Button mashing accurately describes my experience with fighting games like Tekken and Street Fighter. I had no idea which button did what where, but I sure did enjoy playing as a wrestler with the head of a leopard fighting a giant kangaroo wearing boxing gloves. If that’s not fun, I don’t know what is. But does Dragon Punch, a small card game that requires no playing surface, capture the joy of a KO with only one bar of health remaining? I say yes, but let me tell you why.
Dragon Punch is just 21 cards, five of which include the rules for the game, making it perfect for travel and surprise gaming sessions. You don’t need a table to play on, so bring on the cramped spaces and long lines. Each player gets the same set of six moves to choose from. These attacks can be quick jabs or devastating throws, so it’s up to you to figure out which move will actually land.
The moves have simple names, like Hopping Taunt or Atom Smasher (my personal favorite), that describe what is going down in this fight on the streets. Projectiles cancel each other out, like a Haduken and Avada Kedavra when shot at each other, while blocks and evades negate regular attacks unless those blows are unblockable. If you reduce your opponent to zero health, you win the round. Do it again, and you win the game.
Each time you take a wound, you have to switch up your moves, unlocking even more powerful attacks. Your kicks hit harder, your fireballs shoot farther, and blocks charge up future attacks, turning your fighter into a raging animal when they bleed their own blood.
Dragon Punch is a game of guessing and second-guessing your own moves and the moves of your opponent. Unlike RPS (Rock Paper Scissors for the uninitiated), Dragon Punch gives you information about what attacks have already been used, allowing you to pick your next card wisely. You can’t get used cards back until you taunt your enemy, potentially opening yourself up for a world of hurt, so timing is key.
Even though each player has the same basic moves to choose from, four different character cards are added to starting hands that add special attacks, adding a bit of individuality to your fast flying fists of fury.
This game actually feels a lot like BattleCON: Express, another fighting card game, but the play time and decision making takes place on a much smaller scale. Every card has a counter and every counter has another counter, so you will be going back an forth about what to choose during these quick matches.
With so few cards needed to play, you and a friend can duke it out anywhere you go, whether that’s waiting in line for a roller coaster or even ON A ROLLER COASTER. The cards never leave your hands, so there is no need for a playing surface. Portability is this game’s middle name, but Dragon Portability Punch doesn’t roll off the tongue. There’s even multiple ways to play, from a Turbo mode that adds real-time speed, to a Tag Team match where players choose two characters to play with.
If you want a game that is a whole lot of fun and can be played anywhere, it would be a shame if you passed up Dragon Punch. Don’t agree with me? I’ll fight you for it.
Dragon Punch will be on Kickstarter on April 28th, but if you want to try before you back, the designer has the Print and Play files here: https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1274672/dragon-punch-quick-2-player-play-anywhere-card-fig
Dragon Punch will be live on Kickstarter here: http://tiny.cc/DragonPunch