Review – KAPOW! Volume 1 & 2
Dice Forge meets Dice Throne
|Designer||Larry Bogucki, Robert Dougherty, Douglas Hettrick, Carl Van Ostrand|
|Publisher||Wise Wizard Games|
|Category||Dice Rolling, Dice Building|
KAPOW! is a dice building and rolling comic-inspired superhero fighting game, where 1-4 players face off as various heroes and villains trying to knock each other out. The standard game is a 1v1 bout where players will slowly gain new dice, new dice faces, and become more powerful as they have more options available. So is this a near-mint issue, or one for the bargain pile? Read on for the review!
Most of the characters are standard comic book fare, and even though some of them have tight clothing, this content guide is mostly for the vampire lady, Coquette. She wears some clothes that would probably not help her in battle, as well as sporting a spectral left arm growing out of a nub just below the shoulder. Also a character named Spoiler Alert has big needles.
In KAPOW! players will put up screens and simultaneously roll all their dice (Phase 1: Ability Selection). After assigning them, everyone drops their screens and resolves any attacks, defense, and any earned dice faces (Phase 2). Phase 3 has players taking care of their power ups, gaining dice and dice faces, and Phase 4 has everyone clean up and reset for the next round. Phase 4 is also when you can assign your new dice faces, or rearrange them how you see fit.
Attacking and defending is slightly more in-depth; players must first choose a base attack or defense skill to use before adding any kickers or multipliers. You have to pick just one unless your hero lets you do otherwise. Also, you have to make sure the dice match not only any of the symbols but pay attention to if it says “Any Die = Any Die” meaning 2 of the same, or if blanks or Action dice are allowed or required. Action dice are the ones with the changeable sides, whereas Trait dice are the premade D6’s.
There’s a lot of possible strategies in KAPOW!, so players should feel free to experiment with whatever feels like the most fun for them. Some might come out swinging and putting most of their dice into Attacks when they can, but don’t forget about Defending as that gets you new dice faces as well as the first player marker if you have the highest Defend score that round. For me, I found that gaining as many dice early on was quite helpful, as it made it possible to power up kickers and multipliers late in the game.
I will say that I found some of the hero’s powers to be almost too powerful; once I was playing against Spore who used his best attack in the third round to do a whopping 20+ attack on me – knocking me out. On more than one occasion KAPOW! made me think of Dice Throne, and I would have loved to have had a card on hand to halve or mitigate that massive attack on me. The downside to the quicker gameplay with a simultaneous reveal is that if you didn’t guess correctly how your opponent was going to play this round, you could have anything from a wasted round to accidentally throwing the game.
KAPOW! has a lot going for it: the dice and boards are well-made, and the boxes and rulebooks are made to look like comics themselves, down to the Wise Wizard Games logo in the bottom corner and the “Approved by the Wizard Authority” at the top, along with the character headshots in the opposite corner. But the games can tend to be a bit swingy, and make me think of another dice-roller where I can play with actual Marvel characters. Yes you can play without Hero or Villain powers (and Solo or 2v2), but that definitely isn’t the “main” way to play. Worth checking out if you love comic books, but not necessarily a “must-buy.”
Review copies provided by the publisher.
The Bottom Line
Worth checking out if you love comic books, but more blowout endings than Dice Throne.