It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there, and plenty of games have picked up the theme with one v. one combat. Co-op? That’s for softies! If you’re really tough, if you’re gaming with equally tough folk, you want to battle for dominance. Sure, most of your characters might die in the process, but hey, that’s why they invented the concept of collateral damage, right? As long as you come out on top when the dust settles, you’re a natural winner in any battle royale situation.
Okay, so the game Battle Pufs isn’t quite as bloodthirsty, but it is a last-Puf-standing theme. Oh, and the cute little critters that are the heart of the game have a bad habit when they get stressed: They tend to burst into flames.
Battle Pufs is a highly competitive, whimsical fighting game designed by Tanner Petersen for 2-5 players. Each player starts with three Pufs and a handful of Battle Cards. Then it’s a rager, with Puf versus Puf until only one is left standing.
Let’s have a closer look, starting with a few representative Pufs:
As you can see, each has a cute name, great artwork, and a short narrative story. They also have a popularity rating along the bottom (Queen Eliz-a-Puf and Sharkie are definitely more popular than Puffy). Some have special powers: The Queen’s power, as noted in the yellow band across the lower portion of the card, is “No One Can Use a Shutdown Card On You”.
The Battle Cards? There are four primary categories: Attack, Defend, Special Attack and Powers. Here are a representative few:
Left to right, Attack, Defend, Special Attack and Power. Each Attack card is worth 1 attack point unless the card matches your attacking Puf, in which case it counts as a double attack. Very helpful! It’s math: The attacker piles on Attack and Special Attack cards, while the defender drops as many Defend cards as they need to mitigate the threat. If there are more attack points than defense points, the attack succeeds and the defending Puf is defeated (they stress out and go Boom unless you happen to have the Reincarnate power card). Special attacks let you circumvent some defensive cards, and power cards? They mix things up, forcing players to swap hands, changing rules temporarily, making some Pufs temporarily unassailable, and so on.
HOW TO PLAY BATTLE PUFS
Set up for a two player game, the table looks like this:
Three Pufs, seven battle cards, it’s game on!
It’s a competitive game, so you’d never do this in regular play, but I’ll spread out all my Battlecards so you can see my starting hand. Not so great, actually:
Can you see what’s missing? There are no Attack cards! Since this is a highly competitive game, being defensive is not really beneficial; ya gotta go for it. So this starting hand is a bit of a drag. I do have the Chaos power card, which lets me swap hands with another player, so that’s a possiblity; maybe they have lots of Attack cards. Then again, that could also be a fool’s swap because then they’ll have those four Defend cards, mitigating my potential attacks.
Note: The Reverse card in this prototype copy of the game has since been replaced with a Skip card so it also works for 1 v. 1 play!
Each turn you can play as many Power cards as you want and can have one of your Pufs attach one of an opponent’s Pufs. If you have no great moves, you can also discard up to two Battlecards and add two to your hand (so yes, you can end up with more than 7 in your hand). I do that, and, unsurprisingly, my opponent attacks! His MacPuf with two attacks versus my Sir Fluffles Puf:
In this instance, I have plenty of Defend cards, so I play two. Now my opponent can play more Attack cards, Special Attack cards, or Power cards that could help, then I can play more defense cards, back and forth until they give up the attack or I admit defeat. Regardless of outcome, all the battlecards played by both players are discarded. If the attack fails, both Pufs go back to their respective players, whereas if the attack succeeds, the defending Puf goes *POOF* and vanishes to the discard graveyard. Very sad. Last Puf standing wins.
Battle two commences immediately since that’s what Battle Pufs is all about:
This time I’m using my Puf Innocence to attack MacPuf, utilizing both Wooden Steaks and Death by Chocolate to give me two attack points. MacPuf, for all his swagger in the last fight, now only has a single Defend card so he is defeated. See ya later, Charlie!
Back and forth, with some rather more complicated battles as the game winds down to the last Puf standing for each player:. This was a particularly gnarly clash with lots of cards in play:
You count: Is Zap going to be able to defeat our champion Innocence? Remember to pay attention to the special powers too.
THOUGHTS ON THE GAME BATTLE PUFS
If you’re thinking that this seems like a pretty simple, straightforward game, you’d be right. This is almost as basic as a game of War with a regular deck of playing cards, though I really like the theme and artwork. Okay, it’s a bit more complicated, with special attacks and all, but Battle Pufs is a game you’ll be able to pick up and start playing in just a few minutes, and your kids will love it. No missions, no exploration, no board, no complexity,. just Puf on Puf fighting until only one Puf is left standing. There is a timed variant where you compare how many Pufs each player has – and add up all their popularity stars – to see who wins after a set amount of time, but the main game is a battle royale and it’s fast and fun.
Battle Pufs is a terrific family game with the only caveat that you want to ensure that players can accept defeat gracefully, because by the very nature of the game, only one Puf is going to be left standing and everyone is going to have a favorite Puf get snuffed and *poof* flip into the discard pile. I also think it plays best as a one-on-one, though a few of the Power cards might be far more useful in a 3 or more player matchup.
Battle Pufs should be showing up on Kickstarter in April, 2022 and you’ll want to back it there and get the discount. Why? Because the final suggested retail is going to be rather high for a game that’s comprised of two decks of cards. Be among the first to know about it, sign up for their notification list at BattlePufs.com with a click.
Battle Pufs, by Tanner Petersen. 2-5 players, ages 8+. Expected retail: around $45.00. Check out the Kickstarter campaign at BattlePufs.com.
Disclaimer: Tanner sent me a copy of the game in return for this review. Thanks, Tanner, it’s fun!