Home Game Reviews Kapow! Volume 1 Review

Kapow! Volume 1 Review

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Review of: Kapow! Volume 1
Board Game Review by::
Tony Mastrangeli
Price:
$40

Reviewed by:
Rating:
3.5
On Jul 18, 2023
Last modified:Jul 18, 2023

Summary:

We review Kapow! Volume 1, a two player dueling game published by Wise Wizard Games. In Kapow! Volume 1, each player is trying to defeat the others by rolling dice and activating powers.

Kapow! Volume 1Kapow! Just say the name and you already know what type of game this is (thank you 60s era Batman tv show). Kapow! Volume 1 is a comic book themed battler that will have you facing off against your opponent in a dice-rolling dueling game (for the main way to play). Six supers—three heroes and three villains—will give you unique powers as you try and be the first to beat down your opponent.

This is actually a reimposition of the original Kapow board game, releasing new this year.

Gameplay Overview:

The main way to play Kapow! is as 1v1 dueling game. Players will each get a screen, a unique hero/villain board, and an identical player board. Each super has its own special theming, such as Tough Nut’s defensiveness or Victor Kane’s consistent bonuses to attack.

Each round takes place over 4 Phases starting with Ability Selection. Behind their screen, each player rolls all of their dice (no automatic rerolls), and assigns them to powers on their player boards. A handful are immediate effects, but most will take effect in future phases. Once everyone is ready, players move to the attack and defend phase. In turn order, the first player can activate any attack powers they placed dice on. The other player may use defensive powers they have dice on to try and mitigate the damage. Then rolls are flipped and the other player attacks.

After attacks are finished, players move on to the power phase, which lets them build their dice pools. Many of the powers allow players to gain either trait dice (5 different types of dice) or action die faces. Any faces are attached to the action dice in open spots. Finally, there is a cleanup phase and a new round begins.

Rounds go by in this manner until one player manages to reduce their opponent’s life to zero and wins.

Kapow! Volume 1 Gameplay
There are lots of options for your dice on your turn.

Game Experience:

Wise Wizard Games seems to be carving a niche for itself in the duel game genre. They launched onto the scene with their hit card game Star Realms, and have been going strong ever since. Kapow! Volume 1 is actually a relaunch of the same game, but with some improvements (from what I can tell). Overall I found it to be an enjoyable game with a nice back-and-forth flow.

Kapow! Volume 1 Crafting
You’ll be adding faces to your action dice during the game.

One of the great things is that there are some many things to do with your dice in a given round. You have this massive board with tons of spaces for your dice. This helps mitigate some bad rolls as even if you don’t get all the symbols you need, chances are you’ll have something you can do with your dice. However, there are no free rerolls, so if you have your heart set on making a strong attack, you might just be out of luck.

Speaking of action dice, overall I enjoyed the dice crafting aspect of the game. There are lots of ways to earn dice faces, including wilds, so if you want a die that’s really focused on attack, you can definitely build that up. What I didn’t like was the weight of the dice. They are very light plastic which makes rolling them somewhat unsatisfying. I’m definitely not a physics expert, but it feels like the sides with faces tend to pull toward the table, making them roll blank more often than not.

Kapow! Volume 1 Power Up
The power up phase is the main way to gain dice/faces.

Kapow! has a nice flow to it though, both with its easy-to-learn game phases and also how your dice pool builds up over the course of the game. You start the game with about 5 dice (2 of which are mostly blank action dice) and each round you’ll usually be adding either another trait die or some faces to your action dice. That gives the game a nice curve as your options will definitely be going up as the game progresses.

That being said, there is a little bit of reading your opponent in this game. Unless you draw a massively good attack roll, you’ll need to split your dice among the different things you want to do. If you put a lot of dice into defense, and your opponent doesn’t attack, you’ve kind of wasted those dice for the round. However, I will say that some of the defense powers also give you some dice faces as a consolation prize, so that was a nice bit of balancing.

Kapow! Volume 1 Boards
There are 3 heroes and 3 villains to choose from.

For those not interested in the dueling mode, Kapow! Also offers cooperative (or solo) play. I gave this a few goes and it was definitely challenging. The AI has their own board and you roll dice for them, assigning them down the list in order. One thing I didn’t like was the ramp up on the AI was super fast and if you don’t knock them down early, they will easily outpace you on dice gains. I also felt like I spent more time managing the AI board than doing my own thing. So while having the coop/solo mode is nice, I think it’s a stronger game as a dueling game.

Finally, I really liked the addition of different characters. While the player boards are the same (that have the basic attacks/defense/gain dice powers), each character has 4 powers that are unique to them. This helps give the game a bit more replay value as playing Time Stop is going to feel different than, say, Spoiler Alert.

Final Thoughts:

This new version of Kapow! Volume 1 appears to be a solid upgrade over the original. We had fun playing it and most of our games took 20-30 minutes or so, which feels about right. Any longer and the game will start to feel a bit repetitive. But it’s a game that is really easy to get to the table as the setup is minimal (tear down is a bit longer though). I also think that Kapow! plays best as a vs dueling game. Just be aware that you’ll need to trust your opponent, as all rolling is done in secret. If your opponent has shifty eyes, you might want to watch out.

Final Score: 3.5 Stars –  A solid dueling game with a great back-and-forth flow.

3.5 StarsHits:
• Dice building and crafting has a nice ramp up
• Both competitive and solo play
• Unique heroes add to replay value

Misses:
• Action dice aren’t very satisfying to roll
• Not a ton of luck mitigation

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