You might not expect it, but the wonderful world of wrestling actually mixes quite well with the world of tabletop, and a new wrestling game named Power Slam marries the two with delightful results. The Power Slam Wrestling Card Game comes from Ray Cashman, Seizure Kaiser, and Peter Gleeson, and as you might assume from the name, it has players grappling, striking, throwing, and super kicking their opponents until they can get the 3 count pin and the win. The game is on Kickstarter now, and since ComicBook.com had the chance to test out the game early, we're here to break down the gameplay and let you know what you're in store for if you decide to give it a shot.
Power Slam is made up completely of cards, and set up is quick and painless. You'll have the Main Deck, the Discard Pile, and the Pin Deck in th center, and then 2 to 4 players will each draw 6 cards for their hand. Seriously, that's it, and not going to lie, it's nice to get up and running so quickly. Once everyone has their cards you take turns filling out your Move Groups, Discarding, and then Attacking, and turns move incredibly quickly once you get the hand of the different phases.
The biggest new element to get a handle on is the Move Groups, which is where you put all of your possible Attack Cards, which are separated into Strikes (Red), Grapples (Green), and Throws (Blue). There's also a Special category, and these show up as Special Grapples or Special Throws, and as the name implies, you'll need something extra to launch these attacks. You'll start laying out your attack cards in your Move Groups until you get an Activation Card to activate one of those attacks (except for Strike Cards, which only need 3 Power Stars), which will say the name of the attack (Throw, Grapple, etc) and will feature the same color.
This is where some of the strategies come in. Let's say you have a Grapple Attack Card, the Arm Lock for instance. It does 1 Damage and you need the Attack Card and the Grapple Activation Card to launch that attack, so just playing it as soon as you have both is one strategy. Let's say though that you also have a Back Breaker Attack Card, which is a Special Grapple. To launch this attack you'll need 2 Back Breaker Cards and a Grapple and Special Activation Card, so if you let go of that Grapple now it will take longer to dish out that Super Grapple, which does way more damage. That said, you could also pepper the opponent with small attacks and get their Health down, which continues to stack your chances of getting a successful pin on them.
The lower your opponent's health the more Green Checks go into the Pin Deck, though your opponent still has a chance to kick out if they get a Red X during the 3 count. Now, you also can't go Pin-crazy either, as if you unsuccessfully Pin 3 times in a row you'll lose health of your own.
Additional strategies present themselves through Counter Cards, which can negate the damage from an attack. The opponent though can play a Counter of their own, and both players can continue to Counter as long as they have more Counter Cards. There are also certain combinations that are unblockable or need more Counter Cards to defend. Super Throws and Super Grapples need 2 Counter Cards to block while having 2 of the same Throw Card (Cross Body for instance) will make your attack Unblockable and deal some extra damage.
Once you pick up the core mechanics this game is a breeze to play, and the fast pace combined with the unpredictability of the Pin Deck means you can get through several games quickly. If you're a fan of professional wrestling you'll get even more out of the experience, but this is a game you could introduce to players who aren't fans of the squared circle and odds are they will still be entertained. The visuals embrace the over the top aspects of wrestling, with cartoony character designs and bold colors. That style might not appeal to everyone, but I thought it was a splendid pairing with the style of gameplay and the sport it's based on, and most of the cards hit the target.
Now, this was an early prototype of the game, but there are a few things it could use to put it over the top. The game currently doesn't have a way to keep track of health other than using a piece of paper, which is fine mind you but it would've been extremely cool to have your health tied to something related to the wrestling theme. If not, at least some kind of marker or die to use instead, which is what I used. Perhaps this is something an expansion could fix, but the game could also use a few more versions of each Attack Card, as you'll quickly start seeing the same cards quite often.0comments
Those nitpicks aside, I really enjoyed what I played of Power Slam, and once we can actually have people over again, I'm looking forward to heading over to a friend's house before a pay-per-view and throwing this on the table. If you're a wrestling fan, you're going to have a great time with Power Slam, and you can check it out on Kickstarter right now!
Let us know what you think of the game in the comments or as always you can talk all things wrestling and tabletop with me on Twitter @MattAguilarCB!