Going paw to paw for cubic poop points is the name of the game in Wombat Kombat, the latest Kickstarter project by Neotroy Games!
Publisher: Neotroy Games
Designer: Arif Nezih Savi
Release date: Kickstarter Launch 3 May 2022
*Set Collection * Hand Management * Dice Rolling * Battle * End Game Bonuses * Take That*
Okay, we need to talk about poop. Cubic poop to be exact. But before we do, I need to make clear that Wombat Kombat is a Kickstarter project. And Kickstarter is not a guarantee that Wombat Kombat is going to look or play exactly like it does right now. It isn’t even a guarantee that it will get to tables at all. So what I can do right now is to give you my thoughts on the prototype version I have played. But please do bear in mind that the final game might be a little (or a lot!) different.
What a Wombat!
So, poop then. This game is all about poop. Getting poop. Keeping poop. And ultimately having the most poop after a player collects 5 unique sets of wombats. I didn’t know wombats pooped cubic until I played Wombat Kombat, but I definitely do now! And, being of the fragrance free variety, for that reason alone, it is already the most enjoyable poop experience I have had!
But how do you amass the most poop? Well, in this game we are playing General Wombats in charge of our own group of fighters. And on each turn, you have 3 main actions:
1st: draw 3 cards from the main stack – these could be a combination of wombats, actions, food, or predators. There are also 3 Event stacks (continuous, immediate, and end game conditions) which change up the game play for the time they are visible).
If there are any cards in the discard pile, you can also pick from there too, but only if the top card is a wombat card.
2nd: choose one of the following:
- lay a set of wombats if you have at least two of one wombat type (9 in total). If you are laying wombats that are of the same type (indicated by its design and the poop value/number of wombats of that type in the top left corner of each card) as a set already on the table, you need to be able to lay one more than your opponent.
That is because there can only ever be one set of each kind of wombat on display at any time. And if you do, the smaller set gets flipped over and those cards are banished to that player’s burrow for negative scoring at end game!
Some wombats (e.g. samurai) also have a special one-time power that activates as soon as they are laid down in a set, so keep an eye out for extra symbols on the cards;
- lay food cards (carrots and corn) to act like wild card wombats which increase the number of cards in any existing set – handy as you cannot add more wombats of the same time to an existing set unless an Event card tells you otherwise!);
- use predator cards against an opponent to reduce the value of one of their sets (and send those cards to their burrow which will score negative points at end game) –note that they might have a special action card that could block your predator’s advances in their tracks; or
- launch a dice rolling, poop chucking attack – note that you must have at least 3 cards in your hand to launch an attack and your chosen opponent must have at least 7 cards in their own hand.
In attack mode, each type of combat wombat has its own battle strength and weakness value (indicated by a shield and pawprint value on the cards). If attacking, you choose 3 wombats from your hand and lay them face down on the table. Your chosen target then chooses as many wombats from their hand as they like and places those face down too – if they claim to have fewer than 3 they must reveal their hand as proof…..and if they are caught fibbing…….3 wombats from their collected sets (if any) get flipped and banished to their burrow!
Note that if your target has an Evade or Halt Action card, a Halt card will be played before you start selecting fighters as this will stop an attack before it begins. The Evade card can actually be played during an attack if the defender is not doing so well. Either way, the event dice still gets rolled so that one of the Event cards is flipped to reveal the next condition.
All wombats then get revealed and the total attack points and defence points are calculated. But then the power dice are rolled which can flip reverse the totals by adding extra attack or defence values to those on display. If that has changed things up, as many or as few Action cards as each player is holding and wants to use can then also be played to mitigate the changes. After all that, the player with the highest value wins the kombat!
When you win a kombat, you’ll carry out 6 steps:
- glory – take one of your winning wombats and place it to one side as a glorious wombat (3 points at end game guaranteed!)
- punish – flip one of the defeated wombats and banish it to their burrow
- kidnap – take one of the defeated wombats into your own hand
- spare – return the others to the defeated player
- reward – take 3 poops from the defeated player (if they have any to spare!)
- event – roll the event die and flip over the next card in the chosen stack
3rd: end your turn by discarding a wombat from your hand into the discard pile. Note that you can never hold more than 14 cards in your hand so you might have to discard more at the end of your go.
The Poop Flinging Finale!
The game ends immediately once one of you has laid down the required number of unique wombat sets (5/4/3 in a 2-3/4-5/6 player game) or the draw pile runs out. Then it’s poop pile counting time!
You’ll get the amount of poop shown on each type of wombat card you laid plus 3 poop for each glorious wombat you crowned during kombats. If any Event card rewards poop you’ll get that too. But, you’ll also have poop removed – 1 for each wombat banished to your burrow during the game as well as any visible end game Event card that pinches your poop!
No getting around it, this game has a mean streak and not just in attack mode. Being able to flip and send your opponents hard collected wombats back to their burrow feels great when you’re the flipper, but maybe not so much when you’re the flipee! Nobody should go into game called “kombat” without being prepared for some scrapping, though. Same with the poop stealing – “hey that’s my poop!” was heard quite often around our table! But as a group we do very much enjoy being able to turn the tables on each other without warning.
It also has more think than you’d think. With only one discretionary action available each turn, you have to decide whether to risk laying down a set (knowing that an opponent could trump you or decimate it on their turn), or go for broke and battle it out.
There is a definite tension between wanting to fight for more poop and rushing to lay the 5th set. After all, laying sets is good, but what you lay is what you get (unless you can add food cards or reduce another’s set using a predator). And they aren’t safe once down either (unless you’re a dab hand at card counting and know where the other wombats of that type have ended up).
Now, attacking sounds appealing if you have a strong hand, or a bunch of cards you won’t be able to lay. But the power dice and Action cards played after wombat reveals can throw your strategy out of the window. Same with the Event cards (some of which are quite powerful compared to others). Again, some players may not like their plans meddled with so randomly, but it is definitely an interesting dynamic.
We have been having fun with Wombat Kombat, but I was surprised when I saw this described by Neotroy Games as a party game. Yes there’s lots of poop talk (which is always a party starter haha!), but I wouldn’t necessarily describe it as such. Nevertheless, it feels light, fun and fast playing.
The actual gameplay is straightforward, and turns are fast. But with lots of small details to remember at the outset, our first game did involve quite a bit of referencing back to the rule book (and the rules addendum here). Now we are familiar with the flow though, we are piling up and pilfering poops pretty darn fast! And I am hopeful that post campaign there will be a little refinement to the rule book to make it easier to navigate.
How long each game actually takes us to play has been quite varied. Sometimes, because of the chance to collect 3 cards each turn and luck of the draw, the required sets can go down in quick succession, and the game is over before anyone has had a chance to kombat their way to pooptastic glory!
Other times, you’ll lay a set and flip an existing one, and then the newer set of that wombat type gets flipped by another player laying even more than you. And when that happens, the end game trigger can become a moveable target affected by the back-and-forth.
This does mean the chance to mount more attacks and collect more poop (great for end game scoring), but it could also lead to more of your wombats being flipped leading to even less chance that you’ll come out as the poopiest wombat of them all! Either way though, the limited number of each of the 9 wombat types, and the finite size of the draw pile, do provide necessary stops.
I am grateful to Neotroy Games for the opportunity to preview Wombat Kombat prior to its kickstarter launch. If you’d like to know more about the game, the designer, and Neotroy Games, head over to the campaign page which is now live and, well, kicking!!https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/301935033/wombat-kombat
Please note that a copy of this prototype was kindly provided by the publishers for review. I am not paid for my comments, however, and all opinions are my own]. I am also not affiliated to or sponsored by any retail store.