- Designer: Guillaume Blossier
- Publisher: Matagot
- Players: 2-8
- Ages: 8+
- Time: ~20 minutes
- Times played: 3, with review copy provided by Matagot
Another game in the recent trend of reprints is Ultimate Warriorz (or maybe Ultimate Wariorz – as this is how it is printed on the side of the box). The original game (called Mad Arena) was released in 2011 by Pulsar, and as it is the only game listed under that Publisher’s name in BGG, you can guess that it came out to little or no fanfare. Somehow, the folks at Matagot got a hold of the game, and it must have caught their eye – it has been reworked a bit and given a more professional production to give a rollicking short battling game.
In the game, there are 8 different Warriorz. Each player chooses a Warrior and takes the standee, info card and action card deck matching their fighter. The box is turned over, and with the addition of a few cardboard pillars, a fighting arena is formed. In the game, the fighters participate in a cut-throat, every-warrior-for-himself fight, hoping to be the last man left standing or to be the fighter with the most acclaim at the end of the seven rounds of fighting.
The arena has a central circular zone surrounded with an outer ring of six spaces. At the start of the game, players in ascending size order place their pieces in an empty zone. In the case of an eight player game, the two largest characters start together in the central circle.
1) Select action cards – players secretly and simultaneously choose an Action card from their hand. Each card has an initiative value in the upper left corner of the card with the higher number going first in a round. If there is a tie for initative, the smaller character will act before the larger character. Note that each warrior has a different deck – in general, the larger characters move slower but do more damage while the smaller warriors are quicker and less damaging.
2) Initative and Actions – someone counts down from 8 to 1. When a player’s initiative number is announced, he flips over his card and states his action. Again, if there is a tie, the smaller character goes first. The card is placed on top of his previous action card and becomes the active card for that player. There are three different things on each card that must be done this turn: movement, hand-to-hand fighting and shooting. These actions can be performed in any order but ALL must done on the turn.
Movement – you must move into an adjacent zone for each point. You cannot return to the zone which you started the turn.
Hand-to-hand – you must attack someone in the same zone as you. This attack can be made before, during or after movement points (i.e. you can attack someone in the middle of moving).
Shooting – you must attack someone in an adjacent or more distant zone
To resolve each type of combat, you roll a number of d6 equal to that next to the combat symbol. You compare the result of each die to the defense value of the target. For each die whose result is equal or higher than the defense value, you cause 1 point of damage. The damaged player gives the attacker one damage marker for each hit, and these are flipped over to be scored as “popularity points” (PPs). There is a special larger token which is given to the first hit on a player – this special token is worth 3PPs. If you attack someone and cause him to lose his final health point, you also take his standee and place it in front of you. There is also a penalty for eliminating an opponent too early in the fight – in the first 3 rounds, if you eliminate an opponent, you are attacked by the crowds who throw rocks at you. You roll 3/2/1 dice against your own defense value as a result.
When all players have acted, you check to see if there is only one fighter left standing. If so, that player is the winner. If not, players choose their card for the next round. If you have reached the end of the seventh round, and there are multiple warriors still standing, then you award the win to the remaining player who has the most PP scored in the game. If there is a tie for PP, the player who had eliminated the most characters wins the game. If there is still a tie, then the smaller character wins.
My thoughts on the game
When I first read the rules to the game, I thought that there was no way that I was going to like the game. It just seemed too much like random fighting. After my first few plays though, I’ll admit that it’s kinda growing on me. Sure, it’s not my style of game, and not something that I’m ever going to love – but for it’s type, it’s pretty good.
First, it’s fast. Lightning fast sometimes. Each individual round goes quickly, and we’ve had a game end in the fourth round before. Even though I’m not a fan of the melee battle games, this one never outstays its welcome. It’s also super easy to teach, so it’s a perfect light filler/closer for the group. The game can be packed away with all the components for a particular fighter in a single bag so you can honestly get started with a game in under 2 minutes.
Second, there is more strategy than first meets the eye. The key (as far as I can see it) is that you have to realize that each character is different, and your play style has to change based on your identity. The larger characters hulk around and can do large amounts of damage. But, they generally act late in turn order and are often the target of many smaller attacks. Of course, they also have the most number of hit points to give up. The smaller characters can dart in and around the arena – though realistically there isn’t too many places to hide as all spaces are no more than 2 away from any other space. They will get the advantage of going earlier in most rounds, but must figure out how to survive to the end. The heavies will win more often than not by eliminating everyone else. The smaller guys tend to win if they survive to end.
Card choice and order is also important. Depending on where you are in the game, you might choose a card for the defensive strength it gives you for that turn, or you might choose it for the attack(s) provided on the card. In addition, each character has two special action cards. There are explanations in the rules, and I have made a copy of that page and put the appropriate reference in each character’s baggie. As you can only use a card once each game, you have to think ahead when playing any card.
The art is well done, and the flavor text/mythology behind the game is amusing. Who doesn’t enjoy pitting Baobab, the “barbarian Man-tree” against Sorgho “the Matador Minotaur” and Cactus “the Gladiator Ork”. The 3-D arena is a visually appealing setup for the game – my only complaint is that there is no place on the board for the turn order chart, but it’s not a big deal because someone can always tell you what round the game is in – or you just need to remember that you start with 8 cards, so you should just remember that you’ll have 2 cards in hand at the final round.
There is also a team version included in the rules, but I’ll admit that we’ve not tried them yet. The game is pretty fun with the cut-throat version, and even though it includes possible elimination – that doesn’t really serve as a negative when the total game length is 15-20 minutes. Ultimate Warriorz ends up fitting the same niche as King of Tokyo – but in this case, it maybe offers a bit more game in a shorter playing time. Most likely, I’ll only keep one of them in the permanent collection, and as it stands now, I’m not sure which one will win out. I might also keep this one around until the next big convention because I really want to see how it plays with eight players – that actually might be a great fight.
Thoughts from Other Opinionated Gamers
Craig V (1 play): I don’t disagree with Dale that Ultimate Warriorz has a similar feel to that of King of Tokyo/King of New York and scratches that same “king of hill” itch, but the games are quite different in how they are played. I still prefer King of Tokyo overall and am currently on the fence about Ultimate Warriorz (although that could change with additional plays). Why? Well, I am pretty worn out right now with the secret and simultaneous card selection mechanism that drives Ultimate Warriorz and sometimes I would just rather roll dice. I also don’t like that everybody can decide to gang up and a single player and there is really nothing that can be done about it. Yes, this game doesn’t last that long, but I prefer the choice offered in King of Tokyo where the player makes the decision on whether or not to take an action that may cause that player to end up in Tokyo with everybody else beating up on him. There is perhaps more strategy available in Ultimate Warriorz since the characters all have different attributes, special powers, and movement, melee, and ranged attacks can occur in various combinations, but I prefer the more streamlined gameplay of King of Tokyo for a game like this. I don’t dislike Ultimate Warriorz and will play it on occasion, but I don’t really like it that much either.
Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers
- I love it!
- I like it. Dale Y
- Neutral. Craig V
- Not for me…