Game, Written Reviews

Two Player Highlight: Exceed

February seemed like a good time to do a string of posts highlighting different two player games! Being stuck inside during a pandemic has expanded the search for games that have less players. And, since this month is supposed to be romantic, what better way to celebrate than pitting yourself in an intense battle against your significant other?

The first game in this short series will be Exceed! This game has many variations of possible fighters to bring to the arena but for this post, I’m going to focus on the Shovel Knight branch of the game. But even with only this branch, there are so many options with 11 different deck choices (we will explore all the deck options later).

The goal of this game is to bring your opponent down to zero health. At the start of the game, you place out your characters cards on the battle row (that’s what I like calling it, pretty sure it’s actually called the arena). The spaces between the characters show the range between the two opposing sides. Below is the battle matt we use when playing, each of the boxes also came with a card version of the battle row.

During your turn, there are several possible actions: Prepare, Move, Boost, Change Cards, Reshuffle, Exceed and Strike. What I find extremely interesting about this game is that the cards are used to battle but (for the most part) each card also counts as 1 “Force”. To Move, Boost and Change Cards – you have to spend force. Which makes the game not only about besting your opponent during the strike phase, but also dealing with resource management of your own hand as well! The game isn’t too cruel though, and a card will be drawn at the end of every turn.

The top of the card is used for the Strike action. Some cards will have effects that trigger before and after the attack. The bottom of the card is used for the boost action. The cost to the left of the bottom action is the force cost.

The most important part of this game is using the strike action. Whenever someone declares a strike attack, both players put a face down card into the play area. They are then revealed simultaneously (See left for a standard card). Each card has a range, power, speed, armor, and guard.

Range is important, because if the player is not in range on the battle row you won’t be able to hit them. The power is the amount of damage that the attack does. The speed is extremely important, the higher speed acts first and cancels the opponents attack if successful. Armor absorbs that much damage done by the opponent. Guard will be the check if the attack passes through. If the opponent doesn’t have more power than your guard, then the attack is not successful.

Simple enough right? I absolutely love this game as it brings so many new aspects to a two player deck duel. Not only are you balancing attacks against your opponent, but you have to be mindful of your position on the board and using resources in your hand. And then, as the game names suggests, you have the options to exceed. Each character has their own special ability which can be enhanced by exceeding. As a long time player of Magic the Gathering, this game has a lot of similarities but is like a breath of fresh air.

The basics of the game are pretty straight forward so the fun comes in with the different character decks! Each deck is asymmetric in multiple ways. First, the characters all have special powers but that also have unique cards to their deck. They have 5 normal attacks and 2 major attacks. I wanted to explore each deck below with their strengths (and some weaknesses). Spoiler alert: The Enchantress is my favorite.

Shovel and Shield Knight

  • Defense: Medium
  • Range: Medium
  • Tech: Medium
  • Power: Low
  • Speed: Low

Shovel and Shield knight are unique because they are the only set to have a pair of characters working together. This deck is all about balance and coordination between the two characters.

Propeller Knight

  • Defense: N/A
  • Range: Medium
  • Tech: High
  • Power: Low
  • Speed: Medium

Propeller knight is all about speed and manipulating the board to your advantage! This character is extremely mobile and able to move and attack with advantage against opponents.

Tinker Knight

  • Defense: High
  • Range: Low
  • Tech: Low
  • Power: High
  • Speed: N/A

Slow and steady wins the race. Tinker knight is about powerful up close attacks. And it’s not to hard to be up close when your exceeded for takes up three spots on the battle row!

Mole Knight

  • Defense: N/A
  • Range: High
  • Tech: Medium
  • Power: Medium
  • Speed: Low

Why does this mole keep popping up? Mole knight has the ability to tunnel across the arena and attack from multiple angles. Mole knight has some strong attacks but still doesn’t want to get too close because defense is not their thing!

Shovel Knight

This Shovel Knight deck is a part of the original Exceed group of characters. Shovel knight is a balanced character with a better ability to manage your hand and card resources. And who can say no to the Troupple King?

“Who has awakened me?! Mortal! Dost though need aid?

– Troupple King

Spector Knight

  • Defense: Medium
  • Range: Low
  • Tech: Medium
  • Power: Low
  • Speed: High

Spector knight has a main focus on speed, because it’s better to get a hit in before letting yourself get hit! And while his range may be low, he has a great ability to move quickly toward the opponent!

The Enchantress

  • Defense: N/A
  • Range: High
  • Tech: Low
  • Power: High
  • Speed: Low

The Enchantress is my absolute favorite. While she has low defense, it doesn’t matter if you’re never in range to get hit. The Empress is all about doing powerful attacks from a distance and bombarding the enemy before they get a chance to get close.

King Knight

  • Defense: Medium
  • Range: Low
  • Tech: Medium
  • Power: Medium
  • Speed: Low

A King never acts alone. King knight empowers himself with the help of the royal decrees that can get put into play. The decrees can help make King knight unstoppable and truly take command of his empire.

Plague Knight

  • Defense: N/A
  • Range: Low
  • Tech: High
  • Power: Low
  • Speed: Low

Plague Knight loves his toys. And why not throw a bomb? One of the features of Plague knight is the ability to gain a plethora of cards and increase the advantages of boosts as well as modify attacks. But it’s easy to go over board and run out of your deck!

Treasure Knight

  • Defense: High
  • Range: Low
  • Tech: Low
  • Power: Medium
  • Speed: Low

Treasure knight is a high defense character with the ability to engage the opponent at a multitude of ranges. While Treasure knight may not move much, that doesn’t mean he can’t pull his opponent toward him so they can get a true taste of his power.

Polar Knight

  • Defense: Low
  • Range: Medium
  • Tech: Medium
  • Power: Medium
  • Speed: Low

Polar knight is all about using the environment to his advantage. He is able to put does Ice Spikes throughout the arena in order to gain move power whenever the opponents is standing on them.

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