Level 99 Games’ EXCEED Fighting System, its successful card-based, arcade-like fighting game, is back for Season 2. This time the cards are from their Seventh Cross universe, a horrific world where The Church fights hideous monsters in an alternate 1920’s. There are 4 core boxes that make up this season’s set:
Box 1: Church vs. Empire
Box 2: Hunters vs. Demons
Box 3: Mages vs. Madness
Box 4: Guardians vs. Myths
Each box contains 4 preconstructed character decks that are ready to play straight out of the box and can be pit against each other or any Season 1 character.
EXCEED is a 2 player card game where each player has a 30-card deck comprised of both generic and character-specific cards. Each player also has a Character Card which is placed on a 9-card Play Area (a straight line of 9 cards) and 30 health. The goal of the game is to reduce your opponent down to 0 health while making sure you don’t expend too many cards. If at any point, a player runs through their deck, reshuffles, and runs through it again, they lose.
The 1st player in EXCEED starts with a hand of 5 cards, while the 2nd starts with 6. Every turn a player can take on of several actions:
- Move – Spend Force to move a space. Any amount of Force can be spent to up to that many spaces.
- Boost/Transformation – Play a Continuous or One-time Boost by paying its Force or play a Transformation by discarding an identical Transformation from their hand.
- EXCEED – Spend Gauge to flip their Character to its EXCEED boosted side.
- Reshuffle – Reshuffle their discard pile into their deck. This counts as the 1 reshuffle allowed in the game.
- Draw a Card – Draw a card.
- Change Cards – Spend Force to draw an equal amount cards from their deck.
- Strike – Attack the opposing player to do damage and earn Gauge.
Most of the above are self-explanatory. Some things to note are that any card can be discarded from a player’s hand to be used as 1 Force. Special Attacks can be discarded for either 1 or 2 Force. Cards used in a successful Strike are added to the player’s Gauge pile. There can be as many Continuous Boosts in play, but each player may only have 1 Transformation in play at a time.
When a Strike is chosen both players place a card, or cards, face down in front of them. There are 4 types of Strikes that can be played:
- Standard – A card played face down from a player’s hand.
- EX – Two identical cards are played face down to give a bunch of +1 bonuses to stats.
- Special – A player discards a number of Gauge cards to play a Special Attack face down.
- Wild Swing – A card is taken blindly from the top of a player’s deck and placed face down.
Once each player has chosen their cards they are revealed. The card with the highest speed resolves first. Range is calculated and the attack does the amount of damage listed minus the opponent’s Armor Value on their card. If damage dealt is more than the opponent’s Guard Value the opponent becomes stunned and cannot return attack. If they are not stunned they may then resolve their card. Some cards also have effects that take place before the attack, if the attack hits, or after the attack. If a Strike then the card played by the player goes to their Gauge pile, else it goes into the discard unless otherwise stated.
That’s EXCEED in a nutshell. For all the details check the full rules.
- Box 👍
- Rulebook – 👍 Clarity, 👎 Quality
- 4 Deck Boxes 👍
- 12 Foil Cards (3 per character) ⭐
- 4 Character Cards 👍
- 4 Character Reference Cards 👍
- 4 Rules Reference Cards 👍
- 108 Character Deck Cards (27 per character) 👍
- 9 Play Area Cards 👍
(👍 = Good, 👎 = Bad, ⭐ = Exceptional)
The EXCEED Fighting System really impressed me with both its fast, brutal gameplay and beautifully illustrated/laid out cards. The game combines several great mechanics that mesh extremely well with each other. First, and foremost, is that fact that every card has multiple uses, keeping decks small and tight-knit. The play area players have to traverse to get into range for attacks simulates a 2D fighting game extremely well as players advance, retreat, close in, and hop over their opponents for optimal strikes. Also, the Gauge mechanic used to power special moves and EXCEED transformations as players land successful strikes feels natural and gives a feeling of tension building up during the game.
All of the above, combined with a light ruleset and quick playtime combine to make a very exciting, brutal, and dynamic card game where the balance of power can shift at any moment. If there was any major downside to the game it would be the rulebook. The rules themselves are clear, easy to understand, and can be read quickly. The physical book, however, is a nightmare. Instead of providing an actual, bound booklet you get a large fold-out sheet. It’s cumbersome to hold and even harder to reference as needed without having it laid sprawled out, taking up tons of table space. It’s a small gripe but was annoying enough to mention.
A and I had a great time with this game and may have to pick up some of the other boxes to expand our card collection. My 8-year-old is still eagerly waiting for his turn to play, but A hasn’t given him much opportunity! Look for an A’s Aside on this one soon.
EXCEED: Seventh Cross – Guardians vs. Myths was provided free for review by Level 99 Games.
“I really enjoyed this game! I feel like it had a Magic the Gathering feel, though with the Force instead of Mana. I also like how the characters could move around a line of cards with a certain range of their attacks. I’m a fan of card battle games and I feel like this one really stood out. My favorite part was that you could always do something. Even with no good cards in your hand, you could do a wild swing, which took the top card of your deck and used it as a strike. This is a really good card game, and the card art was fantastic. I LOVED IT!”
– “A” is a 12-year-old gamer who enjoys most types of games, especially deck-builders, and puts up with his dad’s constant urging to learn new games.
Media personality Rob Kalajian has been a staple in the board game world for many years. As a former writer for Purple Pawn and the owner of A Pawn’s Perspective, Rob focuses on board game reviews, events, and news. A self-proclaimed geek, Rob loves all things toys and games and even helps raise his four kids in his spare time.