Recently I was given the opportunity to check out an upcoming new game that will be available on Kickstarter very soon. I received a prototype of the game with everything needed to play. These are my thoughts and opinions on the presented materials. Enjoy!
Super Powered Smash Masters is a game by Adam Cogan, published by Dark Unicorn Games. It is for 2-6 players. In this game, players will control of a group of Super Heroes as they battle against other heroes in an all out brawl. If they're able to defeat all the other heroes and keep at least 1 of their heroes standing, they will be declared the winner.
To begin, each player will be required to build a deck of 50 cards and a hero stack with 9 heroes in it. It's recommended to begin with 25 smash cards and 25 other various cards that compliment the 9 heroes that were chosen. The only rule is that, other than smash cards, the remaining cards must be unique. That is to say, no multiples of the same card. Once this is done, the game can be set up. Each player shuffles their hero stack and deck separately, placing them facedown on either side of their play area. Each player then draws 3 heroes and places them faceup between their 2 facedown decks. Players then draw 5 cards from their deck to form their starting hand. The first player is chosen and play now begins.
On a player's turn, they are able to perform 1 of 8 different actions; attack with a smash card, use a hero card's power, play a story card, play a super card, attack with a team up card, play a loot card, discard an unwanted card and draw a new card, and place a stunned hero into the defeated heroes pile and draw a new hero. The first thing a player can do is attack with a smash card. To do this, the player simply plays a smash card from their hand in front of one of their active heroes and then they announce which hero on the opponent's team that they are attacking. It should be noted that immediately after playing a card, a player draws a new card. Players must maintain 5 cards in their hand at all times. Once the new card is drawn, if the opponent's hero is unable to counter, then that hero is stunned. To show this, the player rotates their hero card sideways. However the player is allowed to play a smash card to counter the attack. At this point if the original attacker can not play a smash card to counter, then they will be the one to be stunned. Stunned heroes are then unable to defend themselves, play loot or team up cards or even use their special power. If a stunned hero is attacked, then that hero is defeated, placing them in the defeated hero's pile.
Another action that a player can do is to use a hero card's power. To do this, the player need only announce which hero's power is being used and then following the instruction on the card.
The next action available to be used is to play a story card. These cards when played will affect all teams including the player's team. These are placed in front of the player and then the effects of the card are followed.
Playing a super card is much the same way as playing a story card. The thing with super cards is that each hero has 1 specific super card that is specific to just them. The super card is played on the corresponding hero and if that hero is stunned, it revives them. The effects are then followed on the card.
Attacking with a team up card is much like basic attacking. The thing with these cards is that two active heroes are required and their power types must match the types listed on the team up card. The player chooses one hero to be the lead attacker, placing the team up card in front of this hero. Smash cards are used like normal to counter with. If the attacking team wins the battle however, the opponent's hero is defeated instead of being just stunned. If the attacker loses the battle, then their lead attacker is stunned.
Loot cards are cards that are equipped to a hero to grant new powers. To equip a loot card, the player places it below the hero. It should be noted that only 1 active hero on a player's team can be equipped with a loot card at any time. The loot card's power type must also match the hero that is being equipped's power type. Some loot cards are discarded after use while others stay until the hero is stunned or defeated. The loot card is discarded at that time.
The final 2 actions are really quite self explanatory. One is to discard an unwanted card from your hand and draw a new card from the deck. Simple. The other is to place a stunned hero into the defeated heroes pile and then replace it by drawing a new hero card and placing it in front of you. That's it. Just remember, this last action is optional, while a player must maintain at least 3 heroes on the table. That means that when a hero is defeated, the player must draw a new one from the hero stack to replace it with. This last action is only when you want to get rid of a stunned hero and replace it with a new hero. It's completely optional.
The game continues with player's taking turns until all other player's heroes have been defeated and at least one hero is left on a team. The player that defeats all the other players heroes, is the winner.
The game consists of plenty of cards of all different types. As I explained in the rules summary, there are 5 different types of cards that make up a player's deck, as well as a deck of hero cards. The cards for this game are really great looking. I love the artwork and fun designs of them all. You can see lots of different inspiration from some of the various main stream comic heroes in the hero designs. For instance, Dark Unicorn looks like a hilarious take on Batman. Of course, that's just my opinion. There's lots of very fun and humorous looking characters throughout all the cards. The quality of the cards is really great. There much like you'd find in any good collectible card game like Magic or Yugioh. A player mat would be awesome to have with this game, even if it was only a piece of folded paper much like in the structure decks for Yugioh. Unfortunately, this game doesn't have them. Maybe, the designer will take my suggestion and make this game even cooler. Hint, hint. In any event, I really like the look and feel of the game and think the light comic book feel comes through really well. It should of course be noted that this is just a prototype copy so I fully expect things to get even better.
The rulebook, I had to download from a pdf from the game's website. Even so, the rules looks really good. I will say that from all appearances, the rules will most likely be a folded up piece of paper. Still, there are plenty of pictures on both sides. The different card types are explained in good detail. There's also a great overview of setting up and playing the game. The one thing that I feel is missing is something that I've asked the designers for more clarification on as well. That is deck building. Seeing as this game is designed around this concept, it'd be great if there was a section in the rules on making a starting deck. I realize that a lot of this games fun is in the silliness and absurdity of the characters. However I look to games like Ashes Rise of the Phoenix Born and other card games of that nature and see that they have a section devoted to playing the game with a set group of cards. As I stated earlier in the overview, it's not hard to make up a deck by just doing as I said. Still, I'd have liked to have seen a recommended set of cards for both players for their very first game. Not having that isn't a deal breaker, just something I wish I had. In any event, the rules are still in their prototype form so maybe if I wish hard enough, something of that nature might actually appear. For now, I'm content with what's there.
Like with any typical combat style card game, the game is pretty straight forward and simple. It's all about taking out your opponent's stack of heroes and keeping them from taking out all of yours. You've got plenty of different card types that can be used to help your heroes out either through one shot abilities or by attaching them to a hero. I really enjoy this game and find it to be a really quick and simple alternative to some of the more complex dueling games like the VS System, Magic the Gathering or Overpower. In a lot of ways this game gives me that feeling of Overpower. I used to really enjoy playing those dueling style games and this captures that spirit and puts it in a easy to learn and fast paced package. As I've mentioned, if you like games like Overpower or VS System, you'll enjoy this, especially if you'd like to be able to play this with younger players. The ease of play with this game makes it a great introductory game into the world of dueling card games for those younger players that aren't quite up to the task of performing major multi-card combos. The game is quite light but does have a little bit of strategy to it. It only takes about 30 minutes to play. I enjoy the game and think it works best as a 2 player dueling game. More players tend to muddy up the game for me. As it is, I'm excited to see the completed game.
8 out of 10
Super Powered Smash Masters is a light card game of super hero combat. The artwork for the game looks great. It has a very humorous comic book style that spoofs a lot of main stream characters. The game doesn't take very long to play. Most game sessions last about 30 minutes. For me, the game works best as a 2 player dueling style card game but can be played with more players if you desire. It's a great introductory game into dueling combat games like VS System, Overpower or even Magic the Gathering. It's great for younger players. The look and feel of the game are very appealing to fans of comic super heroes. Fans of the previously mentioned games should really enjoy this one, especially if they want something a little simpler to play with their kids. I really enjoy the game and think that many players will agree with me. I would definitely recommend backing it on Kickstarter. It's a game that heroes and villains alike will enjoy. I look forward to seeing the finished product.
8 out of 10
For more information about this game, please check out Dark Unicorn Games at their site.
Also, keep an eye out for their upcoming Kickstarter campaign coming soon.