The folks over at AEG are certainly working on putting out a load of games recently, with a seeming push to get a few of their smaller titles onto people’s tables going down rather well. Of the latest bunch, Maximum Throwdown (by Pixel Lincoln designer Jason Tagmire) attempts to strike a balance between a tiny box and a lot of gameplay. Consider it a dexterity game with the chance to really screw over your opponents – as long as you happen to be able to chuck a card with some degree of accuracy. Without that skill that most of us invariably honed in childhood, you are going to be pretty much boned…
However, for the rest of us who spent their lunchtimes round the back of the cafeteria attempting to flick cards onto a target – it was a small school, not much to do – this is a quick and entertaining way to test your abilities. Taking elements from a whole series of AEG games, the box comes with decks representing the Thunderstone Demons, Smash Up Aliens, Nightfall Werewolves and more besides, making six decks of fifteen cards each. Once a player has picked a side, they are give a Starting Location card – all of these are then placed on a flat surface into whatever configuration you please, as long as the Locations are in close proximity to each other. Once that’s done, it’s time to start throwing stuff.
Each card has the image representing your selected side on one side and a bunch of circular icons on the other. Each turn sees you attempting to throw a single card at the ones sitting in the middle of everyone, hoping that your one will make contact with at least one other card. Should those icons land face up, on your next turn you’ll get to “activate” them as long as the icon is completely uncovered, allowing you to hopefully score some points as well as giving you a bunch of extra abilities. First of all, you’re looking for pips – each set of six will give you a single point. Then you get to be a bit aggressive, dependent on what’s showing…
This whole next phase is called ‘Attack and Steal’, where you check for sword or mask icons – again, they must be totally uncovered – and either force an opponent to discard something or take one of their cards which you’ll then get to throw yourself. Once those are done and dusted, you check whether you can possibly grab and throw extra cards, then play moves on to the next person. There’s also a final icon, the Break, which lets you keep one card that has missed in play; normally, anything that doesn’t make contact with another card has to be removed immediately and put on the out-of-play pile. These are pretty valuable, especially if you’re a little inept at the whole card throwing bit.
Really, that’s pretty much the whole game. Play continues until everyone has thrown their last card, then whoever has the highest points total is declared the winner. There’s no theme in here whatsoever – the images on the cards really only serve to make sure everyone knows who’s who – but despite the simplicity, this is a really entertaining and surprisingly challenging little game. Difficultly can be scaled by extending the distance between the throwers and the central target area; while it can be played on pretty much any sized table, the true challenge comes when you’re all in separate corners of a room and are desperately attempting to cover up the current leader’s highest scoring icons. It’s definitely one that’s more suited to a light, party-gaming atmosphere than your average ‘serious’ game night, but that is in no way a bad thing.
The only minor negative is that there’s no way of keeping track of your score straight out of the box. It’s not exactly a high scoring affair, so a few tokens could probably have sufficed, but for those of you with an iOS device handy there is actually an official Maximum Throwdown Scoring App on the store that’ll set you back… well, nothing. It keeps track of all points totals and even tells you who is currently leading – perfect when you’re trying to work out who to target.
Maximum Throwdown is far from complex but is certainly a very enjoyable experience, and one that is improved with more people getting involved. Managing to score yourself a couple of points while ruining things for the other competitors is really rather satisfying, and with a good group who don’t take things too seriously, I could see this one coming out again and again.
Maximum Throwdown was designed by Jason Tagmire and released through AEG in 2013. Between two and six players can get involved in the fray, with games taking thirty minutes at the very most. Pick up a copy yourself for £14 from the team at Gameslore!