Five Deadly Kung-Fu Tabletop Games To Kick-Start Your Night

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Much of what influenced fantasy tabletop games came from Western sources. Eastern elements filtered into Dungeons & Dragons with the addition of the monk class, which counts the old TV show Kung Fu starring David Carradine as one of its many inspirations.

Thanks to the continual influence of anime, Hong Kong directors, and kung fu movies streaming on Netflix and Amazon Prime (Go watch Five Deadly Venoms directly after reading this article if you’ve never seen it), Eastern themes featuring brave warriors with open minds and closed fists exist along side hundreds of games featuring elves, swords, and wizards. These games prove that those two tastes go great together.

Feng Shui 2

This RPG started out as a companion to the Shadowfist CCG with a premise that plays off of the card game’s setting. The titular magic allows for a variety of shadowy factions to battle with one another for control of magical sites that influence their ability to rule the world. It’s mostly there as a justification for heroes and villains from multiple timelines to punch, kick and shoot each other in over the top action sequences using simple but meaty mechanics. The most recent edition, Feng Shui 2, was Kickstarted 3 years ago in an all-new, all-color edition. The new edition streamlined the gameplay, updated the timeline and added in additional time junctures for players who want to roundhouse kick velociraptors for an evening or two.

Dragon Tides

The tactical, thoughtful play of miniatures games seems like an ill fit for the fast paced action of a kung-fu film but Dragon Tides aims to change that idea. Greenbrier Games picked up this game from Kickstarter, which gets the feel of a martial arts movie featuring narrative elements and quick Rock/Paper/Scissors style game play featuring strikes, throws, and grapples.  The game also featured miniatures officially licensed from the Bruce Lee estate featuring him and his son’s likenesses. Observant players might just notice the resemblance some of the other figures have to other famous action heroes and villains for maximum crossover battle potential.

Kung Fu Fighting

Slugfest Games is more commonly known for its series of games set in and around The Red Dragon Inn, but this 2004 card game really captures the feel of the wild brawls at the end of a Shaw Brothers classic.  Kung Fu Fighting lets players throw punches, kicks, weapons and change fighting styles on the fly against multiple opponents to be the one left standing at the end of the fight. This great “take that” style of card game is currently out of print (and a recent Kickstarter was cancelled), but fans of big brawls should seek it out as a fun filler style game.


Greenbrier Games has another great martial arts game as part of its catalog. Yashima feels like a board game adaptation of a 3D fighting game. Positioning and timing are important elements to let your character unleash powerful attacks of kung fu and magic. Players build technique decks that consist of a fighter and a elemental kami animal spirit, offering different strategies and combinations for players as they set up the game. Each boxed set offers two pair of fighters and kami, allowing for more combinations and strategies with each box purchased.


Fighting games like Street Fighter and Soul Calibur are big parts of pop culture thanks to the influence of martial arts movies. Yomi, by game designer David Sirlin, simulates the feel of those classic arcade games rather than a cinematic brawl. Each player lays down a card representing a move and they reveal simultaneously, with combos, reversals and all of the elements of a fighting game triggering off of who wins the initial face-off. The game’s popularity has allowed for computer versions on Steam and  iOS that offer cross-platform play.

How do you kick-start your gaming night? Let me know what you are excited to break out in the comment section below.

Images courtesy of Sirlin Games

 Who is your favorite martial arts action hero? Let us know in the comments.

Rob Wieland is an author, game designer and professional nerd. He writes about kaiju, Jedi, gangsters, elves, Vulcans, and sometimes all of them at the same time. His blog is here, his Twitter is here and his meat body can be found in scenic Milwaukee, WI.

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