When I first met Carl Van Ostrand, one of the creators of Kapow!, I was in the bad headspace of travel soccer. Anyone whose kid has ever travel soccered knows that it’s akin to being in a sorority or fraternity. You’re pretty much spending a good chunk of your life with these people, for better or for worse.
Luckily for me, it was for better. The more we chatted, the more excited I became about Kapow! The game includes customizable dice, and is only of of three games that uses something similar. With custom-engineered dice, the game brings some excellent elements of strategy and control into what could easily have turned into another predictably uncontrollable game of luck.
Kickstarted on November 1, you only have a few more days to back this super cool, pretty creative, one-of-a-kind dice game.
What Is Kapow!?
Kapow! is a superhero themed two to four player game that takes about 20 to 30 minutes to play. The unique mechanic involves building your own dice to power up your superhero. You can play as a sidekick when beginning or take on the role of powerful superheroes or supervillains. The game is appropropriate for ages 8 and up, even though the box reads 13 and up.
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Upon opening the box, you’re treated to some traditional and innovative components.
Let’s start with the most innovative aspect of the game, the dice. There are two type of die. The first type, a traditional style, matches the heroes’ and villains’ powers.
The customizable dice, something totally unique and manufactured specifically for the gameplay, is the coolest part of the game that distinguishes it from many other dice games. The customizable dice are six-sided with connectable tabs that allow you to take some of the chance out of the game of chance.
There are six “Hero Boards.” Each hero or villain has a unique set of powers defined on the board that matches their starter dice pack.
The “Quick Reference Guide” gives players easy access to the components and rules so that they have, essentially, a cheat sheet for playing while also creating a screen to hide your individual round play choices.
The next component would be the three primary boards upon which players can attack, defend, and power up.
There is also a traditional health tracker board.
Finally, a first player token is included which gives the player with lower health the advantage of attacking and powering up first.
How to Play Kapow!
The excitement of the gameplay lies in powering up your characters. You can pick and choose whether you’re going to be assertive or defensive. Similar to deck building games, you get to build your dice in ways that help you build to your characters’ strengths.
This is an easy setup. You have three boards and two screens with a mutual dice pool. The difference colored dice apply better to certain boards. The blue work well for powering up your superhero. The green and purple both help build defense. Finally, red and yellow tend to be offensive.
The main mechanic is to roll your dice pool, place your dice on your boards, and then build your dice pool.
The strategic aspects of the mechanics offer abundant choices. Strategies can involve quickly powering up, building a defensive tank, or coming out quickly with a flurry of attacks.
What to do on your turn
The gameplay here is pretty simple. Roll, place, reveal. Then phase two is attack, defend, powerup.
Why You Should Play Kapow!
Look, I’m going to be honest. I love playing games, but this is probably one of my first reviews that I’ve wanted to do as a full fledged gaing review. I started out wanting to do something nice for a brother-in-soccer-arms, but I ended up loving the game more than I expected.
At first, I was intrigued listening to Carl talk about how he hated dice games because he hates the luck stuff. This was probably the moment I knew we were destined to be friends, truthfully. I know that a lot of people loved the Zombie Dice game a few years ago; my kid was one of them, but I’m the thinker type. If I’m going to beat someone at a game, it’s going to be because I out-thought you.
Kapow! delivers on all counts. If you’re the person who likes to roll for luck? This game has it. If you’re the one who wants to strategize? This game has it. If you’re looking for something that lets you control your own destiny? This game has it. This is pretty much a little bit of everything for everyone.
The gameplay isn’t difficult to pick up. I didn’t read the directions because I was sitting in the game developers dining room. I did, however, have a coach helping me to win. I enjoyed the fact that as I added faces to my action dice that I could think about the type of player I wanted to be.
GeekHusband played the slow burn game. He slowly gained action dice and hoarded all the things. Having been married for 15 years, I expected him to come out strong and so I spent the beginning of the game defending.
Over the course of the 40 minutes it took us to play (keep in mind, we’re slow learners and were video taping and commentating at the time as well), we had the ability to adjust our approaches to counter each other. If you’re a quick learner, Kapow! Gives you a chance to adapt throughout the game. It’s interesting to note that if you’re playing with the same person over and over, this games gives you a lot of opportunities to mix up your strategies. Take chances you normally wouldn’t.
I love the create your own action dice. There’s something particularly enjoyable as a control freak in being able to blame only myself for the decisions I roll.
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