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Squirmish

Published by Gamewright, Squirmish is silly, goofy, and fast-paced. It features a colorful cast of characters, fast turns, and vicious battles.

Each turn attack an opponent, roll a die, and resolve the effects. Move one of your creatures around in the battlefield, and then draw a card to end your turn.

Gameplay

The deck of creature cards is shuffled and each player is dealt six cards. Everyone simultaneously chooses one and reveals it. Then, starting with the player who chose the creature with the lowest hit points, players take turns playing them to the center of the table: this will be the ‘squirmish’ area. When adding a card to the squirmish area, you must always place it so that it is adjacent to at least one other card. Also, you place it so that it is facing towards you, which allows you to track which cards are under your control.

On your turn you start by selecting one of your cards on the table and then announcing which card it is going to attack. A card can only attack another card that is adjacent to it. You then roll a die and consult the card that is attacking to see how much damage it did based on the number you rolled. You can target your own cards as well, and some creatures can heal rather than cause damage. Additionally, the first time you attack with a card, if you read aloud the battle cry written on the card (preferably with a silly voice or dramatic inflection), you add one to its damage or healing for this attack only.

If a card has a number of damage tokens on it equal to or greater than its hit points, it is knocked out and the player who knocked it out takes the card and places it in his victory pile. However, if you knock out your own creature, it is simply discarded.

Each card also has a special ability. Some of these resolve when attacking or when being attacked. Some are also based on which other creatures are on the table.

Next, you may place a card from your hand into the squirmish area, or you may discard one of your undamaged cards already in the squirmish and replace it with a new one from your hand. You may only have five cards on the table at a time. If you did not play a card you may instead choose to move one of your cards by swapping its position with a card it is adjacent to.

Finally you may choose to draw a card from the deck. If you then have more than five cards you must discard one of them. It is now the next player’s turn.

The first player with three cards in their victory pile wins the game.

Squirmish Components

Review

Squirmish is a quirky little card battling game, that isn’t asking to be taken too seriously. It is a goofy and humorous game, but it still offers some strategy and player choice.

The layout of the cards is quite a clever mechanism. Choosing where to place cards, adjacency determining who and what you can attack, deciding when to move a card — all of these elements combine to introduce layers into an otherwise fairly straightforward game.

There is a huge range of abilities on all the cards. It’s enjoyable to see how these play out and figure out the ideal situations in which to use them and when to bring them out onto the table, but this does mean a lot of reading as you learn the game and more cards come out and you check the abilities. The cards are all easy to read, however, and the information on them is presented clearly.

Squirmish has a really original aesthetic. The game’s designer, Steven Stwalley, is also its illustrator. He clearly had a unique vision for the game and brought it to life well. The illustrations are whimsical, and the card names and their battle cries fun to read, while the damage counters are googly eyes, which is a fun touch. It would be nice, however, if there were tokens to track when a card hasn’t attacked yet and is still eligible for its battle cry to be used.

There is no denying that there is a lot of luck in Squirmish. You roll the die and you just have to see what happens. There is a press-your-luck element in that you’re choosing which creature to attack with, sometimes deciding whether to attack with a creature that’s sure to hit but for less damage, or to use a card that has the potential of missing but also the potential for hitting harder.

Squirmish works well across all its player counts. The turns are also quite fast, so there is little downtime. If you enjoy the game’s humor, and don’t mind a little luck, it’s a delightful little skirmish game, that also works well for families.

Prso: Card adjacency mechanics for combat, humor and components

Cons: Lots of luck, lots of card abilities to read

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