Cookie Fu: Grandmaster Chi Battles Game Review

The Basics:

  • For ages 7 and up (publisher suggests 13+)
  • For 2 players
  • About 10 minutes to complete

Geek Skills:

  • Counting & Math
  • Logical & Critical Decision Making
  • Reading
  • Memorization
  • Strategy & Tactics
  • Risk vs. Reward
  • Hand/Resource Management

Learning Curve:

  • Child – Moderate
  • Adult – Easy

Theme & Narrative:

  • As a master of one of the three Clans, your Cookie Fu is strong, but so is your opponent’s! Prove your skills and bring honor to your Clan!

Endorsements:

  • Gamer Geek approved!
  • Parent Geek approved!
  • Child Geek approved!

Overview

Cookie Fu: Grandmaster Chi Battles is a dual-play offering that is one-part game and one-part game enhancer. By itself, it is a fast and furious light combat game that takes only a few minutes to teach and provides a great deal of fun. Combine the cards with the dice game, Cookie Fu: Grandmaster’s Return, and you have an enhanced combat dice game with detailed special combat moves you can throw down. While some game publishers might focus on only enhancing a game that has found success, Blue Kabuto has taken a different road and released an expansion wrapped in a game…or is it a game wrapped in an expansion? Meh. Moot point, as anyway you come at this game, it is awesome.

Cookie Fu: Grandmaster Chi Battles is comprised of 3 separate Clan decks referred to as “Fortune Decks”. Each Fortune Deck is comprised of 56 cards, 3 of which are the rules for the card game and how to use the cards to enhance the Cookie Fu dice game. The artwork on the cards is beautiful and exceedingly well done, illustrated in a lighthearted cartoonish style that is both fun to look at and inspiring when thinking of your combat moves. The cards are high quality and the printing job is phenomenal. The information on the cards is easy to read, clear, crisp, and complements the design of the card itself. Outstanding work through and through.

Vibrant colors, easy to read cards, and fun art make the cards a joy to use and neat to look at

The Card Game: Grandmaster Chi Battles

The card game is a light and fast martial art combat simulation wherein 2 players go head-to-head and mind-to-mind. It is not simply enough to try to clobber your opponent. It doesn’t matter how hard you think you can hit if your opponent anticipates your moves and dodges your punches and kicks. The game requires the player to think logically about their possible moves, strategize how best to engage in combat ( offensively or defensively), manage their cards so as not to reduce their effectiveness in combat, and balance subtle mix of risk and reward. And if this sounds like lot, it really is, but the game rules are streamlined and simple which makes the game easy to teach and even easier to learn. The game difficulty is based on how good your opponent is.

Before the game can be played, each player must have their own Fortune Deck. While it will be more fun if each player represents different Clans, it is not necessary. Each Clan brings a little something different to the table and has their own strengths and weaknesses.

  • Clan Vanilla Hare is primarily offensive
  • Clan Chocolate Ox is primarily defensive
  • Clan Coconut Monkey is balanced between offensive and defensive moves

Emphasis is placed on game speed, and while there are differences in the Clans, they are not significant enough to give one Clan a clear advantage over the other. At most, understanding the Clan’s strength will help the player know which cards to play to take advantage of their opponent’s weaknesses.

Game set up is fast and easy. Each player selects a Clan Fortune Deck and removes the three instruction cards. One of the three instruction cards has a counter on the back. This is very useful to keep track of the 20 Life points each player starts with when playing the game. The player shuffles their Fortune Deck and then deals five cards to themself. From the five cards, the player selects three cards to use in this round of combat. Each round consists of a minimum of four moves: the random Opening Move and the three that follow which are determined by the player. The order in which the player places these cards is not important, but the player should remember which card is where so they know what card to use in combat. These three cards are placed side-by-side in front of their owning player. The Fortune Deck is then placed to the player’s left. It’s now time to FIGHT!

The Opening Move is done simultaneously between the two players, as is all combat in the game. The top cards of their Fortune Decks are turned over and placed face up. Where the card is placed also becomes the game’s discard pile. Both player’s look at their and their opponent’s Strike and Block values listed on the card. Each player will take the difference of the resulting value by subtracting the Block value from the Strike value. For example, if Player A’s opening move had a Strike value of “2” and Player B had a Block value of ‘1″, Player B would take 1 damage (2 – 1 = 1). If Player B’s Block value was “3”, they would not take any damage (2 – 3 = -1, which is below zero and is therefore considered a successful block….or a weak attack, depending on how you look at it).

After damage is determined and the player’s reduce their Life accordingly, both player’s determine who has initiative for the round. This is done by looking at the card’s cookie icon, of which there are three: Whole Cookie, Crushed Cookie, and Fortune.

  • Whole Cookie beats Crushed Cookie
  • Crushed Cookie beats Fortune
  • Fortune beats Whole Cookie

If there is a tie, there is additional information on the cards that is used to determine the winner.

The player who wins initiative now flips over any of their 3 face-down cards they want. Their opponent must flip over their corresponding card at the same time. That is, if Player A flips over their center card, Player B must do so also. Again, the Strike and Block values are compared, damage is taken simultaneously, and the turn order is determined by looking at the card’s cookie icons.

Players can take the opportunity to Refocus if one of the cards they flip has their Clan’s icon on it. This allows the player to replace that move with one in their hand immediately which can drastically change the outcome of the fight.

At the end of the third round, and if both players are still standing, discard all used cards and any cards not wanted in the player’s hand. New cards are added to the player’s hand from their Fortune Deck for a total of 5. Play then continues as described above. The game continues until one player has no more Life. Once a player’s Life drops to zero or less, they can perform a Parting Shot by flipping over one of any of their unflipped cards but they cannot Refocus. The winner is the last player standing.

There are special cards in the deck that will provide the player with additional choices when they are flipped over as one of the three cards in front of the player or as an Opening Move (depending on the ability). These cards are briefly summarized below.

  • Chi Heal – Player is healed a number of points equal to the card’s move level
  • MSChi – Opposing player looses initiative and the ability to Refocus, discards all cards in their hand, and any unflipped cards – any discarded unflipped cards are replaced from the Fortune Deck
  • Ally – Player draws 2 cards and plays them as they choose

If at any time a player has more than 5 cards in their hand, they must discard down to 5. If a player depletes their deck, they are considered “Exhausted” and cannot defend against attacks.

Using the Fortune Deck with Dice

Cookie Fu: Grandmaster Chi Battles can also be used to enhance the game play of the dice game, Cookie Fu: Grandmaster’s Return. Use the cards to represent the Clan’s special moves and as reference information. One of my complaints about the dice game was how it was slowed down by the player’s having to go back and reference the moves. This issue has been resolved with the cards and compliments an already excellent game system by streamlining the process the player follows.

Prediction

My oldest little geeks already enjoy Cookie Fu: Grandmaster’s Return. I have no doubt they will also enjoy Cookie Fu: Grandmaster Chi Battles, too. The card game is light and entertaining but still provides a decent amount of challenge. As I said previously, this game’s difficulty is based on your opponent’s ability. If you play against someone who thinks they can read you pretty well, thinks logically, and can define a strategy, you are going to have a tough fight on your hands. This makes the game great at any level, but you must match the opponent’s together fairly and equally when you first play the game.

As I am not one to put my kids in a situation where they will lose by default, as the Father Geek staff and I debated in the article “Zen and the Art of Letting Your Kids Win (or Not)“, I let my two oldest little geeks go head-to-head, first. I felt that I just had way too big of an advantage and I would either hold myself back (which isn’t much fun) or steamroll over them (which is really not fun).

I showed my two oldest little geeks how to play the game, showed them how the values were used, and how they should think about playing their cards. Halfway through the explanation, I lost my 4-year-old who opted to give me a hug, a kiss, and then go play Transformers. My 7-year-old, however, was completely engaged. He asked great questions that demonstrated is attempt to understand how the game mechanics played off each other, how the player’s interact, and how the end game was reached and won. I couldn’t be more pleased! However, I was now going to play my son and I was fairly certain it wasn’t going to be an equal opportunity battle.

After several examples, a demo game played face-up, and last-minute Q&A, I shuffled the cards and asked him what he thought of the game.

“This looks awesome! After we play the card game can we play it with the dice?” ~Liam (age 7)

WOOT! Man, there is simply nothing more uplifting than an excited and happy little geek!

Final Word

I am an absolute sucker for two genres: Kung Fu and Zombies. I will always default to loving anything and everything that discusses these two topic. When they are combined, my head explodes. Because Kung Fu and Zombies provide such a rich and already well understood theme and narrative, it is easy to “get into” the game that uses it as part of its overall story.

A game rich in theme and narrative is also much easier to teach and to have fun with (if you like the theme or narrative, that is). When I first started playing Euro Games, I found them to be exceedingly dry as many times the theme or narrative was pasted on. Rich in mechanics and game play, but without a story hook, I found myself feeling like I was just pushing buttons, shuffling bits, and going through the motions. I eventually moved past this as I started to appreciate the game engine under the hood. Today, being the elitist gamer that I am, I prefer a good game system more than anything else. If I can get a game with good mechanics and has a great story hook, I consider myself lucky.

And lucky I am with Cookie Fu: Grandmaster Chi Battles! This game not only provides a fun and light combat system that allows for strategy and tactics, but it also takes those mechanics and seamlessly interweaves them with the theme and narrative of the game story itself. As a player, I feel like a participant in a story that I am helping to create. These are the best kind of games and the ones you will most likely be talking to your little geeks about long after the game has been packed away.

My little geek did a fantastic job playing the game. His first and second rounds were obviously not well thought out, but my oldest little geeks excels at learning by example and observing behavior. He asked me question in regards to why I played a certain card and what strategy I was using when I decided to play one card versus the other. He also began to use the special cards very well. The end result was a very close game. I didn’t pull any punches, so to speak, and neither did he. While I was the last man standing, it wasn’t by much.

I can appreciate the recommended age for this game, but I see no reason why a little geek who can read, do simple math, and understands the basics of modern cards games will not enjoy Cookie Fu: Grandmaster Chi Battles. Clearly, my little geek enjoyed the game…

His Kung Fu is strong....

Gamer Geeks, I have good news for you. Cookie Fu: Grandmaster Chi Battles is what you are looking for when you want to play a quick and dirty Kung Fu combat action game. There is more than enough here, without being heavy or time-consuming, to challenge and entertain you. I found it to be a perfect game night opener and several games were played within a single hour. Expect fun and amusement while being surprisingly challenged. The real “meat” to this game is out smarting your opponent which can be exceptionally rewarding.

Parent Geeks and non-gamers will enjoy how easy the game is to pick up and play. Simple rules, straight forward game play, and speed will make this a fun game to break out on the family gaming table. The game promotes math and logical thinking, which makes it all the more enticing, especially when the little geeks are in school and are suspicious of any game that might “teach them something”.

Child Geeks, especially those who are already familiar with other card games like Pokemon and Magic the Gathering, will have a blast with this game. Little geeks will need to play smart and be challenged but without all the work of building a deck, getting out a large game, spending time explaining or trying understand complicated rules. Best of all, a single Fortune Deck is all a player needs as this is not a collectible card game. Speed, action, and fun are all here and I have yet to meet any child (or adult) who doesn’t like that!

Cookie Fu: Grandmaster Chi Battles is an entertaining game and a wonderful addition to the growing Cookie Fu universe. Nothing here is ground breaking as it is playing off of its big brother, Cookie Fu: Grandmaster’s Return, but that is not a bad thing. The dice game worked and worked well. The card game is just a natural extension and, one could argue, a somewhat better use of the mechanics. But, be that as it might or might not be, one cannot argue that including the cards with the dice game is brilliant. Instead of trying to compete with the dice game, the card game is meant to compliment and promote but stands strong and tall on its own two feet as a game in its own right. All in all, a simply fantastic offering from Blue Kabuto!

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.

About Cyrus

Editor in Chief, Owner/Operator, Board Game Fanatic, Father of Three, and Nice Guy, Cyrus has always enjoyed board, card, miniature, role playing, and video games, but didn't get back into the hobby seriously until early 2000. Once he did, however, he was hooked. He now plays board games with anyone and everyone he can, but enjoys playing with his children and wife the most. Video games continue to be of real interest, but not as much as dice and little miniatures. As he carefully navigates the ins and outs of parenting, he does his very best to bestow what wisdom he has and help nurture his children's young minds. It is his hope and ambition to raise three strong, honorable men who will one day go on to do great things and buy their Mom and Dad a lobster dinner Cyrus goes by the handle fathergeek on Board Game Geek. You can also check him out on CyrusKirby.com. Yes, he has a URL that is his name. His ego knows no bounds, apparently....
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