The Hungry Gamer Previews Punching Babies
Before I get started. Full disclosure: I was provided a copy of the game in exchange for an honest review. This is NOT a paid review.
If you would prefer to watch a video review of this game check it out right here!
When I first stumbled across the name of this game, as something that I could potentially review, I have to say that even I, in my most jaded moment, was hesitant to play a game about punching babies. Now I cannot begin to express how happy I was to learn that, in this case “punching” was a verbal and not a verb! (Yes I am pushing my glasses up my nose after that grammar moment)
Now that we have established the deep grammar concepts behind this game, let’s break it down a bit. Punching Babies is a light, quick one-on-one, take that card game. It plays in anywhere from 2 to ten minutes (based on my experience). Each player is a baby boxer, battling it out for bears, bottles, and binkys. (Ok I made that last bit up to continue my grammarian dork moment.)
The way is works is each player has a hand of cards, and they take turns playing their cards to attack. There are a couple different types of attack, a couple different types of defense and a few special cards that can only be played in certain instances, and have varying effects. The first player to take 10 damage is out, and if both baby battlers run out of cards the round ends, and whoever has the most damage is the loser. For those of you familiar with Red Dragon Inn (and you should be if you aren’t), it is a significantly simpler version of that. No booze, no gambling, just the face bashing.
This is a super fast game. It is not particularly complicated, and it really can be played in 2 minutes, if things go poorly for a player. It is also a bizarre, wacky game, in the same vein as exploding kittens, or Bears vs Babies, (note it does not play like them at all, but thematically it is in that world), which is fun. The other thing that I like is the art on the back of the cards. Yes it is all the same image, but I think that really gives me an idea of what the art could be in this game.
I also like some of the cards flavor text. There are cards like “diaper slam”, and “temper tantrum”, and my favorite, “hugs” (which is just an adorable way of saying the boxers go into a clench).
Finally, the rulebook is concise, and does a solid job explaining how to play, as well as explaining, in depth some of the more complicated cards. The version I had is, just a folded piece of paper (preview copy) so I cannot speak to how nice that will look at the end of the day.
I mention above that I like some of the cards flavor, well others are just fine. These are cards like “jab”, and “one-two”, etc. If this was a normal boxing game those seem perfect, but since this is a bizarre baby, brawling, battle bonanza I would prefer things that take us deeper down that rabbit hole or diaper hole.
EDIT: Since this was written the designer has let me know that the more generic names will be changed to more thematic names, and art will be improved as well!
I also find that I would like to know a little bit more of the story to really make the theme pop. Why are these babies fighting? How are they able to fight? Is this just sport? Or is this like an Ender’s Game scenario, where the babies have no idea that the outcome of their match determines a much greater outcome? I want to know!
I think there is a big missed opportunity on the card art. Currently, they are all shadow figures. If the art was similar to the art on the back of the cards, it would be awesome, but sadly it is not. Now that said, this can EASILY become a strength of the game if, in the production copy (I played a preview) that art is changed.
The other miss, is that there is no way to track damage in the box. The first time we played we had to stop and figure out what we were going to do to track the damage. As it turned out we used discarded cards face down to represent how many points of damage we had taken.
Bringing it all together
Punching Babies is an wacky little game. It plays quickly and simply, and the art has the potential to be a true delight. This is a true filler game, to be played when you have a few minutes, or when you are waiting for another game to end at a game day. Or, if you really want to be clever, you can use it in place of playing paper, rock, scissors to see who gets to decide what kind of pizza to order, or what game to play next! You can check them out on Kickstarter on June 3, or get on the mailing list at DanSterlingGames.com.
No one wants to win by points…get in there!
*Easy to learn, easy to play
*Potential for awesome art in the final version
*Some parts of the game nail the theme others are a miss in the preview version
*Solid filler game, and an AWESOME substitute for seeing who gets to make the choice of the next game, or dinner or whatever! Take that Paper, Rock, Scissors
*Very portable, tiny table footprint