Game Buzz: Kaosball

I think if you were to ask anyone aware of such things who the kings of Kickstarter were (at least when it comes to tabletop games), the clear answer would be Cool Mini or Not.  Four of the top ten most funded tabletop games ever on the site are CMON projects, and the six projects they’ve put up to date have grossed over $5.5 million.  Their seventh project (currently funding) is…

image by BGG user W Eric Martin
image by BGG user W Eric Martin

Kaosball is a sports minatures game designed by Eric M. Lang and published by Cool Mini or Not.  It’s currently on Kickstarter and will be until Saturday, June 30.  It’s already well past its original $25,000 goal.  The game is for 2-4 players, and takes around an hour to play.  You’re a coach, managing a team of players in the fantasy sport of Kaosball.  It’s violent, lots of cheating going on, and you want to score as much as possible.

Kaosball comes with 60 miniatures, including four coach figures, four ringer figures, and four complete teams of 13 minis each (7 runners and 6 bruisers).  There’s a d6 for breaking ties, and 2 d12s to mark the period and first player.  There’s a board representing the crossfield (so called because it’s shapped like a cross – a 5×5 grid with a 2×5 team area on each edge), four magnetic team boards (your dugout), 60 action cards, and 4 ringer reference cards.  Additionally, there’s a ball token, 4 score tokens, 4 fire tokens, for wall tokens, and 30 wound tokens – these are all plastic.

The ball begins the game in the center of the field.  Each player begins with a dugout, the matching 13 team members, 10-12 cash on your dial (depending on if it’s a league or exhibition game), 0 fouls on your dial, and 3 active upgrades on your dial.  Three runners and two bruisers alternate positions on the scrimmage line for your team (colored), and your remaining figures go on your bench.  Upgrades (special advantages) and ringers (mercenary players) are auctioned off (not recommended for your first game), and you’re ready to go.

Each match is played over four periods with halftime occuring after the second period.  Each period follows a sequence of player turns, scoring, bribery, cheating, and prep for the next period.

On a player’s turn, you follow these steps: score, play a tactic card or activate a standing figure, draw up to seven cards, and check for the end of period buzzer.

  • SCORE: If one of your players has the ball and is standing on a minor scoring mound, you score points qual to the current period (1-4).  If on your major scoring mound, score 5 points.
  • PLAY A TACTIC CARD: After scoring, you can choose to do this.  Play it and follow the instructions, then burn it (place it face up in front of you – don’t actually burn it).
  • ACTIVATE A FIGURE: If you don’t play a card, you must do this.  You can sprint (move up to five spaces), tackle (move up to three spaces and tackle) or attack (move up to 3 spaces and attack).  Runners cannot tackle or attack.  You can pick up the ball while moving, but that ends your movement.  You can hand off the ball to an adjacent player without ending your move.  To tackle or attack (or try to steal the ball), both players play a card and compare the number.  Tackles knock a player down, attacks deal damage.  No matter what happens, the cards played get burned.
  • DRAW TO SEVEN CARDS: Figure it out.
  • CHECK FOR THE END OF PERIOD BUZZER: If you have 9+ burned cards in front of you, everyone else gets one more turn, then the period ends.  Check for scoring (minor and major mounds).  If you have cheating cards, you can bribe the refs $1 for each cheating card you want to discard.  If you have cheating cards after this phase, you roll a die, which could give you fouls – if you have 15 or more fould at the end of the game, you’re going to be in trouble.

At the very end of the period, each player will stand up their knocked down players, discard all burned cards, draw up to seven cards, and bring out new players if necessary – if you can’t have five players on the field, you’re out.  At halftime and after the fourth period, you’ll score bonus points for kills and lose points for cheating.  The game is over after four periods, and a winner is declared.

There are some other rules and exceptions, but that’s the gist.  It seems like a violent, striaghtforward game.  I have not played Blood Bowl, but I would imagine this is a similar concept with far fewer rules, a much smaller field, and a significantly shorter playing time.  My biggest basis of comparison is Blood Bowl Team Manager, which is not at all the same thing, but there are similar themes (cheating, violent tackles, trying to build the best team).

I have to take a minute to talk a little about Cool Mini or Not.  I feel like they kind of came out of nowhere and just dominated the board game crowdfunding market, but that’s probably because I’m not really into the miniatures world.  I have to admit, from the pictures I’ve seen, they really know their work.  The minis look absolutely remarkable:

image by BGG user W Eric Martin
image by BGG user W Eric Martin

The games themselves seem to be pretty well done, too.  Zombicide, I know, has some big fans and has been doing very well even after its record breaking original campaign – this is evidenced by the fact that the expansion made around $1.5 million more than the base game on Kickstarter.  I haven’t really heard much about the others, but I think it’s always going to be a big deal when they come out with something.

At the same time, I do have one problem with the art.  As stated before, I’m not a miniatures guy.  Nor am I very knowledgeable about the anime world that seems to provide a reference point for a lot of the design in Kasoball.  But I will say that I’m not sure who designed the female characters in this game, but I’d almost guarantee that it was a man.  I know sex appeal has a lot of power in selling just about anything, but come on.  I doubt very seriously that some of the women in this game would be able to play with the endowments given to them by the art designers.  And that’s all I’m saying about that.

Art complaints aside, Kaosball looks like a fun and engaging game.  I don’t know how all the cards will work together, but I think this looks like an easy game to pick up with some very nice components.  You still have a few days to back it, so click through to the Kickstarter campaign if interested.  Thanks for reading!

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