Ultimate Showdown is a do-it-yourself trading card game for either 2 or 3 players (with 2 and 3-player games having their own slightly different rules). Each player begins with 18 character cards, 3 item cards, 3 battlefield cards, and 3 wild cards (54 cards in total). The goal is to win more character cards than your opponent. Each character card has a suit, a value, a character name (optional), and picture (optional) assigned to it. All of these attributes are chosen by the player before the beginning of the game within the given suits and allowed values.
The game is named after the song by Neil Cicierega due to the possibility of a wide variety of character names and pictures limited only by the player’s imagination.
Things You Will Need to Play
Recording/Reference Sheet (print off 1 for each round, for 2-player)
A random number generator
The 54 user-created cards (27 created by one player and 27 created by the other). Listed below are links to downloadable sheets in Microsoft Word for each card type. The font used is LilyUPC.:
There are five possible suits that may be assigned to a card (Attacker, Defender, Techie, Sage, and Mage). Ultimate Showdown is effectively a more complex version of Rock, Paper, Scissors. The following shows which suits win or lose against certain other suits*:
Attacker defeats Mage
Defender defeats Attacker
Techie defeats Defender
Sage defeats Techie
Mage defeats Sage
A matchup of the same suit (e.g. Attacker vs. Attacker) results in a win for the card with the higher value. If the cards of the same suit have equal values, then neither a win or loss is recorded.
If one player has less than 9 character cards at the end of a round, then that player loses the game.
Picture example of a character card:
* For those of you who enjoy thinking in terms of “story” when it comes to these card games, I don’t have much to offer on my part, but here’s how I would imagine the explanation behind which suits win in certain matchups: Attacker beats Mage because the attackers are aggressive and rush in and attack before the Mage can cast their magic. Defender beats Attacker because the defenders successfully defend themselves against the brute force of the attackers. Techie beats Defender because technology works around defenses. Sage beats Techie because the wisdom and knowledge of the sages are greater than the outsmarted technology. Mage beats Sage because sages aren’t able to understand the mystery of magic. But of course, that’s just my generic input.
2-Player Game (The following is for the 2-player version of the game…refer to the 3-player section for differences):
The game is divided into rounds. At the beginning of each round, a number must be decided as to how many character cards are to be played in a hand. Hands may consist anywhere from 2 to 5 cards, but each player must play the same number of cards as his opponent in each round. A coin flip determines which player chooses the hand number of the first round. Subsequently, the player with the least amount of character cards at the end of each round gets to choose the hand number of the following round. If the number of character cards are the same for both players, then a coin flip determines which player picks the hand number for the next round.
A value of any number between 0 and 750 may be assigned to each card before the beginning of the game. In order for any one suit to defeat another suit, not only must the matchup of suits be correct (e.g. Attacker defeats Mage, Sage versus Sage), but the value of the card with the dominant suit must exceed the value of the card with the inferior suit. There is a limitation that keeps card values in check and in similar ranges – a cap is set for each hand number. This cap is determined by randomly generating a value between a bottom number and a top number per the following chart:
For instance, if a player decides that a 5-hand will be played for that round, a random number is generated between 300 and 750 to determine the maximum amount for the total value of each player’s hand. (Random generation is utilized in order to discourage certain optimum strategic advantages from occurring.)
If at any round, after the cap has been randomly generated, there comes a point at which the player with less total character cards cannot play a hand without exceeding the value limit set by that round’s cap, then that player automatically loses the game. This is called “going bust”.
Battlefield and Item Cards
The player who decides the hand number for that round is also allowed to play a battlefield card. This card is placed first, before any cards are chosen for hands. Again, before the game begins, battlefield cards are assigned a location name (optional), a picture (optional), and two pieces of information that affect the individual card values of certain suits: two different suits are chosen, one to gain 30 value points and another to lose 30 value points. For instance, a battlefield card might read “+30 Attacker/-30 Mage” in which case all Attacker cards played by either player would receive 30 value points and all Mage cards would lose 30 value points. These adjustments, however, do not increase or decrease a hand’s total value. A card’s value cannot go below 0, but it can go above 750 (if the 5-hand’s cap is high enough).
Picture example of a battlefield card:
Each player is also allowed to bring three item cards to the game. These cards are able to be coupled with individual character cards, but only with characters of the corresponding suit. Item cards are played at the same time that the hand is played (not after) and boost the character’s value by 40 points for that round. They also have optional names and pictures. Again, like battlefield cards, these value adjustments do not affect the total hand value when checking to see if the cap for that hand was exceeded. Item cards may only be coupled with one character card per hand and character cards may not have more than one item card coupled with it. As an example, a Mage card with an assigned value of 30, when coupled with an item card with a value of 40, becomes a card with an effective value of 70 for that round. If the character card coupled with an item card loses in the final result, then both character and item card go to the winning player. Again, these cards are created or chosen by the player before the game begins and the beginning deck may have any combination of item cards (all Techies, 2 Mages and 1 Attacker, etc.)
Picture example of an item card:
Each player comes to the game with three wild cards. Once a player holds 12 or less character cards, that player can throw a wild card in which the suit and value is chosen by the player for that round. However, before the card is played, the designated suit and value must be written down on a small piece of accompanying paper (so that the player can’t change his suit or value once he sees his opponent’s cards). Maximum value caps still apply in the same manner. If the wild card is won by the opposing player, then it is discarded completely from the game. Only one wildcard is allowed to be thrown per round.
After the hand number has been chosen and the battlefield card has been played (if any), then players choose their hands which are then laid out in front of one another simultaneously. The results are tallied up into a raw result and then winning percentages from that raw result determine which cards have been defeated. Each defeated card is then added to the winner’s deck and the round ends. An example first round might go like this:
Player A wins the coin flip and decides that a 4-hand will be played. The maximum value of a hand is randomly generated at 318. Player A lays down a battlefield card that reads “+30 Defender, -30 Techie”. Both players then choose which four cards will be included in their hands and all eight cards are revealed simultaneously. Player A’s hand consists of: two Defenders (one with a value of 0 and the other with a value of 143, one Sage (with a value of 34), and one Mage (with a value of 61). Player A’s hand value is 238. Player B’s hand consists of: one Sage (with a value of 13, two Techies (one with a value of 29 and the other with a value of 151), and one Defender (with a value of 2). Player B’s Sage is also coupled with an item card that boosts his Sage’s value by 40 points. The winning-losing record for each card can then be tallied in the following fashion (remember that these card values include the increases and decreases from the battlefield and item cards):
The final result is reached by taking a look at which character cards are undefeated. Only one of B’s cards went undefeated, so only he wins his matchups in the final result. Two of A’s cards went undefeated, so A wins two of his matchups in the final result. The final outcome results in Player B adding Player A’s Defender with an assigned value of 0 to his deck and Player A adding to his deck B’s Defender with an assigned value of 2 and B’s Sage with an assigned value of 13.
Play continues until any one of three outcomes is reached: one player loses by going bust, one player loses by holding less than 7 character cards, or a pre-agreed upon number of rounds have been played (The player with the most character cards after the last round wins. If both players have the same number of character cards, then subsequent rounds are played until one player has more than the other.)
The only two differences when moving to the 3-player version are that hand numbers are limited to 2 and 3-hands and their respective maximum value ranges (meaning that lower valued cards are more likely to gain usefulness when adding another player) and overall win-loss records for the hand come into play as a tie-breaker to decide which player wins a given card. In the picture of the recorded results of one 3-hand played between 3-players, we see that player B and player C both stake a claim to the same card…but since player C has the overall better record, then player C takes the card. Whoever wins the most character cards in a given round is still considered the winner, but in the case of a three-way tie, a random number generator will be needed instead of a coin to decide who picks the next hand’s number. Each player will need to be matched up against one another, so logically one would match player A’s cards against Player B’s, player A’s against player C’s, and then player B’s against player C’s.
Strategies and Ideas
Some strategies that might be of use:
Try pairing up suits that work nicely together: for instance, if you think your opponent is going to throw Mages and you’d like to throw Attackers to check them against, you may want to pair up your Attackers with higher-value Techies so that any Defenders that your opponent might throw against your Attackers are more likely defeated.
Keeping a running record of which suits and values the other player holds in his or her deck as they are revealed to you so that you can play cards accordingly.
Bringing a varied deck of both high and low value cards of all suits to mitigate risk and increase flexibility of possible offensive or defensive strategy.
Utilizing item and battlefield cards more often at times when you believe to have a particular strategic advantage over the other player.
A fun way to approach the game might be to plan a theme for the game before the cards are created by each player. For instance, you might tell the other player to bring all characters and battlefield locations of a certain theme (e.g. food mascots, 19th century philosophers, former sports players, superheroes vs. supervillains, etc.) Inserted below are cards I made for a friend who’s in love with Mega Man robot masters, so I knew he would like that theme:
In closing, be creative and have fun! If you have any questions or comments, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org .