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Subject: Boxing Match Deck Builder: On the Ropes [WIP] rss

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Dan Cichoracki

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I honestly don't know if there's any interest in boxing games, but I've put this game together and we enjoy it, so I'll post about it here to see if there's any interest.

Welcome, boxing fans, to On the Ropes.

Game overview

Game play is designed to build towards a near-authentic and strategic feel of the sweet science, trying to bring some of that strategy to the board gaming table.

The game is for 2 players and plays in rounds (currently 6, with optional rounds 7-10). It lasts about 30-45 minutes, but we're always teaching it to players when we play test, which might impact that play time.

The game features some hidden action selection, simultaneous action resolution, and opportunities to create combos and follow-ups when successful.

As in real boxing, the game ends in a KO, TKO or Decision.


Each boxer has the following ratings & stats

Boxers Ratings:
- Strength: this determines the power of the punch
- Speed (hand, foot, head, torso): this determines the speed of the appropriate movement. Hand speed impacts punches, arm & hand blocks, parrying, etc.
- You can, alternately, play with the Quickness rating (average of all Speed ratings) to make the game a bit easier.
- Chin: the number of punches a boxer can take before getting knocked down

Boxer Stats:
- Stamina: the ability to keep punching
- Endurance: the ability to take a punch
- Motivation: the willingness to keep fighting

The game currently implements fighting style as a component to differentiate between fighters, but it needs some fine tuning as to the game impact, it can definitely be improved.

Here's what the boxer card looks like now, the ratings & stats are on the upper right side. Height, weight, age, reach, etc are included but don't impact game play at this time.

Action cards provide stat changes, adding to the Speed and/or Strength of the Boxer's base rating. There are also Modifier cards, which further add or subtract from the action ratings.

In the top left, the cost to add the card to the deck, this is also used for scoring on any successful actions.

Below that is the Speed rating, indicating the speed time (in this case, hand speed) and the modifier to the boxer's base (hand) speed.

In the top left is the strength modifier, the amount you add to the boxer's base strength for a successful action.

Below that is the target location for the action: head, torso or both. Some actions, like combos, allow you to target both areas.

In the middle is the Follow-up rating & value. A positive follow-up rating allows the player to play an additional card after a successful action. The Rating is the limit of cost for a follow-up card, the value is how many points that card is worth as a follow-up. So, this card has a follow-up rating of 2, which means you can play a single card with a follow-up Value of 1 or 2. The follow-up value is 3, which needs a follow-up rating of 3 or higher to allow this as a legal follow-up.

Below this is the name, type and category of the cards.

Card name is the general name of the action, like this Jab, or a Cross, hook, parry, etc..

Card type is a categorization of the different types within that general name. Feint, quick feint, power, lead, back, etc..

Card category is how we identify the different broad spectra of cards: The main action categories are: Basic punch, basic defense, finesse, flourish and clutch. Non-action categories are: Modifier and Corner cards.

Basic attacks and defenses are those basic actions most boxers would master before entering the ring. If you can't throw a jab, Donny, you're out of your element.

Finesse is for more advanced actions, things like combos and counter-attacks, that take more training and practice to master.

Flourishes are for the major actions, the ones that you build up to in order to get a knockdown. Massive combos like Ali landing 7 in a row.

The Clutch, just like in boxing, holds the opponent's arms down to quickly break up an action. It's illegal in the game, just like in the ring. This is iterated by making it an auto-success and having a negative point value for deck building and scoring.

Modifier cards modify speed and/or strength. They must be played before resolving an action.

Corner cards are used between rounds to recover your fighter. Both players start with the same corner cards and can play up to 6 points of corner cards between each round. They are not added to the deck and do not impact scoring.

Throw in the Towel: This is considered a Corner card, but can be played at any time. This is exactly what you think, one boxer throws in the towel and quits the match.

Playing the game

Select a boxer & take the appropriate number of counters for each of your stats.

Build your deck based on your Stamina & the boxer's fighting style. The first Round, you can spend 3x your starting stamina on Cards. (Stamina 8 = buy 24 points worth of cards).

Set up your corner, deck, tokens, boxers, etc.

Here's a simple image of gameplay setup:

You're comparing stats & modifiers, so the game may work better for you with both players sitting side by side, otherwise you're looking at your opponent's cards upside-down.

After both boxers have set their decks, shuffle your deck and draw your hand.

Card play order is determined simultaneously, with some cards played face-up and others played face-down. This means that you'll only know a bit of your opponent's plan. Sort of like studying a boxer's technique: you get a general idea of their style & moves, but they always mix things up.

Cards are resolved simultaneously, reveal (as needed) the first card, compare the type & speed. If I play a dodge and you play a punch, your punch speed must exceed my dodge speed. If you do, you succeed, otherwise I succeed. If we have the same number, we both succeed as glancing blows.

After a success, follow-up as desired and keep moving through the cards.

Successful cards go to the appropriate player's Scoring pile, everything else is discarded. Full successes go face-up for scoring, Glancing blows go face-down in the scoring pile.

At the end of the round, if both players are still on their feet, you tally your scores. If you both last 6 rounds, the highest score wins by decision, otherwise the winner will be the one who is standing or doesn't throw in the towel.

This game is available in a print & play and we want play testers.

Complete rules are here:

PNP is here:

Printable tokens are here:

I do have a few copies of this that I've printed out (deck builders are big files & I had some free prints available) which I can send out.
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Dan Cichoracki

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Updated the rules to make them a bit more clear, definitely still in progress on those updates. Also updated a lot of cards to make things a bit less broken. Some of the more powerful cards were severely broken by their low costs while others needed tweaking to some of their general stats,

Links are still the same as in the above post.
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Phillip Harpring
United States
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I'm very interested in this project as I love the sport of boxing and would really enjoy a fun, thematic board/card game version. Subscribed! I'm also working on my own combat sports game. If you'd like you can check out my WIP thread here.

What really jumps out at me after reading through the rules and looking over the cards is that this game seems very technical. There are many different stats and a pretty large in-game vocabulary that has to be learned in order to play effectively. While I'm familiar with many of the terms you use, the way they impact gameplay isn't always intuitive. For example, while clinching is technically illegal in boxing, it's still very common and only ever punished if a fighter does it excessively. Additionally, if a fighter is intentionally cinching, they're doing it to avoid damage and rest, so having the clinching boxer lose stamina is kind of the opposite of its realistic impact.

Have your playtesters really been able to start from zero knowledge, build a deck, and get through a match in 45 minutes?

I was also a little confused as to how players play their cards. In the "select play order" step, it sounds like the players have to determine the order for all the cards they plan to play at once before they start resolving them. Is that correct? Are players rearranging their cards in real-time on the table, turning them face up and face down according to their position in the round timeline?
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