Rob: Today, Gameosity is throwing down with Super Fantasy Rumble; a 2-4 player tactical game/all out brawl from designers Luis and Miguel Lugo, and publisher Passion Project Studios. It’s kind of a What If battle royale between teams of archetypal action characters (some of whom are pretty funny), and there’s a lot more depth to its strategy than you might think at first.
Andrew: What exactly am I looking at here? It’s like someone drew on pasteboard with a highlighter.
Rob: Sush. I’ll admit that the card design is a bit… colorful, but the important thing is that you can tell what everything means at a glance. That and the character designs are usually pretty funny, cool, or a mixture of both.
Andrew: I dunno, it’s kind of-wait, is that a knight wearing a jetpack squaring off against a lady fencer? And is that Girl Scout also a ninja?
Rob: And this one’s a “Cowardly Viking.”
Andrew: Okay, you have my attention.
Super Fantasy Rumble is a bit of an odd game. It looks more complicated than it is, plays less complicated than it should, feels more complex than it sounds, and requires a very scant number of components for everything. It’s like a contradiction in a box that also involves multi-team brawls for no other reason than our own amusement.
A lot of cards are included with the board, rules, and dice, but they really only fall into three different categories: cards for fighters, roster cards, and movement cards. Fighters go on the game board and will be what you refer to when attacking and using skills. Roster cards are essentially copies of the fighter cards, but they function more as health trackers and references for characters that are on your team. Movement cards are simply used as a reminder of the three types of movement options you may use once per turn.
Each game starts with everybody randomly putting their teams together, with a specific number of leaders and regular warriors depending on the number of players. Then they’re all placed on the board, and combat begins. And since the roster is so large (40+), there’s a good chance it’ll take you a while before you see every single character in action.
Rob: So much variety, it’s beautiful.
Andrew: Some of these characters are great, but a lot of them have very similar skills, don’t they? Look, I can see two different warriors with Enemy Castling right here!
Rob: Well yeah, there are some overlapping abilities, but it’s the combinations of abilities that can really affect the way you use a character. And some of their abilities are a bit more nuanced despite sharing the same name.
Andrew: Fair point.
Rob: And let’s not forget those arrows that are all around the edges of the cards.
Andrew: Those determine what directions they can attack in, right?
Rob: Right. It also indicates where they can potentially defend against attacks, and plays a massive part in influencing where you try to position them.
Andrew: Ah yes, like with Robo K-
Rob: Yeah, like with Robo Kid and his stupid assface laser which is also a butt.
Andrew: Boy, somebody didn’t like having rows of characters unceremoniously blown up…
Rob: Nobody. Nobody liked having rows of characters unceremoniously blown up. Stupid Robo Kid.
It might appear as though the characters in Super Fantasy Rumble aren’t all balanced, and to a degree this can be true, but that imbalance (coupled with the random teams) is what actually balances the game. Your leader might be able to self destruct and damage every other character along every path he normally attacks, but if you can’t get him into the right position it won’t do you much good. And of course the other players can take him out before he gets the chance to use the ability in the first place.
Combat is also somewhat random as it requires using the two blue dice that are included, so even if you only have to roll a 4 to succeed there’s still a chance you could miss and royally flub up your plans. So while some characters can be a bit ridiculous with their powers, those powers won’t always trigger. And you can always get rid of the really troublesome ones.
Rob: I like how important movement and positioning is in this game. Even the most powerful warriors have blind spots that can be exploited. Assuming you roll well, of course.
Andrew: Ironically, despite my persistent love of all things dice, I found the combat a little too random (despite having access to Robo Kid). Still, the emphasis on board position was the really engaging thing about the game.
Rob: Exactly. Strength won’t really amount to much if you don’t also keep character placement in mind. Remember the shotgun soldier Jess was using?
Andrew: That fracking guy. He chewed through so many of our characters.
Rob: If she hadn’t rolled as consistently well and kept good board position, things might have gone differently, but that’s all a part of the chaos.
Perhaps what’s most interesting is that there never really seems to be any “Oh I’m totally going to lose so I’m mentally checking out now” opportunities in Super Fantasy Rumble. Every game we’ve had so far has been a series of ups and downs, with plenty of comebacks and upsets along the way. That’s not to say it can’t ever happen, but it is highly unlikely. You can expect to be fighting tooth and nail right up to the bitter end.
Andrew: I’m not too sure about playing with more than two people, though. Turn length aside, when we last tried with three it got a little confusing trying to keep track of who was on my team, thanks to the facing.
Rob: That’s why you have the Roster cards.
Andrew: I know, but I would’ve preferred orienting my cards to where I was sitting, which happened to be along the side of the board. So from my perspective everything was sideways.
Rob: I think the reason they don’t let people do that is because it could upset the whole “attack direction” thing.
Andrew: And I get that, but it’s still something of a pain.
Rob: Well, say what you will about having a larger number of players, but I think it’s pretty clever that the number of actual characters on the board is always the same. No matter how many people are rumbling, there’s always a starting roster of 12 warriors in varying denominations.
Andrew: How’s that clever, exactly?
Rob: I just mean I think it’s neat how the number of fighters never changes, which also means that games tend to take roughly the same amount of time to complete. And that the team sizes are always evenly split.
Andrew: Ah, I see. Yeah, that makes sense and it emphasizes the awesome ‘giant battle royale’ experience no matter how many people are playing, which is a great part of the game’s feel. So, where do you stand on Super Fantasy Rumble?
Rob: I like it.
Andrew: Yes I can see that, but could you be a bit more specific?
Rob: I think it’s a lot smarter than people will probably give it credit for. Maintaining balance with a roster of more than 40 characters is no easy task. And despite the cartoonish look there’s quite a bit of nuanced strategy to it, what with getting your characters into the right position and so on.
Andrew: I’ll agree with most of that, though as I say, I found the purely dice-driven combat a little imperfect, to be honest. It was really fun trying to think about how your whole team would move as you angled for that perfect positioning, but when all that careful movement ended in a flubbed roll and then no action, only to have your meticulous planning immediately undone by the next player, that was a bit frustrating for me. Anything you’re not a fan of?
Rob: I do sort of wish the visual design was a bit more appealing. Not the illustrations, those are fine, but the last time I set the game up people were throwing concerned glances at the board. I had to reassure them that the game itself was actually quite fun.
Andrew: I agree on that point. The character designs are great – it’s that board, man, and to a lesser extent just the color choices overall.
Rob: I know, but the board gets the job done and definitely beats trying to lay everything out on a table. Imagine trying to keep track of where the different rows and columns end.
Andrew: Good point. Aesthetic proclivities and dice preferences aside, it is a really neat pile of characters to choose from and the gameplay is definitely solid.
Rob: Yeah, even though it looks a bit… let’s go with “stark”… I still think it’s a very enjoyable game. Kind of like Checkers, but a lot more interesting and badass.
Andrew: I was going to say Chess, given the different characters have different attack patterns, but yeah. Imagine if Robo Kid was in Checkers. It’d be like “King me”, and then blam!, lasers.
Rob: Stupid Robo Kid.
If Super Fantasy Rumble sounds like your kind of brawl, you can buy it directly from Passion Project Studios here.