The Champion of the Wild is a new social card game hitting Kickstarter tomorrow with a £4,700 goal and a £19 pledge to get the game. The game puts players in the roles of animal trainers in an Olympic-style competition, choosing an animal from their pen to compete in 3 different events. It’s a very loose, rules-light game that focuses more on imagination and debate more than anything else.
Handling 3-6 players and playing in as little as 10 minutes, The Champion of the Wild starts with each player getting 7 animals in their hand from the deck, a Ready to Vote card, and 15 tokens of their color (5 tokens ranked 1st-5th for each Event number.) 3 players, chosen at random, then choose an event category, picking 3 cards from that deck and selecting 1 event to place in the middle of the table. Each player then places 1 of their animals down to compete in the 3 events.
Players then debate amongst themselves, arguing why their animal would win each event. Votes are cast in secret by placing Event tokens in front of players face down, ranking them by what place they should come in. This is done for each event, then the tokens are flipped face up and total added. The player with the highest score wins. See the above How-to video for a more in-depth explanation of play.
For those who love social-style games, The Champion of the Wild should really hit a lot of the right buttons. Along with creating an imaginative narrative of how an animal would win an event, there are some solid stats for each animal that can be incorporated. Not only that, but the game encourages players to look up information and/or videos of the animals to further help their case during a round.
While I’m certain there are people out there who’ll really dig it, the game just wasn’t for me. There are times when I enjoy a game that fosters a good narrative and rewards imagination, there was something about The Champion of the Wild that feels too loose.
There’s also no real way to stop players from always giving their 1st player token to themselves, a situation that seemed to happen a bit too often in my games. UPDATE, 9/18/17 10:00am: Tom has clarified that players exclude their own animals when voting. This will be made more clear in the revision of the rulebook.
The general idea of the game appeals to me and certain events, like jousting, really capture the mind. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t find a good groove when playing, and debates weren’t as insightful and full of fun and thought as I’d hoped. With the right group, The Champion of the Wild has the potential to really shine.
A prototype of The Champion of the Wild was provided free for preview by Tom Clare