IDW Games continues to leverage their licenses for the Dragon Ball IP with Dragon Ball Z: Over 9000 and Dragon Ball Super: Heroic Battle – two small box tabletop games (they actually come in tins…I hope at least one person on the internet appreciates the joke in the title of this post).
They sent Nerds on Earth both games at once, and I couldn’t handle all that Dragon Ball goodness all by myself! So I called in my buddy Adam who is a fellow fan of the franchise and we split the glories and perks of reviewing the two titles right down the middle; cleaner than the cut Trunks made on Mecha Frieza.
Here are quick reviews for these small box, quick-playing titles.
Dragon Ball Z: Over 9000
Over 9000 is very, very simple. You choose from one of a dozen characters from Dragon Ball Z – each with unique powers – and duke it out to see who is the Strongest in the Universe.
Players randomly draw tokens from a pool on the table, strategically place them face down on their character board, and take turns fighting and defending by revealing those tokens in the hopes of either
A) scoring hits to increase in power or
B) blocking them to prevent their opponent from doing so.
Handy dandy reference cards spell out all the rules of combat, and turns move pretty quickly as there is no math. Every hit gains you a power level, and you slide your Scouter token to the right to indicate your growing strength! Once every character has spent all of their tokens, you toss them back into the pool, shuffle ’em up, and play round after round until only one is left standing (and there are rules for tiebreakers).
Player boards are double-sided, so once a character ascends beyond 4000, they flip their card over to their character’s transformed state. This comes with an upgrade to their unique ability – some of which cause opponents to lose power levels! First to exceed 9000 wins!
Gameplay requires a bit of strategy, but nothing that’ll tax the brainpan too much. You need to choose which slotted tokens to use when attacking / defending and when to activate your unique ability to its greatest effect, but the token selection process adds a bit of a chaos or a luck element to everyone’s strategy, as well.
This game doesn’t offer much on the depth front, but not everyone is looking to play Terraforming Mars all the time either (I mean, I might, but not everyone does). And it is 100% designed to be a light game, and they are to be appreciated, too.
The Dragon Ball theme is strong across all of the components. I particularly thought choosing a Scouter to serve as the token with which you track your power levels was a nice touch, as those devices could identify power levels in the manga and anime.
Even folks who did not grow up watching the anime might well appreciate the “Over 9000!” moniker, as it has been well-meme’d over the years. Fans of the franchise will have to get past the idea that 9000 is the highest attainable power level for the likes of any of the featured characters, but let’s be honest: Numerical power levels quickly became a joke in the manga and anime as well! Plus, not sticking to the power scaling of the franchise lets me play as Krillin, and I love Krillin, so *sticks out tongue.*
Dragon Ball Super: Heroic Battle
My wife, Hannah, and I have recently gone down the long rabbit hole of board games and when I found out there were DBZ themed games I couldn’t wait. IDW delivers in this fun, quick, simple game that comes in a travel friendly tin—Dragon Ball Super: Heroic Battle.
In this game, you can play as Goku, Vegeta, Zamasu, or Goku Black in a free for all battle to save (or destroy!) the world! Here’s what you are going to need:
- A Big Table
- Friends willing to play anime-based board games
- Flicking Skills
- And of course, a copy of the game!
Each player commands one of the characters listed above with a player card and token. At the beginning of the game, Dragon Balls, Power Up Tokens, and Wall Pieces are divvied out amongst the players…and then immediately thrown onto the battle field, like flipping change into a wishing well! This is where that big table comes in handy; in fact, the game itself recommends a minimum of 3’x3’ table, since you are going to be flicking your character tokens into the battlefield!
You heard me right: on your turn, you can either power up or move and use a special ability. The power up mechanic is actually pretty neat; you place your token on its side and gain power levels for each round it stays on its side. Other players can attempt to flick their character tokens into yours, knocking it over or even off of the table. You receive varying amounts of power depending on whether your token lands face up or down. If any token is flicked off the table at any time, that character takes damage! Trust me, this will happen much more often than you think!
If you want to dive into the action and move your character, all you have to do is flick it into the battlefield. Who needs to power up, anyway? When your token collides with Dragon Ball tokens or Power Up tokens, you collect them and gain wishes or power, respectively. If you collide with one of the walls, it destroys it and you take damage. Hitting another character disk causes damage to that hero, but there is a condition: the impact must cause enough space between the two discs to fit the damage indicator token.
Each character has three special abilities that allow you to damage the others in some form or fashion using the special ability discs, which range in size! Collect enough power and on your turn, you can use as many Ki-Blasts as you’d like! However, using these abilities allows you to choose one of the three ability discs to flick at your opponents and cause massive damage! That is, if you don’t miss and flick them off the table! (Seriously, nobody in our group is good at flicking discs, apparently!)
Now, to my favorite part of the game: The first action for every player in possession of a Dragon Ball is to make a wish. If you’ve collected even just one of the Dragon Balls, on your turn you can make a wish that affects all the other players. The rules state that you must use this wish to affect the way all users interact with character tokens and special ability discs – even the person who makes the wish!
For instance: “You must use your non-dominant hand to flick discs” or “You have to flick the disc from behind your back.” This adds a really fun and interesting element to the game. Flicking the discs and actually hitting your target is hard enough, let alone doing it with your hands behind your back!
To win the game, all you have to do is chip, chip, chip away your opponent’s health until you are the last one standing. We were able to play a single game in about ten minutes and had an absolute blast! Who knew flicking discs could be so competitive when they have anime characters on them? I’d highly recommend giving this one a shot. It’s light weight, fun, and allows you to gloat about your ability to flick discs on a table!
Neither of these games is going to carry a game night all by their lonesome, but they’re both ready to fill a few minutes when someone is running late or as a quick warm up for the heavier games to come.
Or you could round up your Dragon Ball friends and have a go at these two PvP games before tackling Dragon Ball Z: Perfect Cell Dice Game (also from IDW!) as a co-op endeavor and make it a theme night.
Maybe whip up some lightly salted edamame and call them “senzu beans” as hors d’oeuvres? Whatever you do, don’t invite any hermits. They’re a bit…grabby.