Publisher: New Comet Games
Game Designer: Ben Burns
Ages: 10 and up
Playing Time: 10 minutes
Components: 52 card deck, two d20
Game Mechanics: card play, variable player powers
Suggested Retail Price: $10
Everybody was kung fu fighting!
Many people dream of being a karate master but very few want to dedicate the years, tears and sweat equity to attain that level of proficiency in the martial arts. Luckily, you don’t have to.
New Comet Games offers a solution with their low-complexity card battling game called Kung Fu Combo, now you can live out your dreams of martial prowess. The game is for two players with a kumite lasting a mere 10 minutes. No pain here is definitely a gain!
Setup is zippy fast. A roll of the dice settles who attacks first and they receive four cards from the 52 card deck while the defender gets five. All of the pugilistic action flows using tried and true IGOUGO interplay, the attacker creating combos out of colors and numbers while the defender must match only card numbers to block.
The card designs have good enough variance for building different combinations on both the attack and defense. This limits the chance for a really bad hand, but it can still happen. It’s important in a small, fast game like this to have that balance and Kung Fu Combo does a fair job at not tilting things towards either side of the table.
Attack combinations are formed from matching cards by color, number or number sequence. Damage markers on the cards tell you how many points of damage they inflict on the defender if unblocked. If you can match a numbered sequence with a color combo, you create a devastating double combo which can land up to more than double the amount of damage, Hiya!
All of these attacks can quickly diminish your 20 point starting health but the wily defender knows that breaking the number sequence stops the double combo in its tracks.
Defenders can play any or all of the five cards in their hand to block attacks and this is where things get interesting. Burning too many cards on defense leaves you with a weaker hand to attack with since you only refill after your attack. Sometimes, it’s better to take a few lumps if you have a great attack combo in hand. Balance is key.
To block attack cards, you simply match number for number but there’s a neat wrinkle here. The defender can add or subtract pairs of cards to match numbers on the attack cards. Additions above 10 count just the second number since the cards only go up to 9, a smart design choice to always give players a creative fighting chance. Just remember, those extra cards used are fewer cards for your attack!
Then there are the half dozen dragon cards in the mix. These are intentionally OP, with four of them attack cards and two defense. The four dragon attack cards can only be blocked by dragon defense but the dragon defense cards can block ALL cards in an attack! Pretty powerful cards you want to see land in your hand when you’re ready to deliver the coup de grâce!
Lastly, there are the four Kung Fu Master cards which offer some variable player powers available in what is called the ‘advanced rules’. There’s nothing really advanced here other than adding the powers into play which generally give slight boosts to attack and defense. I’d say go with those right out of the gate, unless playing with a very young child.
Kung Fu Combo is a pretty low complexity game that fits the bill of being a family friendly, lite filler game at the $10 price point. It’s interesting for a couple of plays but not compelling enough to want to play over and over in a single sitting, but not many filler games often are to be fair.
While the theme is very basic, there are some nice mechanisms in place to help mitigate the randomness of the card draws and allow for two unique perspectives in creative ways. The attacker has three avenues of building combo’s to inflict damage, and having to manage your limited hand on defense while maintaining cards to counter-attack keeps both angles more interesting than simple number counting would have.
The art is in need of updating and the designer has told me that is in the works, once that new art is in place, it will be ready for launch on Kickstarter in the near future.
If you’re in the market for a very simple and fast, two player card battling game, give this one a look when it launches.
Company Website: http://www.darkcultgames.com/
Note: A review copy of this game was provided to me.
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