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O.P. Arena

Raging T-Rexes, insidious cats, and steam giants! Creatures of all sorts duke it out in this card game of fast-paced, intense combat.

Published by WizKids, O.P. Arena is a chaotic fighting card game featuring a slew of special abilities and surprise attacks.

Gameplay

Each player takes one die and all damage tokens in their player color. The dude cards are all shuffled and three are dealt to each player, while the remaining are set in the center of the table to form the draw pile.

Every dude card in the deck is unique (the rulebook clarifies that it uses the term 'dude' for humor: there are female characters in the game as well). Each one shows some sort of creature, monster, or character. Each one also has unique abilities. Different abilities can trigger at different times.

Players take turns, with each turn having six phases. On your turn you may choose to discard any one of your dudes that you have in front of you, with each player earning one point for each damage token they have on the card. During phase two, every player who has fewer than two dudes in play may lay down another one (some cards will have abilities that trigger when they are played). Next you may play a token. There are two token types: nerph and shield. Nerph tokens disable a dude’s special ability, while a shield protects an ability from being disabled (you can force played shields to be discarded with a nerph token).

During the next phase of your turn you roll your die. Each player starts the game with three reroll tokens, which they can spend in order to reroll their own die. Some cards have abilities that activate when a player (regardless of whose turn it is) rolls a specific number. You then choose what ability on which of your dudes to place your die on. The value of the die must equal or exceed the number shown on an ability in order to place it there.

Each dude has a base attack. The number shown on it is both the number the die must equal or exceed in order to use the attack and also the amount of damage it inflicts. Some dudes have a skill power which, if you place your die on it, allows you to take nerph and shield tokens from the supply equal to the number shown on the skill power. Special abilities show both the number you need to meet or exceed in order to activate it and also describes what the ability does (usually a bunch of damage, however sometimes it will outright kill a dude). When you deal damage you place damage tokens of your color on the card you are damaging. Most cards have seven points of health.

When a card is defeated, the player with the most damage tokens on it earns two points, the player with the second most damage tokens on it earns one point, and the player who dealt the killing blow earns three points.

If you roll your die and cannot activate any ability (or choose not to) you may instead take a nerph or shield token. If you roll a one and cannot activate an ability, you may take two.

Finally, on the last phase of your turn you may discard up to two cards from your hand, and draw until you have three cards in hand. Your turn is now over, and it is the next player’s turn.

The first player to reach thirty points wins the game.

O.P. Arena Components

Review

O.P. Arena is a lot of fun. There’s plenty of randomness in the game — from what you roll to what cards you draw, with their diverse abilities — but it works. It’s fun to bring new dudes and their abilities out onto the table, and to see how they play out. The speed of the turns and the game itself helps to ensure this works. It is chaotic fun, but still satisfying when you manage to win.

The sheer variety between all the cards is impressive, from monsters and animals to fantasy archetypes and some purely ludicrous characters. Each one is unique in the deck with unique abilities. It’s so much fun to discover each one. You can easily imagine the more powerful abilities sticking in your memory the more you play, and cheering or groaning as favorite characters come out onto the table.

We liked the rule of not reading your opponents' cards. Often in games with a lot of text, reading all the cards slows down the gameplay when you’re learning the game and familiarizing yourself with everything. However, since the game is as much about the humor and the chaos as anything else, it was rather enjoyable trying to figure out where to place your nerph tokens based on the name of the abilities alone (or in retaliation after you’d already been hit with one). But it’s also a rule you can easily play without if your group doesn’t like it.

Scoring is fun in the game as well, giving players incentive to deal damage even where they can’t give the final blow. The fact that you can even attack your own dudes can also lead to some interesting moments, where you can deal that killing blow for the three points if they’re already perilously close to death.

Some of the humor in the game is targeted towards an older audience, with elements younger players won’t understand, and one or two cards are a little off-color. It’s not extreme, but combined with the gameplay it is a game that’s probably a better fit for adult groups or families with older children.

The artwork of the game is really well done, and the components are nice. We liked the oversized cards especially, although we would have liked if the dice had been a little fancier and player aids for turn order would really help to keep the game moving briskly as you learn.

O.P. Arena’s randomness won’t be for everyone, but we found it to be a silly good time, which is exactly what the game is setting out to be. It’s clearly not trying hard to be completely balanced, but it feels a lot fairer than you might expect and none of the characters felt like they completely dominated the game. If you’re in the mood for an epic battle between absurdly overblown characters, check it out.

Pros: Range of characters and abilities, artwork, speed of gameplay

Cons: Player aid cards would help with learning, some of the humor is targeted towards older audiences

Disclosure: we received a complimentary review copy of this game.