Pack your suitcase, Big Kahuna! You’ve just been hired to coach an up-and-coming team of wacky, extreme-sports athletes on the hidden island of Shakana! It’s The Grotto Goons’ surfers versus Tiki Tech Lasers’ skaters. Play your personal deck of 20 Swaptop™ cards against your opponent’s and be the first to earn 20 cheer points to win!
Disclaimer: This preview uses demo components and rules. What you see here may be different from the published game.
Unique Gameplay (+6)
I can’t quite place this game and honestly that’s a good thing! Since it’s two player, feels a lot like a standard collectible card game and the gameplay is simple: draw, play, swap, then challenge. The types of cards in this game have different roles and abilities: Performers are the ones who will gain those cheer points, Dissers will try and slow down your opponent’s progress, and Assisters are there to boost other shredders.
Dissing is the way to discard (“Embarrass”) an opponent’s shredder from their in-play area. Another interesting aspect of this game is the ability to use those embarrassed shredders to energize a different shredder for a major Diss. In this way, you are needing to keep an eye on the balance between reducing your opponent’s ability to challenge you to a performance versus fueling a future Diss.
Certain aspects of a shredder will either help or hurt it depending on what is happening in the game. Shredders with high popularity are hard to diss, while shredders with a big attitude are easiest to embarrass. I wish there was also a thematic reason for the Assisters, at least with the limited knowledge I have about skating or surfing I’m not sure I’ve ever seen duos during a performance…
New Card Technology (+8)
The game uses something called Swaptop technology which is a neat use of magnetism to be able to swap the tops or bottom parts of cards during gameplay for strategic reasons. This is what sets it apart from other 2 player card games of similar feel, because the cards have the ability to evolve or change if you want them to. Instead of buying an entire new deck or pack, just experiment with swapping.
The real puzzle here is knowing when to swap a card with another card depending on what types of benefits you want with the bottom part (“Slice”). The restrictions on what Shredders (“Slab”) can swap together make this even more of a challenge, since their ranks and preferred sports vary. Thematically, if you’re performing you certainly need to be able to keep the effort at the same levels or improve the performance, never weaken it!
Animals as Surfers and Skaters (+6)
I really like the art, it’s too cute. I’m an equal-opportunity animal lover and making them have more personality or even have outfits makes it that much better. On top of this the flavor text as well as the reasoning behind certain traits and abilities is silly and fun. For example, Col. Croaker is a frog that has Inner Peace, which means he cannot be Dissed!
Surprising Learning Curve (-3)
For a game that feels and looks like you should understand it right away, you don’t. For those of us that have played literally any other CCG we get very technical on when certain things happen or shouldn’t happen. I wish the rules were a bit more clear, especially surrounding how to do combo moves because their abilities seem powerful. Even a more robust FAQ would do the trick. Overall, the rules could use some work and I’m certain that they’ll provide some more clarification on certain interactions and actions by the time it hits kickstarter.
Hard to Shuffle (-2)
Considering these cards are double-stacked (one layer for the backing and another for the Slabs and Slices) as long as you’re cool with unconventional shuffling, you should be over the hurdle in no time. It’s still worth noting because with these card games folks can get picky about paper, sleeving and the like.