I have no problem with light, quick games. I also have no problem with creating a custom team of heroes to challenge, or fight, your friends. But Fight Your Friends ends up missing the mark on light, quick, and customization.
The gameplay is simplistic. There are four rounds of fighting. In the first round, you secretly select a friend from your hand that you will match against your opponent's. Using the ratings on the card and a paper-rock-scissors type of system, the “friend” with the best ratings in attack, magic, and defense wins the fight: Your attack rating versus their defense rating. Magic versus Magic and then your Defense versus their attack. In each successive round, the first card/character is played the same way but each additional card is a separate battle and is boosted by the “Friend Ability” found on the previously played character. The execution works well if you play directly across the table from the other player as the ratings match those they oppose...But you do get to practice your upside down reading if you want to try to figure out what friendship modifiers your opponent just enabled. Each subsequent round adds another character to fight (Three in round three, Four in Round Four).
As a game that touts a short playing time (about five to fifteen minutes), one of it's biggest weaknesses is that it takes more time to do the “maintenance” for the game that it does to actually play it. The first bit of maintenance is selecting your Team. It isn't as simple as “Deal out 10 characters to every player.” You need to put your team of ten friends together and you do this by spending 30 gold points. Therefore, each character is going to have average cost of 3 gold. So, that overpowered card that costs you a total of 7 gold is going to hit you in the wallet when you have to balance it with, say, maybe four weak one gold cards. In Marvel Terms, it's like putting together The Avengers...on a budget. You've taken The Hulk but, due to budget cuts, you are going to have to fill out the rest of the line-up with Hindsight, Frog Man and Bird Brain. Selecting your own team gives the illusion of creating a squad that combine well with each other. But that that only works to the extent that, if you put in the time and effort, you can create a team that will improve and support each other...If they are played in the exact order you decide before you even begin the game. Since the Characters are revealed at the same time by both players, you can't really adapt for what your opponent holds. Even if you use a Friend power that lets you look at your opponents card, you still have no idea in what order they are going to play that card. And, if you use this power early in the game, there are so many options/characters for your opponent to use, it is useless or, if you use it late in the game, your option to counter that card is limited since you only have couple of cards you have in your hand.
As the game moves into subsequent rounds, it devolves into “Math Your Friends.” Here is a sample dialogue of how you would play out the last battle in Round Four of a typical game: “Tazy Crazy's power isn't going to do much since, no matter if she wins of loses, there are no more cards to look at. Mercy Sparks power is going to give her the plus 6 to attack for the two fallen friends from earlier this round. She's going to get her own bonus if she fights an enhanced...but she's not fighting an enhanced since Joe is a natural. So, 8 attack versus Joe. You've got the most friends in the loser pile so you get plus 3 defense. Your Scorch's bonus doesn't help because she is not a natural. So, I'm winning 8 to 5 on my attack. It is currently 4 to zero on the magic. You get plus one for each of your witch friends. So, it ends up 2 versus 4, So I win that one as well. In the final category, it ends up being a tie at 3 and 3 because none of the six total friendship modifiers are enabled. So, the result of the battle is that I win two and tie one, So I am victorious this battle.” If you think reading that is tedious, it only gets worse when you are the one doing the actual math.
Each Card has different Orders, Classes, and Primaries and, honestly, I could go over all of them but suffice to say that there only real use is in determining weaknesses and strengths when Friend powers activate. After all the rounds are played through, you total up the Gold amount on each of your cards in the winner pile (Yippee, more math) and whoever has the highest number, wins.
On the plus side, every card is a character from comics, so the artwork is eccentric and exceptional. One card that really caught my attention was an AOC card. Yea, THAT AOC from the independent comic “AOC and the Freshman Force.” I mean, I personally thought it was funny/interesting but I can't say I would have been excited if it had been, say, Mitch McConnell and the Turtles of Doom. I will note that in one of our games, AOC lost her one-on-one battle with “Red,” which was just too ironic not to mention.
As an entertaining game, I didn't feel Fight Your Friends succeeded. It does, however, work well as a marketing tool for Independent Comics, I ended up checking out a number of the characters and comics from the game because they just seemed so damn cool. The artwork is certainly pretty on the outside but the inside, the actual game, is just pretty mundane.
A review copy of this release was provided by the publisher.