My son and I played a couple basic games and then tried some variations. Over all we enjoyed the game mechanic. The game play is engaging with simultaneous play and very little down time for either player. The graphics and actions match the theme really well.
Three of the actions are a lot of fun, Punch, Cross and Counter. Dodge feels more like a necessary evil. You don't really want to play them but you have to get them out of your hand sometime. A couple more different kinds of punch cards might be fun. Maybe a jab card. Or another combo card like Cross or Counter. The Cross, Punch is the most fun in the game. But the guaranteed hit on the Counter is nice too.
We did not use the mechanic of pointing to stamina with the other unused stamina card. We put a bead on the current stamina.
Our first game, my son got knocked out in the first round. His main mistake was that he didn't know that Cross was kind of useless without Punch and he put most of his Punches in his second deck.
In our second game, we knew how the game worked and built our first 11 card decks much smarter. But my son knocked me out in the first round. This was a theme, first round knock outs. We had trouble getting the game go to the second round with most games ending in the first round. My son suggested boxers should start with 15 stamina to lengthen the game into the second round. Maybe if we were more experienced, we could extend the game longer.
In one game, we had a simultaneous knock out of both boxers.
For variants, we tried:
-3 minutes real time rounds using a timer. This did not add much to the game. We were playing fairly quickly already.
-combos of multiple cards. This also was ineffective. If you turn the cards over one at a time, the play is pretty similar to regular play. The only difference is you are locked into the next 2 or 3 rounds regardless what happens. We tried to play 2 or 3 cards at once all face up and add them up, but could not make sense of this and abandoned it.
-The one variant I really did like was judges points like in real boxing. A point was when a boxer beat the other boxer by at least 2. This was actually really fun. You would get a ding on a players stamina for 1 and try for the knock out. But you could also go for the big 6 point Cross, Punch for a judges point also.
The problem we had with the judges points was again the game ended to early. My son knocked me out in the first round. At the time, the judges points were 2 to 1 in his favor. If we were to start with enough stamina that a knock out was unlikely, then the judges points could have determined the match.
Players might not like the game if they don't enjoy trying to guess what their opponent is going to do. 'Counting cards' definitely helps to guess what the player has left. We tended to do our own thing and hope it worked. We often found the game to be streaky in that one player is guessing well and one player poorly for 3 or 4 rounds.
In all, a great little portal game with great theme.
great review/session report. thanks!
Your session report helped me to make a "PNP this" decision. Sounds like a bit of fun. Thanks