Game Review: Construct your “Hideous Abomination”

hideous abomination game review boxTo Mrs. Saville, England, Dec. 11th, 17–: You will rejoice to hear that no disaster has accompanied the commencement of an enterprise which you have regarded with such evil forebodings. Yes, we have managed to create a spot for you in the Global Abomination Association and are eager to have you arrive and begin your course of study. While your peers were playing with dolls and action figures, your childhood was characterized by dismemberment and reassembly in what we shall euphemistically call “creative” ways. That’s why we at GAA might well be the only people who can truly appreciate what your parents have decried as your “mad genius”. It is my task to prepare you for your first visit to the Association and specifically a little party game we call Hideous Abomination…

The tile-laying game Hideous Abomination from designer Judson Cowan and Tettix Games is for 2-5 players and is suitable for everyone in the family to play, with variant rules for players as young as 4. The purpose is to build a tableau of body parts and create an abomination that earns the mad scientist, uh, player the most points. Points are made based on the configuration of the creature, the predominant color, and the similarity of your beast to various Grand Prize and Award requirements. It’s whimsical fun that offers a quick and entertaining game for everyone in the family.


The heart of Hideous Abomination are 191 Body Part cards, representing one of the ten types of parts (e.g., heads, feet, torsos), but the awards and prizes are just as important as working towards those will help you maximize the points you earn when you finally stitch on the last body part and cry “It’s ALIVE!”. The starting components are thus:

hideous abomination game - basic setup

Above, the initial setup shows the three quick reference cards (along the very top), the three Grand Prize requirements (fewest tiles, completed abomination, and most colors), along with a deck of small Awards cards (not yet revealed). The three cards on the lower left are the Spare Parts Buffet. To its right are the huge pile of Body Parts, the die, a stack of bolts (with which you can lock body parts together to keep your nefarious opponents from stealing!), and the tie-tracking bonus points cards for the very end of the game.

Each player starts with a randomly chosen torso and three Body Parts cards. With a two-player game, the beginning setup looks like this:

hideous abomination game - initial setup 2 player game

The top right of every card shows its body part type: You can see both are torsos, as required. Each is “bolted” down and cannot be stolen, which is denoted by the single nut on the top left. Otherwise, it’s all about whether the side of a card has a required connection or is an end edge. Torsos, as you would expect, can be connected on all four sides.

It’s helpful to peek at the shortcut cards at this point:

hideous abomination game - shortcut cards

The left card offers a handy reminder that any roll of the die will result in one of five possible actions: Draw, Reveal, Dig, Steal, or GO MAD! The other card shows possible colors (pink, red, orange, yellow, green, teal, blue, purple, grey, wild), possible body part types (straight, ben, nexus, crotch, tail, wing, foot, hand, head, torso) and potential attributes of a body part (one or more tooth, eye, horn, digit, nose, ear).


Hideous Abomination is easy to play with three basic steps to every move: Roll, Play a Card, Discard down to 3. On the very first turn you “Draw” two cards, either from the face-down stack of body parts (nice image, right? You did want to join the Global Abomination Association, didn’t you?) or the top card from one of the three face up Body Part Buffet piles.

hideous abomination game - first move

Player one has ended up with the five cards shown above. Each turn you are required to play a card, but you can play the card on your own abomination or that of an opponent. Yes, you can mess up your fellow mad scientist as desired. Dr. Frankenstein would be so proud of you! At least, we think so, he hasn’t been heard of since he had to head to the Arctic without any notice to the membership committee.

Since lots of limbs produce higher points, we really want our abomination to be far more complex than just two hands, two feet, and a head. Who designed that body anyway? Why not seven hands, fourteen feet, and three heads?! To move in that direction, player one will place the fourth card in their hand, the purple Nexus body part to the left of the torso.

Player two has a similar first move, deciding which of five cards is the best placement:

hideous abomination game - player two step one

No great options, but do notice that the leftmost yellow head part includes 6 ears and 1 eye (denoted in symbols on the lower left) along with two noses. What a weirdo, right? Actually, this is potentially going to help with lots of awards, so it’s a smart play. Atop the torso it goes.

From the second turn onward, players will roll the die and take the action indicated. See the shortcut card for options. Player one rolls Award, which causes one of the awards from the stack to be revealed:

hideous abomination game - first award revealed

The abomination with the most heads will win 2 points, not a bad goal to work towards as you assemble your creature! Once the award is drawn, the player will then perform a Draw action, picking up two new body parts. Then it’s Play (remember, on your own or any opponent’s creature) and Discard down to a max of 3 body parts in your hand.

Next turn player one is getting nervous that player two could end the game with a single body part, so they play the spiky crotch on the other player’s monstrosity:

hideous abomination game - place a part on someone else's creature

That gives the other player a bigger creature, but now they’ll need to play two cards to match both exposed edges, rather than just slap another arm on the abomination. A smart, albeit offensive move in a game that ends up with a little bit of “take that!” interaction.


The game proceeds quickly because there’s not really that much to consider: do your tiles fit, and are they going to contribute to you having a valuable abomination (or your opponent having a flawed abomination)? A bit further along, here are our two monsters:

hideous abomination game - two big creatures

Player two, on the right, can again place a single body part and complete their abomination, while player one, on the left, needs at least two to complete their frankly hideous abomination. No huge surprise, three awards have been revealed from dice rolls, which fulfills the number of players + 1 minimum to move into the end phase, and so player two drops a foot, stitches it on, and, laughing maniacally, screams “I have done it! It’s alive! IT’S ALIIIIIVVVEEE!”…

hideous abomination game - player two completes assembly

That’s it. Now it’s all just a matter of scoring, which is mostly straightforward. First off, any ties with a Grand Prize or Award result in all matching players earning that bonus. The displayed awards and prizes are:

hideous abomination game - awards and prizes

The top three are Grand Prizes and are always the same in any game, while the lower Awards are randomized per challenge. In this instance, there are points for most straight tiles, most bendy tiles, and most heads. Here’s how the two monsters compare:

hideous abomination game - creatures with prizes and awards

Player one, on the left, has 2 + 3 + 3 + 2 + 2 = 12 points, while Player two, who completed their abomination, has 3 + 3 + 2 = 8 points. Maybe they should have added a few body parts before completing their monstrosity. There’s one more factor in scoring: color consistency. Figure out the most common color tile in your abomination and then gain 1 point per tile. Body parts with a rainbow icon (both have it rightmost) are added to the total. Player one has a lovely rainbow of colors, but no two that are the same. The result = 1 point + 1 bonus for the rainbow body part. Player two has two blue and two purple body parts along with a rainbow, so they earn 1 + 1 + 1 bonus = 3.

Grand score: Player One, who didn’t complete their monster, wins with 14 points, versus Player Two with 11 points. Go player one! And player two? Well, Association rules say that you have to contribute a body part if you lose, so if you wouldn’t mind giving us a hand…


Surprisingly, the Steal face never showed up on die rolls, so players weren’t stealing body parts from each other. If one is stolen, the victimized player is compensated with two bolt tokens, which lock down both of the tiles across which they protect. The wild could have created Steal opportunities, but both players were more interested in revealing additional Awards in that situation. Is this common? Perhaps, and perhaps some families find that there’s much more gaming harmony if you house rule that theft is prohibited, especially when playing with younger children who might look askance at their beautiful abomination being picked over for spare parts.

Otherwise, there’s lots to like about this fun and amusingly themed family-friendly game. It’s benign enough that even the most sensitive young gamer will find it fun and the lack of words and reliance on iconography might add a bit to the learning curve, but means that even children who cannot read can fully participate in the abominable fun. Highly recommended and very portable for travel (though it requires a good size table). Dr. Phibes would approve.

HIDEOUS ABOMINATION, 2-5 players, from Tettix Games. Print ‘n Play: $4.00, Boxed Edition: $21.00. On Kickstarter.

Disclosure: Tettix sent me a copy of the game in return for this candid review. Thanks, Tetris, uh, Tetrix, uhm, Tettix!


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dave taylor vertigo film swirl backgroundPlanet Dave is run by Dave Taylor, who has been writing about film, cars, games, and his lifestyle for many years. He's based in Boulder, Colorado and assures readers he's only occasionally falling into a gravity well or temporal distortion field.

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