EveryBUDDY should check this game out!
Bushiroad, the Japanese card game company of a thousand children’s card games, has unleashed yet another card game. Only two short years ago, Bushiroad released their oddball up-and-coming hit Cardfight Vanguard and made a splash among teens and card gamers alike with its great art and novel mechanics. How does their newest card game with a ridiculous name fare? It’s time to raise the flag.
The objective of Buddyfight is a lot more traditional. Each player has ten life points and uses Monsters, Spells, and Equipment to reduce them to zero. On a surface level, the game resembles Magic the Gathering a lot and has a lot of traditional aspects of card games, which your average grade schooler would understand easily.
When designing a deck, the player chooses a “World” to use and can only use cards from that World. Currently the worlds to choose from are the usual Dragon World, the “heavy-machinery” Danger World, the spell-based Magic World, and upcoming cyber ninjas in Katana World. There are also Generic cards that can be used in any deck, just like Artifacts in Magic. This limits deckbuilding for players, but there is a cohesion in the deck and directs kids into “picking a side”. Players can also set aside their favorite card as their “Buddy” and use it to gain one life point, even if they don’t focus on monsters and spells that heal. It’s almost trivial, but I suppose to an elementary school kid, being able to put your prized card in a special spot on the field does mean something.
The cards themselves have very dynamic art. While the art isn’t as good as Vanguard or Magic, if you imagined you were a kid again, you could get behind it. Each card has special borders reflecting the spirit of the world it comes from. Dragon World cards have fiery red borders while Danger World cards have caution borders. The cards themselves are actually embossed on the back, making them feel nice, but it seems to be a waste since everyone uses sleeves anyway. Flavor text though suffers the same fate as Vanguard, it’s poorly translated and looks even more glaring when reading the rather humorously juvenile names of the cards. The card features borrow heavily from other games Bushiroad has done and card games in general. Monsters “tap” to attack, have attack and defense points, and types that certain cards have special effects on.
Much like how Magic has mana, Buddyfight has a resource system as well, the Gauge. At the start of every turn, after drawing a card from the deck, the player may “charge” a card from his or her hand by placing in the Gauge and drawing an additional card. The Gauge is then spent on various costs to summon more monsters, cast spells, and so on. However, in a card game aimed at younger children, the Gauge also has a very discrete innovation; it lets players get rid of cards they don’t need and try to draw the cards they do need. By sending excess or unneeded cards to the Gauge, players have a lower chance of being stuck with a hand they don’t like (think “mana screw” or “mana floods” in Magic). Reducing the chances of these feel-bad moments in a card game while constructing a resource system is a rather thoughtful design choice, and keeps players feeling good.
While far out of the target age demographic for this game, I gave it a shot anyway. Games in Buddyfight are very fast paced. One careless move can have you defeated. At the same time, life points fluctuate very rapidly. With various healing and defense cards, it is very easy for the opponent to block off the killing blow and then restore his or her life points back. Whereas a round of a normal card game may take thirty or so minutes, one game of Buddyfight can take as little as ten minutes, particularly great for the short attention spans of kids. The Gauge feels right and deciding what cards to get rid of to fuel the Gauge and what cards to keep provides a very simple but interesting tension. That tension then is turned up to eleven when you factor in Impact cards, spell-like cards that provide an “ultimate skill” but usually have a lot of conditions and use a lot of Gauge. All in all, the game is rather well-designed and feels very intense. Deckbuilding is a little too archetype based like Vanguard, but it’s a very intuitive game, even moreso if you have played a lot of card games in your day. Many people I taught the game to learned it in less than five minutes, so the learning curve is very low, if at least for now. One player even said it played a lot like Blizzard’s Hearthstone.
The only problem is that the rulebook isn’t very complete so it’s hard to tell when you can do what, but hopefully the ver 2.0 would eventually fix that. Though rules qualms aside, not all fares well for this children’s card game. Buddyfight faces two problems outside of the game itself, one minor and one major. The major problem the game faces is exposure. Right now, the only people who really have heard of the game anyway are people who play a lot of card games and hang out at card shops a lot, not really grade school kids and probably people invested in other games, including other Bushiroad games. Yes there’s an anime with a dub, but it’s only on Youtube so it’s very difficult to get the target kids to check it out. If at least in America, Buddyfight needs better PR to get the cards into the hands of its buyers. The minor problem the game faces is of course, its ridiculous name and aesthetic sense, which even the kids find laughable when they read cards like Dragoblade Dragobrave and Reckless Angerrrrr!! (Yes, the additional R’s and exclamation points are on the card). In-spite of these challenges and handicaps, Buddyfight is still very intuitive, easy to learn, and quick to play making for an oddly entertaining game. While not contender for a “serious competitive game” Buddyfight is worth a try at the least for some good times. Join me next time when I go Super Saiyan 3.
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