Everybody was…!

January 12, 2011

Ok, so it’s a cheap opening line and the joke isn’t very funny the fiftieth time around. So hit me in the junk with a nunchuck and call it a day. Today we’re talking about Kung Fu Fighting by Slugfest games. If you aren’t familiar with Slugfest or their line of products you need to be.

Now, in the interests of full disclosure I’m going to reiterate Monday’s declaration that I am a demo volunteer for Slugfest. That means they send me free stuff and I run events for them at stores and cons. That being said, I don’t run events featuring un-fun games and I sure don’t waste my time shilling for a company with a track record of producing drek. So if I give a good review take it at face value.

Kung Fu Fighting is a brilliant, simple and very fun little game. It recreates all the best parts of all the great martial arts movies. And some of the not so great ones. Players each select a play mat, roughly the size of a paperback novel, draw seven cards and begin the game with their little red glass chi counter on the number 20 in the play mats upper left corner. This represents how much chi or life force you have. You D&D nerds can think of it as hit points. If you drop below 1 chi you’re out. Fists of steel, jaw of glass. Nappy time for grasshoppah!

In addition to the chi count the mat also contains a space for a Stance and a Weapon. Yes, that’s right, you get to hit people with weapons in this game! You can have one Stance and one Weapon in play at any time unless you have a card that says otherwise. You can switch out either one at will and the game expansion, imaginatively enough called More Kung Fu Fighting allows you to have weapon and stance enhancements. More on that later.

Game play is fast paced and easy to grasp. I have personally taught it to and gotten my ass soundly kicked by complete newcomers to the hobby in under five minutes. On your turn you may discard and draw up to seven cards, play Chi Restoration cards (three guesses what they do), swap out Weapons and Stances and, best of all put the hurt on your friends! Basic attacks consist of punches, kicks, trips and throws. These can be enhanced by Attack Enhancement cards such as Spinning, Flipping and Running Up The Wall. You can play any number of Attack Enhancements on an attack that you want. The only catch is you can only play one of each kind! So no double-flipping or running up two walls for you. You’re a Kung Fu man. Not a Spider man.

The person getting jumped can block the attacks by playing Block cards. This is a fun game but at least part of the fun comes from watching someone lay out a truly epic sounding attack that should knock the wonton out of their victim only to hear “The foot says no!” as a Blocking Kick card is played. Great! Fifteen points of  damage out the window with a flick of the wrist! Thanks Neo!

Remember our friends the Stance and Weapon cards? Well they give you bonuses to your attacks and defenses under certain circumstances. So read the fine print!  For instance, if you are in the Dragon Stance and have a choice between making a Flying Punch attack or a Flying Sword attack take the second option. Especially if one of your opponents is in the Crane Stance and others aren’t. It’s the difference between a 10-12 point attack or a 7-9 point attack. And that is just one of about fifty examples I could offer from direct personal experience.

The various Weapon cards have their own strengths and weaknesses. You can attack with them and, with the exception of the Table and Chair cards, they stay in your possession. Attack Enhancement cards work the same with the weapon cards as they do with the basic attacks. A normal sword slash becomes something truly cinematic and devastating with the right combination of Enhancements.

Defense. A wise man once said that the best offense is a good defense. Personally I favor a loaded 12 gauge with an axe for backup but to each their own. Sadly, Kung Fu Fighting offers neither shotguns nor axes. It does however offer plenty of cards that say “Defense + insert number here”. Only the damage that exceeds your defense affects you. Important fun fact; all defense numbers stack! So if you have the Fan in play while in the Snake Stance an attacker must do at least 5 points of damage to even scratch you.

So that is the core game and mechanics. As mentioned earlier, there is also an expansion; More Kung Fu Fighting. This set of additional cards provides you with more basic attacks, new stances, new weapons, the option of team play and two things I personally find very, very cool; Archetypes and Finishing Moves.

Archetype cards are renderings of all the great chop saki movie tropes. The Imperial General, The Venerable Master and so on. Each has their own advantages and, unlike Stance and Weapon cards stay with you throughout the game. I recommend their use personally. They add to the cinematic feel of the game and make it even more fun than it already is. But if you don’t have the ten bucks right away for the expansion or just don’t want to use them, go ahead. It’s still a good time and that’s the whole point of this hobby.

Finishing Moves also add to the fun and feeling as if you’re in a movie. You know that scene in every film where one guy-or girl- leaps, spins, hovers for a second and then kicks their opponent through a wall? Finishing move. They are the punctuation, the “Um, excuse me. Did this used to be your spleen?” at the end of an attack. You can only play one per attack but they add extra damage, give you back chi if successful and, most importantly are cool as Hell .

Overall this game and its expansion are a great way to spend a couple hours. A typical game lasts around 20 minutes so you can get several in a short period of time. At $19.95 for the core game and $9.95 for the expansion they are a great value as well. I’ve had my copy for years and it never runs out of fun. The core game isn’t much bigger than a paperback novel and the expansion is half that so it’s perfect for taking with you on a trip. Just be careful going through airport security. A couple years back I learned the hard way that a box full of card games looks an awful lot like a box full of plastic explosives on a scanner. God how I wish I were making that up.

Two final things, before I sign off. First, as much fun as Kung Fu Fighting is, part of that comes from describing what you’re doing in your attack. This is a cinematic game. Make your play cinematic. Be the star of your own chop saki epic. You know you’ve always wanted to.

Second, we have a little house rule in my family. In your opening draw, if you get a Weapon or Stance card you can play them immediately. But your total hand size including Weapons and Stances in play cannot exceed seven cards. So, pop down to your local game store or click the link to Slugfest Games website http://www.slugfestgames.com/index.php and Bring It!

Until next time

Mech out


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