The crowd goes wild as Hulk Hogan balances on the top of the turnbuckle. He puts a hand to his ear as the audience begins to chant. Below him, nearly unconscious in the ring, lies Jake "The Snake" Roberts. Hogan pauses for a moment, soaks in the adulation of the crowd, and leaps into the air only to come crashing down with a powerful slam on Roberts. He tosses Roberts over the top ring and basks in the cheers of the crowd. But suddenly the music shifts and another wrestler enters the ring. It's Stone Cold Steve Austin! And who's that behind him? It's Dusty Rhodes, Goldberg, Eddie Guerrero, and Honky Tonk Man! This is going to be a Royal Rumble for the ages. Kicks, chops, drops, and signature moves all explode in the ring, as the Ref does everything he can to keep it a clean, fair fight. This is what it's like to play the WWE Legends Royal Rumble Card Game, a new game for 2-10 players, published by Ravensburger.
In WWE Legends Royal Rumble Card Game, each player will take on the role of several different WWE wrestling legends throughout the course of the game. The goal is to be the last legend standing at the end of the game by eliminating your opponents as they continually fly into the ring. To do so, you'll play cards from your hand with different attributes like "speed," "damage," and other special abilities. Each player plays their attack cards at the same time, and they're resolved in order of speed. Some attacks, like a classic chop or a standing kick, are fairly quick, while others, like a Power Leg Drop, take longer to pull off. Each WWE legend has their own special move they can pull off, as well as a different amount of health, and if that legend is ever reduced to zero health or "thrown over the top rope" (an ability some special cards let you do automatically), they're eliminated from the game.
What makes this game interesting is that it really captures that feeling of a Royal Rumble, where fighter after fighter enters the ring to try and earn the title belt. When your character is eliminated, you simply draw another WWE legend from a set-aside pile. When that pile runs out, the last player standing is crowned the champ. And even if a player's had their last WWE legend eliminated while other players still fight on, they can still throw attacks at their competitors, which are all considered "Cheap Tricks." And while this kind of mechanic can lead to kingmaker scenarios (where a bunch of players team-up to make it easier for one player to win the game), that risk is far outweighed by how fun it is to stay in the action and keep causing chaos.
This is a game of checks and balances. For each card you play, there’s a way it could be blocked, mitigated, reversed, or canceled. And while that can lead to a bit of a “rock, paper, scissors” feel, it does open up moments of high-flying action that ring true to the source material. For instance, if I boost my attack with a “Cheap Trick” card, my opponent can instantly play a special card called “Ref,” which cancels the illegal move. But, if I or another player plays the “Distract the Ref” card, then the Referee card is canceled instead. These layers of counters could feel overwhelming, but they make sense narratively. I hit you with a chair, which the Referee could see, but something on the other side of the ring distracts him, and my chair slam goes unnoticed. Clean and simple!
With 30 WWE Legends spanning multiple decades, this game will absolutely hit the nostalgia trigger for longtime fans of WWE. And the graphic design on each card really showcases our heroes in fantastic detail. I love the fact that all images used in the game are photos from the history of WWE. It all works nicely together to make this feel like a labor of love, and it's clear that a lot of thought was put into the art and graphic design.
The Bottom Line
I'll admit when I first took on this assignment to review I wasn't sure I would be the right person for it. I'm not a huge fan of wrestling and haven't watched since I was about eight years old. Did I have enough of the cultural context needed to review this game? It turns out, this game is all about wrestling and wrestlers from yesteryear! So when I opened up the box and saw heroes from my childhood like Razor Ramon and The Undertaker staring up at me, I was immediately transported back to those early Sunday mornings watching Action Zone highlights.
Earlier in this review, I mentioned chaos, and I think that's the right word to use for this game. Because of the win condition, being the last fighter standing after all the cards have been used up, it can feel a little bit random. But that captures the nature of WWE wrestling at its best: it's exciting because it's unpredictable. If you're a WWE fan and want to relive the legends of your youth and drop a DDT on your friends and family, this is absolutely the game for you.
Get This Game If
- You're a Professional Wrestling (especially WWE) fanatic
- You're a fan of quick and simultaneous action games
- You've always wanted to see Kurt Angle square off against the Honky Tonk Man
Avoid This Game If
- You're not a big fan of wrestling
- You're a diehard Doink The Clown fan (much to my chagrin, he's nowhere to be seen in this box. maybe someday he'll sneak into an expansion)
The copy of WWE Legends Royal Rumble Card Game used in this review was provided by Ravensburger.