Ed Hughes
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Way of the Fighter is one of the more recent entries into the fighting game genre. But how does it compare to the existing franchises? What sets it apart, and what are its strengths and weaknesses?

Like most games of this type, two players (or two teams of two, if you own both sets) attempt to knock each other out over the course of twelve rounds. Asymmetrical play between fighters of varying abilities and skill sets is also as expected. It is a game of imperfect information, as each fighter is drawing their attack cards from a deck, and with some exceptions, players cannot be sure what moves their opponent is capable of at a given time, and likewise, neither player has full access to their move-set.

As I see it, this game has several aspects that stand out as unique when compared to Yomi, Battlecon, or Exceed;

First, the ingenious dual use of dice as resources and also as a health tracker. Each fighter has a row of dice that function as a sort of life bar. As the fighter takes hits, the dice become unlocked, granting that fighter more resources. This creates both a 'comeback' mechanism to allow a fighter who is taking a beating to build an advantage. It also creates a swingy sort of momentum that helps build tension. In my opinion, this works extremely well, and is completely unlike anything in Battlecon, Yomi, or Exceed.

Second, and connected with the first, is the chance element. The aforementioned dice are used by the players to fuel their attacks. After secretly playing a card face down, each player secretly antes one to four dice, then reveals their choice and rolls, adding the total to the card's inherent speed value to determine who goes first- And going first is a BIG deal in this game. Fans of Battlecon or Exceed who are used to reactive play will notice this immediately. With some very few exceptions, such as a misplay by the opponent, or abilities of a couple of expansion fighters, going second means losing the round. This chance element will turn some players off, but it isn't as bad as one might think- the dice are mostly D3's, with a few rarer 2-4 'power dice', so the spread of results is actually quite small, and the winner is more often than not decided by who is willing to commit more dice, and on the card played. There is also an initiative card, which serves as a tiebreaker, or can be given to the opponent in exchange for a non insignificant speed boost or positional adjustment. Cunning use of this card can potentially decide the outcome more often than lucky dice rolls.

Third is the modular nature of the fighters. This is what I consider to be one of the game's strongest aspects. Each fighter deck is built out of five smaller decks; one deck unique to that fighter, with the remaining four selected from an assortment of 'styles' belonging to five groups; Hard, Soft, Wrestle, Chi, and Fluid. For example, a fighter might be allowed to choose two Hard styles and two Chi styles from a selection of six possible Hard styles and six possible Chi styles (If you own the entire set). The fighters have 'default' selections suggested for starting players, but they are by no means mandatory or optimal, so a great deal of customization and strategic planning is possible.

Way of the Fighter's real quality, in my opinion, is the level of simulation of an actual arcade fighting game. There are elements present in this game that are absent in Battlecon, Yomi, or Exceed. Things like projectiles that actually track across the board and need to be blocked or avoided. Knockdowns, Stun, Dazing, Blocking, Jumping, Hitboxes, and more are all featured, and implemented very well. It's fun, and intense, and suspenseful. The flow of the game takes a little getting used to, but once you settle into it, it actually goes very quickly and smoothly. Players with a few games under their belts will complete a match in around a half hour.

A player's perception of the game's weaknesses are going to be a matter of personal preference. It isn't as Strategically deep as Battlecon, as psychologically intense as Yomi, or as fast and free-wheeling as Exceed, but it strikes a good balance between the three, and purely as a tabletop simulation of a video game, I think it's actually the strongest of the four. Overall, its nearest comparison would be Exceed, as they both share similar spatial elements and imperfect information card play. Though they are very different games, they feel somewhat similar.

The game's presentation is top notch. The fighter specific cards have colorful, dynamic illustrations of the characters in action. The other cards are both color coded and have symbols to make the moves quickly recognizable. The boards are functional and pleasing to the eye. The standup pawns are made of nice, heavy cardboard and have great illustrations of the fighters on them, scaled to their relative heights. I appreciated this small bit of attention to detail- the hulking, muscular grappler types tower over the smaller, quicker rushdown types. It's a very nice touch.

All told, Way of the Fighter is a very strong entry into the fighting card game genre, with enough distinctiveness to set it apart from the pack. Any fan of fighting games would do well to give it a try.

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Aaron White
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Re: A NEW CHALLENGER HAS ENTERED THE ARENA! - A review for fans of the fighting card game genre
Nooooo.

I needed you to say you hate it.

I own practically all of BattleCON, Yomi and Exceed (and Flash Duel). I believe you own all these as well. So to hear that you like Way of the Fighter is making my wallet cry.

You said this mimics the video games the best. Do you have a favourite fighter so far? If so, does he/she remind you of any existing fighting game characters?

Thanks for the review.
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Ed Hughes
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Re: A NEW CHALLENGER HAS ENTERED THE ARENA! - A review for fans of the fighting card game genre
Some say Battlecon is a Guilty Gear simulator, and that Yomi is a Tekken simulator.

Way of the Fighter is pretty straight up Street Fighter 2.

So far my preferred fighter is Alberdus, who is more or less Zangief.

Fans of street fighter will notice a lot of similarity between characters in Way of the Fighter- As I see it, Ren is rather transparently Ryu (He even has a dragon punch in his kit), his sister Jun is basically Ken, D'Shaun is Guile, Lumi is Dhalsim, Khublai is Hugo, Aya is Cammy, etc, etc. There are some fighters that don't as easily map onto the SF cast, but the archetypes are there.
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Atnier Rodriguez
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Re: A NEW CHALLENGER HAS ENTERED THE ARENA! - A review for fans of the fighting card game genre
themanfromsaturn wrote:
Some say Battlecon is a Guilty Gear simulator, and that Yomi is a Tekken simulator.

Way of the Fighter is pretty straight up Street Fighter 2.

So far my preferred fighter is Alberdus, who is more or less Zangief.

Fans of street fighter will notice a lot of similarity between characters in Way of the Fighter- As I see it, Ren is rather transparently Ryu (He even has a dragon punch in his kit), his sister Jun is basically Ken, D'Shaun is Guile, Lumi is Dhalsim, Khublai is Hugo, Aya is Cammy, etc, etc. There are some fighters that don't as easily map onto the SF cast, but the archetypes are there.


A lot of fighters do closely resemble existing characters in other franchises. Compared to Exceed, Yomi and Battlecon, is the least original in its character design philosophy.

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Ed Hughes
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Re: A NEW CHALLENGER HAS ENTERED THE ARENA! - A review for fans of the fighting card game genre
I'd put it about on par with Yomi in that regard. The characters in Yomi were originally conceived of as the cast of street fighter, and were re-skinned when Sirlin didn't get the license to the franchise.

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Atnier Rodriguez
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Re: A NEW CHALLENGER HAS ENTERED THE ARENA! - A review for fans of the fighting card game genre
themanfromsaturn wrote:
I'd put it about on par with Yomi in that regard. The characters in Yomi were originally conceived of as the cast of street fighter, and were re-skinned when Sirlin didn't get the license to the franchise.



Mechanically, you mean?

Maybe at the beginning stage of concept in Yomi they were similar, but right now, looking at their design, they are not immediately comparable to any other character. The closest would be Setsuki to Ibuki and Menelker to Akuma, and then there's an archer, two swordsmen, a rock golem, a robot, a gentleman with a ghost, a turtle/fish thing, etc.

Exceed also didn't get a Street Fighter license for Season 2 and created different characters instead.

Way of the Fighter has very close counterparts to existing licensed characters, and I'm thinking more Tekken than Street Fighter at times.
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Ed Hughes
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Re: A NEW CHALLENGER HAS ENTERED THE ARENA! - A review for fans of the fighting card game genre
Yeah, mechanically I mean.

Menelker resembles Akuma, and Setsuki, Ibuki, both mechanically and aesthetically. Some of the others were reskinned quite a bit, but their roots show.

Jaina is styled as an archer, but story wise and in terms of gameplay she's ken. Geiger is guile, vendetta is vega, degrey is slayer (or possibly Dudley). Lum is allegedlt supposed to be blanka, but I don't see it.

In terms of imaginative and original character design, Battlecon is definitely the champion.
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Atnier Rodriguez
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Re: A NEW CHALLENGER HAS ENTERED THE ARENA! - A review for fans of the fighting card game genre
themanfromsaturn wrote:
Yeah, mechanically I mean.

Menelker resembles Akuma, and Setsuki, Ibuki, both mechanically and aesthetically. Some of the others were reskinned quite a bit, but their roots show.

Jaina is styled as an archer, but story wise and in terms of gameplay she's ken. Geiger is guile, vendetta is vega, degrey is slayer (or possibly Dudley). Lum is allegedlt supposed to be blanka, but I don't see it.

In terms of imaginative and original character design, Battlecon is definitely the champion.


Agreed.

Battlecon is indeed more mechanically inventive, but sadly that comes at the cost of playtime, hence why I have replaced it with Exceed. Yomi is just Sirlin-expensive.

Waiting for more videos on Way of the Fighter being played to see if it scratches a different fighting game area for me.
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Aaron White
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Re: A NEW CHALLENGER HAS ENTERED THE ARENA! - A review for fans of the fighting card game genre
okami31 wrote:

A lot of fighters do closely resemble existing characters in other franchises. Compared to Exceed, Yomi and Battlecon, is the least original in its character design philosophy.


I thought so too at first. But over time the designs grew on me and no longer seemed like copies. Later I saw the Street Masters Kickstarter which made me appreciate Way of The Fighter more. Street Masters ripped off artwork with head swaps or outright copies. Look at the Akuma artwork, they literally copied another artists work and gave it a different head.

The comment about Yomi is interesting, because it gives light to how these abiliities came about. Geiger’s time stopping Time Spirals were mean to to simulate Guiles ability to walk behind his slow Sonic Booms and throw his blocking opponent. Midori’s Dragon Form was originally meant to simulate E. Honda putting the opponent in the corner where they could not avoid his throw/attack pressure. Arg’s damage over time was meant to represent Dhalsim’s ability to keep the opponent at range and pick them apart with strikes (but was better represented with Bal Bas Beta later). I find it really interesting that not getting the Street Fighter license for Yomi has grown into all these other great games.
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Ed Hughes
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Re: A NEW CHALLENGER HAS ENTERED THE ARENA! - A review for fans of the fighting card game genre
Street Masters looked like it was going for a Double Dragon/Final Fight/River City Ransom "beat-em-up" kind of thing more than a straight up fighting game.

I considered backing it, but ultimately decided against it.
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Jorge Alvarez
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Re: A NEW CHALLENGER HAS ENTERED THE ARENA! - A review for fans of the fighting card game genre
I hate you. *speaking to wallet* I'm sorry buddy, you ain't getting a break anytime soon...
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Ron I
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Re: A NEW CHALLENGER HAS ENTERED THE ARENA! - A review for fans of the fighting card game genre
How pronounced is the 'comeback' effect from receiving more dice when getting hit? Baked-in comeback mechanics are generally something I dislike in games but everything else about this game looks good enough that I can see past that if it isn't overtuned.
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Re: A NEW CHALLENGER HAS ENTERED THE ARENA! - A review for fans of the fighting card game genre
pvtparts wrote:
How pronounced is the 'comeback' effect from receiving more dice when getting hit? Baked-in comeback mechanics are generally something I dislike in games but everything else about this game looks good enough that I can see past that if it isn't overtuned.


My initial impression from the couple of games is that the "comeback mechanic" is very noticeable. All damage taken directly goes to the Energy Pool. So in the next turn it could be quite normal for the player that "loss" in the previous turn to have an even or better active dice situation than the "winner" of the previous turn.

I do enjoy the game so far. I plan to play the games with rules as written so that I cam make a more informed opinion on that "comeback mechanic."

If I do decide that I don't like it, a simple rule variant is that instead of Life Pool dices caused by damage going to the Energy Pool, the dices will go to the Burnout Pool. The next turn, you and your opponent are given the option to move one Power Dice or two Core Dice to your Energy Pool (as written in the rules). That for the most part removes the majority of the "comeback mechanic." The other variant option is to put a max limit on how much or what type of dice from Life Pool can go to the Energy Pool.
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Ed Hughes
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Re: A NEW CHALLENGER HAS ENTERED THE ARENA! - A review for fans of the fighting card game genre
In extreme cases, the advantage can be pretty pronounced. If I haven't taken any hits yet, but you're at 25% life, you have a LOT more dice than I do, and a much better chance of winning the initiative.

That said, a dice advantage doesn't nevessarily translate to a win. The way the combo mechanism works is in order to combo an attack, you need to add more dice and roll higher than the last one. If you used a lot of dice to begin with, it's increasingly challenging to combo, and a failed attempt still wastes the dice. If you aren't judicious you might spend it all doing 1 or 2 damage. So all that raw power earned through damage doesn't automatically equal a full comeback.

Also, positioning and good use of initiative can mitigate a dice disadvantage.


So, that's the long answer. The short answer is "significant, but not decisive"
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Benjamin Y.
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Re: A NEW CHALLENGER HAS ENTERED THE ARENA! - A review for fans of the fighting card game genre
The comeback mechanic is integral to the game, but it can be managed by a savvy player, some basic advise:
- Pace yourself: consider how many damage you are doing, do not be goded into dealing too much damage at once.
- Count your dice and plan a couple of move in advance
- Dont exhaust yourself completely unless you are going for the finish or have a plan to avoid the comeback (running away or blocking)
- Use the initiative: using the initiative is great to trick your opponent and save on dice.
- Know your opponent: many fighters have weakness to be exploited.
- Accept damage: do not hesitate to take damage, but on your own terms.
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Richard
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Re: A NEW CHALLENGER HAS ENTERED THE ARENA! - A review for fans of the fighting card game genre
Cool, glad to see Ninja Division getting some solid games out there and this one looks beautiful. I will check it out.
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