Challengers! Review

Challengers! Review

Challengers! Review

Welcome to our review of Z-Man Games Challengers! In this game, players compete in a seven-round tournament in this 1-8 player game.

We had to get help with this review, so when we visited Australia in January, we set up a tournament for six people. It was an enjoyable time, and we highly recommend this game for larger groups (4 -8 players). The game takes about an hour and is for ages 8+. Let’s get into this exciting game!

Game Overview

Challengers! is a board game version of the popular kids’ game, Capture the Flag. The game aims for each player to create a deck of cards between rounds to outplay their opponent during seven consecutive head-to-head matches in a round-robin style. The winner of each match scores “fans,” which get added up at the end of the game. The top two players then go head-to-head in one final matchup.

The game’s strategy comes from choosing which cards you add to your deck. Cards get grouped into A, B, and C. During the earlier rounds, players can choose only from A and B. Later rounds allow cards to get added from B and C. The cards have unique names like the Clairvoyant or the Rubber Duck. Each card has added special abilities that come into effect when played. Choosing the right cards is the strategy of the game.

Game Components

The game comes with four color-coded neoprene “park” mats. Each color has an icon (Leaf, Acorn, Flower, and Mushroom). These icons are used in the tournament plan cards to identify which mat and side of the mat (light vs. dark) each player is sitting on for their next match.

Along with the mats are four flag tokens, one in each color. 

The game comes with three plastic card trays, to which you need to add the letters A, B, and C, which are stickers. (Some assembly required!)

To start, the number players determines the number of playmats you need. You will need one for every two players. Then, you place 7 trophies (1-7) on each mat and an additional 40 fan tokens into a supply. The trophies double as fan tokens of various amounts. The total number of fans each player gains determines the winner!

Finally, the game comes with a ton of cards. There are eight sets of base cards, which everyone gets at the start of setup. The rest of the cards are labeled A, B, and C and grouped into one of seven types (City, Castle, Funfair, Outer Space, Haunted House, and Shipwreck). When you set up a game of Challengers!, You only use six groups (City is required), leaving the other in the box.

Overall, we love the graphic design style of the game mats and cards. It’s a beautiful artistic style that makes it fun and inviting for young and older gamers alike.


In Challengers!, each player has a custom deck of cards, starting with the basic 6 cards. They add to their deck after each head-to-head match. The strategy of the game comes with deciding which cards to add. 

Before each round, players decide, based on the current round on the tournament plan card, which stacks (A,B, or C) to draw five cards from, and they get to keep one or two cards each round, discarding the rest. 

These cards have a variety of abilities. Some cards allow you to look at and rearrange your deck, while others give you extra points when they sit on the bench after being played. 

After adding cards to their deck, it’s time for the next match. As mentioned, the board is, in fact, four different neoprene boards that are 2 feet long by 1 foot wide. They are printed with a park clearing, like where you’d play Capture the Flag! Each player sits across from their opponent on either the board’s light or dark side. 

One player starts the match by flipping the flag token like a coin. The side it lands on (light or dark) determines the first player. That player turns over the first card in their deck and takes the flag.

Each card has a number on the upper left. The number is what the second player needs to beat. So if the first player flipped a 4, the second player would need to beat it. To do this, they flip cards from their deck, adding up the numbers. Once the total is equal to or greater than the number on the first player’s card, the second player takes the flag. The first player then places their initial card in the bench area, which sits along the side of the board.

The first player repeats the process and flips over their cards until they meet or exceed the number on the top card the second player had just played. So if player two played a 2 card, then a three card (to score 5 initially), the first player would have to beat a 3 as it’s their opponent’s top card. Once they meet or exceed the number, the second player puts all of their cards on their bench (grouped by type)

Playing cards back and forth in this manner keeps repeating until one player either can not add cards to their bench since it’s full or one player runs out of cards while trying to beat their opponent. Once either happens, the player who could not do the action loses the match, and the winner takes a trophy fan token.

Up to four matches can happen simultaneously with eight players total. What about an odd number of people? Well, Z-Man Games has thought of that! There is an additional deck of cards for “The Robot.” When setting up a game with an odd number of players, you lay the robot deck on the green board and have everyone rotate through as part of the round-robin. The player playing against the robot deals cards for themselves and the robot, and the winner of that match plays out the same way as a regular match. We didn’t play with a robot during our demoing; we had six players. Still, it is an excellent solution for handling odd-numbered groups.

Once all matches in a round are complete, the players collectively look at their tournament plan card to determine which of the three stacks (A, B, C) they can draw additional cards from and which board/opponent they move to for the next round. 

The game consists of 7 rounds, and at the end of 7th round, players add up the number of stars (fans) they received. The top two players then head to head in one final match to declare a winner!

Overall Impressions

Challengers! is an excellent group game for a party. It gets everyone involved, and it’s easy to pick up and learn! We played it with family while in Australia and had a great time! 

The hook for this game is the whimsical design of the cards and the inventive special effects the cards give a player during the game.

Although there is a strategy in picking cards to add to your deck, the game ultimately comes down to the luck of the draw! The proof is in who in our family won the entire tournament! (lets say we were all astounded!)

If you want to pick up a copy for yourself, we have it available in our store!


Shop the story