Before I begin, I was sent a prototype of this game, and will receive a production copy should it fund, in exchange for an honest review. This is not a paid preview. If you would rather watch a video of this review, check it out below. Pledge for your own copy here.
I have always loved the idea of Kingdom Death Monster. Boss fight to Boss fight, no minions to grind, strategic combat, fun weapons and gear. However, what always took me out of it, was the theme. It was just a bit more…I will say adult, than I enjoy. That and there are 47,000 miniatures that have to be put together…no thank you.
Then, Townsfolk Tussle came up, this too had only boss fights (though no campaign), fun gear, bizarre characters, and dark, yet cartoon-ish art. I was intrigued.
In Townsfolk Tussle you are an ordinary townsfolk, be you a chicken (literally), and anvil man (literally), or a granny with a gun. You are just living your life when a group of ruffians shows up and starts killing and destroying. Unfortunately, the sheriff has recently passed so it is up to you to take them on.
The game plays out over alternating town, and fight rounds. During the town phase you get to spend your hard earned cash to buy gear from the peddlar, and you will draw a variety of town events. These could be you discover hidden explosives that will be used when a certain condition is met during the fight, or it could be an event tied to a specific character. If the character is present then something happens, if they are not another result occurs, or it could be something along the lines of racing around the corpse pile. You know, a regular Tuesday.
Once the town phase is complete you face off against a boss. As you can expect these are just as bizarre. It might be a giant frog milkman, or the old senile sheriff, or a tourist with an overactive camera. Each boss has a unique set up for their fights. Each consecutive fight gets slightly harder as enemies earn new abilities, and the fourth fight is completely unique. Special rules are added, which grow the narrative, and completely alter the strategies you have to employ.
Combat is relatively simple, and managed with ten sided dice. You look at your characters stats, and combine those with the stats on your weapon, and you are off to the races. Beat down the boss, before he/she beats you down and Bob’s your uncle! It is also worth noting that most all the terrain can be interacted with in one way or another, often they have a fun little risk-reward for interacting with them.
So what do I think?
The artwork is awesome. There is something wonderfully delightful about the old fashioned cartoon art, that is so wonderfully twisted. Along with that, the game does seem to live up to the promise of the artwork. You really do feel like you are playing in a world where these monstrosities exist.
I also really enjoy the combat mechanics, and 4 boss fights in rapid, well moderately paced, succession. The wide variety of weapons, and gear, combined with the bizarre ways you are able to interact with the environs really make for an enjoyable experience.
While the world is horrfyingly fun, it is not all that fleshed out. You will not find yourself delving deep into the lore of this world, like you might in other games of the same ilk. That is because there is no campaign to this game, every time you open the box it is a new adventure and a new story.
This is also a game that does utilize stun mechanics, and ways to lose turns. This may not bother you at all, or it might be a big turn off, it does not bother me, but just be aware of it.
The biggest issue I have with the ruleset that I have played is that the all important gear can feel impossible to manage at times. You are completely dependent on the merchant’s supply, and if they do not have anything that is useful to your characters, or that you can afford then you can wind up stuck under geared. I believe that if you are playing with a full player count the stun mechanics can be a bit fun killing for some. I tend to play solo or multi handed so it does not effect me much.
Edit: The designers have been working on shifting the way items are purchased, to alleviate this issue.
Bringing it all together
Townsfolk Tussle strikes me as Kingdom Death Monster lite. You get the same feeling from the combat, and boss fights, and even a bit with the town phase as you do from KDM, but everything is less complex, and more streamlined. If you ever felt like KDM, was too long, too expensive and just all around too much then this might be what you are looking for. The game has delightfully bizarre, and dark art, which matches its theme perfectly. There is still a bit of balancing that needs to be fixed with the game, but once done then is a game that will have a place on my shelf for quite some time.
Talk faster! Ruffians are coming!
* The art is a mix of old timey cartoons meets KDM…it is great
* Game moves quickly from phase to phase, and fight to fight
* Really think the way they have implemented terrain is well done
* Combat is dice and gear based, this can make for a swingy experience, especially if you do not have the gear you want
* Though the world is well developed, since the game is a series of one shot games, you are not going to have any long term stories
* This is a game that utilizes some mechanics that can cause you to skip and lose turns…if that bothers you then be aware
* Kingdom Death has never made it to my shelf, but this one will