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 the V2 update adds new rules and updates. 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. Rumbleslam features five different casinos, and each wrestler belongs to one of them. Players can choose from any wrestlers, mixing casinos if they like, but a once per game bonus is given if the team all comes 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 whose Dex stat they used. 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 two of their fighters before you are able to activate a fighter, other than the fighter whose Dex stat you chose to roll (e.g. Their first fighter, then the fighter whose Dex stat you chose, their next fighter and then a fighter of your choosing).
So do you pick your fighter with the highest stat in the hope of winning the roll? 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 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 into 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 straightforward. 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 four or more, you can trigger additional damage or effects, but if you lose by four or more your opponent can put a reversal on you. Reversals usually end your character's activation and can also trigger additional effects like damage and shoving.
The crowd also plays a part in the game. They can stop dirty moves or 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 wrestler's activation immediately ends.
All the characters come with a character stat card, which 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. The simple, easy-to-learn rules combined with detailed options and tactics for individual characters and units really make Rumbleslam 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.
Everything two players need to play is included in the Rumbleslam Two-Player Starter Box and it’s all of 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 V2 rulebook, and acrylic tokens. The tokens are a nice touch, as most companies provide cardstock tokens that 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.
The two Rumbleslam V2 Starter Set teams, the Heavy Pounders and Green Bruisers are similar in terms of the weight of the fighters. The Heavy Pounders have two halflings, two humans, and an ogre, whereas the Green Bruisers have two goblins, two orcs, and a troll. But each fighter is very much an individual, with their own stat card and abilities. The Green Bruisers tend to roll more copper dice and the Heavy Pounders roll fewer dice but have better access to silver and gold dice.
The Green Bruiser Orcs can throw each other and the goblins, and the troll has access to regeneration. The Heavy Pounders have more traditional moves, like clotheslines, sleeper holds, and leg locks. Both offer a unique style of play and are well-matched against each other.
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 deeper than that. Operating your small band against your opponents is very tactical, especially given the limited ring space.
The V2 version of the rules now includes rules for tripping and pinning, along with adding in rules for tag teams, and the addition of some new basic attacks and some tweaking of the dirty rules.
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 board games and wargaming, or if you're looking for a straightforward game with lots of tactical depth, then this is 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. 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 tactical 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.