Review: Maximum Throwdown – cards are made for throwing
People took the next step in the attempt to make contact with an alien civilization. They pointed hundreds of thousands of lights at the sky, located in approximate kilometer distances from each other around the whole planet. From the outside, it seems that the planet is glowing. But they did not expect, that their plan will be so successful. Alien life forms indeed arrived, but their arival will not be celebrated by inhabitants of Earth.
First, the sky was clouded over and then large plates began to fall from the sky. It is clear, that the purpose of all this is to cover up the reflectors. Eventually people responsible pushed an off switch for the lights, but now it’s too late. Aliens are here. What are they intentions with us? Time will tell..
New game Maximum Throwdown from Alderac Entertainment Group (AEG) take us on that planet infested by aliens. This company specializes in card games, as you can see in our reviews of Nightfall (review) or Thunderstone: Advance (review). But this novelty belongs to a completely different category of small card games and its author is Jason Tagmire, author of amazing Pixel Lincoln (review on Friday).
Proof of this is small red box, in which you can find everything needed for play. On its cover, picture of warring races, who will fight for the planet, is shown. After lifting the lid made of really sturdy cardboard, there are only cards waiting for us. Well actually not quite, because they are covered up by folded rules. But even they have not some flood of text on them (= are simple).
But back to cards, that you will attract your attention. On the one hand, they contain elaborate illustrations printed up to full margins. According to their back, you will easily spread them into six decks, each containing sixteen identical pictures. Much more important is the other side, where you will find different symbols in the circle variously scattered over the surface of the card. This is valid for fifteen cards from the pile, while the last is help card in player colors. That leaves us only with cards of locations, where the fight occurs.
That is full list of all the components, you’ll need to play Maximum Throwdown. So we can now happily embark towards setup. But even this will not take much longer to complete. Each player chooses one race, takes its deck and takes a help card. Players then together create a world on the table out of agreed number of locations (you can use less than six) in any shape they like.
At the beginning of the game, you have no cards in hand. Therefore, the first round is shortened and simply consists of a drawing your first card in hand. You can actually make this during preparation. Only then, the real fight begins.
When the player’s turn comes up, he must evaluate icons of his visible cards already played on the table. But he can use only those icons, that are clearly visible and not covered (even partially) by some other card. It is these symbols, that will provide him with benefits and opportunities throughout rest of players turn.
At the beginning of turn, players are awarded victory points for cards, which have survived the whole turn. These are the most important way to victory. Amount of reward is decided by simply counting number of dots on fully visible dice symbols in player’s color and dividing this number by six. Result rounded down is number of points earned. This value should be noted down on a piece of paper.
Then its time to use offensive symbols of swords and masks. For direct blow with a blade, selected opponent must discard one card from his drawing deck. And because it represents his life at the same time and number of cards he can play in the game in total, he certainly will not be pleased. The second possibility (with a mask) is to take this card and play it instead of him.
Before players get to the eponymous throwing, they draw cards. Basically, they always have option to draw one card, enhanced with each visible plus symbol by one. This provides better control and choice over, what can be sent into the game area.
Only at the very end of players turn, he can take one (or more for visible symbol of hand) card and throw it on the table. Rules do not specify, from what distance and style the cards should be thrown and it depends on arrangement of players. They have to aim well and try to cover up important symbols of their opponents.
Game ends, when all players run out of cards. Opponents gradually fall away by how quickly they deplete their drawing deck. But because scoring is continuous throughout the game, its not so crucial to be among active players in the end. The winner is player with the highest point gain.
Maximum Throwdown is nightmare for many players, who do not like skill and luck based games. Drawing from a shuffled deck is complemented by throwing cards on the table. Even with experience, you does not have more than a fifty percent chance of success. Everything depends also on the surface of the table – with table cloth you cards have nowhere to run, but on a smooth surface, they can take a ride into the game or vice versa glide out of sight.
This coincidence contributes to great tension throughout the entire game. You need to choose a good position, where you want to throw your card, but this is not enough. Only successful and accurate throw can ensure, that you can be better, than your rivals. And it is only a vision, because those symbols of yours must still be clearly visible until your next turn to gain some benefit from them. Tactics are ultimately supported with the opportunity to re-throw already played cards instead of throwing new ones, when you activate palm symbols.
Cards are highly variable, as well as the distribution of symbols on them. That’s good, because game feels fresh even after many matches played. Large share of that is also work of game time, which is around twenty minutes.
Game offers several tactics. You can try to quickly overwhelm table with your cards and gain points immediately or wait until the end and try to be the one, who stays in the game without competition. From time to time, it can happen, that player can run away with actions with a few good throws, draw more cards and has more throw options than others. But he quickly exhausts his supply of cards and others get a chance to catch up with him at the end of the game, when he is not playing (when you’re out of cards, you’re out).
The game is very confrontational and exciting, but especially in multiplayer. In two, both players just strike back and there is no dynamic in situation on the table. Only with more, you can never be sure, what will situation look like, when you get to play again. It is this uncertainty makes the game Maximum Throwdown relaxing and fun, but it should not be taken too seriously by anyone.
Some of illustrations are taken from other games from AEG. Whether it is a green alien, ninja or fire demon. Someone will be delighted, while the other player seeking the original treatment will be disappointed by this recycling. Authors certainly intended this game as a combat arena of their many previous creations on a single battlefield and it’s not such a bad idea in the end.
An interesting option to play Maximum Throwdown is also without throwing and being wild and unpredictable. This version would be welcomed by players, who are not good in skill games. You would just be trying to play your cards as tactical as possible on the table, so you overlap essential icons opponents, but at the same time let your own stay visible. But you must never overlap more than half of the icons on one card this way. Readers are cautioned, that this option is not part of the official rules and its merely an idea.
Maximum Throwdown is relaxing action game, that revolves around throwing cards on the table. That does not sound very funny, but combined with a good idea of visible icons creates an interesting mix. Thanks to this, Maximum Throwdown will please you as light, skill game and remains a little over average. And for such games, there is always place in many collections.
Review: Maximum Throwdown – cards are made for throwing
Maximum Throwdown will ask you for one simple thing. To throw cards on the table, so your icons remain visible until the next round and you will be able to use their skills. Only then can you draw and play more cards, but moreover gain victory points for visible pips on dice symbols. And that’s it. Everything depends only on skill of participants. This is plus and minus of the game at the same time. Where will you put it depends only on preferences of you and your playing group. Graphics is nice, but it uses illustrations from previous games of AEG company, which is not bad thing in the end. Maximum Throwdown has simple rules and will engage you with its quick and action gameplay.