New to Street Masters? Wondering what it is, how it plays (spoiler: there’s a single session, campaign, and sandbox mode), and whether it’s up your—well, street? Then you’re in the right place!
In case you hadn’t heard, we’re taking Street Masters to Kickstarter for an EPIC showdown on February 21. Make sure you hit ‘Notify Me’ here to get notified on launch.
Before then, we want to make sure you’ve got all the info you need to decide whether this is a board game for you. (We think so, but we are absolutely biased.) And thus, this Ultimate Guide was born!
It goes without saying that this is a MEGA guide. So, we’ve titled each section for easy reference.
Playthroughs, Reviews, and More
Because Street Masters was previously published by Blacklist Games (and is now out of print), there are already tons of great playthrough videos and reviews of the core game which you can check out right now.
Of course, none of those videos feature the brand new Street Masters IV: Lament of the Blood Moon expansion that’s launching with the February Kickstarter (more details in our next diary!). And, if you’re more of the reading type, then this and our upcoming diaries should tell you everything you need to know.
“But why take Street Masters back to Kickstarter, if the game already exists?” you might ask. To which we say, the answer you seek is here.
Without further ado, we’ll hand over to Sherwin, the Steamforged lead for Street Masters and the mastermind behind the scarily popular Resident Evil board games.
(There are no zombies in Street Masters, though. At least, we don’t think so. Sherwin…?)
Enter the Street Masters Dojo, with Sherwin Matthews
Welcome, fighters. I see the hunger in your eyes. The excitement at a new challenge!
Well, we’re going to give you just that. Because this is Street Masters!
Today, we’ll be taking a look at both of the different ways you can play Street Masters. For those of you unsure on what Street Masters is, this’ll be a good overview of the game and how it works. We’ll also be exploring fighting styles and how turns are taken throughout combat.
Orientation (a.k.a. The Basics)
Inspired by classic beat ‘em up & fighting video games, Street Masters is a 1-4 player cooperative miniatures board game which combines tactical, position based combat with the depth of a deck-building card game.
Choose Your Fighter
Each player takes control of a fighter; a highly skilled combatant who’s honed their skills with years of dedication and training. Fighters come from a wide variety of backgrounds, and are skilled in just about every martial art discipline you can likely think of. So, no matter your preferred combat style, you’ll be able to find the right fighter for you.
Face Enemy Gangs and Bosses
Arrayed against your fighters is a host of foes, all hailing from a dangerous gang. Much like your characters, each enemy brings a unique set of skills to the table, forcing you to adapt your approach when facing them.
No matter how intimidating they might be, these enemies are only your first obstacle. Leading them are even more dangerous bosses.
Bosses are wildly unpredictable opponents, with their own dedicated AI behaviour decks. Bosses aren’t just an obstacle when you encounter them, either; they define the stage your fighters are in and what the objectives of the gameplay are.
Set the Stage
Which brings us nicely to the environment. In Street Masters, you’ll face enemies on different thematic stages, each representing characterful in-world settings. The feel of each stage is different, and a dynamic objective system means you’ll need to be on your toes as the overarching gameplay shifts around you.
Street Masters is designed to allow players to tackle these enemies, bosses, and stages in several ways.
The first is as a standalone experience named Arcade Mode. In Arcade Mode, you’ll select your fighters and then choose a gang to face on their trademark stage. This is not only a great way to learn the game, but also a great way to throw down without any preparation at all, and blast through a high intensity 30-45 minute street fight!
The next way to play is to face the gangs of Street Masters in a high stakes narrative campaign, as part of Story Mode. Here, you’ll face your enemies in a set series of encounters that tell the tale of how your fighters faced and overcame the odds to triumph against adversity.
Along the way, your fighters will not only develop their skills and become stronger, but also gain new allies and rivals, as they progress their own personal story arcs, as well as the main narrative.
Finally, you can go full sandbox!
Street Masters has been designed as a completely modular system, where you can simply plug in whatever gang you want into whatever stage you want, with whichever fighter(s) take your fancy. Simply pick what you’d like to see on the table, and get playing—maybe you can even build your own narrative campaign (and if you do, join our Discord to let us know how it went. We might even try it ourselves!).
So, excited? Thought so. And on that note, let’s learn a little more about how the gameplay works.
Although Street Masters is played on a board with hexes, objectives, and where positioning is paramount, it isn’t just a miniatures combat game with dice—each fighter has a dedicated fighter deck too.
Each unique deck of cards represents the fighting style of the fighter in question, providing the array of attacks and techniques at their disposal. These come in a lot of different shapes and forms, but can be boiled down to three different card types.
Attacks are exactly what they say on the tin. They’re played from your hand and determine the amount of attack dice you roll, along with any accompanying special rules for the attack, such as whether the fighter can make additional attacks afterwards, or gains bonus movement.
Abilities are like attacks in that they’re resolved immediately and then discarded, but can have a wide range of non-offensive effects, sometimes requiring them to be left in play as a sustained condition.
Tactic cards represent stances, poise, and a variety of strategies that fighters can deploy during the battle. They’re played into an area in front of the player called their play area, and always remain in play. Typically, these cards enhance the fighter in some way with bonuses to their actions, or can be used defensively when a trigger is met, such as reducing damage from enemy attacks.
Obviously, that’s a broad overview—there’s a lot more going on under the hood, but with each fighter bringing their own blend of mechanics to the tabletop, I could spend hours going over examples and still only scratch the surface.
Gameplay is played across rounds, where each fighter will get to take a turn, followed by a boss turn, and then a stage turn.
Fighter turns are made up of a number of phases.
The first is the threat phase, where the player draws a card from the enemy deck. This might reveal an unexpected event, a new tactic or piece of equipment that changes the boss’s behaviour, or (and unfortunately for our fighters, most likely) a new enemy appears.
Event cards are resolved and then discarded; boss cards are placed in the enemy play area. Enemies are spawned near the fighter, and then their card is added to the player’s threat area. This might seem an odd place to put them at first, but don’t worry – all will be revealed shortly!
The main bulk of a fighter’s turn happens during the next phase, which is called the act phase. During this phase the player can move their fighter, play a card, and carry out an action. Actions might be to sprint (allowing the fighter to move again), resolve the action effect of a tactic in their play area, interact with a nearby item, or raise their guard and gain defence tokens to block enemy attacks with.
After the fighter has carried out their actions, the react phase begins. Remember I mentioned the enemy cards are placed in the fighter’s threat area? This is when any enemies that have tagged the fighter get to take their turn, usually moving towards the closest fighter and if they get in range to do so, attacking them. Like fighter attacks, enemy attacks are resolved using dice, rolling a number equal to the enemy’s attack value to determine the type of damage, which the fighter can use their defence tokens to block.
The player then draws a card, and their turn ends.
Much like the fighters, the bosses have a play area too, and the enemy turn is when they get to resolve it. Starting from left to right, the players resolve each card in turn, moving, attacking, or interacting with objectives with the boss as the rules on the cards dictate.
Bosses aren’t like normal foes—they have a lot more health, are significantly more dangerous, and as the game goes on, their behaviour adapts to the battlefield and players.
As you’d expect, each boss is different. Ex-mercenary Dmitri is less martial artist than he is trained soldier, relying on a Kevlar vest to block damage, and a selection of weapons (including a rocket launcher!) to attack at range. Ah Long by comparison is a nimble and highly mobile opponent that dances between the fighters, hitting them all with lightning fast kicks and punches. That’s just two examples from a huge pool of opponents—and each will require a new approach and strategy for defeating them.
The fighters, enemies, and bosses aren’t the only character that Street Masters has. Stages too are resplendent with artwork details that really bring the world to life visually, and this continues into the gameplay itself with deeply evocative conditions and objective gameplay.
In Gone Ballistic, you’ll be running around a warehouse used by shady arms dealers, searching for ammunition caches.
Cashed Out finds you in a showdown with the Golden Dragons inside of their casino. Here you’ll need to save panicked gamblers and usher them towards the exists before the Triad and Yakuza thugs can cause too much mischief.
The setting of Sudden Death is a death match against the mighty Kemono—you, and several other NPC aspiring champions that will be attempting to answer the challenge put out by the criminal organisation known as the Kingdom. During the fight you’ll be managing their defence tokens and attacks as they join the fray, but will have to be wary… Kemono won’t be shy of hitting back, and unlike his minions, can literally tear your new allies to pieces.
As with the bosses and fighters, that’s only a few examples of the versatile maps you’ll see. There’s plenty more where they came from!
I’ll hit the pause button there, I think—that’s a lot to take in!
Now you’ve gone through orientation and know more about Street Masters and what to expect, next time I’ll be back next time to go into the new gameplay expansion—Street Masters IV: Lament of the Blood Moon.
Prepare yourselves, because this will be a challenge like none other!