- For ages 7 and up
- For 3 to 8 players
- Variable game play length
- Counting & Math
- Logical & Critical Decision Making
- Hand/Eye Coordination & Dexterity
- Memorization & Pattern/Color Matching
- Strategy & Tactics
- Hand/Resource Management
- Reflex & Speed
- Child – Easy
- Adult – Easy
Theme & Narrative:
- Get ready for a no holds barred old-fashioned bar fight like your grandma used to win.
- Gamer Geek approved!
- Parent Geek approved!
- Child Geek approved!
No one really remembers how the fight began. A few witnesses remember there being a loud laugh and then some angry words, but that’s about it. The next thing everyone remembers is chairs being thrown, bottles breaking, and tables being turned over. It was, by all accounts, the biggest bar brawl in the town’s history. The bar is a mess, the barkeeper is unconscious, and none of the bar brawlers have much to say other than, “That was a great fight.”
7 Card Slugfest, designed by D. Brad Talton, Jr. and published by Level 99 Games, is comprised of 25 Arena cards, 77 Character Punch cards (7 each in 11 colors), 11 Character placards, 1 Boris placard, 12 Face tokens, 8 Drink tokens, and 48 Point/Damage tokens. The cards are as durable as your standard playing card. The placards are larger than the cards and made of thick cardboard. The tokens are also made of thick cardboard. The illustrations by Fábio Fontes are excellent and capture each character’s personality beautifully.
Note: 7-Card Slugfest is part of the World of Indines, a fictional fantasy/science fiction setting where the same characters in this game and others are used again and again. While it’s not necessary to be familiar with the game’s setting to play, it’s interesting to see how all the characters have come about and read their backstories. To learn more about the characters and the unique thematic setting the game is set in, visit the World of Indines website.
At First, The Bar Was Quiet…
To set up the game, either randomly deal each player 1 Character placard or allow them to select their character. Each Character has a special ability noted on the bottom of their Character placard, but none of the Characters have a distinct advantage over the others. These special abilities will influence what strategy and tactics the player uses during the game. The only placard that cannot be selected is the Boris placard. Any placards not selected (except Boris) are returned to the game box.
Second, search through the cards and give each player their 7 Character Punch cards and their 1 Face token. The illustration on the Character Punch cards and Face token will match the Character placard. Any Character Punch cards and Face tokens not selected are returned to the game box.
Third, place the Boris placard in the middle of the playing area and then place the Character placards around Boris to form a circle. When placing the placards, place either side face-up, as they are the same.
Fourth, take the Arena cards and separate them by their stage values. Shuffle each pile of stages. To create the Stage deck, draw the first 2 “Stage 1” Arena cards, the first 2 “Stage 2” Arena cards, the first 1 “Stage 3” Arena card, and the first 1 “Stage 4” Arena card. Keep the cards in numerical order by stage number with “1′ on top and “4” on the bottom. On top of the Stage deck place “The Battle Begins” Arena card. Place the Stage deck to one side of the game playing area where at least 1 player can get to it. Any remaining Arena cards are returned to the game box.
Fifth, adjust the total number and value of Drink tokens based on the number of players in the game. Any Drink tokens not used are returned to the game box.
Sixth, place the Point/Damage tokens into their own pools and off to one side.
That’s it for game set up. TIME TO FIGHT!
Then All Hell Broke Loose!
7-Card Slugfest is played in rounds, for a total of 7 rounds per game. If you haven’t picked up on the use of “7’s” yet, start paying attention. A typical round is summarized here.
Note: 7-Card Slugfest is a real-time simultaneous action game. In layman terms, this means that everyone is going to be playing at the same time. This also means that people are going to smack fingers, bump hands, get in the way of other players, and feel overwhelmed as the game’s speed and intensity washes over them like a tidal wave. This is all part of the game and is meant to further strengthen the theme and narrative of the fantastic bar fight that is taking place at your gaming table. That being said, the game provides several “good gaming etiquette suggestions so you and your friends can punch each other like proper gentlemen and ladies.
Step 1: Ready
There are several small tasks that must be performed at the start of each round.
- Each player shuffles their 7 Character Punch cards and places them, face-down, in a stack in front of them.
- Place the Drink tokens face-up and in the center of the table. Spread them out so each player can get to them easily.
- Reveal the top-most Arena card by flipping over the stage and read it out loud. If this is the first round, the top “The Battle Begins” stays until it’s replaced during the second round.
Special attention should be payed to the Arena card that is revealed as it might change the rules of the game for the round being played. The points to be won for this round are listed on the top of the card.
Step 2: FIGHT and DRINK! (in that order)
One player now shouts, “Ready! Fight!” or some other nonsense (we shouted “Huzzah!” and “Spoon!”) to innate the round. The game just got real, yo!
For the rest of the round, all players will play their Character Punch cards simultaneously. There are no turns and a player can play their cards as quickly or as slowly as they like. When a player plays a card, they can only use 1 hand to draw the top-most Character Punch card and then place it on top of any Character placard, face-down. The player could place it on their own Character placard, but it won’t do anything (you cannot punch yourself in the face). As soon as they place the card, they can play another card by again drawing the top-most Character Punch card with one hand and placing it on any Character placard but their own.
When drawing a card, the Damage value is listed on both sides of the card, but the face of the Character Punch card lists the attack name and additional information. Knowing what the Character Punch card is all about is important for 3 reasons.
- Each player has 1 “Taunt” Character Punch card that awards the owning player an additional KO point if it’s the one that “knocks out” the opponent. Players will want to place this card on a Character placard they think they will knock out.
- Some Character Punch cards have additional special rules that come into play if the conditions are right. Players will want to place these cards where they think they have the best shot of making the condition happen.
- Listed on the Character placards are the individual character’s special abilities. These are oftentimes triggered by the Character Punch cards played by the player and sometimes in the order they are played.
As soon as the player plays their last Character Punch card, they should use one hand to pick up one of the Drink tokens on the table. After that, they should just sit back and wait for the fight to end.
Step 3: Scoring
After the last player has played their last Character Punch card and taken the last Drink token, it’s time to determine the round’s score.
First, a bit of math is necessary. A Character’s stamina is “10” plus or minus the Drink token value they selected. This means the Character’s stamina could be values ranging from “7” to “13”. All players should keep this number in mind because it’s about to be reduced via pummeling.
Second, all the players take the Character Punch cards placed on their Character placard and flip them over so the face side is showing. The order in which the cards were placed should remain, but are now reversed. If there are any Character Punch cards off the Character placard, place them on top of the pile of Character Punch cards before flipping the pile of cards over. In this way, cards played first are on top and cards played last (or sloppily in the heat of the moment) are on the bottom.
Third, each player now reads the cards, starting at top, and reduces their Character’s stamina by the damage value listed. This continues until one of two things occur.
- If the damage reduces the Character’s stamina to “0” or less, the character is knocked out. The player gives their Face token to the opponent whose card reduces their Character’s stamina to “0” or less. This counts as 1 KO point.
- If the player goes through all the Character Punch cards and their Character’s stamina is at least “1” or more, then they keep their Face token. They will get a Survivor bonus point.
Note: Only the card that actually punches out the Character matters. Any Character Punch cards before the knock out Character Punch card have helped, but do not award their owner points. Any Character Punch cards after the knock out are ignored.
Players should pay special attention to the Character Punch cards as they go through them. Look for Taunts and special attacks that might trigger additional actions.
When a player finishes going through their cards, they should take a moment to review the “Boris” Character placard. Boris is scored the same way as the other Characters. Give the player who knocks out Boris the “Boris” Face token.
Players now count the number of KO points and Survivor points they have. The player with the most gets the “First Place” reward, as indicated on the Arena card stage currently being played. If there is “Second Place”, that should be awarded, too. Points are handed out and all Character Punch cards and Face tokens are handed back to their owning player.
That’s it for the round. A new round now begins! Everyone shuffles their Character Punch cards, resets the bar, and reveals the next Arena card stage.
After the Whirlwind
After the 7th round ends and is scored, all the player determine their total points. The player with the highest number of points wins the game.
Instead of a free-for-all-brawl, group players into teams of 2. Teams work together to take down other teams. The team with the most combined points at the end of the game wins.
To learn more about 7-Card Slugfest, visit the game’s web page.
Real-Time games tend to frustrate and enthrall in equal measure. The speed in which the game is played and the simultaneous actions being taken by all the players creates a cacophony of movement and sound. This makes it difficult to keep track of who is doing what and where the player might be in the greater scheme of things within the game. But games like this also revitalize a gaming evening, injecting energy into the game play, forcing players to lean forward or get out of their chairs.
For the Child Geeks, I think 7-Card Slugfest will do very well. I don’t believe they will play the game strategically or tactically, but will throw themselves into the game play all the same. Each card is a virtual punch and an opportunity to say something outrageous as the Child Geeks spar back and forth across the game’s bar floor.
As for the Parent Geeks, this game is going to achieve total victory if the right players are at the table. Non-gamers might not take to 7-Card Slugfest due to its high-speed adrenaline injected game play. But as a large group or Party game, 7-Card Slugfest might do very well. It certainly appears to be casual and easy to play.
The Gamer Geeks will either love this or hate this game. If 7-Card Slugfest is nothing more than throwing down cards as fast as you can, the Gamer Geeks will quickly lose interest. If, however, a player benefits from thinking quickly, making smart card plays, and keeping track of the multiple aspects of game play all at once, the Gamer Geeks will sit up and take notice.
Teaching 7-Card Slugfest is best done by example. And by “example”, I mean working through a single round slowly. Talk through each card you play, explain why you are placing it there, and that cards played represent potential points only. You only get the points if you knock out the Character. Any punches before or after are just more punches. But you’ll also want to remind players that each Character has a special ability and that Character Punch cards can be used for their powers, as well. Finally, make sure everyone remembers to beat up Boris. He’s worth points and deserves a punch or two.
Note that this game does require reading, but a younger player can enjoy the game without needing to read. They will need help with the math and determining how special abilities impact scoring, but that’s about it. The most important part of this game for younger Child Geeks is keeping up, paying attention, and getting cards played. Do encourage your younger Child Geeks to play. They might not win, but they’ll have fun playing. Try the team game play variant first and then let them fight solo.
And so, after teaching 7-Card Slugfest to my 2 oldest Child Geeks, I asked them their thoughts on the game so far.
“Whoa! These characters look just like the ones in the other game! Cool!” ~ Liam (age 10)
“You shouldn’t punch people – that’s bad – but this game looks like fun.” ~ Nyhus (age 7)
Both of my kids are correct. The game my oldest little geek is referring to is Disc Duelers, also published by Level 99 Games. And to my 7-year-old’s point, it’s never OK to punch people.
OK! Let’s punch some people!
The Child Geeks loved and hated this game with a passion. They loved the fast game play. They loved the smack talk. They loved the craziness of it as the table became a blur of flying hands and slapped cards. What they didn’t like was the scoring that caused the game to slow down and resulted in more upset surprises than cheerful victories. The older Child Geeks quickly learned that speed in this game is not the most important thing. The most important thing is keeping track of cards being played and making smart plays on stacks of cards that could result in a point or two. According to one Child Geek, “I really like this game!” And another Child Geek said, “This game is fun, crazy, and a mess!” Yes, this game is a mess! Cards are seldom neatly piled on top of Character placards, but that’s part of the challenge. If you want your card to be the 4th one from the bottom, you best place it on the pile right! When all the games were over, all the Child Geeks voted to approve 7-Card Slugfest.
The Parent Geeks learned a valuable lesson: lazy game playing kills games. Specifically, some Parent Geeks just placed their cards on one Character placard as quickly as possible or simply played all their cards quickly to get the highest Drink token value. You’d think this would work, and it does, but the effects are not beneficial to the player or to the game in the long run. According to one Parent Geek, “You have to play this game quickly to beat the other players, but it isn’t a race to play all your cards.” Exactly. Another Parent Geek said, “I was surprised how hard I had to think in this game. Hard to remember where to put cards and hard to not be distracted from all the activity at the table.” Which is part of the challenge and the fun. When the last punch was thrown the Parent Geeks found themselves bruised, but happy. The Parent Geeks approved 7-Card Slugfest.
The Gamer Geeks quickly figured out that they could break the game by simply placing the cards on one Character placard, but that wouldn’t lead to victory. Nor did it win them any friends at the table. According to one Gamer Geek, “This is a game that can be won through timing and paying attention. Speed is a minor factor if you can play your cards right.” Another Gamer Geek said, “You can easily break this game by just throwing cards down, but that’s not the point of the game. I wouldn’t play with a player like that. This is a game where the smartest player will win, not the fastest.” All the Gamer Geeks voted to approve 7-Card Slugfest.
A few important points to make…
First off, this is a game where speed plays a role, but not the most important one. You only get points if your card was the one that knocked out a Character. Piling up all your cards on one Character placard will award you a point and a good Drink token, but it also means you are wasting the majority of your cards.
Second, the Character’s stamina is only determined AFTER you play your cards and grab a Drink token. This means you might be throwing too much or too little punches at Character placards. As such, it’s best to spread your punches around. Where you punch and how quickly is also going to be determined by each stage of the fight with changing rules. This makes every round different with new challenges, but with the same game play.
Finally, keep in mind that card placement is highly important. The card on top of the pile is the last looked at during scoring. You’ll also want to place your cards right. If you miss the pile, your Character Punch card will be placed on the top and most likely not be scored. Like throwing a good punch, you’ll want to make sure it connects and does the most damage.
This is a really fun game, but it will not appeal to everyone. As fantasy barroom brawl simulations go, this does a pretty good job of capturing all the chaos and confusion. Players will be throwing cards at times, slapping them down, and even just holding them as they look at the table trying to figure out where to place their card. I even saw one player just lock up as he tried to remember where he placed his cards. Hilarious.
Equally as hilarious is the way the Boris character gets repeatedly beaten up. By the time the games were over, Boris was the butt of every joke. We started calling him “Punching Bag” instead of using the character name. This worked and worked well because that’s exactly what the Boris character is. It’s a neutral space to pummel for points. And, boy, did Boris get pummeled.
If you are looking for a fun game to play with a larger group of friends that will certainly wake them (and you) up, do give 7-Card Slugfest a try. It’s a fast-paced game that will challenge you to play fast, but think even faster.
This game was given to Father Geek as a review copy. Father Geek was not paid, bribed, wined, dined, or threatened in vain hopes of influencing this review. Such is the statuesque and legendary integrity of Father Geek.