Author: James Ernest (Brian Snoddy Illus.)
Category: Card Game
Company/Publisher: Cheapass Games
Page count: n/a
Playtest Review by Brad Weier on 07/08/99.
Genre tags: none
Fight City is Cheapass Games' answer for beleaguered, and poor, collectible card game players everywhere. Fight City combines the strategy and tactics of a CCG but thoughtfully leaves out the need to buy pack after pack of booster cards.
Sold only in preconstructed decks (there are currently two decks of 54 cards, the Power deck and the Fear deck), Fight City tells the story of a city where people beat each other up. The ButtonMen and forth-coming Brawl characters probably live in a suburb.
The cards themselves are illustrated very nicely in black and white and are about the same paper quality as a standard deck of playing cards.
Two players begin the game with a deck of 50 to 60 cards and ten dollars in the bank. The object of the game is to reduce your opponent's bank to zero. Each deck contains Locations, Fighters, Weapons, and Events and Surprises. Locations typically cost one or two dollars, and provide resources like Pressure and Influence, which are called "Outputs." Fighters have "Inputs" meaning that they require resources. Thus, if you have a Location with a Pressure Output, then you can attach a Fighter with a Pressure Input. Fighters also have Outputs, so players can attach weapons or additional fighters in chains of cards. Fighters do your dirty work by attacking the opposing player or her fighters, and Weapons help them get the job done a little bit quicker and a little bit messier. Events and Surprises play at specific times in the game to affect battles or turns.
The ingenious mechanic in Fight City is the turn sequence. There are three types of turns, Draw, Build, and Fight. During a Draw turn, a player discards cards then draws additional cards to fill his hand. During a Build turn, a player may play some or all of her hand to build her Locations and Fighters. On a Fight turn, both players have at one another.
The key is, on your turn, you may choose any one of the three types of turns. For example, if you want to take three draw turns in a row, that's no problem.
While the Draw and Build turns are fairly straight forward, the Fight turns are quite clever. During a Fight, all Fighters on both sides attack. So players have to decide if they will get the better of a brawl before declaring this type of turn. The Fighters attack in order of their Speed scores, so your Fighters may be killed off before they get a chance to strike. Each Fighter can attack an opposing Fighter card by comparing his Hit score to her Defense score. Or, a Fighter can attack the opposing Player, forcing her to put one dollar into the Pot.
While money from attacks ends up in the Pot, it does not stay there. Certain cards allow players to gain money from the Pot. So it is not enough to bleed your opponent of cash, you have to be sure she does not get it back.
Fight City is a customizable card game. While the decks are preconstructed, players are free to build their own decks from the cards. There is a handy card list so you can restore the Fear and Power decks after mixing them.
There are two difficulties with Fight City. First, the rule sheet lacks the rigorous and efficient detail of previous Cheapass Games. For example, the fact that you can choose your turn type every turn is never explicitly stated, you have to deduce it. I was fortunate enough to confirm my interpretation with James Ernest at Origins. Second, there just aren't that many cards. Since only two decks exist so far, you can only combine them into a few interesting custom decks. Mr. Ernest said that he would create more decks depending on the sales of these two. That sets up a vicious circle, however, where the game does succeed because there are not enough cards and there are not enough cards because the game is not succeeding. Hopefully, Fight City will do well and we will see future decks with even more evil clowns.
On a side note, my playtesting resulted in the Power deck losing four out of four games, even with different players. I am curious to hear if anyone else is getting this result. So far, I would recommend playing the same deck against itself, or customizing from both decks, for a balanced game.
For those players who enjoy the strategy of collectible card games, who enjoy managing resources and creating killer combos, and who have had it with the continual stream of cash flowing out of their bank accounts, Fight City delivers.
Style: 4 (Classy and well done)