Monday, February 3, 2014

It's a city...and they fight

Fight City was Cheapass Games' attempt to create a collectible card game without creating a collectible card game. By that, I mean that I'm sure they never had any intention of releasing hundreds of cards in random booster packs, but it was their shot at a game with customizable decks and a CCG-style rules set. It was originally released as two separate decks (one for each player) and later released in a "deluxe" two-player edition with both decks in one box.

The game system does its best to avoid being a clone of Magic: the Gathering, with a completely different way of using resources to pay for cards as they are put into play. Some cards provide resources in the form of white symbols in black circles, positioned strategically along the sides of cards. Other cards have similar symbols, but reversed with black symbols on a white background. To pay for a card, you have to line up the symbols, so the physical placement of the card on the table makes a difference. Cards that require resources will often provide others, so you end up with a mosaic, and losing a card from the middle can be catastrophic if it provided a needed resource.

Other than the resource system, Fight City's game play is pretty unremarkable. Characters have speed, attack, and defense values which can be augmented by equipment cards. Each turn a player chooses to either play cards, draw cards, or attack, and this is where the game starts to fall apart. In our games, we often found that one or the other of us would have a hand full of cards we couldn't use due to a lack of the right kind of resources. This would force one player to keep taking draw turns, allowing the other keep making attacks, which take away resources, which makes it even harder to get cards into play. In our games we found that it was very difficult to recover once you start losing in this way.

The cards are peppered with Cheapass Games' usual sharp humor, and feature many in-jokes and references to other Cheapass Games, but it doesn't really have a setting or storyline to speak of, which is something essential to most games of this type.

The game might work better if players had the opportunity to build custom decks and strike a better balance with the resources, but that isn't really possible with the 108 cards that come in the box. I imagine that if the game had been successful there would have been more decks released, providing a larger card pool to customize from, but we were unable to have a satisfying game with what came in the box.

Rating: 1 (out of 5) What could be a clever game system is marred by frustrating game play and a lack of depth in terms of strategy or story.

Date played: January 25, 2014

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