If you’re like me, you grew up watching kung fu movies ‘til all hours, have a weird love for all things MMA and boxing, and wished on some level you could take to the mats, stare someone down, and deliver a flying dragon kick of fury to your legendary opponent. Or you’re not like me, but you still want to deliver a solid beatdown without the legal consequences or the broken bones that would likely ensue. In either case, UNCAGED is dealing out exactly what you’re hoping for.
Just hitting the mats on Kickstarter (there’s going to be a LOT of fighting related puns, I apologize in advance) UNCAGED: World Fighters is a 2-player card game that puts you in the ring, mano y mano, with another player. If you’ve ever played any dueling card games (Magic, Netrunner, et al.) the general mechanics will be pleasantly familiar. Each fighter (player) builds their hand and goes to war. It’s quick, it’s really easy to pick up, and it is a LOT of fun. Let’s get in the ring!
Play is actually broken up into three rounds in which players will both attack and defend against the other. Players select their fighter, each having their own special ability (deflect damage, change from Defense to Attack, etc), and then flip a coin to determine who Attacks and who Defends. Based on this, each player will take the appropriate deck, Attack and Defense, and then the first Round will begin.
Each round is broken up into 4 combos; the attacker and defender draw 8 cards each.. 5 cards are for the Combos, and the other 3 act as Stamina, which comes into play when fighting. The players place 5 cards face down in front of them, representing their moves for this particular combo. For every action in a Combo, the attacker reveals their card, and the defender reveals their respective card to block. Depending on the characteristic of the Attack card (a punch, for example) the Defense might block successfully (or not, and the punch will land with force). It’s a fairly straight forward exchange of Attack and Defense during the Combo. After each card has been played, the roles reverse for the next Combo (2) and the Attacker becomes the Defense.
This repeats for the entirety of the 4 Combos of the Round. Where the Stamina cards come into play is this: every action a player does might have a Stamina cost (1 or 2 cards) that they use to perform a move. When this occurs, you will be drawing fewer cards for each Combo for the remainder of that round. This got me a little confused at first, but after a few plays it started to click. For example: if my fighter stamina is 3, I draw the 5 base cards at the beginning and 3 for my stamina. If during the course of my first combo I need to use 2 stamina, those are depleted for the entirety of the round and on each next combo, I would only draw 6 cards. Once the round is over, stamina is regenerated. It’s a neat little mechanic that makes you really think about what moves you want to play. Not all require stamina, so you can plan your moves accordingly.
Damage occurs if the Attack isn’t countered by the Defender; the various iterations of how the cards interact could be detailed here, but I’m not going to bore you with math. More fighting puns! Each fighter has their own health points on their card, and you keep track of the hits taken throughout the course of the Round. This essentially repeats for the next two Rounds ‘til’ either someone is down, or whomever has the most health remaining is the winner.
Round & Round
There are other decks you can purchase of various fighting styles (kung fu, jiu-jitsu) and the combos (GOOD) are endless, so the longevity for the types of play are quite lengthy. It isn’t the deepest strategy game, but you do have to put some good thought into your moves. It isn’t the best art you’ve ever seen in a fighting game, but it puts you in the zone of an actual fight. UNCAGED: World Fighters is a short, effective and really fun game. I highly recommend this for an entertaining 20 minute fight with your loved ones. And the best thing is no one leaves with any bruises (egos only).
Disclosure: Meeple Mountain received a free copy of this product in exchange for an honest, unbiased review. This review is not intended to be an endorsement.