I am not a huge sports fan. I tune in now and again when there are big events, but even then I rather watch the highlights. With that being said I am a fan of sports-based board games. From what I can tell there aren’t a lot of MMA board games out there so I was interested in seeing how Cage Match played. I like to see how designers integrate real-world aspects of a sport and turn them into neat mechanics. So does Cage Match capture the feeling of stepping into the octagon? Let’s take a look in this Cage Match review.
What is Cage Match?
Cage Match is a MMA board game where players step into the cage and duke it out in the hopes of knocking out their opponent or forcing them to tap out.
There are twelve fighters to choose from. Each seems to be based on real-world fighters and each has their own bonuses, special moves, and combos.
Cage Match is a dice rolling MMA board game with a rock-paper-scissors style mechanic. So let’s break it down.
- Ages: 14+
- Players: 2
- Play Time: 5-15 Minutes
What’s Inside the Box?
Cage Match includes a wide assortment of components including:
- 12 Fighter Cards – There are six double-sided fighter cards. On one side there are female fighters and on the other are male fighters.
- 2 Action Pads – Each player gets an action pad. Players select their moves by secretly placing their action cube on their action pad.
- 2 Action Cubes – Action cubes are placed on your action pad and are used to show which move you would like to use on your opponent.
- 2 Screens – Players use screens to hide their action pad from their opponent while they plan their move. When both players are ready they will lift their screen and reveal their move. Much like a D&D screen, there is also a reference guide on the back of the screen.
- 2 Fight Cards – Fight cards are used to see how the chosen moves interact with one another.
- 4 Dice – Each player has two dice that are used for certain moves to see which player deals damage.
- 20 Focus Tokens – Focus tokens can be used to increase your dice rolls or increase damage.
- 12 Fighter Standees & 2 Stands – Each fighter has a cardboard standee to represent the player. These are placed on the scorecard to represent if the fighters are currently standing or in ground position.
- 1 Scoring Pad – This is where players keep track of their health and whether they are in a standing position or ground position.
- 1 Pencil – Player health is tracked on the scoring pad where you can mark off your current health with the pencil.
- Instructions – Like any other board game this one includes a manual.
Now that you have an idea of what is all included in Cage Match let’s put it all together and see how it plays.
Meet The Fighters
- Diego Cruz – Deals an additional damage on all kicks.
- Gaziz Ibraimov – Deals an additional two damage on all ground strikes.
- Greg O’Connor – Deals an additional damage on all jabs and punches while in stanging position.
- Jack Johnson – Deals an additional damage and adds one to dice rolls on all shoots and throws.
- Kentaro Suzuki – Deals an additional damage on block and counters. Also adds one to dice rolls when attemting an escape action.
- Thiago Barbosa – Deals an additional damage and adds one to dice rolls on all low kicks and round kicks.
- Aleksandra Ovehkin – Deals an additional two damage on all round kicks and head kicks.
- Bruna Ferreira – Deals an additional damage and adds one to dice rolls on all shoots and ground strikes.
- Lisa Lloyd – Adds one to dice rolls on all shoots, throws, and submission attempts.
- Monica Alvarado – Deals an additional two damage on all hooks and crosses.
- Nayeli Robles – Deals an additional two damage on all hooks and head kicks.
- Warunee Dangda – Deals an additional two damage and adds one to dice rolls on all shoots and round kicks.
How to Play Cage Match
Each player will receive these items:
- Fighter Card – Fighter cards list a fighter’s special moves and combos as well as any other bonuses.
- Action Pad – Action pads list the moves fighters are able to use. These are double-sided depending on your fighter’s current stance, standing or grounded.
- Action Cube – You secretly place the action cube on the move you want to use.
- Screen – Screens hide your action pad so you can secretly select your move.
- Fight Card – Fight cards list the interactions between your move and your opponent’s move.
- 2 Dice – Certain interactions between moves require you to roll dice against your opponent. Only the higher dice roll does any damage.
Players decide how long they would like to play and mark their health on the scoring pad. Each player has two types of health points; body and head. If either of these reaches 0 they are knocked out and lose the game.
The action order for players goes like this:
- Choose and Reveal: Each player secretly places their action cubes on the move they wish to use from their action pad. Once both players are ready they simultaneously lift their screens and move to the next action.
- Resolve: Look up the interaction between the two moves on the fight card and resolve any damage that was taken.
- Record: Use the pencil to record your damage on the scoring pad. Pay any focus tokens you used or gain any focus tokens from jabs or low kicks. Finally, change your position from standing to ground if applicable or vice versa.
This repeats until one fighter’s health reaches zero or another play gains submission.
If a player is able to use the shoot/throw action on their opponent it may result in them going to the ground position. In this case, both players flip their action pads over and are only able to use the actions on this side of the pad.
Players also move their fighter standees on the score pad to the corresponding stance and whether or not they are the dominant or submissive player. Dominate is the player who completed the shoot/throw.
Play continues as normal until the dominate player gains submission or the submissive player escapes and both players flip back over their action pads and continue playing as before.
Now that you know how to play Cage Match I want to share my thoughts on the game overall.
You will constantly be trading blows with your opponent and the box art represents this perfectly. The box is small and everything fits well inside and it makes for a quick and easy clean up.
Most of the components are made from super thick cardboard and have really neat artwork on them. Much like D&D, the screens have a reference guide on the inside which is a nice touch. And I like the wireframe design on the action pads showing the different stances.
The six fighter cards are double-sided making a total of twelve playable characters, split evenly between female and male fighters.
I’m not too familiar with real-world MMA fighters, but I was able to pick up on a few easter eggs like the fighter Greg O’Connor being a reference to Conor McGregor.
I really like the artwork for the fighters. It does a good job of balancing a real feel without going too cartoony.
The mixed martial arts theme of Cage Match is a unique one to board games. Although it’s not the first one to do so I think it does a good job with the action. Once you know how to play you will be quickly selecting your moves and trading blows with your opponent. It captures the feel of the sport pretty well from what I can tell.
The game mainly uses a rock-paper-scissors mechanic of selecting a move and comparing it to your opponents. Certain move interactions will call for a dice roll-off between players and the highest roll deals damage.
This game is fast-paced. Once you get going, you will be dealing and taking damage like crazy.
Each fighter specializes in certain moves giving them dice roll benefits or additional damage for certain moves. This adds to the replayability of the game. With twelve different fighters, you should be able to play this a few times without the game getting stale.
A small nitpick I have with the game is the rules are a bit unclear with ceratin things. I had a chance to ask the developers questions and I posted the answers on Board Game Geek if you are interested.
- Fast-Paced. The game starts moving quickly. The simple nature of selecting a move and comparing them in the fight cards allows the turns to go by quickly.
- Theme. I like the idea of a MMA board game and I feel that Cage Match does a good job translating the sport to the table.
- Fighter Abilities. Cage Match offers twelve playable fighters, but I feel that most of their bonuses are too similar to one another. Why wouldn’t I choose the fighter that deals two additional damage vs the fighter that has a plus one dice modifier?
- MMA Fans & Fans of Take That Mechanics. Cage Match was a game I was very interested in. The artwork and design of the game were very interesting and I think that if you are a fan of the sport then this MMA board game could be something you can get lost in. You can pick up a copy of Cage Match on Amazon for a great price!
- If you are interested in other games that are fun for two players, consider checking out our Dice Throne Season 2 Review.
Cage Match Review Breakdown
- Value: 3.5/5. Currently, Cage Match is at about $25, which is a decent value. There isn’t much inside the box, but everything you do get is good quality.
- Components 4/5. Nothing feels flimsy and everything is made from thick cardboard or hard plastic. The artwork is well done, but I wish there was a bit more to look at.
- Gameplay: 3/5. Although the gameplay is fun I don’t know if there is enough variety between the fighters to draw you back in beyond the initial few games.
Cage Match Review Score
Cage Match is an excellent MMA board game. Geektopia Games was able to translate the sport of MMA to a board game format well enough to make me understand the sport without being an avid spectator. If you are in the market for a two player game with a fun take that mechanic then Cage Match might be for you.
Cage Match is an excellent MMA board game with a fun rock paper scizzor mechanic.
- Cool theme
- Not enough variety in fighter abilities