Rumbleslam by TTCombat is a game of fantasy wrestling. Players put their teams of humans, orcs, dark elves, tree folks, undead and more into the ring to battle it out.
Rumbleslam was a successful Kickstarter in 2016 and has since been available in retail. This review will look at the Starter Box, but there are many other teams and individual fighters available to expand your game.
In Rumbleslam, players construct two teams within the cost allowance for the game. Players can choose from any fighters available, but a once per game bonus is given if the team all come from the same casino.
Games are played with players activating alternative fighters, and it has a really well designed initiative system. To decide who activates a fighter first, both players select a fighter. They roll off using that fighter’s Dexterity (DEX) characteristic and the winner activates first, but has to activate the fighter they chose. The other player also has to activate the fighter they chose first.
Activating first can be very powerful. In alternating action games having the opportunity to remove a threat before your opponent can act is strong. In Rumbleslam, picking the fighter with the best Dex stat might not be the optimum fighter to activate. That fighter might be out of position to have much effect on the round, or just might not be a powerful hitter. There’s also the risk you’ll lose the roll off, even with a high stat. Losing the roll means that your opponent gets to activate 2 fighters before you are able to activate a fighter, other than the fighter who’s Dex stat you chose to roll (e.g. Their first fighter, then the fighter who's Dex stat you chose, their next fighter and then a fighter of your choosing).
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So do you pick your fighter with the highest stat in the hope of winning? Or do you chose your best fighter, poised to deliver a game winning move against your opponent? Or do you chose a fighter who’s about to have the hurt put on them, in the hope of winning and being able to move them out of danger?
It’s such a simple mechanic, but it really feels like it takes the sting out of the first activation that some games can have. It is possible that your opponent’s fighter might be in a fantastic position to put the beat on you and has a high Dex. But before it got to that stage you made some choices in regards to positioning, so it’s not just about luck on a roll. You can also play in to it. Positioning so that you have good options, or denying your opponent options if they go first, but they’re usually obvious plays that can be avoided.
The combat mechanics in Rumbleslam are very straight-forward. Rolls are usually an opposed roll, your character's attack vs your opponent's defense. Characteristics are a number of colored dice, bronze, silver and gold. Each dice has a number of stars printed on their sides and the winner is the player to roll the most stars. The dice scale, so there are more stars on the gold dice than the silver, and more on the silver than the bronze.
If you’re attacking and you roll the most stars, you succeed, if your opponent rolls the most, your attack fails. If you win by 4 or more, you can trigger additional damage or effects, but if you lose by 4 or more your opponent can put a reversal on you. Reversals usually end your characters activation, and can also trigger additional effects like damage and shoving.
The crowd also plays a part in the game. If a player tries to use the same move more than twice in an activation the crowd dice is rolled. The crowd dice has Boos, Cheers and Blanks and if a Boo is rolled the wrestlers activation immediately ends.
All the characters come with a character stat card. The stat card has all the details of the dice they roll for Attack, Defense, Grapple and Dexterity. It also has details of any special attacks and abilities the character may have, including rope and turnbuckle attacks. Learning those, and the options for your fighters is the bulk of the rules for Rumbleslam and, to us, is the sign of a great game.
Simple, easy to learn rules combined with detailed options and tactics for individual characters and units really make a game stand out. It makes the game entry-level friendly because it’s easy to learn and teach, and gives a lot of options in regards to putting your force together. Rumbleslam offers both of those things.
In the Rumbleslam core set, you could be forgiven for initially thinking it’s not a premium product. In the last few years boxed products have been arriving with special packaging that allow for safe storing and transport of all the components with inner trays and specially molded inserts. Rumbleslam is much more of a wargame than a boxed product and it’s packaged as such. Rumbleslam comes in a TTCombat box with a slipcase cover. The miniatures are bubble-wrapped inside and everything is loosely secured either side of the rolled up mat. There's nothing wrong with this, but players coming from a board game background might be concerned by the difference from boxed products.
Everything you need to play is included and it’s all of a very high quality. The miniatures require only a little assembly. Most are a single piece that only need to be attached to the clear acrylic bases. Only a couple, like the Troll and an Orc Brawler need their hands attached as well. The resin is clear, sturdy and although they come with some excess fluff, the lines of the detail are so clear that the miniatures are extremely easy to clean up and glue. The detail across all of the miniatures really stands out.
Also included are all the stat cards for the fighters, some quick reference cards, a neoprene gaming mat ring, the full rulebook and acrylic tokens. The tokens are a nice touch, as most companies provide cardstock tokens which can be upgraded to acrylic for an extra cost, or let third-party companies produce them. To have them included out of the starter set is great.
The rulebook is available for free from the TTCombat site, but the printed one from the starter box also includes some background details on Rumbleslam as well as a full color gallery of painted fighters and teams.
Rumbleslam is a solid game. It’s entertaining and challenging and there’s a lot of play solely out of the starter-set. It looks like a parody game, and some of the wrestlers are clearly inspired by famous stars, but the game is a lot deper than that. It also looks like a wrestling version of Blood Bowl, but it’s really not. Rumbleslam is more like Bushido than Blood Bowl. All your characters are important and operating your small band against your opponents is just as tactical. Giving each character a unique stat card, makes them feel like an individual, rather than a faceless member of a unit.
The Bottom Line:
Rumbleslam is a very entertaining, tactical, easy to learn system and has a solid rules package. The starter set is well produced and the miniatures are very beginner hobbyist friendly. If you’re looking to bridge a gap between boardgames and wargaming, this could be for you. While it’s played on a mat, with squares for movement, it does include the hobby elements of constructing and painting miniatures, as well as the army building mechanics. It’s easy to learn and teach, but allows for some tactical flexibility while still being fun. You don’t have to be a wrestling fan to enjoy it, but wrestling fans will find a lot to love in the game.
Get this game if:
You love wrestling and have been looking for a great wrestling tabletop game.
You want a technical skirmish tabletop game.
You want a tight easy to learn ruleset with lots of options.
You want a great entry-level miniatures game.
Avoid this game if:
You don't want to assemble miniatures.
You want a free roam tabletop skirmish game.
This copy of the Rumbleslam Starter Box was provided by TTCombat.
Have you played Rumbleslam? Are you a wrestling fan? What do you think of it? Let us know in the comments below.
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