Surf’s Up for Deck-Building Brawls in Challengers! Beach Cup!

Calling all duelists! Get ready to Shred the Gnar with Challengers! Beach Cup, the sequel to the deck-building battler, Challengers! Beach Cup cranks up the competition with an interactive deck-building system, strategic deck-to-deck combat, and enough sand-kicking fun for 1-8 players!

Are you ready to capture the flag … again?

What is Challengers?

The original Challengers won the Kennerspiel des Jahres in 2023

Challengers! is a “deck builder/deck battler” type card game.  The game is easy to teach (ages 8+) and a full 7-match tournament can be completed in under an hour – even with 8 players.  

The original Challengers! card game won the coveted “Kennerspiel des Jahres” title in 2023! Winning the Kennerspiel des Jahres is kind of like winning the Academy Award of board games.  

Challengers! is basically a giant tournament of “CAPTURE THE FLAG” played with cards.  The tourney is played over 7 quick rounds.  Everyone starts off with the exact same 6-card Starter Deck.  Everyone gets to draft a couple new cards at the beginning each round to improve their decks.  Then players sit down at a 2-person player mat and duels an opponent with their deck.  Duels only take a few minutes.  Winners capture trophies (victory points).

This “draft then duel” system is played over all seven rounds. In larger group tourneys, players will have to move to a completely different board (beach) for their next match.  

Everyone’s deck will be completely different from their opponent’s by the end of the tournament because there are over 300 gaming cards in the box!  

After seven rounds, the two players with the most trophy points play one more match to decide ultimate champion.  

Challengers Beach Club cards

How does a Challengers match play?

Think of Challengers as a modernization of the old “War” card game.  One person puts out a card and the number at the top is their power.  The character represented on the card now has the flag.  The opponent now has to take the flag back or they lose.  The opponent plays as many cards as possible to take the flag back (based on the running power total on the card).  The total power of their cards put together must tie or exceed the power of the card (person) holding the flag. When they do, their top player card now holds the flag.  Play goes back and forth until someone wins.  

Challengers is Capture the Flag – War style!

The game has a little more strategy than simple War though because many cards have special abilities on their text box, and many cards of similar colors will work well together if they are placed in the same deck.  

The Bench – Each player has a bench on the side of their side of the field that can hold 6 cards after they have been played and are no longer hold the flag.  Multiples of the same card can sit on the same slot on the bench.  If you run out of bench room, you lose the game, even if you have more cards that can that could potentially take the flag back.  You have to take this into account when building decks.  You will need to remove weak cards from your deck at the right time.  

Challengers! vs Challengers! Beach Cup!

The original Challengers game came with: 4 beaches (neoprene/rubber mats); 8 Starter Decks; 1 Robot Deck, 7 additional theme Decks Sets, and more.  Deck themes were: Outer Space, Shipwreck, Funfair, Film Studio, Haunted House, City, and Castle.  Over 300 total cards were included in the original Challengers.

Challengers! Beach Cup comes with: 4 different beaches (neoprene/rubber mats); 8 more Starter Decks; 1 Robot Deck, 7 different additional theme Decks Sets, and more.  Deck set themes are: Rainbow; Fairytale Forest; Secret Base; Toy Store; University; Mountain Top; and Beach Club.  Over 300 total cards are included in the Beach Cup version.  

Challengers! Beach Cup is a standalone game that plays up to 8 people, but can be combined with the Base Set to host giga-tournaments of up to 16 people! 

Challengers cards

Differences between Challengers and Beach Cup!

Just like its predecessor, Beach Cup throws you into the heart of deck-building mayhem. You’ll spend part of each round drafting sweet new cards to trick out your deck, then unleashing your deck against your opponent’s in an epic duel. And Beach Cup throws a whole new wave of depth your way.

One change is the all-new Rainbow Deck, which totally replaces the City Deck from the original game. This deck adds a new layer of strategy goodness to your deck-building decisions. Another change is “Fans”, bonus points you score for snagging lower-powered cards. This adds another new layer of strategy to deck building, making even the most basic cards a viable choice for the cunning duelist.

It’s basically War!  So, Is there really any strategy?

This is fun question.  Because the original card game of War game has no strategy, it is 100% luck.  But strategy in Challengers comes into play with your card assessment abilities, your combo assessment abilities, your deck building ability, and knowing when to remove cards from your deck.  You can remove any cards you want during the deck-building phase. 

Some cards from the Fairytale set. Can you draft enough to make some of these work together?

During match-play, your only choices really come down to bench manipulation.  Remember you will lose the game if you don’t have room on your bench.  Do you want to keep only 6 – 7 unique card types? Do you want to draft cards that let you remove cards from the bench?  This all comes into play.  

Cowabunga! Fun for Everyone

Whether you’re a seasoned Challengers! champion or a complete deck-building newbie, Beach Cup has something for you. The easy-to-learn rules make it a perfect game night choice for gamers of all ages, while the deck-building strategy keeps things interesting for even the most hardcore competitors.

With the ability to throw down with 1-8 players, Beach Cup is the perfect game for any size party. You can even throw down with up to 16 surfers if you combine it with the Challengers! expansion, making it the ultimate party game for you and your crew!

Challengers Beach Cup – Back of the box

Should You Snag This Game?

Beach Cup is an evolution of the Challengers! formula, offering fresh mechanics, strategic depth, and easy-to-learn fun. If you’re a fan of the original or just love deck-building brawls, then Beach Cup is a must-have for your game collection! 

This is a great game for large player counts.  You can play up to 8 players with one version of the game, and up to 16 players with both versions.  

You don’t need to own the original Challengers to enjoy Beach Cup.  They are both standalone games, with different cards inside.  And both can be put together if you want. 

I don’t really think one version is better than another.  You can simply pick up the cheapest version if you want one, or snag both if you want a larger variety of cards.  😉

Pojo Notes:

  • Setup and teardown is a bit time consuming.  This game takes 5-10 minutes to setup and teardown.  But I think it’s worth it. 
  • Large player counts don’t really add extra time. If you have read any of my other game reviews in the past, you know I regularly play games with 6-8 players.  Everyone is playing matches simultaneously, so there really is no extra time added for extra players.  
  • Not for everyone.  Some advanced gamers might think Challengers! is too simple.  The deck building aspect is fun, but match-play is essentially an auto-battle of your deck vs. your opponent’s deck.  There is not much decision making going on during the match, except for some bench manipulation and maybe some minor deck manipulation.  I still think more players will like this game than won’t.  😉
  • Odd number player counts work! Both version of this board game include a Robot deck.  If you are playing with an odd number of players, one player will play versus the robot deck every match (which can actually be tough to beat!).
  • Table Hog – If you are playing with 5-6 players, you will need space for 3 player mats.  7-8 players will need 4 player mats, and so on.  You are going to need room for everyone.  
  • Luck – Luck comes into play at various points during Challengers.  Card combos can come into play in the reverse order you want them.  You don’t get to stack your cards, you have to shuffle your deck and watch the random order your cards come out.  Or you can get miserable draws of cards during your draw phase.  But I still think that the players who build the best decks eventually wind up in the Championship match.
  • Musical Chairs – Some players might not like having to get up several times in an hour to move to another beach (playmat). 
  • Tournament Plan Cards Work Great – I marvel at the tournament plan cards.  Each player is given their own individual Tournament Plan card before the tourney starts.  Each card is specific to that each player, and tells them exactly what Beach they are playing at, and which side to sit on for every round.  This works extremely well.  And there are enough tournament plan cards for a Giga-Tournament for up to 16 players.  The Giga Tournament cards are only in the Beach Cup version.  
  • Box Insert – I love box inserts, and this one is pretty good, but I’m not sure I’ll be keeping this insert.  It might be easier to separate all the card sets into individual Ziploc bags vs using the box insert.  That would help immensely with setup time.  I’m really hoping for a 3rd expansion that is something like the Bigger Geekier Box they make for Smash-Up.  It would be nice to have slots for each deck theme and starter deck to make setup and teardown go faster.