A card game by Teel McClanahan III, Copyright © 2014
A light deck-building game of creating monsters for 2-6 players, ages 13 and up. (45-90 minutes)
Teratozoic, funded via Kickstarter, has been published as a signed, numbered limited edition of 300 copies.
Print-and-PlayThe Print-and-Play edition of Teratozoic is available under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License .
You can get the PnP for FREE, using this link:
Quick Links: Overview – How To Play – Rules PDF – About the Designer – Media/Reviews – Starting Decks (some sample monsters)
From the back of the boxTeratozoic (from greek: terato-, of monsters, -zoic, of an era; “An era of monsters”) is a game of building the best monsters you can in an age of rapid, random mutation and retaining the best traits from each generation in your own slowly-stabilizing gene pool.
Turns are fast-paced and most actions are simultaneous for all players, so even with 6 people you remain constantly engaged. Gameplay scales in difficulty and duration by adding and removing specific cards, so both young players and experienced strategists can enjoy Teratozoic.
Can you create the best gene pool? Will you build the biggest monsters and dominate the Teratozoic Era?
OverviewThe nations of mankind created horrifying new weapons to wage war with one another—genetically engineered monsters whose traits could be altered and combined to overcome any opponent. Unfortunately, humanity was no match for its own creations and armies of terrifying monsters were soon out of control in their destruction of civilization. In their final global nuclear strike, humanity accomplished only two things: They wiped themselves out, and they created a highly mutagenic environment where the monsters could thrive.
This is the world at the start of a game of Teratozoic. (From greek: terato-, of or relating to monsters, -zoic, of a (specified) era, or having a (specified) animal mode of existence.) Each player has their own deck of monster parts (their Gene Pool), and will attempt to make the best of the mutations they draw from a common deck to come out on top in the battle for survival. At first your monsters will be more random mutation than representative of a stable gene pool (players will draw most of the cards for each hand from the common deck), but by the time you reach the Teratozoic Era your monsters will be built entirely from the best traits you retained in each generation. The dominant species in this new era (the final winner of the game) will be the one with the most robust gene pool—the player who can create the biggest, most impressive monsters at the end of the Teratozoic Era.
- 7 Era cards
- 96 Monster-part cards, each with a unique illustration:
- Starting monsters – 36 cards
- Basic cards – 36 cards
- Advanced cards – 24 cards
- 6 Reference cards (player aids)
- A rule book
How To PlayEach player starts with a deck of 6 cards, their ‘Gene Pool’, which they will gradually expand and improve over the course of the game. Each generation (one round of play), every player will draw cards in part from a deck of ‘Random Mutations’ (a common deck) and in part from their own deck; at the beginning of the game each hand is mostly random, but as play progresses the randomness is reduced until during the last ‘Era’ of play all cards are drawn from players’ Gene Pools.
After declaring whether they’re playing all (or only some) of their cards, all players build monsters from their cards at the same time. Whoever’s monsters score the highest ‘dominates the generation’ and they get both to gain more cards than the other players and to pick from among all played cards while other players may only choose cards which came from their own hands.
At the end of the game, all players will assemble their entire Gene Pool into up to three of the largest single-color monsters (with no loose ends) they’re able (one of each color: orange, purple, & green) and the player who uses the most cards in their monsters is the winner. This means that winning the game depends not just on winning as many hands as possible (requiring the highest-scoring cards and rewarding the highest number of cards), but also paying enough attention to the cards gained (especially in lost generations) to ensure the right number of connections of the right colors end up in a player’s Gene Pool.
With no discrete currency, plenty of player interaction & simultaneous play, plus the fun of putting together whimsical monsters every turn, Teratozoic is unlike any deck-building game you’ve seen before—and it’s light enough that it could be used as a gateway game or enjoyed by younger players.
Download the rules (PDF) – This is the version of the rules included in the physical Limited Edition of Teratozoic.
The following is a rough video I made which shows and explains the basics of an entire game of Teratozoic:
Teratozoic, in the Media“At first you’ll think it’s just about scoring the most points, and then you think it’s about making the best monsters each round, but finally you realize it’s all about gathering just the right amount of pieces so you can form the perfect monster and go out with a bang! Teratozoic ended up being more fun than I thought after the first game.” – Griff, Dice. Card. Go!
“The rules are super easy to grasp, and can be read as you play your first game. I was able to teach my 2 oldest kids how to play in about 10 minutes without many questions on their part, and very little rules referencing as we went along with our game. … Overall the game is highly entertaining, intelligent, and has a bit of a different spin that other deck building games I’ve played. It’s a game that I can see having a lasting place in my collection, and one that I’m sure I’ll keep enjoying with my children time and time again.” – Robert, Purple Pawn
Hunter, Weaponsgrade Tabletop
“The art reminds me a lot of a Dr. Seuss type thing. … It’s an interesting little game, I’ve got to say; I’ve done a lot of deck-building game reviews recently… and this one’s got probably the most unique mechanism I’ve seen. … I do like the mechanics in it. The art is hilarious… we had some laugh-out-loud moments in this game—even in funny games it doesn’t always happen that often, in this one it really does. I think that says a lot about it. I really did enjoy it—I liked it enough to pack it and bring it with us on this trip.” – Hunter
“The game scales very well with different player counts. The major adjustment is made to the number of Era cards used in the game. This allows the game to be played as little as fifteen minutes to over an hour but still get the same experience. Very few games have this much flexibility.” – Tyler, Board Game Quest
Jeff & Megan, All Us Geeks:
“Overall, I think it’s a good introduction to deck-building games for those of us who are more casual or younger in age. … I have to say the artwork, I loved; it reminded me of Jim Henson’s creations. … My favorite part of the game was building monsters.” – Megan
“I do like the twist on deck-building in this. I thought that was kind of interesting. The first couple times seeing it in action was like, ‘Ooh, okay…’ … I liked this a lot… I thought it was a good, solid game.” – Jeff
“This is a completely unique game.” – Andrew, Cards and Chit
“I think the concept is really, really fun; the monster-building is a really good idea. … I would introduce this to my kids. … I could bring this into a Kindergarten or first grade classroom.” – Adrian, Cards and Chit
“Changing the typical deck building mechanic of hand picking every card for your deck (think Dominion) to a highly random approach fits well with the theme.” – Gregg, Cardboard Carnage
Forrest Bower, Bower’s Game Corner:
“Among the six of us, none of us could think of any other game that we’d played that was similar to [Teratozoic]. …we’ve probably played over a thousand different games between the six of us, so saying that this game felt unique from all 1,000 of those is a huge thumbs up!” … “Overall, I really enjoyed Teratozoic. I think you will too if you’re looking for a great family-weight game… because it’s got great art work, it’s super easy to learn and to teach. Even though the rule booklet makes it sound like it’s going to be complex, it’s actually super-simple to teach.” – Bower
“Teratozoic is full of quirky art, funny monsters, and creative mechanics. This game is easily transportable, learnable, and an enjoyable time filler. The game plays well across age groups without difficulty. The construction quality of the game is very high… Each card’s unique art gives the game replay ability, as you will be hard pressed to build the same monsters game to game.” – Brent Brewer, backer of Teratozoic Kickstarter
“The cards themselves, are of a very high quality, and to be honest the art work displayed on the Kickstarter page does not do justice to how nice it looks in the flesh. A lot of thought has gone into this design, and it really does show. … Overall this is a very solid game, and does have a lot of replayability, especially if the players who are playing are on the same level. There are a surprising amount of tactics involved in it, which I didn’t glean from watching the tutorial videos prior to playing.” – Oscar Russell, We The Nerdy
Brandon & Christopher, Noobsource:
“It really feels like ‘What if Monsters, Inc. and Spore got together and made a game.'” – Christopher
“The art in the game is very simple, but effective. Clean line art and bold colors against a white background creates a great contrast allowing the monsters to pop off the card and provide the most obvious and only focus… …the execution is nicely done. Each monster part matches up neatly with one another making it easy to visualize the fluffy, bug-eyed, tentacle monsters you create. … You’ll have to find a balance between holding onto your higher-value cards for the deck-building portion of the game while collecting specific colors and parts for the end-game clincher.” – Biff, The League of Nonsensical Gamers
“The use of Eras is interesting, allowing players to slowly fine-tune their decks into having increasingly potent and valuable monsters. … The nature of Teratozoic is quite simple, and the rules are accessible for children and adults alike. … The theme works particularly well, as evolution makes the best out of a post-humanity cesspool by going from a highly unpredictable random central deck to a much more structured set of cards – and the beings created from them.” – Ryan, The Cardboard Republic
“Strategy in Teratozoic, then, jumps around a bit. You have to know when to hold back cards, which cards to keep for your gene pool, which cards to take from the board. Point values that help you win a round won’t necessarily help you win the game. … Plays equally well with few or many players. The designers anticipated how the rules would have to change for different scenarios. … Bonus cards keep play interesting, so every round isn’t just counting and scoring.” – Mike Eaton, Play Unplugged
Starting DecksEach player starts with a deck of 6 cards, numbered one through six, which are each designed to form a single monster with no loose ends. Since the normal hand size is five cards, the following monsters are all too big to appear during normal gameplay—though any of them could potentially be built in the event of a tie or after the end of the Teratozoic Era. Still, they should give you some idea of the sort of monsters you might be building during a game of Teratozoic:
About the Game Designer
Teel is an independent author, artist, game designer & developer, creative visionary, podcaster, and publisher.
Teel is happily married to an English teacher and they live together in Phoenix, AZ with a grumpy old cat, a skittish young cat, and hundreds of video games, board games, and card games. Teratozoic is not the first game Teel has designed, but it is the first one he was excited about offering to the public. There are many other games working their way into reality from the dark recesses of his twisted mind, but this one can give you a glimpse of what may be yet to come.