Street Fighter deck-building game (Street Fighter or SF from here on out) was the first deck-builder I played that I really enjoyed. I got it as a gift, and being a longtime fan of the video game series and expanded SF universe made me intrigued immediately. Turns out the game is a lot of fun to boot. Being a fan of the series isn’t necessary to enjoy the game, but it will make it that much cooler when you grab that Hadouken or Rolling Thunder card.
SF starts you off with the standard 10 card starter deck, in this case 7 Punch cards and 3 Vulnerabilities. In most deck-builders all the starters have at least some value but the Vulnerabilities are totally worthless and getting rid of them is always a fine idea. Punch cards generate +1 power, power being the (only) currency used to buy cards. Each turn starts out with 5 cards in the “lineup” that can be bought, along with a generic Kick card that’s always available, and players buy cards to add to their deck, allowing them to build up to bigger and better things. Cards in the lineup range from a cost of 2 to 8, and you can buy whatever you can afford on your turn. Each player also picks a character at the beginning of the game. Each character has a unique counter-attack that can wreak havoc on the opponents, and access to a unique Ultra card that is the character’s biggest move. Each card you acquire is worth a certain amount of victory points, and whoever has racked up the most at the end of the game is the winner.
If you’re a SF fan you’ll love all the flavor, such as the cards being named after moves, characters, or objects in the game, and the beautiful art. The bottom of each card shows which version of the video game that particular character is drawn from. That doesn’t affect the gameplay, it’s just a fun bit of trivia.
The game has some unique features that liven it up, such as:
- Locations – The game starts out with 8 of them (just like the original video games). They cost a lot of power to acquire but they are worth it because they provide a lot of victory points. Each of them has a unique ability as well that gives you a chance to acquire more cards. They also dictate the game length; when all 8 have been taken the game is over. Acquiring them also has one extra cost: a counter attack from a random character. All the unused characters for the game are put into a stack and when you take a location you draw one and have to endure the counter attack.
- Attack/defense/counter attack – Some cards are attack cards, where you pick an opponent and do something nasty to them, like make them discard a card from their hand or gain a Weakness card. Other cards are defense cards, and can neutralize those attacks. And if you can defend against an attack with your Ultra you can not only neutralize the attack but counter attack against the attacker, doing something pretty obnoxious. Mixing in a defense or two into your deck can be a lifesaver.
- Ganging up – A lot of cards are powered by certain types of cards. So a card might read “For every Hero you’ve played this turn…” or “For every Villain you play…” It can often be beneficial to load up on a bunch of one type of card, although you won’t always be able to.
A game can run fairly long depending on the number of players and what cards come up, although the setup time is pretty minimal. Familiarity with the cards can speed things up considerably since everyone won’t have to read each card every time it comes up in the lineup. I’ve played it with 2, 3, and 4 players and it works well with any number (it can also be played by 5 players, haven’t gotten to try that out yet).
Possible cons about this game:
- It can be slow to get going. Because the deck of cards you can buy from is so big (nice, because it means you don’t get used to seeing the same few cards over and over), what you get is pretty random, and if you start the game with a lot of expensive cards or ones that don’t mesh well it can be tough to build any momentum. But the middle and end game never suffers from that problem; it’s always fun then.
- The rules are without a doubt the most poorly-written ones I’ve ever seen in my life. I don’t know why game makers can’t set out rules in an orderly, logical fashion that makes it easy to learn the game. For just one example, in this game they don’t tell you how many cards you have in your hand until the very end of the rules! How does that make sense?
- There’s never been an expansion for this game and it this point it’s pretty unlikely there will ever be one. On one hand it’s unfortunate, but then again it’s nice to occasionally have a game that you only have to buy once.
- It’s often hard to tell who’s winning, since you don’t count up victory points until the game is over (something common to deck-builders). Also, counting up those points at the end can be a bit of a hassle, since some cards are worth a variable amount of VP, depending on what other cards you’ve picked up.
Overall I really like it and it’s one of those games I’m always willing to play. There is a DC Superhero game made by the same company that is also pretty fun (and has a zillion expansions…) If I ever get that game I can throw down a review for it as well. Thanks for reading and if you have any requests or questions let me know in the comments!