Richard Garfield, most famous for having designed Magic: the Gathering, helped craft Ku-Mighty, a collectible card game still in development. The designers (and marketers) have ambitious plans for the discretionary spending of 11-year-olds everywhere.

Ku-Mighty is based on hand-to-hand combat between anthropomorphic warriors, each based on the culture, folklore and customs of a certain part of the world. The warriors will also use distinctive fighting styles. Ultimate Gaming Hideout, the game's developer, described it as, "an epic tale of good versus evil becoming the common thread that weaves its way throughout the world and across centuries into the fabric of human history and mythology punctuated by secret societies, fighting arts, ancient visitors and science fiction."

The name Ku-Mighty is a play on the Japanese word kumite, which basically means "karate sparring." According to UGH's press info, kumite is, "a legendary secretive single elimination fighting tournament in Japan that the most elite fighters from all over the world receive an invitation to attend to decide the most elite martial artists in the world," which is totally true if you live in a world where Jean-Claude Van Damme movies depict factual, historical events. I'm not going to comment on the relative coolness of the name "Ku-Mighty" since I clearly have no idea what kids like (seriously, people like a thing called Yu-Gi-Oh?).

Actually, the Yu-Gi-Oh comparison seems apt, since Ku-Mighty appears to have an extremely well-developed marketing strategy. A lot of the information about the game so far is focused on things like how it "gave us the opportunity to apply a transmedia strategy to this unique property," and how "we will certainly look forward to showcasing how these strategies can generate long term, robust fanbases." (Mark Pensavalle, co-founder/EVP production and operations and transmedia producer at Starlight Runner Entertainment). Or how "today's market [is] moving more towards narrative driven content that is extendable to multiple platforms." (Todd Housel, UGH co-founder). So, we can expect action figures, a cartoon, video games, etc.

The rules of the game itself are in an alpha playtest version, although I did have a chance to look at them. Keeping in mind they will likely change a great deal before production, it looks a like a solid game that's simple enough for younger players to grasp. You build two decks, one that contains your characters, one that contains cards that boost your characters, hinder your opponent's characters, or depict locations. Each player has three characters in play at a time, and on your turn you can activate them to take various actions, most of which are attacks directed at opposing characters. Character hit points are tracked by counters, and when they're defeated, they're discarded, granting you a number of "victory points." Rack up enough victory points and you win the game. There will likely be other ways to nab some VPs as well, involing the locations or "completing important missions".

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One of the more innovative mechanics is the ability to rejuvenate a wounded character. At the start of each turn, you turn over enough cards from your character deck to keep three characters on the field. If you turn over a character who's already in play, you give the original back some hit points. And you can even "rescue" lower-valued characters, replacing them with a more potent threat later in the game.

Ku-Mighty's design includes an additional random component, aside from the randomness of drawing cards from shuffled decks. The designers want it to be a surprise, so I'm not allowed to say what it is. I can tell you it's not the Pop-O-Matic Bubble. This "additional randomness thing" is integral to the function of the game, so it's a little difficult to offer much more detail on how it works.

I think the rules and the story have promise. Animal-people in martial arts combat seems like a good fit for kids, who also seem to love sprawling pseudo-mystical "epic" backstories too. This one involves a post-apocalytpic Earth and "hidden human scientists working on a secret mission to create warrior classes in order to fight an imminent enemy [who] mistakenly contributed to the evolution of a third helix in biological DNA." I've seen similarly ambitious efforts fizzle, but maybe your kids will be clamoring to see Ku-Mighty: The Movie 3D in 2012.

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