Comic Gaming: DC Deckbuilding

Posted: December 26, 2012 in DC, Games, Reviews
Tags: , ,

By Alex Headley

A look at the contents of the box. Property of Cryptozoic.

Having played about a dozen games over the holidays, I have to say that while Cryptozoic’s DC Deck-building game is a little too simple it’s still great fun. It supports 2 to 6 players, each of whom control one of the current members of the Justice League: Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Green Lantern, The Flash and Cyborg. Each hero has an ability built in that helps them synergise with certain types of card.

Cyborg, who draws cards from equipment and gets +1 power for super powers is probably my favorite to play because of the versatility he brings to the table. Superman get +1 power for each different super power played in a turn, letting him really snowball if he gets a lot of kicks. Batman does the same, only with equipment which makes it much harder to get out of hand because equipment is much more rare. Aquaman can put cards he purchases on top of his deck so he can draw them next turn, a very powerful affect. Green Lantern gets +3 power if you play three cards with different names during your turn, making him a great hero to start with as it encourages you to buy lots of different stuff and experiment a bit. The Flash gets to go first and draws an extra card whenever a game effect makes him draw. It’s a good power but if you can’t buy card draw stuff it can be underwhelming. Wonder Woman keys off of villains, using her lasso to arrest them and draw extra cards for her next turn.
The goal of the game is to build a deck of cards that will help build power and defeat Super Villains. Each card is worth victory points, once all the super villains are defeated, the players total up their points and a winner is chosen. It’s a simple concept used to great affect in other games like Dominion or Ascension. The kicker here is the aforementioned synergies heroes have with certain cards.

For example, Superman gets an additional power point each time he plays a super power card. Batman does the same with equipment and the Flash gets to draw extra cards. Each one has a unique feel and adds a lot of replay value to the game. The Super Villains are interesting as well, each one gets to attack on their first appearance, harming each player if they can’t defend with a card in their hand. Players can choose to buy super powers, equipment, heroes and villains. Each card type interacts with others in various ways and some villains even let you attack other players by handing out weakness cards that reduce the player’s victory points, unless you have Bizarro, then your weakness becomes strength. There’s just enough nuance to keep each game interesting but learning the game and even getting good at it is quite simple. I had a lot of fun playing it with the family. That said, its far from perfect and I think he final product could have and should have been just a little bit better. More interaction between the players would have sealed the deal for me. I want to feel like a part of the Justice League, working together to take on Darksied. Instead, I feel like I’m racing the other players to be top hero, stealing cards that would be beneficial for my opponents to keep them from winning, or stacking weaknesses to push them down. It’s fun but its just not very heroic. Even just mimicking Munchkin in that regard would have been nice.

You’ll be seeing this guy a lot. He is always the first villain in play. Property of Cryptozoic.

“I’ll split the victory points with you if you help me take down the Anti-Monitor.” Trading between players would have made for a good time as well. Bartering adds a lot to a game like this, making it more than shuffling cards and hoarding points. It adds a social element that makes the game a unique experience, something you want to tell stories about for years to come. DC is just missing that wow factor for me. Still, the art is beautiful and the cards are bursting with flavor and charisma. Of course Arkham lets you draw extra cards for playing villains. Robin helps you fetch equipment and Flash gets to go first. It’s those little touches that give the game it’s value and make it a great experience for comic fans. Despite its flaws, its still a fun game that is easy to pick up, play well and enjoy with friends. I recommend it to anyone wanting to punch, kick and throw Gorilla Grodd at Lex Luthor.

  1. raheadley says:

    Great analysis. One thing that is nice about it is the simplicity. Having played Magic for many years, being able to jump right in and play is nice. However, I wonder about the staying power of this type of game. I don’t know how well it would expand in the future.

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