Maximum Throwdown is a quick-playing dexterity game from AEG and Jason Tagmire, and hit wide release just before GenCon 2013. In Maximum Throwdown, up to six player take turns tossing their cards onto the table, adding them onto a growing array. You want your cards face-up and uncovered, because any icons on the cards that are fully visible at the start of your turn provide bonuses. Maximum Throwdown retails for about $20.
What’s In The Box?
Maximum Throwdown has 15-card decks for up to six players, one player aid card per player, and six “locations” for seeding the play area. The sturdy cards have full-bleed art on the backs, some really nice pieces that are mostly recycled from other AEG games (a samurai from Legend of the Five Rings, a werewolf from Nightfall, an alien from Smash Up, a demon from Thunderstone Advance, and a pirate and a dragon I don’t recognize).
The box itself is small and portable, and this plus the low price point mean Maximum Throwdown does not include a way to keep score – you’ll need your own pencil/paper, dice, etc.
The Basics (aka, The Whole Game)
The six location cards are placed to “seed” the board in a pattern of your choice (six are suggested). On each player’s turn, he or she will at a minimum get one card draw and one throw. Your throws “miss” if the card lands such that it doesn’t touch any other card (you lose the card you missed with).
Each card has 3-7 icons on it, and you check the icons on your cards at the start of your turn. Each icon that is completely uncovered will have some sort of effect. You determine right away what effects you’re going to get this turn, and you get them even if you manage to cover your own icons later in the turn. The six icons are:
– Draw: Get an extra draw this turn (you can accumulate cards in hand if you have more draws then throws).
– Throw: Get an extra throw this turn (extra throws can also be used to re-throw a missed card).
– Attack: Discard a card off of another player’s deck.
– Steal: Take a card off of another player’s deck and throw it. Presumably you will throw it so it lands face down.
– Break: You can have one card this turn that is a miss, but gets to stay on the table and create its own little colony.
– Pips: You get one point for every six pips (round down).
After you figure out what icons are face up, you score points, then attack/steal (in any order you choose, if you have multiple attacks/steals), draw, and then throw. When you throw you can’t lean over the play area (which is whatever you designate it to be – you can make things easier or harder by making players throw from farther away), but you can move around.
If you run out of your deck, then you don’t get to draw anymore. Once your hand is gone too, then your turns become rather limited. You still get a turn though – you still score points, and you can still execute attacks and steals.
The game ends once everyone has run out of cards. Then each player gets one more turn where you’re just looking at pips, and then you compare scores.
Officially-listed play time is 30 minutes, and it really shouldn’t go past that unless maybe you’re playing with six players. The end-game doesn’t take as long as you might think – you can be run out of cards, but once a player or two has run out of cards, all of the attack/steal actions will hit the players who still have decks, so what’s left of their decks will drain pretty quickly. The game supports 2-6, but I think around 3-4 is probably the sweet spot. Only 2 seems to sap the social, light-hearted nature of the game, and with 5-6 you’re probably waiting too long between turns (although more players usually means faster turns because it becomes harder to have your face up card survive that many enemy throws).
At least five of the icons work well, although I’m not sure about the Break icon (it’s really strong to be able to just toss your card off by itself because that makes it tough for other players to risk aiming at him). Of course, that only matters if you manage to start a turn with the Break icon uncovered, and Maximum Throwdown has a definite “beat on the leader” aspect – when someone has a lead, or at least has the best cards face-up, their cards are definitely going to be the prime targets.
We’re guessing that how much you think you’ll enjoy this game after hearing a description of how it plays will probably be pretty accurate. If a game that involves chucking cards across the table doesn’t seem like the sort of thing you’ll like, then there probably isn’t anything in Maximum Throwdown that will improve the situation. If you think that chucking cards across the table sounds like a great filler, then there probably isn’t anything in Maximum Throwdown that will disabuse you of the notion. There’s nothing wrong with it, but it lacks flair – something like Dungeon Fighter pushes you to doing silly things to get you in the right sort of mood, but Maximum Throwdown forces you to rely on your innate powers of lightheartedness.
For me, that means Maximum Throwdown probably isn’t going to get the job done (what can I say, I am the lame). Maybe if there’s the right group of a people (perhaps with some alcohol), and a really big table, it could come out again as a Con game, but I don’t see it hitting the table much at our typical gatherings.