Theme is often a big attraction for a game to attract players. Too often it often feels slapped on by game creators as an excuse for clever and innovative mechanics to work.
That’s certainly not the case with ScrumBrawl, published by VicTim Games, which is essentially made up of Tim Bugher and Victor Moyer.
Scrumbrawl, according to the rulebook, is a sport where fantastic creatures vie for supremacy within the arena, scoring goals by maneuvering various orbs into portals set within the arena or fighting other creatures to the death to prevent them from reaching the portals.
Doing either of those things will earn a scoring chip. The first player to earn three of those chips is the winner, but at least one of those chips needs to be earned by putting an orb through a portal. Just having your creatures destroy three creatures of your opponent won’t get it done.
The arena is represented by a 20 x 20 square grid playing board. By using a pair of 20-sided dice, the portal, the orb and the creatures are randomly put on the board. The creatures are represented on cards, which are randomly drawn into players’ hands, played and then put on the grid. Each creatures is rated in seven different categories, which control how well the creature fights, its mobility along with its ability to throw and catch the orb. Most also have a special ability.
There are even different orbs that are picked randomly with characteristics that alter a player’s strategy.
When the game was originally planned, the time it took to play was an issue that needed to be solved. “
“The average playing time is usually just less than an hour,” said Bugher. “We have had some games go as long as 1.5 hours but that is rare. There are multiple ways to play the game though and some ways take longer than others. Generally with two players we recommend playing with one orb and one portal. With 3-4 players we recommend playing with two orbs and two portals. With four players we prefer to play with teams.”
Even though there is a lot going on each turn and many choices to make, the entry point for new players is easy to access. “The game, we feel, is really easy to pick up for anyone who plays games much,” said Bugher. “Some of the concepts are harder for people who have only played the Parker Brothers/Milton Bradley type games but to people who've played DnD or Magic etc., then it’s very simple.”
What appeals to Bugher the most about the game probably makes it not for everyone. “I like the chaotic nature of the game,” he said. “I know some people hate it but in ScrumBrawl you can never feel too comfortable on a given turn. You might think you’re going to walk that orb right into the portal for the winning point but you just never know until you do that something wacky isn't going to happen. The game keeps you on your toes. The game is also very funny. The first time you transmute a dragon into a chicken is always a great laugh. We have a great time when we play and all the crazy things that can happen are constantly cracking us up.”
As with most games, when they are well received at least, expansions to add to the game experience are planned and ScrumBrawl is no exception.
“We are currently working on an expansion,” said Bugher. “The expansion will have 20 new creatures, new enchantments, curses and artifacts. We also have a lot of other ideas in the works that we would like to pursue, including themed decks designed so that each player will have his own cards to draw from, New types of boards with board elements that affect gameplay. We have even discussed the sci-fi version: RoboBrawl.”
For those who want to find out more about the game including wonderfully detailed accounts of the world of ScrumBrawl and its inhabitants, check out: www.scrumbrawl.com.It is also possible to purchase the game directly from VicTim Games there. The game sells for $39.95.
I heartily endorse the game. It has provided me with many hours of enjoyment. With 50, by my count, creatures, the variety is robust. It will be interesting to see what comes out next for ScrumBrawl.