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Necromolds Review: a delightful and simple wargame for families

Today I’m reviewing Necromolds, and if there’s only one thing you have to remember from this article, it’s that in my opinion it is a really fun and original wargame for families, that my children aged 7 to 12 have all been enjoying (and me too!).

What is Necromolds

Necromolds is a wargame for families by designer Clint Bohaty. It uses simple mechanics (although the rule book includes variants to make it more strategic/complex) and plays under one hour. The one thing that makes Necromolds so unique is that you mold your army out of colored play-doh, and that when you destroy one of your opponent’s monsters, you get to smash them with your very own seal ring.

By default the game is for 2 players, but it is possible to play with up to 4 players with an expansion (or, honestly, by just adding some clay of your own).

Necromolds has several expansions or add-ons and has a bit of a “collectible” aspect to it: There are multiple monsters and rings to collect. These are not necessary to enjoy the game in my experience though, but the devil’s in the details here so I’ll get back to addons soon.

Necromolds: First impressions and components

In my opinion, Necromolds looks gorgeous right out of the box, in particular thanks to the colorful art of Thad Stalmack II. It is colorful but don’t get me wrong: my 7 year old found some of the pictures very creepy (they are). My 12 year old found them cool and took some strong interest in the included “Rise of the Necromolds” Lore book.

The components are all full of this art, and give the game great table presence. Not to mention the play-doh armies with their bright Red, Green and other colors. The game instantly attracts the eye with its “Toys from the 90’s” vibe.

Add to that the “squash your opponent when you defeat them” gimmick, and all my kids wanted to play the game. After a couple of games, my 12 year old asked if he could bring it to his friend’s place for their next sleepover. Instant hit!

So, if that wasn’t clear already, my first impression of the game was phenomenal: it knows its target audience (kids and their parents) and impresses right out of the box.

Necromolds: Setup and Gameplay

The setup of Necromolds is surprisingly fun (at least initially. More on that in the review section): You can craft your army with whatever monsters you want (they are molded out of “spellbooks”). Typical Wargames will let each player assign the same amount of “points” to their armies to ensure a balanced game. In Necromolds, you don’t have points to assign, but everyone has the same amount of clay. As long as you have enough clay to make them, you can include any monsters you want in your army. You can have a lot of smaller (weaker) monsters, or a handful of big (stronger) monsters, or, as recommended initially, a mix of both.

I won’t go into details of the gameplay, but I want to emphasize that the rules of the game are really simple. They do allow some amount of strategy though, but I was (positively) surprised with how quick we got into the flow of playing the game without having to look at the rulebook. Both players roll 4 action dice and assign them to the groups of monsters of their choice. Bottom line, actions are typically “move” or “range attack”, and when you assign an action to one type of monster, all your monsters of that type get to perform the action. If you’ve played wargames before such as Warhammer 40k, you’ll be right at home with the mechanics. If, like me, you’ve never played any wargames, you’ll be surprised at how quickly you get the core concepts.

Depending on their type, some monsters can move quickly, others are slower. Some can do range attacks from pretty far, others need to be fairly close. Ranged attacks also have varying strength (symbolized by the number of dice you can roll), and typically a monster that can attack from far will conversely have pretty weak attacks, meaning they can snipe from far but have little chance of dealing any damage.

If one of your monster ends its move in contact with an enemy, this triggers melee combat. One of the monster rolls for attack, the other for defense, whoever gets the highest number crushes their enemy.

4 defense (shield) points vs 6 attack points. Possibly the best scores we could roll on each side, in this case the attacker wins.

To keep things simple in the base rules, monsters all have one life point. If they get hit, they die.

And the gimmick of the game is that when one of your opponent’s monsters dies, you get to squash it with your caster ring. This is extremely fun to do and is basically how I involved my 7 year old in the game initially. Once squished, the dead monster becomes an obstacle on the batlefield.

Whoever loses all their monsters loses the game. That’s it!

Necromolds: Review

I’ve mentioned it in my first impressions but I really want to hammer home that the table presence of the game is awesome. The game just looks so colorful and fun! I’m sure it must be a hit at conventions.

In many games, the setup time is the part that people tend to hate. Necromolds manages to make the setup quite fun, as this is the moment you get to choose and mold your army. The “spellbooks” used to do so are both part of the lore and the gameplay, which, like most other components in the game, really help to reinforce the thematic aspect of Necromolds. Bottom line is, the setup is generally quite fun, and, I would argue, part of the gameplay, since you get to have fun with play-doh. With that being said, after a few games I personally got a bit tired of the setup phase, and kind of wished I had miniatures instead that I could quickly position on the board, instead of having to recreate them from scratch each time. But the kids really enjoyed that part.

The fun and simplicity are extended with the gameplay which is fast and fluid once you get used to the rules. Squishing enemy monsters with your ring is just simple fun and ensures a bunch of laughs. The game even has an extra rule that smaller kids can crush their own monsters to help them take the defeat with a smile. The counterpart of this simplicity is that Necromolds isn’t the most strategic wargame ever made, but I feel that this makes it a perfect gateway into more complex wargames.

Now, this isn’t to say Necromolds doesn’t have any strategy at all, far from it. After a few games, you start to learn the play style of your creatures, and understand which ones should be protected, which ones can act as cannon fodder while you position your most important pieces, which ones should stay far away and harass enemy troops with ranged attacks, and so on.

Necromolds also offers a good way to keep a game balanced until the end, as when one of your monsters dies, you get some “gems” in return, which can be used to boost your next attacks. This ensures that it is never really obvious who’s winning until the very end. We had a very fun game where my son had destroyed almost all of my big guys, which gave me a ton of gems. I used them to continuously boost one of my “mud mumps” (which is probably the weakest monster in the game) who defeated a bunch of the big monsters thanks to the improved dice rolls. It was really fun to picture this little guy being so proud of himself because he killed much stronger opponents! He got crushed though, eventually. The laws of statistics can’t be ignored forever.

Gems can change the outcome of the battle!

One thing I will say though is that the endgame tends to drag a bit. We often ended up with one or two creatures on each side, running after each other, one too weak to kill the opponent from a distance, the other too slow to catch up for melee. This is made even more difficult by the many corpses on the battlefield, which all act as obstacles in the game. This isn’t a major issue, but I believe other wargames address this kind of issue with a timer of some sort (such as a maximum number of rounds to complete the game). The “Call to arms” expansion does mitigate the issue.

Speaking of negative points, I will say that the game is a bit fiddly: you’ll want to be careful when squishing opponent’s monsters. If by mistake you press it against one of your own corpses, say goodbye to your nice looking red and green clay, and hello to a brownish disaster than cannot be salvaged. You can use your own clay in the game of course (as long as everyone uses roughly the same amount), and I’m guessing replacements will be needed regularly. Terrain pieces in the game also tend to easily topple, which can be annoying when you’re trying to measure if your guy actually has line of sight to attack your opponent. As a parent, you’ll probably want to be strict with yourself, and more flexible when your kids decide they have line of sight or range ;). The monsters themselves, being made of play-doh, sometimes lack stability. They are extremely detailed for play-doh molds, but I feel this sometimes comes at the cost of more fiddly gameplay.

These are minor nitpicks though to be perfectly honest. To finish on a positive note, I was really surprised by the lore of the game (and the included “rise of the Necromolds” booklet), which is actually original, fairly interesting, and kind of makes me want to start collecting all those monsters and rings.

Which is a nice segue into…

Necromolds: a Note on expansions

This isn’t a review of the expansions of Necromolds, but I do have to talk a bit about them, because the game does have a collectible aspect. Some of the addons might be great for you, others you might want to skip, and I feel it will depend on your use case and your expectations.

First of all, this is a two player game, but it can be extended to 4 players with the 4 player expansion pack.

Now, I did get the 4 player expansion pack, and I will say it was disappointing to me. I knew what I was getting with this pack, so it’s on me for not realizing, but it only includes some additional dice and tokens that you can easily do without (the dice from the base game can be shared, the order/initiative can be decided any way you please, the “gems” can easily be sourced with tokens scavenged from other board games). What’s missing from that expansion pack though? Everything you actually need for 4 players! More clay (you need one color of clay per player, and the base game only includes 2), additional cards to represent your monsters (those are actually needed if all 3 players use the same types of monsters, which will definitely happen considering there’s only 3 types in the base game), and, arguably important, more squishing rings (you can do without those but still). None of this is a big deal, but if you’re buying the 3/4 player expansion pack with the hope that you’ll actually be able to play with 3 to 4 players, you’re in for a bad surprise. Bottom line, at $18 Retail price, I think my money would have been better directed to…

Monster packs! The base game includes 3 types of monsters. It’s enough to get started and have hours of fun. So, additional monsters are not required, but if you like the game you’ll really want some of them. The monster packs cost $25 a piece and include two new types of monsters as well as a new ring and a new color of clay.

Now, if you have $25 burning a hole in your pocket, you’ll want to prioritize one of those instead of the 3/4 players expansion. These monster packs actually get you closer to playing with 4 players, than the 4 players expansion, in my opinion, because they include clay and ring. They add a bit of flavor, complexity, and depth to the game, they allow your army to feel pretty unique, and overall they’re great. We have one monster pack (Batadactyl and Mongeragon) and I regret not getting one more instead of the 4 player expansion.

Last but not least, Necromolds has a “big box” expansion named “call to arms”.

I do have the expansion but haven’t tried it yet. From what I can see, it adds a lot of depth and strategy to the game, with new mechanics of wounds, artifact equipment, and each player playing as a unique mage with special abilities. It probably turns this simple “gateway game” into a more fully fledged fantasy game, but at a quick glance also dramatically hurts the simplicity of the game. If I can be honest, I kinda regret getting this expansion instead of other monsters. This isn’t to say the expansion isn’t good (I actually don’t know yet), but it feels like the kind of expansion you’d get once you’re very familiar with the base game and want to dive into something much more complex. I would not recommend buying it until you’re very familiar with the base game.


Here’s a quick list of pros and cons of Necromolds from my perspective:


  • Extremely eye appealing and great table presence
  • Awesome fun for families, simple concepts to grasp and easy mechanics with a healthy dose of strategy
  • The clay is a really fun gimmick for kids and grownups, but it also serves the gameplay. It helps making the setup time fun, simplifies some wargame concepts such as army point assignment, and squishing your opponents isn’t only fun, it also creates “obstacles” on the battlefield that your surviving monsters will have to navigate
  • Collectible aspect is well done: fun without being predatory (reasonably priced and not needed to enjoy the game. New rings are purely cosmetics, new monsters add gameplay elements).


  • End of the game can drag a bit too long when there’s not enough monsters remaining on the board
  • The 3/4 player expansion feels a bit useless, you’ll want to buy extra monster packs instead IMO
  • A bit fiddly: always worried of squishing two colors of clay together, terrain tiles topple easily

In conclusion, Necromolds is a great mix of wargame strategy and playdoh fun for families, in particular for tweens but even with younger kids. It has awesome table presence. I don’t think there is any other game quite like it, and it is one of my highlights of the year. My 12 year old son said he’d give Necromolds a score of 8 out of 10! My 7 year old was delighted to squish monsters with a spider-shaped seal!

I want to add a conclusion to the conclusion, which is to say that, as every kickstarter, the base game felt a bit expensive for what it is. Don’t get me wrong, this is how the small volumes of Kickstarter work, and I was not expecting the kickstarter to be cheaper. I am glad me and other backers have helped to push this board game to completion, and that designer Clint Bohaty is now able to work on his passion project full time! There’s no better use case for Kickstarter in my opinion, and this campaign was an insane success. What I mean however is that I can’t help but think that Necromolds actually deserves the financial support of a big company, and large retail distribution. I probably despise Hasbro like nobody else (trust me), but I feel like the collectible aspect of the game would really benefit from a large scale marketing campaign and the associated financial backbone of a big structure. How great would it be to find those Monster Packs and Caster rings in all gaming stores, next to MTG boosters and the like? A big company could definitely help reduce the cost of the base game, too, in my opinion. Anyway, that’s just food for thought, either way I’m wishing Necromolds a bright future!

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