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Tabletop Review: Super Fantasy Rumble

Most games listed as “2-4 players” tend to be better experiences with four people, in much the same way cars drive better with four wheels. Consider me pleased, then, that a game which allows four players is actually a solid two player game that doesn’t need the additional bodies to make it work well. Super Fantasy Rumble by Passion Project is not a vibrator, as you might expect, but rather a strategy card game played out on a grid style board. In essence, there are two teams containing two leader cards and four warrior cards, each with their own special attacks, defense, and range. The range is perhaps the key differentiating element of the game, and what adds to its unique appeal.

A character card sitting in the middle of the board can attack up, down, left, right, or diagonally, provided such moves are allowed pursuant to the card. Sometimes you get a character who cannot attack up, or “southwest” (down/left). Positioning cards is important, because it will affect which character can attack which opponent.

Each character can do a basic attack, with some having a special attack which requires a higher roll. In addition, some characters have a defense, which requires the attacking person to roll a higher number to land the move (provided the target has the ability to use that defense in the direction the attack is coming so, i.e., if the attack is coming from the southwest, the character needs to defend towards the northeast).

Moving characters is handled by only three methods: Dash, Castling, Slide. Dash allows a player to move a character card one space, while slide allows a player to move an entire row or column as many spaces as her heart desires. Castling is what you do when you binge watch Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic, or in the context of the game, swapping one character with another adjacent character on the same team.

As far as game play goes, it’s fun to play, with a fresh dynamic that separates it from other games. The product itself is nicely put together, with a high quality game board, cards with a crisp, minimalist design where all information is easy to glean, an instruction booklet that is to the point and easy to understand, and a simple set up that allows games to get off the ground quickly.

Rumble01

The art is interesting. The instruction booklet (and website) suggests the “art style is inspired by 80s Saturday Morning Cartoons and video games that we all love.” Well, as I’m approaching 33 years old, I can appreciate the sentiment. I want to compliment the art without insulting it, as strange as that sounds, but you’ll see what I mean in a minute. It is easy to tell when art looks professional or amateurish. Think of the difference between what you saw in an issue of Uncanny X-Men versus what was put in your high school newsletter.

This is not to criticize people who put their heart into art, as we need people in this world who love to create, but sometimes some artwork is, how shall we say, better than others. And sometimes games have really bad artwork. What I like about the art in this game is that, while to my eye it looks amateurish, it is also polished and at the high end of the amateur spectrum. Think about the best minor league baseball player. Not a pro, but definitely on the verge. That’s what I see here, and it works. It has spunk, too. A game like Sentinels of the Multiverse, which has artwork bogged down with thick lines, unnecessary glare/flare, and gradient colors, is visually unappealing. Not so here. The character designs are pretty groovy. While the names won’t impress anyone, the variety of look is welcome, and each character does, in fact, evoke the style of old cartoons and video games.

There are a few quibbles, most minor, with the game. The game plays best when it moves along, but turn length can drag out and become insufferable. The box is compact with little wasted space, which is great, but it also means the game board is folded twice, which causes a lip and prevents the board from really laying flat on the table.

It also wasn’t necessarily clear on when, exactly, an ability can be used – during the entire turn or just on a character’s move? When a person rolls 12, they are allowed to roll again, but does it mean you roll again against the same opponent or can you choose a different one? “But I thought you said the instructions were clear and easy to understand.” Yeah, they are, but that doesn’t mean it’s perfect. These are minor issues that in no way detract from the game experience, although one or two house rules may be necessary to clear ambiguity.

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The game would probably be better if it could wrap up in 45 minutes or less, but it usually takes longer than that. For a game that is not very complex, such a time commitment is odd and unfortunately limits multiple games in a single sitting if you have other things to do or games to experience. However, if you and a friend or loved one want to sit down and play a well made two player game with a fun concept and good execution, then this is a good way to kill 90 minutes.

(Note: This review was based on a copy of the game sent to Nintendorks for the purpose of evaluation. No compensation or favors were exchanged in addition to the review copy of the game. The author of this review has no connection to the creators of the game outside of a love of 80s media).

Break it down now! (ratings out of 5)

Quality: 5

Although I would have preferred organizers in the box to sort the cards, everything that was provided was high quality and crisp, sturdy and vibrant. Colors shined, materials held up, and no one got a paper cut from malicious cards. It was also nice to have bags provided for dice and cards. 

Theme: 4

There are not a ton of games you can compare this to. Summoner Wars has a similar set-up of throwing cards down on a layout and moving along a grid, but the similarities end there. I’m not some kind of savant when it comes to knowing every board and card game ever made, but from what I’ve played, Super Fantasy Rumble stands out as a unique play experience with a fun, nostalgic theme, not unlike Boss Monster in some respects. 

Learning Curve: 4

Minus a few hiccups and some minor questions, it is easy enough to figure out how to play and ramp up the expertise level. The tight, efficiently written instruction booklet helps. I rarely have any interest in reading a manual cover to cover before starting a game, but this is one that is easy to flip through and absorb. 

Replayability: 3

If this game took 30 minutes, I would play it all the time. However, although enjoyable, I just don’t feel like devoting an hour or more to this game more than once every now and then. I would definitely play this again, it’s not that I would burn it in a back alley and piss on the ashes, but I would not play more than one game in a night. 

Mechanics: 4

The layout and design of the cards (particularly the directional arrows) made the game easy to assess and prepare strategy. It is also a good mechanic to shrink the board size down to a smaller grid once a certain number of characters had been eliminated, which I didn’t mention earlier but consider yourself hip to it now.  It forces players to remain engaged rather than trying to avoid each other, which would have dragged the game out. The three methods of movement, as I did mention earlier, keep things interesting and prevents complacency.  

Gameplay: 4

Sometimes a player’s turn can drag a little, but since it is good to pay attention during every person’s turn, there isn’t that much opportunity for attention to wander. Everything operates the way it should, and I never felt that there were bumps in execution or ways to cheat the system. While not enthralled with the gameplay, it was cute and light entertainment that falls short of greatness but excels beyond mediocrity. So, I guess we’ll call it “good.” 

Overall: 4

Well made and smooth to play, Super Fantasy Rumble is a great game for teens and adults that people of most skill levels could learn and enjoy. I look forward to sharing this game experience with others, but I also recognize that no matter how much we love it, we will likely only devote so much time to it on any given day.

 

Mr. Face say this game GOOD. Mr. Face never wrong!

Mr. Face say this game GOOD. Mr. Face never wrong!

Mr. Face say this game GOOD.

Mr. Face never wrong!