Welcome one & all to the arena of the card game known as Budō. Here in Budō, published by 5th Dimension Games, players will go head-to-head, dojo to dojo to see which of their arts is the best.

Budō is a two player game, for ages thirteen to adult, & may take around thirty minutes to play. My first game took about twenty-five minutes & was surprisingly fun.

In Budō players will choose which of the martial arts they will take part in using. There are four arts to choose from: Karate, Boxing, Muay Thai, & Tae Kwon Do. Once a player has chosen their path they will then go into the set up phase depicted on a special diagram.


Setup will look like this: Budo-3

After setup the starting player will play their actions. Second player will start their turn with one experience point. During each player’s turn they will be able to perform a number of actions using the four stamina they receive at the beginning of each turn.

There are several actions a player may spend their stamina on.

They may move their character to an adjacent mat card. They may do this multiple times per turn. Doing this will allow players to setup different skill cards. Players must move at least on mat card per turn.


They may also use their stamina to gain experience points. Experience points will be used to draw a card from deck, put a card from hand back onto deck, or gain or return a card from the dojo.

Players will also using stamina to play a skill card from their hand. The amount of stamina used will be determined by the number of stripes on the belt along the top of the skill card.

Other actions will be un-stunning characters, break a hold an opponent has on their character, or stand up after being taken down.

During an attack a player must be at a certain distance from the opposing character. Characters who are looking across a mat at each other are standing at a range of zero. If an opposing character is standing at an adjacent mat then they are at a range of one.

A player who buys a skill card during their turn may immediately use that card if they have enough stamina to play it. Players will look at a skill card from left to right. They will pay the stamina, move a set number of mats is applicable, make sure they are at the proper range for the attack, & deal that much damage in strength to opposing character.

Skill cards have varying degrees of difficulty to perform. Each of the skill cards will have a colored belt banded across the top of the card. These colors range from white to black. Skill cards must be purchased in a certain order. You can not purchase a brown belt until a blue belt is purchased or a black belt until a brown belt is purchased.


After an attack the opposing player may block damage using defensive cards. If a block were to push an opposing player to an adjacent mat that would change the range of an attack then that attack would be negated.

Some moves may cause a player to become stunned, put into a hold, or taken down. Any of these will result in a that character being unable to play defensive skills. To get out of a stun or to get up from a take down a player may pay one stamina to bring their characters back to their feet. If a player is put into a hold, they may only get out of that hold if the opposing player performs a move or another skill.

Once a turn ends all cards played or in hand are placed into a players discard pile. That player ending their turn will then draw up three cards to their hand.

All of this will continue until on character reaches the zero on their “Hit Point” counter.

Alright, so I looked at the game at first & I didn’t think it would be my type of game. I figured that it would be a game I would take to introduce people with it, then be done. But I was stunned that it was a really good game.

It hit so many of the sweet spots that I look for. I love card game & I love deck-builders. This falls into a very interesting category. It isn’t very often that players will find a one-on-one fighting deck-building game. I like that it showcase four different martial arts & the skill sets for each of the arts is spot on.

The one thing I found particularly interesting is the different colored belts on each of the cards ranging from white, blue, brown & black. Black belts of course are the very best. The fact is you can’t purchase certain belt colors until you purchase a lower tier belt.

I really like Budō & I hope there will be a future expansion that will introduce either more skill cards to be used for the martial artists that are already in the game. Or an expansion that will introduce additional martial artists.

Budō can be purchased through 5th Dimension Games website.

Let’s all head down to the dojo & game on!

-Christopher Richter

Twitter: @Boardgaming_FTW