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Subject: Initial Impressions rss

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Shane Larsen
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FIRST-REVIEW DISCLAIMER

This is my first review! I have only played the game twice. The edition I played was a prototype--rule-book changes and minor aesthetic changes will come, but nothing different in game play. I know the designer. I did not plan on writing a review when I play tested this game. In fact, I did not plan for this to be a review when I started it. I simply wanted to give the game more exposure, as I think it deserves some serious attention. Please be kind with criticisms. But please share them as well. I'll say no more. Thank you!



GAMEPLAY OVERVIEW

In Super Showdown, two players are pitted against each other: one player is the VILLAINOUS SUPER (green), while the other--his nemesis--is the HERO SUPER (white). During each round, players each roll die, reposition their HERO tokens on the board, and select a card from their hands and play it face down on the playing surface. Then a duel happens based on the players' relative position on the board and the cards that were selected. Sounds simple, right? It is, but what makes it interesting is the order in which all this happens. But before I get into that, allow me to tell you a bit about the components.

COMPONENTS

The game board is small, very small. It's 4" x 4". I LOVE this. It means this is a game I can pack anywhere. There's always a place for a game with a small footprint in my collection. The rulebook and theme of the game is all there. The rulebook reads and looks like a small comic book--yes, even with perfectly-placed onomatopoeia. The cards look like they've been cut straight out of comic pages from the golden age of comics. While small, the game packs punch--POW!--in theme, and will catch the eye to any, but especially to any comic reader/collector.

Here's the list of components:

2 small 6-sided dice - one green, one white (sorry, I don't know the dimensions, but smaller than Quarriors dice)
2 player tokens - the designer told me last night these would be meeples, we were using glass discs, the meeples will definitely be an upgrade
18 cards - nine green, nine white
2 player aids - 4" X 4"; these were helpful, but needed some refining
1 game board - 4" X 4"; very functional and portable, did I mention I like this?
1 rule book - 4" X 4" foldout with all sides covered--but this will change; the designer plans to make it bigger for the final edition to (1) provide more space for rules and (2) create a scaled-down comic-book feel

GAME SETUP

One person shuffles and randomly deals out the 18 cards. The cards dealt determine which players play which sides:
If dealt 5 or more green cards, you are the VILLAIN
If dealt 5 or more white cards, you are the HERO
The VILLAIN and the HERO place their tokens on their designated starting locations, and play begins following these steps:

GAME PLAY

We already have an understanding of what happens in a round. Dice rolls, movement, and a secretly-played card. But it's the timing and combination of these three things that determines the outcome of the duels that happen each turn. It's also what gives the game a perfect shaken-not-stirred mix of tactics, mind-read skills, and a drop of luck.

NOTE: Players take turns being the first player. The VILLAIN is always the first player to start the game.

STEP ONE || 1st-Player Actions
1. Roll die (your color)
2. Place the die next to the board by the number rolled (this will make sense in a minute...)
3. Move player token up to two spaces, or three spaces if you're player is on a power space (there are 4 or 5 on the board, including the starting positions for each player)

STEP TWO || Simultaneous Card Selection
1. Both players select a card from their hands and play them face down

STEP THREE || 2nd-Player Actions
1. Roll die (your color)
2. Place die next to the board by the number rolled
3. Move player token up to two spaces, or three spaces if you're player is on a power space (there are 4 on the board, including the starting positions for each player)

STEP FOUR || Resolve Duel
1. Flip cards over and determine outcome


Alright, answering the following questions should bring it all together for you:

1. Where are the dice placed when rolled, and how do they impact game play?
The 4x4 board is made up of a 6x6, X-Y Axis. Axis X is where one player's die is placed on his turn. Axis Y is where the other player's dice is placed on his turn, and the square where the X and Y axis intersect based on the dice that are rolled each turn, is location of MAYHEM that turn. Why is this important? Because the type of duel in which the two players engage is determined by the two players' relative position to the MAYHEM square. Here's a picture example:



In the picture above, the MAYHEM will occur at the intersecting location from the results of the two rolled dice (3 and 5). But remember the player order. The first player rolls his die, then moves. So at that point, he only has half the information on where the MAYHEM will be. So deciding what to do with your movement, can be tough. Also, remember that cards are played after the first player rolls and moves and before the second player rolls and moves. So neither player knows if he will be at or even able to make it to the location of MAYHEM, nor do either of them know if his opponent will.

2. So why does it matter if the players can make it to the location of MAYHEM?
After the MAYHEM location has been determined (both dice rolled), and the second player have moved, then cards are flipped over and a duel occurs. There are three types of duels: BRAWN, SPEED, and WITS. And the type of duel is determined by the players relative position to the location of MAYHEM like this:

- If neither player is in the location of MAYHEM, it is a battle of WITS!
- If one player is in the location of MAYHEM, it is a battle of SPEED!
- If both players EVER enter the same square, whether it's the location of MAYHEM or any other, it is an immediate battle of BRAWN!

3. So how is each duel type different?

I'm only going to touch on this to give you the general idea. But it's pretty straight forward:
WITS - Higher card played wins, but if the total of both cards is 19 or higher, results are reversed!
SPEED - The color of the higher card played determines the player who chooses the results The player who reaches the MAYHEM gets to choose the outcome...unless a Decoy is played, which reverses this!
BRAWN - Higher card played wins, but beware, the Villain has a Ray Gun which wins outright, unless of course the decoy reverses that!

IMPRESSIONS

Still with me? Good.

Hopefully, this gives you a good idea of how the game is played and what type of tension it builds. The real decision is when it's time to play the cards and the second player has neither rolled his die nor moved his token. But don't get me wrong, every roll of the die is critical. Every movement space is thought provoking. And every flip of the card is tension crazy.

This game is a gem for what it is. It's meant to be a light, quick-to-play, but hard-to-master two-person showdown. It is quick. It is fun. And most surprisingly, it delivers heart-pounding moments. Which makes the theme really jump out.

Speaking of the theme: once again, big punch, small package. Reading the rules and playing the game makes me feel like I just dug this little treasure from somebody's dusty attic. And this somebody liked comics and unique, independent game production.

It's currently on Kickstarter for a few more days, where you can support the maker of the game and get a copy by Christmas for only $15. Based on my two plays, the price is easily justified. Super Showdown is a winner in my book.

WILL YOU LIKE IT?

Of course, this is a tough one to answer outright. So I say this: if you like games with a good blend of mind read and strategy (a la Yomi), you are a likely candidate to enjoy Super Showdown. If you want a game that plays quickly, has quick-to-learn rules, and has a very small footprint, you are a likely candidate for this game. If you like trying to read your opponent, second guess him, and keep him second guessing, you'll enjoy Super Showdown. If you want something small and well-priced, but still has considerable depth, Super Showdown hits those points well.

I hope this was helpful. If for nothing more than to bring to light a game that should not be overlooked.

Thanks for reading. Happy gaming!

EDIT: grammar
EDIT: rule clarification
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T B
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Tell us about the art. I looks impressive on kickstarter and here, but in the hand, is it all a little busy and small?

CRC
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Shane Larsen
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CapnRedChops wrote:
Tell us about the art. I looks impressive on kickstarter and here, but in the hand, is it all a little busy and small?

CRC


Your assessment is spot on. It is beautiful, and packed with super comic-book awesomeness! But it is also a bit busy and small. This was the feedback we gave him and is also the reason he is making the rulebook bigger for the final version of the game. All of us at the table agreed that it needed to be bigger. But not so big that it took away the "small" appeal of the whole package. I think he plans to make the rulebook a few inches taller. Don't quote me on that. I think it will fix the problem.

The gameboard and player aids didn't need this as much, so if he sticks with the original 4x4 sizing--which I think he will--it'd be fine.
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Trevor Cram
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Hey thanks Shane for putting this up! And for sitting in on the rules testing with us. It was awesome for me to see all of the testers enjoying it so much.

Yes, I will be expanding the rules size by 50%. So the box will no longer be a 4x4 square, but 6x4 to resemble a comic book. This was one of the answers I was looking for from the testing group.

One minor edit on your game description; In a showdown of SPEED, the player who reaches the mayhem gets to choose the outcome.
I'm impressed you remembered it all so well!
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Shane Larsen
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namyoungbin wrote:
Hey thanks Shane for putting this up! And for sitting in on the rules testing with us. It was awesome for me to see all of the testers enjoying it so much.

Yes, I will be expanding the rules size by 50%. So the box will no longer be a 4x4 square, but 6x4 to resemble a comic book. This was one of the answers I was looking for from the testing group.

One minor edit on your game description; In a showdown of SPEED, the player who reaches the mayhem gets to choose the outcome.
I'm impressed you remembered it all so well!


Fixed!

Thanks for keeping me in check, Trevor. I knew I would probably get one wrong somewhere.
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Ralph T
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Wouldn't a player have a huge advantage based on their starting hand since it's random? Or do you get the same distribution of cards?
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Trevor Cram
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Seems like they might doesn't it!

Even playing with what I consider to be the worst hand (which would be very unlikely to deal) it is still just as possible to win.

However, as the game winds down and your options dwindle, one player can have a large advantage. I think that mastery of the game is in learning how to nudge your opponent closer and closer to that point, which takes a lot of foresight.

The card distribution is very heavily curved to favor a common distribution in most games.
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JR
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ralpher wrote:
Wouldn't a player have a huge advantage based on their starting hand since it's random? Or do you get the same distribution of cards?


I don't know if you've read the rules, but just to make sure, you are aware that the winner isn't simply the player who takes the most tricks, right? The idea is you want green cards (or white cards) to take the most tricks. So having lots of high cards doesn't necessarily seal the deal. You still need to figure out how to avoid winning tricks with your high cards of your opponent's colour. That's the catch.
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Shane Larsen
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jrebelo wrote:
ralpher wrote:
Wouldn't a player have a huge advantage based on their starting hand since it's random? Or do you get the same distribution of cards?


I don't know if you've read the rules, but just to make sure, you are aware that the winner isn't simply the player who takes the most tricks, right? The idea is you want green cards (or white cards) to take the most tricks. So having lots of high cards doesn't necessarily seal the deal. You still need to figure out how to avoid winning tricks with your high cards of your opponent's colour. That's the catch.


True. There are ways to win even when dealt low cards. What really makes this come alive is that you know exactly what the other player's hand is by seeing what you've been dealt. And there is always a way to flip the result of the duels/showdowns based on your read on the other player (if that makes sense). So it still comes down to trickly play and bluffing.
 
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Ralph T
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Ok, I think I get it, if you have low cards in your color, the opponent has high cards in your color and doesn't want to win the trick in your color, right?
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JR
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Yeah, somewhat. There are three types of showdowns, though. So you can still manipulate things by being the only one to reach the mayhem area, or by playing a decoy or a ray gun at the correct time, but for the most part, you want your cards to go to the winner pile (including the ones you don't hold).
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