, but definitely not to everyone’s tastes.

With these different sets, the only focus for each specifically is the colour. There are two sets to a colour and aiming for a goal oriented around that will focus on both of the sets. Great if you’re going for consistency, not so much for flamboyancy. But each unique set has a stronger influence from specific appendages and scoring elements. For example, some sets have more fingers and eyes across them whereas another may be a proper nose party. It doesn’t mean each card from each set is blessed with a multitude of horns or toes, so there’s no guaranteed set for specific victory conditions… But it does mean there’s variety across the sets! My only qualm is that there’s no universal size for a he adjoining edges. In example of heads, some necks are wide and some thin. It makes for some odd looking connections, however the bolts cover them and it’s never game breaking. Just looks as odd as the collective being!

Hideous Abomination does have a bit of a hideous aesthetic, but it’s one I appreciate. It’s executed well and contributes brilliantly to scoring. Some are a little harder to identify: you’ll often question if it’s a horn or a finger. Luckily, the designer thought this and resolved it! Not only do the cards show the appendages and orifices visually, it also lists them on the card to limit confusion.

The Green Eyed Monster

Like with any game with any level of take that, there’s going to be some level of competition and outdoing the opposition. You can steal from, or contribute to, opposing abominations. The purpose? Hindrance and hindrance alone. There may be some gains from taking a specific body part, but stealing only leads to more stealing. Rather than taking extra bits and expanding your monstrosity, the focus should be on causing problems not making gains.

A lot of the monster parts you’ll gain or get access to may not be overly beneficial to your overall progress. To score well, you’ve got to nail those objectives and achievements and avoid penalties. Sure slapping umpteen extra limbs on an a beast an octopus would blush at may give you those gains, but the likelihood of you completing your beast will dwindle no end. Weighing up having an extra six digits or finishing first is a gamble, as being number one gets you decent points as well. Of course, if these cards aren’t going to help you… they probably won’t help your competition either! After all, you’re all after the same traits so avoiding something that’s going to open new opportunities probably won’t be wise!

Nail It All Down!

The only way to avoid suffering a gap in your monstrosity is to bolt it down. Now, these bolts are a godsend and have no downsides whatsoever. At all. But it’s down to the luck of the die roll and convenience of needing a bolt. One bolt seals two cards, and your torso can’t be taken. The randomness affects all players and is the only element a player can’t control, but it never feels too chaotic! You roll, resolve and play a card. The roll is a lovely little bonus but won’t necessarily dictate who’ll win. How you manage your cards and strive to achieve the goals are.

In some ways, the bolt action can be a bit game breaking. On the off chance, and I’m talking statistical anomaly chance, that you roll several bolts in a row, you may become impossible to steal from. Handy for you, but it can remove some of that tension. For us, we found a max of two bolts before having to take a take a card action balanced the game out a bit. Again, we’re talking astronomical chance of it happening, but it was piece of mind and kept the game moving at a smoother pace. But that’s just us! You may like your monstrosities caked in nuts and bolts.

Man And Machine Are One

Alongside the core game, we also were sent the Robots & Rot expansion. Rot is played to replace existing tiles and make them worthless, whereas Robot tiles are automatically granted the bolt effect and resist Rot. The expansions can be played separately or together, but in all honesty they work best when combined. Rot is just a pain and makes the game vicious on a whole new level. It’s no longer balancing the odds, it’s now outright ruin. For some groups it works and is great, for others it starts a family wide vendetta which will be spoken about for years to come. Robots on the other hand don’t have such a detrimental effect on the players’ emotional states, but does aid greatly. It’s a lovely addition to the game, but we didn’t feel it was massively needed. The core game worked excellently as it was, but the expansion doesn’t remove that fun. I guess it’s down to how hideously horrible you want to be?

Final Thoughts

Hideous Abomination is a gruesomely fun game that hit the mark for us. It sits nicely as a superb family game or filler. Tile laying is always a big hit for our group, and the combination of a bit of take that with it and some objectives makes it a lot of fun. The game isn’t overly revolutionary in what it does, but it’s feel and theme are unique enough for the game to stand out. Tentacles, teeth, toes and other terrible appendages make it borderline freaky horror, so bear warning if your squeamish! The expansion is a nice add to it, but we personally don’t feel it’s an essential buy. We’d recommend Hideous Abomination and found it a lovely game to play as a family or as that great take that filler between the heavy stuff. Great fun.