I have a love/hate relationship with Japanese card games. While they are usually easy to learn and have fantastic artwork, many don’t lend themselves to competitive formats. Coin flips and other chance effects are great for a Sunday board game but not what I’d call ‘fun’ when there’s a tournament on the line.
Bushiroad is a Japanese game producer that made their first big venture into the western market with Cardfight Vanguard, an easy to learn CCG that suffered from tremendous power creep and a heavy amount of chance. Now they’re back with Future Card Buddyfight and it looks like they’ve learnt a thing or two.
Buddyfight serves up some straight forward gameplay that is easy to get a hold of and genuinely fun to play around with. Each player is represented by a ‘Flag’ and the aim is to deal 10 damage to your opponent. You deal damage by playing monsters into one of 3 spaces on your field and can even equip your flag with weapons to get in some more damage.
Before I mention the last few card types, I should mention the resource mechanic that Buddyfight uses. Each player starts the game with two cards in their ‘Gauge’ and may put a card from their hand into their gauge each turn. If they choose to do this, they also get to draw another card for the turn. This is one of the most exciting elements of the game as it actively prevents players from being victims of variance.
Gauge is typically discarded to use powerful monster abilities or play spell and ‘Impact’ cards. Spells are spells, much like every other game they have many different effects ranging from killing dudes, drawing cards and healing damage. Control players will be happy to know that some spells can be activated on your opponents turn, a welcome change from some newer CCGs. Impact cards are over the top haymakers that have high costs but can inflict large amounts of damage. They are activated in their own phase at the end of the turn and more often that not finish the game. Many involve weapons but some just deal straight damage.
So how does it play? Really quickly, in short. Games typically take 10ish minutes and I found myself knocking back games like popcorn. You play your dudes, do some damage, someone dies and you shuffle up again. The Gauging mechanic really smooths things out and lets you see your sweet cards more often. Card effects are basic for now, but I have no doubt they will get more complex as things go on.
The downside for the game is the extremely weak ‘Buddy’ mechanic. Each player may choose a monster to be his buddy and once per game may gain one life when he plays a copy of that monster. That’s it. Very unexciting and considering its in the name it could be a bit louder. The game can also end very abruptly with 7 point life swings a bit more common than what I’m comfortable with. This is compounded by the lack of ways to stop such attacks, at least in the basic decks.
I’m a fan! The cards have character without being over designed. Card frames for the various factions are very different giving them a bit more definition. I particularly like the ‘Danger World’ frames with their over the top warning tape borders. Impact cards are flipped horizontal to give more space for artwork and it really makes them pop out.
The only negative for me is the flimsy card stock that Bushiroad uses damages easily and the textured card backs are a bit weird. Make sure you sleeve up.
So what’s available? At time of writing only the first two trial decks are available (RRP $25AUD) but the first wave of ‘Dragon Chief’ booster packs are on their way shortly (RRP $4). Each TD represents a different faction, ‘Dragon World’ and ‘Danger World’ respectively, and play quite well against each other with more factions available through boosters. There’s also one set of art sleeves but knowing Bushiroad you’ll be spoilt for choice soon enough.
Buddyfight is easy to pick up and fun to both look at and play. If you’re looking to try a new CCG then I’d recommend picking up both trial decks for you and a friend from your local store. Gaming parents should jump on this if their young one has any interest in card games, there won’t be any disappointment. However, if you’re a super competitive gamer probably best to give this one a miss.
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