How to Play
To begin the game the location cards need to be spread out around the playing surface. Each player then either chooses their faction or draws a random reference cards to determine their faction. Each player takes all of the cards for their faction and shuffles them.
On a players turn they take the following actions:
- Evaluate their Active Icons
- Score Points
- Attack and Steal
Evaluate Active Icons
To begin a player’s turn they look at and take note of the active symbols on their cards. A symbol is active if the entire circle around the icon is showing.
Players score points for every six pips (small dots) that are active. Each icon can have one or more pips on them. The pips are only active if the entire icon is showing. Players only score points for every six pips and they do not score partial points. For example if a player has 11 pips showing they will only get one point for that round.
Attack and Steal
The mask symbol indicates a steal opportunity. Every steal icon allows the current player to take one card from an opponent of their choice. The player then throws the stolen card face up or face down wherever they want on the board. If the card misses the other cards it is removed from the game like normal. Throwing a stolen card does not count towards your throw limit.
The double sword icon indicates an attack. Each attack icon allows the current player to take the top card from the opponent of their choice’s stack of cards and discard it.
On every turn the player is allowed to draw at least one card. The player is allowed to draw an additional card for every hand symbol that is active.
When throwing the cards the object is to have them touch at least one other card. If they touch at least one card they stay in play. If they don’t touch any other cards they have “missed” and they are removed from the game and placed in the discard pile. If a player has a “break” symbol showing (the zig zag symbol) they are able to keep a “missed” card on the table instead of discarding it. While throwing cards players can move around the playing surface and throw the cards however they would like. Unless all of the players agree otherwise, no players’ arm is able to go over the play area during their throw.
The player will get to throw at least one card every turn. Every hand symbol that is active allows the player to either throw an additional card from their hand or they can re-throw a card that missed all of the other cards. If you do not have enough throw icons to throw all of the cards in your hand, the additional cards are placed back on top of your deck in any order that you wish.
Winning the Game
When a player runs out of cards the game is not over. When their turn comes up in gameplay, they still score points based on how many pips they have showing. When all of the players have run out of cards the game is over. Every player gets one turn to earn points for the pips that they have showing at the end of the game. After the final scoring round, whoever has the most points is the winner. If there is a tie, whoever has the most icons showing wins the tie. If that doesn’t break the tie, the game ends in a tie.
I recently found the game Maximum Throwdown on sale. Having never heard of the game before I did some quick research. As it turns out, Maximum Throwdown is a card throwing game where you score points based on how many of your symbols are showing at the beginning of your turn. Having not owned or played a card throwing game before, I was intrigued by the game. Maximum Throwdown has a unique game concept but fails to be anything more than an average game.
Overall I thought the gameplay was fun but pretty simplistic. Having never played a card throwing game before, I found the game mechanic to be pretty interesting since it was surprisingly fun to throw the cards. I also learned pretty quickly that I am not that great at throwing cards. When attempting to cover up a card I almost always ended up covering up the card next to the card I was trying to cover up. The more you play the game the better you will get at throwing the cards but some people will always be better at the game than other people.
The game takes between 15-20 minutes to complete. As long as you don’t have a player that takes forever making decisions, the game moves at a quick pace. A majority of a player’s turn involves determining the active symbols. The time required to count up the active symbols diminishes the more familiar you are with the game but it still does take a little too much time in my opinion. Due to the quick nature of the game, Maximum Throwdown would work as a good filler game.
One thing I would recommend is to increase the distance of the players from the playing surface. When I played the game we played it at a normal distance from the table. The problem with playing the game so close is that the game is kind of easy. If you don’t have to throw the cards very far, it is much easier to get the cards to land where you want. By increasing the distance that the cards have to be thrown, the game will be a little harder and skill would have a larger impact on the game.
Overall the gameplay is pretty fun but the game is not particularly deep. The one area where depth could have been added would have been with the special abilities. Unfortunately the special abilities are pretty hit or miss. Some of the special powers are too powerful while others don’t really impact the game at all.
The draw and throw symbols can either be good or bad in my opinion. The earlier you throw out your cards the more turns you can benefit from having your pips out on the gameboard. In the game I played I had a lot of draw and throw symbols. I was regularly throwing at least two or three cards every single turn. Throwing so many cards helped me get out to a pretty commanding lead since I had so many cards out on the board that they couldn’t all be covered up. Since I got my cards out early I was able to get points from them every turn that they weren’t covered.
The problem with getting so many cards out early is that the other players will team up against you and start to cover up all of your pips. After having such a large lead, I ended up eventually getting the second most points. The ultimate winner of the game was the player who actually ended up not throwing many cards early and ended up having several rounds where they were the only player throwing cards. This was quite beneficial since the player was able to cover up all of my pips while putting her own cards into play which earned her a lot of points. Since no other players had any cards, none of her cards could be covered up so she kept getting more and more points.
The reason why the ultimate winner ended up having so many more cards than every other player was due to the fact that she had a lot of attack and steal symbols showing. At one point there was at least two steal and one attack symbols showing. Therefore the player was able to essentially take three cards from other players every single turn. With that kind of power she was able to rid all of the other players of their cards.
That is part of the reason that I think the steal and attack symbols are kind of rigged. Taking cards from other players is too strong of an ability since cards are important for scoring as well as stopping other players from scoring. For each attack and steal you are pretty much taking points away from other players as well as protecting your own symbols. I think the game should have at least only allowed each player to use one steal and attack each turn.
For gamers that care about theme in their games, they will hate Maximum Throwdown. The game has essentially no theme whatsoever. The instructions don’t even try to paint a backstory for the game. Essentially you just throw cards trying to earn points. The only reason the different factions are in the game is to differentiate between the players. While we are on the topic of theme I need to talk about the game’s artwork. The artwork as a whole is not terrible. While playing the game the artwork felt very familiar to me though. As mentioned by Tom Vassel at The Dice Tower, the artwork has actually been lifted from other Alderac Entertainment Group games most notably Smash Up. I don’t have a huge issue with the artwork being reused since the company is reusing its’ own artwork and is not stealing it from a different company. It just reinforces the idea that the theme was totally tacked onto the game.
A couple other quick complaints with the game include:
- The different factions do have different symbol combinations on the back of the cards. It doesn’t really seem like it makes a whole lot of difference though. I don’t see anyone really taking the time to look through all of the factions to pick a faction that slightly represents their strategy better than the other factions.
- The game does require skill since you do ultimately impact where the cards end up. There is quite a bit of luck in the game though since unless you are a great card thrower, your ability to get the cards in the position that you want is far from a precise science. If the game was based entirely on your accuracy of throwing the cards I would have gotten third or fourth place instead of second which I ended up getting.
- Maximum Throwdown was obviously designed to be a quick game. I think the game should have given every player a couple more cards though. With each player only getting 15 cards, the game seems to end just as you are starting to get into the game. If a lot of steals and/or attacks are utilized in the game, the game ends even faster. I think the game should have given all of the players 20 cards.
Maximum Throwdown is not as bad of game as it may look based on the review so far. Maximum Throwdown is a fun game but it is not particularly deep which makes it a pretty average game. It is a typical filler game that you play to kill a little time.
If the concept of a card throwing game does not appeal to you, you won’t like Maximum Throwdown. If you already have a card throwing game, I don’t think Maximum Throwdown distinguishes itself enough to warrant a purchase. If you can find the game for cheap though and the concept sounds interesting to you, I think you can get some enjoyment out of Maximum Throwdown.