Exceed Exceed is a card based fighting system designed by Brad Talton and published by Level 99 Games. The game is essentially a fighting video game (like Street Fighter) but with cards. 9 cards are placed in a line across the table and this will represent the 2D arena that will be quite familiar to anyone that has ever launched a Hadouken. The system is interesting in that the decks are closed systems which are being released in “seasons”. Each season introduces 16 fighters in boxes of 4 fighters each. Exceed’s cards are not collectible and decks are not constructible, each fighter has a pre-determined set up so players will know exactly what each opponent is bringing to the table.
I don’t want to get to deep into the rules details but some understanding of card anatomy will help understand the basic actions of the game. Cards will feature its attributes, like attack range, strength, speed etc…, on the top left of the card. The text will list any special effects and the box at the bottom will outline the cards boost ability if the player plays this card for a boost.
This card is a basic card that will be found in all decks. Decks will also contain cards unique to each character. These cards feature the characters face in the top right corner.
Players will choose a fighter from the ones available in their set and assemble their deck by shuffling together the Normal Set which contain 2 copies each of the 8 normal attacks shared by all characters, next they add their character specific special attacks and ultra attacks. You can now place your character cards on the 3rd and 7th spaces of the arena and face off by alternating turns by either taking an action and drawing a card or performing a strike.
When a player declares a strike they can choose a card from their hand (they can play doubles for an EX attack that enhances its power) or they can take a wild swing by blindly playing a card from the top of their deck. The opponent responds by also playing a card (or doubles) from their hand or a wild swing. Once the cards are played they are revealed and the strike is resolved.
1. Determine the active player by comparing the speed value of the cards played, the highest speed value card goes first.
2. Perform any Before actions listed on the card.
3. Check the card range and ensure the opponent is in striking range
3. If the opponent is in range, perform the Hit actions.
4. Calculate the damage done to the opponent by subtracting the armour value of their card from your card’s strength. If the remainder is higher than their guard value they are stunned and will not get to counter.
5. Perform After effects.
Once the active player has resolved their card the opponent can counter attack if their guard value was higher than the damage done by the attack. The opponent follows steps 2-5 disregarding the guarding/stunned results. If the players successfully hit the cards used are sent to their gauge pile rather than the discard pile. The gauge pile can be used to power other cards or actions are we will see shortly.
If the player chooses to take an action they choose one of these 6 actions:
1. Prepare: Draw a card.
2. Move: Generate 1 Force per space to move. To move past an opponent requires 2 force. Force is generated by discarding 1 normal or special attack card. A player can generate 2 force by discarding a single ultra card or a card from their gauge pile.
3. Boost: Play a card from your hand to your tableau paying its force cost to use the boost section of the card. Instant boosts are immediate effects and the cards are discarded after use. Continuous boosts will enhance stats or grant additional effects for the next strike the player is involved in.
4. Change Cards: Spend Force to draw cards equal to the force spent.
5. Exceed: Each character has normal side with his or her ability listed as well as the Exceed cost. Players can pay that Exceed cost with cards from their gauge pile to flip their character which will reveal their Exceed side which has a stronger version of their ability or an entirely new one.
6. Reshuffle. Once per game, shuffle your deck and discard together to form a new deck.
Players will go back and forth this way battling until one opponent manages to reduce the other to zero life points and which point they are declared the victor.
The cards in Exceed are quite nice. They are of a good thickness and quality with nice glossy finish. The art is colourful and reminiscent of 90s fighting games and anime. Each set of 4 fighter comes in a small box that I would quickly replace with few deck boxes. The overall quality and packaging is very good and exactly what I would expect for a card fighting/dueling game.
Exceed was easy to pull out, learn and get going. My first play was 30 minutes including set up and reading the rules with subsequent games taking 15-20 minutes. The fighting game vibe really came through in Exceed and it was a blast. The first few games I find that most players focus on striking right away but with a few plays the strategy of building boosts and laying the ground work for big combos becomes more obvious and can really pay off. This small box, simple looking game really offers some great tactics and some fun back and forth duelling.