- For ages 4 and up (publisher suggests 10+)
- For 2 to 21 players
- Variable game length (less than an hour to multiple hours)
- Active Listening & Communication
- Counting & Math
- Logical & Critical Decision Making
- Hand/Eye Coordination & Dexterity
- Strategy & Tactics
- Risk vs. Reward
- Visuospatial Skills
- Cooperative & Team Play
- Hand/Resource Management
- Child – Easy
- Adult – Easy
Theme & Narrative:
- Create a unique group of warriors and battle for victory!
- Gamer Geek approved!
- Parent Geek approved!
- Child Geek approved!
When I was a little geek, I played Paper Football with my friends during our lunch breaks and out on the playground. The game required a sharp eye, a cool head, and surprisingly strong finger flicking skills. This was my first tabletop Action/Dexterity game and continues to be one I enjoy today. There is something about games that allow you to physical interact with your opponent and game bits that I find satisfying. In this game, you need to be able to duck and dodge, using strategy and tactics to win. Much better than Paper Football.
Disc Duelers, designed by D. Brad Talton, Jr. and published by Level 99 Games, is comprised of 52 Character cards, 50 Item cards, 1 sticker sheet, 53 Character discs, 1 black wood disc, 4 red wood mini-discs, and 6 brown wood cubes. The cards are durable and about as thick as your typical playing card. The wood is – well – wood. Of particular note are the illustrations for the characters by artist Fábio Fontes. Truly excellent work that bring the characters to life and makes each unique. Not included with the game, but necessary to play, is some sort of method of keeping track of individual character’s health. I suggest small tokens or beads that can be placed on or next to a Character card.
Note: Disc Duelers 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.
Before you jump into Disc Duelers, there are a few basic game rules every player should be familiar with.
Character Cards and Character Discs
Each of the 52 characters in the game is represented by a Character card and a matching Character disc. The Character card details 3 important aspects that are unique to the represented character. These are the character’s Number of Attacks, Number of Moves, and Special Powers. Movement and attacking will be described in more detail below. The character’s Special Power gives that character an edge in the game, but not to a point where they are overpowering their opponents unfairly. Special Abilities make each character unique and introduce different approaches to using them during the game.
Each character, regardless of their movement, attack, or power has 5 lives (unless otherwise stated by the Character card).
Item cards represent unique pieces of equipment a character might have at their disposal during the game. Think of them as mini-Special Powers that can be used as combos with a character’s Special Power for some really nasty effects during game play. Some items can be used multiple times during the game and some can only be used once. Item cards are associated with an attack or move action (but not always), and list the effect they produce when used during the game.
Moving Versus Attacking
Players move their Character discs by flicking them. Like most Action/Dexterity games, the goal is to have a good mix of finesse and power when moving game pieces around the playing area. Too soft and your Character disc won’t go very far. Too hard and you’ll send the Character disc over the table’s edge and take damage.
Movement and attacking are two different actions in the game and limited. When it’s a player’s turn, they will be able to flick their Character disc as many times as the sum total of the Character card’s Number of Attacks and Number of Moves. For example, if the Character card listed 2 Attacks and 3 Moves, the player could flick their Character disc a total of 5 times. However, the number of attacks and moves are limited. For example, a character with 2 Attacks can only attack twice. Regardless if the action taken is a move or an attack, it still requires the player to flick the Character disc.
Before a player flicks their Character disc, they must state if they are “moving” or “attacking”. In Disc Duelers, the player’s intent is VERY important.
- If attacking, characters inflict 1 point of damage if they hit another Character disc and suffer 1 point of damage if they come into contact with terrain
- If moving, characters suffer 1 point of damage if they hit another Character disc and take no damage if they come into contact with terrain
- It’s possible to inflict multiple damage to a character by striking them against other Character discs, terrain, and sending them off the table
Using the above, players must skillfully flick their disc based on their stated intention. Once the player uses all of their attacks and moves, the Character card is tipped to its side to indicate it has been used. Only when all the player’s Character cards are tipped will they be able to use a character again.
One Box, Many Games
Note: Prior to playing Disc Duelers, you will need to apply the stickers to 52 Character discs. While note difficult, it is time-consuming.
Disc Duelers is a collection of game variants that use the same components. Regardless of which variant you decide to play, you will need a flat 4×4 feet area to play on (at the least) and a couple of cups or blocks of wood. The cups and blocks of wood are referred to as “terrain”, and can really be anything you have around the house. The object of the terrain is to create obstacles that players need to work around and play off of. The rule book provides several examples, as well as some safety tips. Apparently it’s possible to hurt yourself when playing Disc Duelers, but I have yet to suffer anything other than a bruised ego.
Each of the variants described in the game’s rule book are summarized here. For the most part, game set up is universal. Shuffle the Character cards and deal 6 out to each player. Players select 1 Character card and pass the rest of their hand to the player to their left. The players then select another Character card and pass the rest of their hand to the player to their left. This continues until the players have a set number of selected characters. The number of Character cards a player selects is based on the number of players.
After the players have their Character cards, they find the matching Character discs. Any unused Character cards and Character discs are returned to the game box.
This game variant challenges the players to survive by pitting all of their selected characters in the same area to battle it out until only 1 character is left standing. This game variant is the easiest to introduce and is the base for most of the other game variants to build upon. The use of terrain and items is optional and some restrictions apply during game set up. When a character takes 5 or more damage, they are removed from the game.
If the players want to introduce the Item cards into their game, the brown wooden cubes are used to represent crates. The “crates” are randomly placed by dropping them above the playing surface. When a player strikes a crate, they draw 1 Item card and attach it to their currently active Character card. The opponent to the player’s left then takes the crate and drops it back onto the table.
This game variant replaces character elimination with points. When a Character card has been defeated (usually by taking 5 or damage), it is removed from the game until the Character card is tipped back and ready to be used again. The character returns with full health, but without any Item cards. The player who “killed” the Character card is awarded 1 point. The first player to a set number of points is the game’s winner.
This game variant introduces new Character cards when a character has either been defeated or is knocked out during the Point Capture game variant. The player is dealt 3 Character cards, selects 1, and brings their new Character disc into play.
This game variant allows up to 16 players and splits them into teams. Team play uses the Point Capture rules. Each player only control 1 Character card and Character disc. When it’s a team’s turn, all the team members take their turn at once, either in an order that they decide, all at once, or however they like. The first team to earn a set number of points wins the game.
This game variant allows 2 players to play a game of Soccer (or Football, if you are anywhere but the United States of America) using a draft pick of 8 Character cards and the black wooden disc. Game set up is, naturally, done so as to create a field in which the Character discs will be kicking the “ball” and each other. When the black wooden disc crosses over an opponent’s goal line, the player earns a point. Players must organize and group their Character discs to play both offense and defense. During the game, Character cards will suffer penalties and even become disabled. The first player to score a set number of points wins the game.
This clever game variant is deceptively complex. The goal is to keep the black wooden disc in the opponent’s territory long enough to get a point at the end of the player’s turn. Like Disc Soccer, Character cards will suffer penalties and become disabled. Unlike Disc Soccer, the player cannot send their Character discs into their opponent’s territory. Instead, they must use all the tricks and Special Abilities they have at their disposal to attempt to hinder their opponent’s attempts to send the “volleyball” back across the net. In turn, players must utilize their Character discs to minimize how many times they have to move the “volleyball”. The first player to a set number of points wins the game.
This game variant is all about speed instead of brawn. Combat, however, is still an important aspect of the game play. If you have played games like Mario Kart or Crash Team Racing, you can easily imagine how this game variant is played. Players has 3 Character cards and then do all they can to be the first player to complete a set number of laps with at least 1 of their characters. Item crates are added to the racetrack, as is terrain. Players must duck, dodge, and slam their way to victory. With 3 characters, players can make 1 the lead and hold the other 2 back in reserve to hamper the competition. This game variant allows up to 21 players who will need to be organized into teams prior to play.
Well, to be honest, it’s more of a variant. Our youngest Child Geeks had a hard time keeping track of their Character card’s Special Powers. To reduce confusion and frustration, we removed the Special Powers. Players still had limited movement and attacks as defined by their Character card.
You can also reduce the amount of time you are spending on a game by reducing the number of lives each Character card has. Try reducing Life to 3 or 2. If you have a large number of players, do a free-for-all and have each Character card only have 1 Life. With a group of 15 players, a single game took 5 minutes.
The game’s rule book goes into more detail regarding the specifics of each game variant listed above. To learn more about Disc Duelers, visit the game’s web page.
I cannot see any reason why Disc Duelers will be rejected by the Child and the Parent Geeks. The game variants provide an excellent mix of game playing styles, from cooperative to competitive and sports to combat. The only thing at risk here is the Child Geeks feeling picked on if they are attacked. But even that can be reduced by making teams or playing one of the less combative game variants. For the Gamer Geeks, their level of enthusiasm is going to depend on the table space they play on. If I present them with a fun challenge that is both visually appealing and fun to play on, they should be very pleased. The different game variants will provide the Gamer Geeks different outlets to test their mental skill and dexterity. The only way the Gamer Geeks are going to reject Disc Duelers is if the rules are found to be too fiddly, the game it out of balance, or they just don’t like Action/Dexterity games.
Teaching Action/Dexterity games is best done by example. Give your players an opportunity to flick-test a few times before playing. This gives the players a “feel” for the table and how much power they need to apply or hold back when they make their move. Other than that, there really isn’t anything to teach. Just make sure that all the players understand what their Character card Special Power is.
And so, after teaching Disc Duelers to my 3 little geeks, I asked them their thoughts on the game so far.
“Really cool, Dad! The artwork is amazing!” ~ Liam (age 9)
“The characters are really neat looking and I really like how they all have their own special powers.” ~ Nyhus (age 6)
“I like the robot guys, Daddy!” ~ Ronan (age 4)
No matter what kind of character type you like, be it a knight, magic user, Kung Fu fighter, brawler, weapons expert, or “other”, there is a Character card for you. The game has already won over my Child Geeks by simply looking “cool”. Let’s play the game and see if it’s as good as my Child Geeks think it is or its value is only skin deep.
The Child Geeks had a lot of fun with Disc Duelers. The game’s learning curve and low bar of entry makes it accessible to any Child Geek who can flick a disc across a table. Of course, skill does play a large part in the game, but all of our Child Geeks noticeably became much better at targeting and hitting their opponents after only 1 game. According to one Child Geek, “What I like about this game is that it feels like a video game!” Very true. There is most certainly a video game like feel to it, most likely due to the over-the-top characters and items you can use. Another Child Geek said, “The best part about this game is that you can create your own rules.” Now there is an excellent point. The game comes with a number of entertaining and challenging variants, but there is nothing stopping a player from making their own rules. Indeed, the game promotes it by tasking the players to create their own battle arenas and special conditions. After many games of Disc Duelers, the Child Geeks all voted to approve it.
The Parent Geeks thought Disc Duelers was a real delight. According to one Parent Geek, “Now here is a game that requires skill, tactics, luck, a good eye, a sure shot, and can be played by everyone. That is total win.” The Parent Geeks found the game to be a great deal of fun with both their family and their peers. One Parent Geek said, “The only part about this game I do not like is chasing after my disc after I flub up a shot.” Discs did go everywhere until the Parent Geeks got the hang of it and started to focus on how much power they were putting into their flicks. When the games were over, all the Parent Geeks voted to approve Disc Duelers, finding it to be a very enjoyable game for all.
The Gamer Geeks also enjoyed Disc Duelers. Not surprising when you consider how tactical the game can be and the strategies teams can use to pick away at their opponents. One Gamer Geek said, “The real charm of this game comes from the different characters and the variety of items you can collect. You can make some really nasty combos.” Another Gamer Geek said, “This is one of those games you would play once and remember weeks after it was put away.” Very true. Disc Duelers created a lot of interesting situations that will most likely long be remembered. For example, that time when a player flicked his disc really hard, bounced off a corner, and took out 2 Character discs. There was much rejoicing and high fiving. All the Gamer Geeks voted to approve Disc Duelers, finding it to be an entertaining and engaging Action/Dexterity game.
Disc Duelers has something for everyone. Not surprising, each group has their favorite game variants and ignores all the others. This doesn’t impact the game’s fun or value whatsoever. The game is intended to be all things to all people with the option to pick and choose what you like. This gives the players a great deal of freedom to choose, mix, match, and create their own games using the provided game variants as the basis for their new creations. The game also includes several blank Character and Item cards, allowing the game’s owner to add their own personal touches.
I am and continue to be impressed with Disc Duelers. The game is simple to teach and difficult to master. It has an excellent mix of skill, luck, jubilation, and frustration. The highs and lows will keep players hooked, engaged, and somewhat rowdy. This is not a game you sit and play. Expect your players to get up, move around, and talk smack. It’s part of the game and the fun. Best of all, it’s a game that can be played by our young Child Geeks and all our friends. This little game packs a fun punch that is sure to hit your table often. Do give it a try.
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.