Greetings, and welcome to Kickstarter Spotlight #4 featuring Title Bout II, a boxing simulator board game by Straight Jab Media! We had the pleasure of speaking to Jim Trunzo, creator of Title Bout II and long-time boxing enthusiast. This campaign is live, so don’t hesitate to hop on over to the Kickstarter page to show your support. This Spotlight will focus on the story behind Title Bout II, and the details on what makes Title Bout II special in the boxing simulation arena. Sound the bell, it’s time for round 1!
Title Bout II is a board game that aims to provide a true-to-life boxing experience allowing you to do what is otherwise impossible: pit various fighters from across the history of boxing against each other. Furthermore, each boxer is represented at the peak of their careers, through diligent research of hundreds of fights. Fans of boxing, young and old, have likely had conversations and/or arguments about who would win in a dream match-up. Could Joe Lewis have beaten Larry Holmes, at their respective peaks? Could Muhammad Ali (or when he was Cassius Clay) have beaten Rocky Marciano? What about Jack Dempsey versus Lennox Lewis? This game offers you the best opportunity to make exactly those kinds of match-ups. Not only has each fighter been extensively researched, but Title Bout II offers a deeper level of unpredictability through it’s unique mechanics.
THE ROAD TO THE RING
Jim Trunzo, the author and game designer, has been involved in the boxing business for over 40 years. In addition to being a member of the International Boxing Research Organization, Jim is also a voting member on the advisory board for the Boxing Hall of Fame Las Vegas. He has written for numerous boxing publications and has also created several other games such as Gunman’s Law, a skirmish game themed on the old west. Jim’s brother Tom has collaborated on some versions of Title Bout over the years, and Title Bout II (or Title Bout 2017) picks up right where the initial version left off. Over the many years since Title Bout’s initial iteration, tweak after tweak has been made to not only individual boxer statistics, but some of the game mechanics themselves. It’s been a long road, but the latest iteration of Title Bout promises to be as close to real boxing as you can get from a board-game experience.
STEP INTO THE RING
The object of Title Bout II should be obvious: put a boxer in the ring and have your boxer emerge victorious. This can come from the traditional methods of scoring points over a predetermined number of rounds, an exciting knockout (KOs) or by scoring a technical knockout (TKO) through continued punishment of your opponent. Title Bout II’s mechanics offer for a wide variety of actions and results to take place, simulating fighters jockeying for control, moving about the ring, and landing punches. Of course, not all punches thrown will land, and when misses do occur, opponents have a chance to counter-punch. Each punch can deliver a variety of results and don’t simply do damage like in traditional fighting tabletop games. Landed punches can have a chance to knockdown or knockout an opponent, cause an injury like a cut, land for points scored in the round or even result in fouls! Title Bout II offers different methods and options for scoring fights, and fouls can result in immediate disqualification of a fighter. Likewise, continued punishment of a fighter with compounding injuries can result in a TKO. After the predetermined number of rounds chosen by the players, the fight ends and points are tallied, followed by declaring the victor, just like in real-life boxing.
THE SWEET SCIENCE
Title Bout II contains a myriad of fighter cards, displaying each fighter’s attributes, skills, special traits and styles. The action in each round is determined by a deck of Boxer Action Cards (BAC), each containing a set of numbers, ring positions and results which will dictate the flow of each round, as well as serve as the round timer. The BAC deck contains 100 different cards which is thoroughly shuffled, and split into two 50-card piles. Each pile serves as the deck for a round, and after 50 cards are used, the round ends. After every two rounds, all 100 cards will be exhausted which the players will reshuffle and re-deal out the two 50-card piles.
Though each BAC contains a host of information, only one reading per card is used. Which action or result is read is determined by exactly what part of the fight is being determined. The more aggressive fighter, determined by their respective statistics, starts the round “in control”. The first BAC is flipped, and the appropriate numerical result is checked on the fighter’s card which determines if it was a punch that landed, missed, a clinch attempt occurs or the fighters change positions. The next card is then flipped to determine the result, with each set of numerical results being cross-referenced on the tables that come with the game. For example, if the first BAC determines a punch is landed, the next card determines the type of punch thrown, and the result of that punch. It is possible for a knockdown to occur, which is cross-referenced between the BAC result and fighter’s attributes.
After each action a fighter takes is resolved, the next BAC determines if a change in control occurs. Another BAC is flipped and checked against the attribute of the appropriate fighter, and if control is lost, the next fighter attempts to take control. It is especially important to note that if a fighter fails a check to remain in control, control is not automatically transferred to other fighter. This simulates the feints and movements fighters make to try to create openings or find weaknesses in their opponents. Once a fighter successfully gains control, then their action is determined by the next BAC. Being the fighter in control is significant because although counter-punches can land and score points, only punches landed while in control can create additional results, like knockdowns. Play continues in this fashion until all rounds are over, a fighter is KO’d or TKO’d.
Players essentially take the role of the trainer in each fight, giving orders to each fighter between rounds. There are a number of different strategies each fighter can be commanded to employ, offering their own strengths and weaknesses. While almost any fighter can be told to fight a round in any particular style, some fighters are better at fighting in some ways than others. For example, you can instruct your fighter to focus on Counter-Punching. While this improves your own ability to throw counter-punches, a opponent with accurate punching ability can put you at risk of not being able to land enough counters to score effectively in a round. If you think you have your opponent battered and primed for a knockout, you can go for an all-out offensive tactic that sacrifices defensive capability in exchange for increased chance of getting that KO. Alternatively, you might be so far behind in points that a KO is your only option for victory, so this tactic has several potential uses. There are 10 strategies to use, so careful choosing of these strategies plays a large role in determining the overall outcome of each fight.
We at Around the Board feel this game would would easily be hours upon hours of fun for boxing enthusiasts of all ages. The box contains 100 fighters spanning over decades upon decades of boxing. Players will be able to recreate famous bouts, create “dream bouts” between fighters of yesteryear, or any other combination of fights they choose. Tournament and league play are also options. The ability to play solo games is a big plus for many, as some people work odd-hours or otherwise can’t easily find a partner. There are a number of optional rules and variations, not limited to different round counts. There are rules for creating your own “cut men” and referees, or using realistic representation of actual “cut men” and officials.
Another interesting aspect of the design of the physical components is how every table and chart is laid out in full-size, easy to read and is always visible while playing. At no point will you have to flip through a set of pages with bland, printed tables and charts searching for a result. All of the reference material makes up the play area itself, so finding results will become a breeze after familiarizing yourself with the charts. Title Bout II matches can be played within 45 minutes when using the entire rules complement. Do not let the sheer amount of tables and attributes overwhelm you as you will easily pick it up after only a couple of matches. The game mechanics are simple enough to learn, but offer a great deal of depth to simulate true-to-life boxing offering levels of unpredictability rarely round in simulation board games.
For more information on Straight Jab Media or Title Bout II, you can check out the links below. Jim Trunzo maintains an excellent level of communication with fans and supporters, so don’t hesitate to drop him a line should you want to know more. Of course, don’t hesitate to show support for this amazing project! At the time of finalizing this article, Title Bout II has become fully funded, but that should just encourage you more to throw your gloves on and get in the ring. Congratulations Jim!
Written by Jacob Walsh, published 10/29/2017
Re-use or redistribution of this article, in part or in full, through any type of website, written publication or other medium is forbidden without express, written consent from Jacob Walsh, operator of AroundtheBoard.com
Title Bout II and all picture assets used for this article are property of Straight Jab Media, and have been used with permission.