Kabuto Sumo

Kabuto Sumo

Boardgametables |  BGG

Designers: Tony Miller
Artist: Kwanchai Moriya
Publisher: Boardgametables
2-4 players 15 min ages 6+ MSRP $44
Time to Teach/Learn: 3 minutes

Written by: Stephen Conway

If you listen closely you can hear it… KLONK! The mighty Kabutomushi, the magnificent Rhinoceros beetles are knocking heads, sumo wrestling. Their epic duels in the World Insect Wrestling Championship are the stuff of legend! Now, you and a swarm of challengers are here to contend for titles and your place in history. Position is everything. It will take balance, steady hands (and maybe a little luck) to push and pivot your opponents from the ring!

Kabuto Sumo is a beautiful game. First, artist Kwanchai Moriya creates an enticing colorful world full of flamboyant insect heroes worthy of any professional wrestling circuit.

The play surface, the wrestling ring, is a raised cardboard platform in the shape of a tree stump. A separate cardboard pushing platform butts up against the stump, allowing each player to introduce new pieces to the ring.

Chunky smooth wooden discs in three sizes and three colors will populate the board. Each player will begin with a few discs in their personal supply.

Each player has a wooden insect wrestler token and a special move token in a shape that reflects the insect’s species. Each wrestler also comes with a reference card outlining their abilities. For younger or new players, Junior league cards outline rules for a simpler and slightly faster game.

To play, discs and wrestlers will be arranged in a pattern on the stump according to the number of players. Choose your wrestler, gather your discs, and get ready to rumble!

The goal is simple: push your opponent’s wrestlers from the ring OR run your opponents out of pieces to play.

Kabuto Sumo draws great inspiration from old school coin push arcade games.

On your turn, you will select one of the discs in your personal supply and place it on the pushing platform. You may place the platform anywhere around the wrestling ring. Then, using one hand, push the disc from the back of the piece until it is completely in the ring. You can push your disc at any angle as long as you push in a straight line. If discs fall out of the ring as you push, you collect them into your personal supply. Then your opponents take their turns, selecting and pushing discs until someone’s wrestler falls or runs out of pieces to play.

NOTE: While your goal is to push the opponent from the ring, you constantly need to replenish your supply of discs by knocking some from the ring. Lose sight of this and you could find yourself scrambling just to stay in the game!

Kabuto Sumo is a great example of inclusion in game design. Signature moves add depth and strategy. The Junior League makes the game approachable to anyone.

Each wrestler has a set of superpowers. Some are triggered when their signature piece is pushed. The Stag Beetle’s mandibles can capture opponent’s discs. Others are triggered when certain conditions are met. If the Blister Beetle’s wrestler is touching another wrestler at the end of your turn, that opponent must give you a piece. Ouch!

But these powers come with a catch. They must be earned during the game! You’ll be forced to discard discs, stack some on the board, or even give discs to your opponents in order to use your powers. Suddenly the game operates on an entirely different level. Planning how and when to trigger your powers will likely be the key to victory!

At the other end of the spectrum, the Junior League option provides a quick and easy way for anyone to join the fun. Each wrestler starts with their signature piece and other discs. No special powers, just push and push and let the wrestlers fall where they may. The concept is so simple. There should be no barriers to entry in a game like this. No matter your interest or experience level, there’s a version of Kabuto Sumo to fit the way you want to play.

Kabuto Sumo teaches its players to savor and play with balance. Mind and body are all called to action. Planning and pushing pieces to making them fall is a primal kind of Major Fun, even when your plan goes sideways.

August 2022

Written by: Stephen Conway

About Stephen Conway

Currently serving as Major Fun. I'm also a writer, filmmaker, game designer, podcaster, and host of The Spiel (http://www.thespiel.net)

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