At a recent game day my friend T was telling about a game called Inn-Fighting, a game made by WotC. Apparently he had been eying it for a while and when it got down to $5 on clearance he pounced on it. He decided to lob it at me to figure out the rules and how the game plays so I thought I’d throw down a review while I was at.

Inn-Fighting uses both cards and dice to simulate a crazy tavern brawl where the object is to beat on the other players as much as you can. It comes with a special set of six dice and two small packs of cards. The first thing I noticed upon opening the game was how nice and sturdy the cards themselves were: printed on good thick stock and unlike other games where it seems like they make the cards lousy on purpose so you’ll have to replace them (ahem, Fluxx) these are made to last a long time. Since you mostly use the dice when playing the game the cards wearing out shouldn’t ever be a problem.

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Each player starts the game with an adventurer and two action cards. The action cards can either be bystanders that help you out or actual action cards which are pretty potent but can only be used in certain situations. The goal of the game is to collect victory points (VP): if you have 20 at the end of your turn and you’ve damaged another adventurer that turn you win the game. VP are collected mostly by beating on other adventurers and bystanders. Each character starts out with a number of  poker chips (coins, beads, ladybugs, whatever) equal to its hit points. Whenever you do damage you take chips equal to that damage away from that character and add it to your VP pile. If you take all their hit points they are “knocked out” and you get a knockout bonus. If a bystander gets knocked out there’s no recourse but if a player’s adventurer gets knocked out he can draw a new one when it’s his turn, so you’re never out of the game until someone wins.

I really like the mechanic of using poker chips to represent hit points that can then be sent around the table depending on who does damage. And it’s not just one way: VP can be taken from your stack in various ways as well, either going to another player or back to the bank. It’s cool watching the chips move around the table, and it’s nice to know that just because a player has gotten a bit ahead doesn’t mean he’ll necessarily stay ahead!

The rules themselves are pretty straightforward. There are six dice to be rolled that can come up: punch (punch the player to the left), chair (throw a chair at the player to the right), power (use a power attack on the person who has the most VP), ale (healing), or luck (draw a card). One interesting mechanic is that each player doesn’t necessarily roll all six dice every time. Ale and luck can only be used if there are three or more showing, and when the dice are passed the next player doesn’t get to roll any that show ale or luck on them. So the number of luck and/or ale dice build until someone has three and then they can use them. That player then picks up all the dice, rolls them, and makes an attack. Sometimes you’ll only get to roll two or three dice, limiting your options on who to attack.

If your character takes three or more damage or is about to be knocked out you can make a defense roll to try to save him by rolling the one red die (not the five gold ones). Defense rolls only work 1/6 or 1/3 of the time, but when they do they’re pretty sweet. Sometimes the attack will be nullified, sometimes the attacker will actually take damage, sometimes you get to draw a card, it depends on the particular character that’s making the roll. It doesn’t work that often but when it does it’s pretty fun.

Even just trying it out by myself it seems like a pretty neat game, and hopefully I’ll get a chance to play it with a group real soon. One possible downside is that there are not a ton of cards included; I could see it getting a little stale after a while because there isn’t a big diversity of character or action cards. Then again, we haven’t gotten tired of Three Dragon Ante yet! Unfortunately there isn’t any kind of expansion pack for the game, and if it’s on clearance then there’s probably not one coming 😦


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