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Subject: Scrumbrawl: A Great Find and Worthy Purchase! rss

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Joe
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Scrumbrawl: A JOYFUL Experience of Gleefully Crushed First Impressions that Misrepresented the Game's Inherent Charm
(This is the review promised by gregorywalcott, I accidentally made that last post with an old account. *facepalm*

UNBOXING:
So it's that rare, glimmering time in the life of the Gamer when the stars (and paychecks) align and a new game is on the near horizons. I watch and read considerable reviews and one game catches my eye; Scrumbrawl. Along with a few others I won't mention here. I read this is a rare sports/fantasy hybrid game. Almost like a magical-gladiator-rollerball-quidditch thingy. Great, sounds like fun.

So I head off to my local game store, "The Source, Comics and Games" (Minnesota FTW) and much to my pleasure they have one copy left. It's mine. But as I begin my drive home, I have that game-buyer's dangerous second guess. I think of the hundreds of games I didn't even consider and the classics I don't own yet (I mean that store has everything). I begin to wonder, "hmmm, if I modded Heroscape and added a variant could I essentially play this game for free?

It was only after I played my first game that I realized how far away from possible that idea really was. Scrumbrawl really stands alone in it's genre-bending execution. And it's made all the greater by the fact that it is the first game of the new VicTim games. (Seriously, did you guys wait until you made the correctly named friends to start a company? Was there ever a VicFred games that failed? A GeorgeTim that just didn't work out? A ReginaldTimFelix that had creative differences?

As I opened the box I found my self still uneasy. "2 decks of cards, a board, some very standard die, and 1 sheet of counters? That's not a lot to make a great game." This I thought to myself forgetting that often the best games are the least convoluted.


THE RULES:
Being the type of gamer who prefers to be surprised, I chose not to look through and read all the different creatures. Had I done so, surely my doubt of the game would have been quickly flushed out.

Instead I went for the rule book. A small but hefty book. 36 pages. WHAT? THIRTY-SIX pages? I mean I know there are denser more tome-like rule books out there but the Dice Tower man said this game was simple! Mr. Vasel, have you deceived me? But upon paging through the book I discovered that the rules only take up the first 12 pages. The rest is a complete descriptive and expanded guide to EVERY CARD in the game. Sweet. And did I see a chicken? I begin to get the feeling that this game is something special . . .

The rules read well, and if you've ever played a combat board game or ccg or lcg or what have you, you'll pick it up with ease. It really is very well laid out. You may have some questions as there are a lot of little creature abilities and what not. I did. But then I posted it on BGG and within 24 hours one of the games designers had promptly clarified my confusion.

Also, I was probably confused because I was in that new game rush. You know the feeling. You're unboxing your newest addition to your gaming collection, you pick up the rules and you're all "I'll be @#&% if I'm going to do anything but skim this, I wanna play NOW!" (There are helpful turn order cards included in Scrumbrawl to help combat the inevitable myriad rule book checking this mentality leads to.

The one problem I have with the rule book, and I do mean ONE problem, is the small type. Find a place with good lighting when you sit down to crack this game open because some of the print is teeny tiny. Some people whose eyes ain't what they used to be may find that reading glasses are a must.

THE COMPONENTS:
As I said, the dice are your standard twenty and eight siders. Nothing special, but nothing special is required. The board looks great and is durable. The counters are a little thin, so be careful when you punch them. You may want a blade on hand when you remove them, but they do look great.

There are two decks of cards. A standard sized deck and a mini sized deck. The standard cards are BEAUTIFUL. The artwork here is really amazing for a first game. It's got an animated, cell-shaded vibe. It brings to mind the worlds of the "Tales" and "Star Ocean" video game series, only less Japan-ish.

For each monster in the standard deck there is a matching mini card in the mini deck. These are great too. Same picture as in large cards but made of a much thicker stuff. This is superb because it curbed my worry that repeated placing of these cards in the tokens that represent them on the board would damage these pretty, defenseless little cards, but I don't foresee that being an issue.

I have two small complaints about the cards:
1. I am concerned that the glossy printing of the cards (think the cards from LNOE) will eventually make them sticky to handle after being handled many times by the onslaught of gameplay I imagine this game will see. This is however, just speculation.
2. Some of the pictures are almost too dark, which is such a shame because the illustrations are so lively and full of character. Not all of the cards have this issue, but characters like the Spider are a bit hard too see. I kinda fell just pumping up the brightness of some of the colors may have pushed this design from already brilliant to something really remarkable. Also the Orange and Red faction creatures are almost too hard to tell apart.

GAMEPLAY:
FUN. BRUTAL. QUICK. EASY TO LEARN. Love it. Since I usually play with casual gamers, I can see this game becoming quick classic. Two of my friends, who I played my first game with, have already ordered copies and I can see tournaments occurring in the near future.

The idea is to command your creatures to carry an orb into a portal, both whose positions are randomly determined at the beginning of the game and after each goal. All the while, deadly combat ensues.

There are few tactics in the game: Move, throw, attack. You can also play enchantments and alter dice roles with special "Alter Reality" cards. But with those few options, you have the wide spectrum of sports, don't you? With the simple and elegant game play, you really get the feel of real time soccer or rugby, Or you would if you understood how the heck you play rugby.

But each creature is different enough to have its own strategy and the fact that creatures are getting killed often and new monsters are always flooding onto the board keeps the players on the edge of their seats and constantly reacting to variables.

And here's where taste comes into play: If you are looking for deep and heavy strategy where you can have good long thinks about your turn and actions, this game may not be for you. You really have to be willing to let the carnage fly. You also have to accept that your magic stump might get randomly struck with lightning before you even get to use it. If your the kind of player who loves the curve ball instant event type gameplay, you need to check this game out. It's a blast.

I'm not saying this game is completely strategy free. You do need to make some real choices as you play that will greatly affect your chances of winning. The sport that's created here has as much to think about as any game of basketball (and is way more fun to watch.)

And well balanced. Three games played, the score was always 3-2-2, and neck and neck right up until the end. If you're a sports fan you may find yourself, erupting in the same fandom you would if your favorite generically themed team was doing really well with whatever type of ball they play with.

IN ALL:
What started as a risky buy has paid off better than I had hoped and laid my gaming soul at ease. Scrumbrawl is a fine purchase. A wonderful game for all ages. At this point you may be wondering how much VicTim paid me to write such a positive review, but I digress, I really just want to encourage the playing of a truly original, addictive and hilariously fun work.

So, could you mod some fantasy war game you already own and make your own homebrew copy? Yes, you probably could. But Scrumbrawl has an element of personality that's really rare in the gaming world. I got a similar feeling to when I first played Last Night on Earth (a game with a decidedly B-Movie point of view) and was really impressed with the way the game captured my imagination with its creative theme. These VicTim guys, which I assume stands for Vicothy and Timtor, have a bright future in game creation and I hope to see more releases from them soon.

TOTAL SCORE: 9/10 (Will play often and promptly buy any expansion you release.)
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Victor Moyer
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Norman
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Re: Scrumbrawl: An Experience of Crushed First Impressions
Thanks for the great review! I was kinda scared when I first started reading... ;-)

My first foray into game design was with VNS Games (Vic n' Steve) - never a formed company - but Steve went into the Air Force and moved to the other side of the world so our 3 or 4 great game ideas never came to fruition (maybe they'll be resurrected at some point).

Enter Tim a few years later and the rest is history. Jason Brodmerkel and Tarek Dina were also part of the initial team but VicTimJasTar Games didn't have the same ring to it.

Now who do we make the check out to? :-D Seriously, thanks for taking the time for the writeup! It is like pure crack to Tim's ego. Glad you're enjoying the game! :-) An add-on with lots more creatures (and a few new twists) is currently in planning phase. Cheers!
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Sean Crotty
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Re: Scrumbrawl: An Experience of Crushed First Impressions
brothervm wrote:
Thanks for the great review! I was kinda scared when I first started reading... ;-)

I have to agree. By just reading the title of the thread, you'd think that this would be a scathing review. Joe, you might consider changing the title lest the game you clearly enjoyed so much actually gets rejected by BGGers who too-quickly dismiss the game after glancing at your title and not reading further.
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Joe
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Good idea, Sean. Upon rereading it, it doesn't quite convey my original thought whistle Noted and Edited.
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Joe
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brothervm wrote:
An add-on with lots more creatures (and a few new twists) is currently in planning phase. Cheers!


Awesome!
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Sam
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brothervm wrote:
An add-on with lots more creatures (and a few new twists) is currently in planning phase.

It's been a few years since you posted this comment. How are you coming with an expansion?
 
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