When I was a kid, we used rock-paper-scissors to decide many things. Which team would bat first, what game we would play, or who had to tell mom we broke something just to name a few? Despite rock, paper, scissors being a simple mechanic, if used correctly it can be an effective mechanic in board games by simply taking three different attributes or unit types and make them have dominance and weakness to the other two types. This mechanic is used in a few board games today; Civilization comes to mind, as well as the game we will be looking at today. In IncrediBrawl, each player has a deck of cards with a vast array of colorful characters that deal out one of three damage types. Players will send out their champions in hopes of winning glory by defeating the other player’s creatures. I had the chance to play this game as a prototype during their successful Kickstarter campaign and have been looking forward to playing the final version. Is there more to the game than just a rock-paper-scissors mechanic? Let’s get to it.
IncrediBrawl is a simultaneous play card game for 2-4 players that plays in 30 minutes. In my experience, Incredibrawl plays well with all player counts.
Each player will start out with matching decks of character cards. Each damage type: Physical, Natural, and Energy, has fourteen characters ranging from 1-11 in their overall power level. These characters range from pirates, ninjas, kittens, dragons, sumo wrestlers, and everything else in between. In addition to the damage type and power level, each card has an ability that will have varying effects on the outcome of battles. They can gain you glory, make your opponents lose some, or do some deck manipulation. Each round players will send out a creature and the last one standing wins glory for that player. Players will continue to summon characters and brawl against each other until someone obtains their 10th point of glory and wins.
When I first got the prototype of this game I was impressed with the artwork. It has an approachable, cartoony style that the majority of people will enjoy, especially kids. Many times I found myself just enchanted by the artwork on the cards. I also like the iconography choices on the cards. Having the power banner in the top right corner easily shows the power type, power level, and a victory bar that shows what power it beats. I love when games have simple features that give so much information.
I do have some issues with the card quality. It seems that they have decided to keep cost down by using a less rigid card stock. This has to be one of the thinnest cards I have seen in recent memory. The problem is this allows for creases and bent edges to occur more quickly. So far the cards are holding up fine, but it’s disappointing that the main component in the game is, what I consider, low quality.
How to play:
Each round of play is considered a brawl regardless on the number of players involved. If your game has more than two players, there will be scrapes that occur to eliminate players from the brawl until only one player remains and wins the round. Players start with exactly the same deck of character cards. On each of the character cards there will be a P, L, or W. This represents when these special abilities will be activated. Each player starts with five cards in their hand and each round will have 6 phases.
1 & 2. Select Characters & Reveal Characters
Each player will select a character to summon to the brawl. Players make this decision based on what they feel will be most effective for that brawl, either the power type and level or the special ability on the card.
3. Trigger Play Abilities
If you have a character that has a P next to the text box that special ability is activated and resolved.
4. Resolve the Brawl
Players will compare the power types of the characters first using the power order of Physical beats Natural, Natural beats Energy, and Energy beats Physical. If players happen to use characters with the same power type, the fight will go to the higher power level. If the battle ends in a tie, players will select the first card on their deck as reinforcement, and compare power types and levels to determine a winner. The player who wins the brawl then gains one glory point.
5. Trigger Lose/Win Abilities
At this point the players who had an L or W next to their characters special ability will activate. All players that have lost the brawl and have L on their card will go first. If the player who won the brawl has a W on their character card, that ability will activate.
6. Draw one card
All players will draw a new card from their deck into their hands.
Rounds will continue until one player has accumulated ten glory points and is declared champion. The game doesn’t take a ton of time to play and you can easily get a few games in under an hour.
If you want to make the game a little more challenging you can add in power cards that players can use. These can cause glory to change hands or change certain aspects of the current brawl. You can also add locations in the game to add to the complexity. The game starts with the Grassy Meadow location with a set of other location cards next to it. These can be switched during the game to other locations that institutes different rules like gain more points for players that play a specific type of character or other game altering rules.
When I first heard about IncrediBrawl I was drawn to the theme. I love the idea of fighting sumo vs. spartan, princes vs. samurai, or alien vs. fairy and see who comes out on top. With forty-three characters in the game, just about any combination your wild imagination has ever thought of might be in this game. It is from this odd combination of combatants that some of the humor of the game comes through. Laughing as a kitten defeats a wizard is a humorous moment that happen more frequently than you expect. I have to express again how much I like the artwork in this game. If this game went with a more realistic look I think having a zombie battle a robotic shark would seem even more ridiculous.
Overall, I like the use of the battle system in the game. Using the different battle types in a rock-paper-scissors mechanic is very easy to learn and teach. However, that isn’t what I like about the mechanics of the game; instead it’s the special abilities on each card. When I’m deciding on which card to play, sure I look at the power type and level, but it’s what that special ability can do for me that can turn the game in your favor. In one of my games with my wife, I won a majority of the brawls; but due to the abilities on the cards, she won. There is a nice variety in what each card can do. Some cards give you extra glory, take special actions, and switch power types and many others that make each character feel different. Another nice feature of the game is the variable game modes that you can play. Players can play without using special abilities or special cards making it accessible to anyone who can grasp the concept of rock-paper-scissors. The modular aspect of this game makes it easy to play for non-gamers as well as kids. Unfortunately, the game isn’t all roses.
One thing I was disappointed with was the lack of special abilities that active when you lose a brawl. I think having more of these would allow for more strategy as you play your characters. Making you want to lose this battle and affect the game in another way. The major issue I have with the game is one of the things it’s striving to be, chaotic. At the start of the game you have over forty characters that can find their way into your hand. Each time I play a card, I don’t have to think about what the other person will play because I have no idea what characters they have in their hand. I basically just look at my hand and play what I think is best. It’s all random, which does fit into the rock-paper-scissors mechanic, but a big part of rock-paper-scissors is trying to anticipate what your opponent will play. I have no way to do this in the game. I love the amount of characters in the game, but I honestly think that having the whole group of them plus the power cards in your deck at the start of the game is too much. I would rather choose a set number of each power type when the game started. Then I would have some idea of what power types my opponents have left in their deck as we play and make decisions based on that. The rule book does have gamer rules for you to play with the locations and even decide where to place your character before a battle. Both of these aspects add more randomness rather than strategy you can use to win the game.
Everything I just complained about above is because I want this game to be more than a casual game. However, it isn’t billed as a game with deep strategy. If I take off my gamer hat and look at it from a casual game perspective, it fits the bill. The game is very casual with easy decisions to make during the game. IncrediBrawl is a game that you have to know what you are getting into before you play. Some gamers who only enjoy games that have the complexity of constructing a skyscraper won’t enjoy this game. What I think this game would be great for is gamer families with 7+ year olds. With approachable artwork and quick game play that kids will enjoy and I can’t wait to play it with my daughter when she gets a little older.
I enjoy playing games that are considered casual games. Some gamers shun them, but I embrace them. They allow me to not worry about strategy six moves in the future and just sit down and have some fun. IncrediBrawl is a game that fits into that category for me. IncrediBrawl has a great combination of easy and fast game play. This combined with the special abilities makes each brawl unique. Incredibrawl is a game that can be enjoyed by both gamers and their kids. Personally I wish there was more strategy in IncrediBrawl, but as a first game by this new gaming company, I’m encouraged and looking forward to their next offering. If you are looking for a casual game to add to your collection, consider IncrediBrawl.
If you are interested in getting a copy for yourself, it’s about $23
Final Score: 3 Stars – A fun fast paced casual card game that can be enjoyed by both adults and their families.
• Great Artwork
• Variety of the special abilities of each character
• Each to teach
• Very thin cardstock used for the cards
• Wish there was more strategic decisions for players to make
• Lack of many special abilities that activate when you lose