Saggy and MJ create an at-home Royal Rumble

Have you found yourself in a little rut, and are looking to upgrade your games night? I’m bringing you a new idea, that is the Royal Rumble Tournament.

Picking the game

Everyone has a favourite game, for me mine is the Unmatched series of games. I love them because they are beautiful with excellent components, the game plays quickly in 15 mins or so and it is asymmetrical. Each character has a unique deck of cards to play with and its own special ability too, meaning each character feels different to play even though the basics of the game remain the same. But what we wanted to try was a full tournament style game.

Have you ever heard of a royal rumble? I hadn’t as I am very much not into wrestling but MJ explained his idea to me. He wanted a team set up where each time your hero gets killed, your next character enters the ring. His initial plan was to split our character collection down the middle and have 11 each. I vetoed this as madness. I love Unmatched as a short game, I don’t want to extend that over 3 or 4 hours. So we settled on a team of three each. Three characters mashing up against one another but only one final winner.

How to pick a crack team?

Unmatched characters all play very differently, and some of them fit better with my play style than others. It is also true that there are some characters that you will feel are a “better match” against others. For example, if your opponent is choosing only ranged characters, then you will want to make sure that you can hit hard and move quickly around the board to give yourself the best chance.

We completed a snake draft, so MJ picked one, then I picked two, MJ picked two and then I picked my final one. For me, I think there are advantages to going second, you get to see what your opponent is thinking and picking a character you feel will be strong against them. However, you do run the risk of your favourite pick being snatched up by your opponent. Our only rule was that you couldn’t pick two characters from the same set.

MJ went for his favourite character Little Red from the Little Red and Beowulf set. Little Red and her sidekick The Huntsman dominate the map with the Huntsman having a lot of health and being ranged. Little Red herself starts off with not too high health but a lot of her cards allow her to recover health, up to 4 at a time which is a HUGE move that can turn the tides. She is a force to be reckoned with when the combos are working well. I am awful at playing this character, so I did not want it myself, but him picking his best performing character (which he has never lost with) was a power opening move.

I needed to step my game up. So I decided to pick an old faithful first and took Sinbad. Sinbad moves around the board quicker and quicker as he attacks with more power the more voyage cards he has played. Sinbad is from the first Battle of Legends vol 1 set, and is one of my favourites to play. I think regardless of whoever MJ picks as his crack team, Sinbad and his sidekick The Porter can take a few hard hits and land a few punches too as well as giving a more static character the run around.

It’s my turn to pick again, and I want a blockade of power. What better than Luke Cage from the recent Marvel Redemption Row set. This guy has an innate 2 defense value so his low starting health is less of a worry. He takes big hits well and he hits hard too. My favourite card of his has the ability to fire back all the combat damage you took back at your opponent. Whatever MJ picks, I reckon it works to have a man of literal steel in your team.

MJ is up to pick his next two, and to be expected he takes one of our joint favourite characters which is Jekyll and Hyde from the Cobble and Fog set. This guy has no side kicks and you must manage carefully choosing between being Dr Jekyll or Mr Hyde based on the cards available in your hand. Forever Hyde card allows you to discard Dr Jekyll cards and boost the attack by two for each.

For his final pick, he succumbed to the cult of the new and chose the character most recently played by him (and won with) and picked Bullseye from Marvel Hell’s Kitchen. Bullseye commands the map as he can always attack from 5 spaces away. You cannot run nor hide from Bullseye and his guns.

A formidable team for me to go up against so I need to pick a final powerhouse. For me, there is no one else I’d rather end my rumble with than Achilles from Battle of Legends vol 2. Achilles has a mountain of health, and when Patroclus dies, the power of his attacks is increased by 2 as well as being able to draw cards after each combat win. Patroclus dying does mean your deck is less useful and leaves you open to running out of cards, but your rage hits more than make up for that.

How did the teams match up?

Normally there is no match report available in a blog article, but in this case, there has been the build up it would be unjust to just leave you hanging. So first up Bullseye went toe to toe with Sinbad. Bullseye was hitting hard and fast, there was nowhere to hide. Sinbad couldn’t get enough of his voyage cards out to move and hit hard enough so unfortunately he died quite quickly leaving Bullseye with 9 health still.

Luckily Luke Cage was waiting in the wings to smash Bullseye into oblivion. After the quick dispatching, Jekyll and Hyde came onto the map spawning straight into the middle of the action. Between Misty Knight and Luke Cage, there was no escape for Jekyll and with the additional 2 defence that Luke Cage has, Jekyll was finding it tough to hit very hard. Luke played a master stroke by feinting the first Forever Hyde card, much to MJ’s utter dismay. Unfortunately for me though, he had another one in hand, and five Jekyll cards to discard making the total attack 13. Even with steel skin, Luke simply could not survive that. However, the defence card played reflected back all the damage done back to the attacker, resulting in Jekyll having taken himself out with the attack too.

So all was square for the final two characters entering the ring. Achilles squaring up to Little Red. With MJ having more than 5 wins as Little Red under his belt and me having only played as Achilles a handful of times with a mixture of success. It was an uphill battle mentally but I was up for the challenge. I was not going down without a fight tonight! There was pride on the line. Patroclus needed to stay alive long enough to bash a few times, and then quietly die off and leave full strength Achilles to smash Little Red into oblivion. I was strategically ready, just needed to execute. The plan did not go well, Patroclus was taken out by a sneak attack by Little Red early doors which rendered the next few cards I drew powerless as they were Patroclus specific. I needed to run away and regroup. I came out fighting and smashed Little Red hard bringing her to her knees at 3 health in two turns. After healing twice back up to almost full health, the game was leveled again, and so I had to keep bashing hard. There was no option to run away and in the end, running Little Red’s deck down by attacking with relentless assault double volley cards helped to eventually kill Little Red off. Thankfully with the tough defence required, MJ couldn’t make the basket work as well for him as usual which I think is what gave me the win overall.

It was a long game of Unmatched but it was absolute stonking fun. I am thinking more about different games that you can do something similar with. I’m thinking Dice Throne is an option that would work brilliantly with this type of challenge. It is like the best of three but all rolled into one. Hopefully this feature has inspired you to look at your collection in a different way altogether. Maybe there is a Royal Rumble waiting to happen on your table.