Challengers

RRP: £39.99
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RRP £39.99
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Challengers! is an interactive deck-management game for 1-8 players that plays in about 45 minutes independent of player count. With the tournament gameplay style, you meet another opponent every round. In the Deck Phase, you choose new members and add them to your deck, which might consist of a wizard, alien, cat, gangster and kraken. 75 distinct characters with more than 40 exciti…
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Tag SKU ZBG-ZMGZM026 Availability 3+ in stock
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Awards

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • Championship format
  • Works well for all player counts
  • Very dynamic and engaging

Might Not Like

  • Moving around in between rounds
  • Luck is very present in both deck construction and match playing
  • Auto battler feeling
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Description

Challengers! is an interactive deck-management game for 1-8 players that plays in about 45 minutes independent of player count. With the tournament gameplay style, you meet another opponent every round.

In the Deck Phase, you choose new members and add them to your deck, which might consist of a wizard, alien, cat, gangster and kraken. 75 distinct characters with more than 40 exciting effects create a unique experience every game. Choose from six different sets and discover new strategies and synergies every game.

In the Match Phase, stay in flag possession to win the trophy of that round. Try to get the most fans and trophies over the course of seven rounds to be able to qualify for the final. If you can best your opponent in the final, you win Challengers!

(If you think that all sounds a lot like a board game adaption of a digital Autobattler, we are proud to tell you that this is the first of its kind!)

 

 

You can now play catch the flag from your table at home! Challengers, published by Z-Man Games is a 1 to 8 game, tournament style, deckbuilding game that plays smoothly and quickly, with very easy to learn rules played in about 45 minutes. The goal of the game is to be the winning team in the grand final match after the end of 7 rounds between the two players that collected the most fans from trophies and card bonuses.

Capture The Flag!

The way the game works is very simple: each player starts with an identical deck of cards that represents their team. In each round, you will be paired against another player and will compete with them in a catch the flag match. You and your opponent reveal cards from the top of the deck back and forth to secure the flag possession. Different cards have different themes (the standard City Set plus 6 themed sets from which you pick 5 at the beginning of the game), strengths and effects and are the key aspect of the game. You can win a round either by making your opponent run out of cards while you possess the flag, or by benching a 7th different type of card from his or her team.

After your deck is shuffled for the round, you have no further control over it. While a play possesses the flag, his or her opponent reveal cards from the top of his or her deck until he or she beat the flag bearer’s strength, and the last card played become the new flag bearer, or they get defeated by not being able to reveal a new card.

Build Your Team Like Pro

At the end of the round, each winner receives a trophy token that is worth a certain amount of fans, then players proceed into the deckbuilding phase. At this moment, you have the opportunity to tune your deck to make it stronger for the following rounds. However, you don’t want to look only for the card’s strength when picking it up to your deck: the more different card types you have, the more likely you are to be overbenched by your opponents, which may make you lose a round before you unleash the full power of your deck. Moreover, cards have different types, and they usually have synergies among them. You can also choose to permanently remove any number of cards from your deck but, once again, it’s a trade-off between the consistency of a thinner deck and the danger of running out of cards too early.

As the game progresses, trophies are with more fans and the cards players can draft from become stronger. More precisely, there are three decks A B C with increasing power that becomes available to pick from as you move into further rounds. You will be given a choice to pick more of weaker cards, focusing on combos and doubles/triples to save bench space, or less of stronger cards to try to find this powerhouse that will carry your team.

After players are done drafting and banishing cards, a new round will take place. To do so, players change places in the table according to the tournament’s match schedule to be always facing new opponents (except in a 2-player game). Coins are flipped to define the starting players and the round begins. The game proceeds until the end of the seventh round, when final scoring is done after the winning players receive their trophies.

And The Finalists Are…

The 2 players with the highest number of fans after final scoring play a grand final match to decide who will become the grand champion of Challengers! The match plays just like any other, and there is no advantage for the player who finished first in the standings.

The game is suitable to all ages and knowledge about board games, being a very good choice to play at family gatherings in the weekend or to start/finish a board game night with friends. Even though there is a bot player to play at odd counts that works just fine, I personally prefer playing it with 4, 6 or 8 players. The artwork speaks very well to the theme, and components quality is very good, including the park playmats where the matches take place. Last but not least, even though the gameplay is always the same, the different card types to choose from when setting-up the game that will be made available during the deckbuilding phase gives a lot of replayability in that sense. There is not a single winning strategy, and an infinitude of different decks can be built each game.

All in all, Challengers is very relaxing in the sense that you don’t have any decision to make besides when tunning your deck but is very tense at the same time due to its push your luck, competitive nature. By the way, some people may feel the game is too random and you don’t really control anything, and that’s why I like to think about it as a party game with lots of player interaction, dynamism, and elements of deckbuilding, being a good gateway to introduce newcomers to this mechanic. At the end of the day, Challengers is an auto-battler, where all the decision-making lies on when building up your line-up, but still very pleasant to play if you are in a more relaxed mood.

 

Challengers! is a great addition to the collection of any casual board game enthusiast. The gameplay is fast, fun and long-lasting. Oh, and the playing mats are really colourful too.

Since up to eight players can play at the same time, this is the ideal game to whip out for larger gatherings. There is even a solo option where you can play against a Robot player although for a number of reasons this mechanism doesn’t really work quite as well as it might. We’ll get on to that in a bit.

At its core Challengers! is a simple deck-building game in which players compete in races to capture the flag. The game plays in under 45 minutes and, with so many different character cards to mix and match, this is a game that you can keep coming back to.

So How Does It Play?

One of the nice things about Challengers! is that, although the rules can be learnt in under 10 minutes, the gameplay itself is compelling.

Each game consists of seven rounds in total, with players trying to win as many race trophies as possible. Each race takes place between two contestants, but all the races happen at the same time. Once all races of a particular round have finished, players rotate to different mats and race again.

Races are won by building up a deck of athletes, each with different endurance levels and abilities.

There are two phases to each race: the Deck Phase and the Match Phase.

During the Deck Phase, players refresh the cards in their hands, discarding cards that they feel they no longer need and taking new ones from the centre of the table. Knowing which cards to get rid off is an important part of the skill and strategy, since having too many cards of different types can harm your athlete’s performance just as easily as not having enough good ones.

Different cards become available during each race, with more powerful ones entering into play as the game progresses.

During the Match Phase, players lay down cards in order to make sure that they are the last one left in flag possession.

The mechanism here is elegant in its simplicity. The contestant who is trying to capture the flag reveals one card after another from the deck they have created until the combined power level of these cards is equal to or grater than the total power level of the last card that the other contestant played. This player then gains possession of the flag.

The idea is to be in flag possession once your opponent has exhausted his deck, or if your opponent has used too many different types of character in trying to capture the flag – hence the need to relentlessly prune the cards you will be playing during the Deck Phase.

Many of the character cards have special abilities, which keeps the game interesting.

What’s The Robot Player All About?

An innovative addition to the game is the idea of a Robot player, which not only allows Challengers! to be played with an odd number of people but also means that solo play is possible.

Whilst the Robot player is a nice idea, this particular mechanism still needs some more refinement to really work well.

The Robot uses a separate character deck during the race. It takes no action during the Deck Phase. In the Match Phase the Robot reveal cards according to the normal rules.

Having played with the Robot on several occasions, I can confidently say that it is very hard to lose against this player, especially in later rounds when more powerful character cards start entering the races. It’s true that the rules do suggest ways of increasing the difficulty level when playing against the Robot, but even so the gameplay is better when the Robot isn’t in play.

What all of this means is that the game plays best with an even number of players. Four, six or eight players are ideal. You can play with two players, too, but remember: more people equals more fun.

Ultimate Verdict

Challengers! is definitely a worthy purchase, especially for those that want a board game that is east to learn, fun to play and quick to set up.

The fact that all of the races takes place at the same time keeps the game exciting. Even when playing with the maximum number of players, there is no laborious waiting around for things to happen. All the action takes place at the same time.

As already mentioned, the large variety of character cards that Challengers! includes means that you’re unlikely to quickly tire of the game. The vibrant colours and engaging artwork are certain to brighten up your gaming evening.

It is true the Robot mechanism does have a number of design flaws, which have already been noted above, but this is only a minor niggle. You don’t have to play with the Robot at all, providing that you can find the right number of players to join in.

And, besides, there may well be some entrepreneurial game enthusiast out there who can work out how to tweak this mechanism so that the Robot becomes a much more valuable component of the game!

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • Championship format
  • Works well for all player counts
  • Very dynamic and engaging

Might not like

  • Moving around in between rounds
  • Luck is very present in both deck construction and match playing
  • Auto battler feeling