Cryptozoic's is bringing a fan-favorite storyline from the beloved Steven Universe franchise to life with their newest title, the Steven Universe: Beach-a-Palooza Card Battling Game, which is live now on Kickstarter. The new card game is designed by Erica Bouyouris and Andrew Wolf and has players assembling a team of Boardies and Gems to win the battle of the bands and take out the Party Crashers attempting to wreck the event. ComicBook.com recently had the chance to test out the game with the design team and get a feel for how it plays, and the good news is that the game is a blast and best of all easy to learn, and longtime fans will find even more to enjoy.
The gameplay is split into three acts, and Act 2 and 3 will introduce new cards, characters, and Gems into the mix. You'll start out by drawing a hand of Boardies and Gems, which you can place into your Audience and Stage respectively. You can only place one of each into the mix per hand though, and then you'll place a third card from your hand into the Captured pile, which can be retrieved later on with certain cards. After that, you'll give the rest of your hand to the player to your left, and that's when the Attack Phase starts.
This all takes place simultaneously by the way, which helps keep the pace up and ensures you'll move through rounds quickly. You'll reap any energy from your Boardies and pay the energy needed to bring your Gems onto the Stage, and much of the game's strategy comes from maneuvering between the two and finding ways to energize your band, since you only have a few ways to energize those Gems. You can either play a duplicate Gem card to energize your Gem or use a Boardie that allows you to move energy to a card. If those come into your hand don't let them go, as you will give your hand to the next player on the following turn, so you'll lose it if you don't use it.
You'll need to pay attention to that energy for Fusions too, as you'll need an increased amount of energy to fuse, but if you do, you are rewarded with powerful attacks and even more combat options. For instance, if you have both Amethyst and Pearl on your stage and have the energy, you can fuse into Opal, which was my Fusion of choice. I chose her because No. 1 I had those two Gems filled with energy on my stage, but No. 2 because Opal has the ability to hit multiple Party Crashers during her attack instead of just one, which is incredibly handy.
So, that brings us to attacking, which takes place after all your cards have been placed (one in Audience, one on the Stage, and one in the Captured pile). Each of your Gems has multiple attacks on their cards, which take a different amount of energy and dish out different damage amounts. You'll then pick one Party Crasher to attack, and each Party Crasher has several different areas to hit. Each of these has different attack values, and whichever one you decide to hit, you'll get a unique reward. That will either be more Energy, an amount of Victory Points, or the ability to draw a card from the Capture Pile.
The strategy here is whether to use all of your energy to dish out ultimate damage or hold some back so that you have more options on subsequent turns. This is also affected by what attack spots on the Party Crashers are still available, as each time an attack is made that spot is closed, so you might want to hit one Party Crasher for lesser damage because there are more rewarding spots available there as opposed to putting all your energy into the last spot on another Party Crasher. That said, if you do bubble a Party Crasher, you can get some sweet bonuses.
The flow of combat and gameplay overall is delightfully fast-paced, and because turns take place simultaneously there's very little sitting around and waiting. That said, if your Gems run out of energy and you don't find a way to re-energize them during the first part of the turn, you can end up with nothing to do, as you'll focus on getting more energy for the next turn. One of the strategies in the game is to avoid this pitfall, but as someone who this happened to, new players might find it a bummer to get themselves in this situation and find themselves relegated to watching for a full turn without any way to affect the game.
Steven Universe: Beach-A-Palooza Card Battling Game is easy to pick up and play and keep things moving throughout, and fans of the series will definitely find a lot of love for the franchise in just about every facet. Even if you're not a fan though you'll find a lighthearted and addictive card game with a killer art style, with enough depth for frequent tabletop gamers but without the steep learning curve that can turn away newer players. If that sounds like your jam, you can check out the full game on Kickstarter right now.
Let us know what you think of the game in the comments and as always you can talk all things tabletop with me on Twitter @MattAguilarCB!
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