Preview: Punching Babies

Punching Babies

Publisher: Dan Sterling Games LLC

Designer: Dan Sterling

Artist: Joe Diguiseppi

Player Count: 2

Age Appropriateness: 14+

Playtime: 5-20 Minutes

Thematic Overview

I was extremely hesitant to preview this game at first glance, but I decided to give it a chance instead of just assuming the worse. I was worried this would be a game that tiptoed too closely on bringing humor to child abuse, but it is not that at all. This is a quick and extremely light game of two "heavyweight' baby boxers simulating a boxing match. People with kids will find humor in this as siblings tend to cause harm to each other all the time (be it on purpose or not). The funny titled cards in the game such a "temper tantrum" and "crybaby" also help bring out the humor for this silly theme. The game itself is a fun little player vs player card combat system that is created with silly named attack, defense, and special cards.

Gameplay summary

This game is super fast to play, especially if one or both players have horrible starting hands or end up having bad card draw. To determine who goes first, the player quick enough to actually play a card from his/her hand takes the initiative. I would recommend you keep all ten cards face down then have a countdown before each player looks at their cards so they cannot preemptively choose their first card to win initiative. You begin by drawing ten cards for your starting hand from the deck which contains Attack, Defense, and Special cards. You have one action which is to play one red attack card unless you have combo effects available. However, you can also play as many special cards as you are able before your attack. A player's turn is complete once they make an attack, which allows their opponent the opportunity to play a purple defensive card or save it for later attacks. Defensive cards come in the form two types which are blocking and avoiding. Blocking will reduce incoming damage, while avoiding will prevent an attack entirely. Players start at 0 damage and gradually count upwards as they take hits from their opponent. Each player will go through their cards until they are not able to play any attack cards then they add up their damage to see who dealt the most damage. If you are not able to attack your opponent will continue taking turns until they run out of attacks. Once both players are out of attacks, the round is over and the player that dealt the most damage wins the game. The rulebook is a folded piece of paper inside the game box, and offers clear instructions on how to play.

Just glancing over the game, there doesn't seem to be much to it as it is a really simple game. However, what makes this game stand out are the combos and the silly factor of the baby theme. I really enjoyed making combos with my special cards and attack cards. Most of the attack cards have a card draw ability on them which allows combos to occur even more often as well. Another cool card mechanic allows you to unlock certain effects on cards if your attack is not defended which is called perfect landing. One of the cutest cards in the game is the hug special card which is essentially the baby version of boxers grabbing each other for a clinch. The hug card is also one of the most interesting special cards. When you hug an opponent they stay hugged until they play a card that moves them out of the hug. All of their attacks that deal an odd amount of damage can not be played and attacks with even amounts of damage are halved. You could essentially end the game with this card if the other player cannot leave the hug and if they only have odd damaged attack cards. So be sure to hold on to at least once card that can move you out of a hug. I'm looking forward to seeing the art for the final product and hope they go as silly as possible to enhance the theme of the game. There are also different variants to help increase replayability. The other variants include: Best 2 out of 3, TKO (ten rounds continually tallying up damage), and Knockout (the first to cause or pass 100 damage wins). Biggest aspect I would recommend is to implement a damage/health tracker instead of counting up all the cards at the end. You will have to keep track of what defensive cards are applied to which attack cards so the addition/subtraction can get confusing from time to time. Overall this game has good potential and I am excited to see what the Kickstarter product looks like.

*Coming to Kickstarter June 3rd*

Below is a link to Punching Babies on BGG to see more content on the game, and a link to Dan's website to get on their mailing list. We’d also love you to join us in the comments section with your thoughts. Create a member profile and let us know what you think!

BoardGameGeek Link

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