SNAP Review – Kabuto Sumo
What do you know about sumo wrestling?
I get that it’s a historic sport in Japan, but it’s really not for me. I’d prefer most people stay fully dressed. For the record, I feel the same way about wrestling in America.
Ok. What if I told you we would be watching a nature show about beetles wrestling. Would you be in for that?
Maybe. That might be interesting. Especially if you could get Morgan Freeman or Benedict Cumberbatch (to narrate it).
Well, maybe not that. But we can play a game about wrestling beetles. Specifically, Kabutomushi, which means “helmet bug” in Japanese.
That’s right, we’re talking about Kabuto Sumo!
This is a SNAP Review for Kabuto Sumo, a dexterity game by Tony Miller and published by Allplay.
Kabuto Sumo is for 2-4 players, age 6 and up. And according to the box, a game lasts 15-20 minutes.
We’re also going to give you a free bonus, and talk about the expansion, TOTAL MAYHEM! (echo: Total Mayhem!)
Most of the art in Kabuto Sumo is really found on the box, or on the player cards (illustrations by Kwanchai Moriya). There’s eight beetle wrestlers, each with special abilities, and there are also five junior league versions for younger players. All of the cards have closeups on the back, with an interesting fact about the particular beetle it is.
The beetles are these cute, sumo printed wooden pieces, and there are wooden discs and all kinds of other shapes that you’ll be pushing onto this table.
Wait, is that brown circle what I think it is?! Only if you’re the dung beetle.
Discs, beetles, board. Got it. How do we play Kabuto Sumo?
Kabuto Sumo plays a lot like those coin pusher games you see in arcades. And that kind of makes sense, since sumo wrestling is all about pushing the other player out of the ring.
Set up the little table with tokens according to the layout in the manual – it’s different if you have two, three, or four players.
Each player or team gets a starting inventory of discs. Junior Leaguers will get some of their special items, too.
Players, or teams, alternate turns using the pushing platform. The rule is that you must push the disc in a straight line until it’s fully on the board, but you don’t have to push it directly towards the center.
Any discs that fall off, go back to the supply of the player who pushed a disc in. This is how you get to keep playing.
After pushing a piece onto the board, players may be able to perform their beetle’s SIGNATURE MOVE! You can see them on the player cards.
The game ends when someone manages to push a beetle off the board. The game can also end if a player or team runs out of pieces. That player is eliminated.
But wait! We can’t forget about Total Mayhem!
This expansion adds some hilarious twists to a game that is already kind of ridiculous.
If you decide to play with the Total Mayhem expansion, you’ll start by picking two of the eight Total Mayhem cards. Put one Match side up and the other Item side up.
Some Match cards add new win conditions, and some add new Total Mayhem abilities. There are also a ton of new items in the game, like the Jasper Table (this used to be BoardGameTables.com after all) or the ladder for escalation matches. These items and more add a ton of new ways to play and it’s hilarious to watch our kids fighting over the escalation ladder or the Symphony of Destruction!
What did we expect from Kabuto Sumo?
[Andrew] I expected a fairly light dexterity game. We all know those coin pusher machines from the arcades and how whatever you push never seems to go quite where you expect, and I kind of expected that here.
I didn’t think we’d have a game that could get everyone around the table since there are five of us and the game only supports four, but I figured it would be a fun way to get the kids to the table, and I knew it was a pretty good spectator game since I had seen it at conventions before.
[Anitra] I had heard great things about Kabuto Sumo and I actually followed its development on social media a few years ago. The coin-pusher idea looked fun – that’s not something you see often, even in dexterity games.
But we did have a couple of surprises.
[Andrew] The game really met most of my expectations, but my one huge surprise was that games could really drag. This game is fun to drop in and play, but two evenly matched people could spend 30 minutes – or more! – trying to wrestle one player off the board. It definitely got long in the tooth, which I didn’t expect at all.
That’s actually something I really like about the expansion adding new victory conditions. There’s a lot more to look out for, and it does to a good job of shortening games in general.
[Anitra] I agree, games took longer than I expected. And I also was slightly disappointed that the pushing “ramp” doesn’t always line up exactly with the platform – this is really minor, but it can prevent you from pushing pieces smoothly. And that’s a big part of the game!
So Anitra, do we Recommend Kabuto Sumo?
I’m going to say yes, we do, but I do have some reservations. This game is a fun and silly game that doesn’t really have anything like it on the market, so if it sounds appealing, go for it! It’s about $45 new, which is a little on the expensive side. Total Mayhem is more on top of that.
So it’s a little expensive to go all in, but it’s a lot of fun as long as you don’t let it go too long. This game is totally age independent, looks fantastic on the table, and everybody in the family can get into it. In fact, maybe you can settle some arguments with wrestling beetles.
So with all of that said, Anitra, what do you think we’ll rate Kabuto Sumo and Total Mayhem from AllPlay?
I think we’re going to rate it three and a half out of five helmet beetles.
And that’s Kabuto Sumo, in a SNAP!
The Family Gamers received a copy of Kabuto Sumo and the Total Mayhem expansion from Allplay for this review.
This post contains affiliate links, which do not change your price, but help support The Family Gamers.
SNAP review music is Avalanche, provided courtesy of You Bred Raptors?
Age Range: 6+ (for junior league)
Number of Players: 2-4
Playtime: 15-20 minutes (we say 30-40 minutes)