#008 Galaxy Wrestling Federation! (2018)
Designer: Donald Chan
Artist: Yu Chih-Te
Publisher: Homosapiens Lab
Player Count: 2-5
Time: 15-25 minutes
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN! TREES! INSECTS! ROBOTS AND CTHULHUS! ARE YOU READY TO RUUUUUMMMMBBBBLLLEE?!?! Tonight we have five fierce opponents from across the galaxy who will somersault, suplex, bite, scratch, punch, kick, flying elbow or tentacle their way to victory; all the while giving you the raw uncensored carnage you long and crave for. This is wrestling at its best and worst. Welcome to the Galaxy Wrestling Federation!
Galaxy Wrestling Federation is a light and fast card game where players take on the personas of intergalactic wrestlers and fight to be the heavy weight wrestling champion of the galaxy!
What's in the box?
On your turn...
1. The active player will choose one opponent to challenge in STRENGTH or SPEED. The active player may NOT challenge the player with the smallest hand of cards; however, if two or more players tie for the smallest hand or cards, all players may be challenged.
2. Both the active player and the challenged opponent will place one of their cards face down in front of them and count out loud: 1, 2, 3! (This is important. We'll take about interrupts in a bit.)
3. The players compare the big white number. If the active player chose SPEED, then the lowest white number WINS. If the active player chose STRENGTH, then the highest white number WINS.
4. WAIT!!! There's a "killer move". If your red number exactly matches your opponents white number, then YOU WIN!
5. If both the white numbers are identical, then both players lose!
6. If one player played their victory card, then they automatically win the duel! If both players played their victory card, then both lose the duel!!
7. The losing wrestler places their used card face up in front of them, so every player can clearly see the card used. This card can no longer be used for the rest of the game. (This includes ALL used victory cards.) The winning wrestler places their card back into their hand (but never a victory card) and receives one Championship Belt! The player to the left of the active player, becomes the next active player. Play in continues clockwise order.
8. Remember I mentioned interrupts? Back in step 2, both players were counting out loud: 1, 2, 3! Before the count of 3, any player not included in the current duel may chose to interrupt the count. The interrupting player may challenge the active player OR the defensive player.
9. The interrupting player reveals their card. The interrupting player's card's red number value MUST MATCH their opponent's white number value; otherwise the interrupting player loses. Victory Cards CANNOT be used for an interrupting move; if played, the interrupting player loses immediately. Sorry, Frank.
10. If multiple players interrupt at the same time and nobody is sure who interrupted first, then the best rule in the game happens. All interrupting players act out their wrestlers' personas, and the owner of the game decides whose performance was better. The best showman wins the chance to interrupt the duel.
11. If the interrupting player wins the duel, they place their card back into their hand and receive a Champion Ship belt! The player that was interrupted places their card face up in front of them; they lost the duel. The other player (who wasn't involved in the interrupting duel) places their played card back into their hand without revealing it.
12. If the interrupting player loses, they place their card face up in from to front of them. The other two players continue their original duel as per normal rules.
13. The game immediately ends when any player has three pairs of face up cards with the same white value. This player is eliminated from the game. At this point, the player or players with the most Championship Belts WIN Galaxy Wrestling Federation!
I love wrestling. I must have watched HBO's recent 2018 documentary on Andre the Giant at least three times, so when a wrestling game comes out, I get super pumped about it. Galaxy Wrestling Federation (GWF) gets a few things right and a few things wrong.
The game doesn't scale well. There is a two-player variant; it's decent. At three players, the game slightly feels like it's playing itself as whom you're attacking is decided for you due to face up cards limiting attacks. (A good mechanic in my opinion.) The sweet spot for this game is 4 or 5 players.
It's a shame that the wrestlers don't have their own unique powers or personalities. I understand that everyone's card pool is the same, and that works to help bring out the strategy in the game; however, the graphic design could have been better. It was probably cheaper for the publisher to have all the cards look so similar, but I can't stop thinking about the missed opportunity to give each card a signature wrestling move. If you couldn't differentiate the wrestlers through the game mechanics, surely you could have differentiated them through card art and graphic design. The wrestlers don't even have their own names. All these things would have definitely brought this game up to another level, and it feels more like a missed opportunity than a game design flaw.
Reviewing card and board games from Asia can prove difficult at times. The biggest hurdle is reading through a rule book in Chinese or Japanese. Lately, most Asian publishers have been printing out rules in English; however, the English can be broken from time to time. GWF's English rules did NOT have any broken English whatsoever; however, there were some big problems. It talks about a game concept called "overcome"; however, nowhere in the book does it explain what that is, how it is done, or gives an example. That's not good; that's terrible. The Spiel des Jahres (German game of the year--the Oscars of the gaming world) stated this year (2018), that if a game did NOT have a good rule book, they dismissed it completely without even playing it. They were tired of working and slogging their way through rules, and I cannot agree with them enough. Introducing a crucial mechanic in a game without explaining it, defining it, or at the very least giving an example is no longer acceptable in modern game design. I was unsure what "overcome" meant, so I read the Chinese rulebook as well. (你看得懂中文嗎?) No help there either. I had to read through the rules and play a learning game before I could be sure how to play. Even then, I was taking leaps of faith and guessing. Now the concept of "overcoming" wasn't hard to grasp, but having a core concept like that not be explained well in a simple card game like this doesn't help anybody.
Despite the vagueness of the rules and the lack of wrestler differentiation, Galaxy Wrestling Federation is a good game. It's not for everybody and might not go over well with gamers (the strategy is quite light) However, the kids should love it. And that's who this game is really designed for. Strategy is present in this game, and it's just complicated enough to give some of our younger gamers a challenge. The "take that" mechanic of interrupting two wrestlers really helps bring the game to life, and it's a shame the graphic design didn't step up its game in this department. The 28 unique belt tokens are fantastic and really help flesh out that theme. Great value and bang for your buck there. The publisher didn't have to include 28 unique champion belt tokens, but they did. Thank you for doing so. I don't recommend the 2-player variant. It's decent, but there are so many other great two player games out there. This game really shines at 4-5 players. The gameplay is simple, fast, and kinetic. Having the tie breaker be impersonating your unique wrestler is exactly what this game needs. There aren't many wrestling games out there. Galaxy Wrestling Federation isn't the best, but it's far from the worst. Bring this out for a late game night filler or closer, or to play with some of the kiddos. It could even go into the beer and game category. I do see the novelty of this game wearing off after a couple of plays though. I'm a big wrestling fan, but this game isn't for me. I do teach children and the "take that" and hand management is just complicated enough that the kiddos love it.
I like it, but barely. There aren't many wrestling games out there, and this one is fast, fun, kinetic, and great with kids. It can be played with 2, but plays best with 4-5. Great components, but the graphic design could have helped differentiate the wrestlers and given this game more life and a fleshed-out theme. If I didn't teach kids and play games with them, I might not keep it in my collection for long. (3 out of 5 = I like it.)
*REVIEW COPY PROVIDED BY PUBLISHER*