Posts Tagged ‘DC’

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.

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By Alex Headley

Check out our list of 5 comics sure to keep you awake tonight. Let us know what you think in the comments section or  on Facebook. What are your favorite scary comics?

 

1.      Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth

Grant Morrison’s take on Batman has always been steeped in mythology and psychological horror. This graphic novel, released in 1989, takes an unflinching look into the twisted minds of Gotham’s famous psychopaths, including Batman. It’s creepy enough taking a long hard look into the minds of murderous psychopaths but it’s when Morrison lets us into the mind of Amadeus Arkham himself that things really get creepy. The Arkham story is a tragic one that really casts a sense of inevitable darkness over Gotham. That darkness doesn’t stop with the villains. Morrison isn’t afraid to cast doubt into the mind of the Bat. Themes of insanity are ever present in the Batman books but Batman is almost always portrayed as a consummate hero. When Morrison gets his hands on him, it’s easy to wonder just how safe we are under the protection of a man dressed as a bat with some serious angers issues and unlimited funding. Sandman artist Dave McKean brings it all to life in a scratchy, inky style that takes liberties with shapes and shadows to really drive home the scares.

The cover to volume 1 of American Vampire.
American Vampire is the property of Vertigo Comics.

2.       American Vampire

You know something is gonna be good and scary when Stephen King gets involved. I’ve only read the first two volumes but I’m more than hooked on the premise. Scott Snyder’s take on the vampire myth, in particular it’s evolution over time. He applies the concept of evolution to Vampires, each species adapts to its environment. This accounts for several different takes on vampires. The story primarily follows the exploits of American Vampire Skinner Sweet and his war with older, European species. The page count is split with Sweet’s first victim Peal Jones as she copes with her disease. The creepiness is primarily conveyed with the art. Rafeal Alburquerqe creates pages dripping with atmosphere. The vampires are creepy and varied in their appearance. For his part, Snyder has created a rich new take on the bloodsucking fiends and put a lot of time, effort and research into the book.

Hellboy volume 1 cover.
Hellboy property of Dark Horse Comics.

3.       Hellboy

Mike Mignola’s demonic paranormal investigator has become quite the iconic figure in comics. The series is steeped in the creepy, crawly and spooky. Even the primary characters are monsters in the traditional sense. Demons, ghosts, fish men and uncontrollable pyrokinesis are not typically heroic traits. Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. fight the things that go bump in the night. The series shares the movies charm and wit but with the added bonus of Mignola’s fantastic art that is iconic in it’s own right. His line is bold, subtle and instantly recognizable. He does a fantastic job of bringing the zany world of Hellboy to life in vibrant colors and dark shadows.  The series has been running for years now and most recently the title character died, upping the scare factor as Hellboy travels through the afterlife.

The cover for Animal Man #1 in the New 52 line of comics.
Animal Man is property of DC Comics.

4.       Animal Man

Jeff Lemire’s New 52 Animal Man series is one of the success stories of the reboot. He has taken a rather obscure character and turned him into one half of the lynchpin (the other being Swamp Thing, more on that later) for the Dark line of comics at DC.  The conflict between The Red and The Rot produces visuals that nightmares are made of and truly brings the horror genre back to mainstream comics. Buddy Baker’s fight for survival is gutwrenching on every page and thanks to he big crossover event with Swamp Thing at the moment, neither is anyone else in DCU.Buddy Baker has a history of creepy comics thanks to Grant Morrison’s run with the character as part of the Vertigo line of mature comics released by DC. Morrison focuses more on the psychological horror and general creepiness than Lemire’s run and while not every story is frightening, it’s good to keep on your toes when Morrison gets involved.

The cover to Swamp Thing #1 in the New 52.
Swamp Thing is property of DC Comics.

5.       Swamp Thing

This marks Scott Snyder’s second appearance on this list. That dude has some creepy ideas. This book should almost be lumped in with Animal Man, the two are intertwined in the New 52, as the central villain is the same. The horrifying Rot is not just at war with the Red but also the Green; nature’s magical connection with plant life. What really sets Swamp Thing apart though is the Arcane family. Anton Arcane and his children are avatars of the Rot an they have truly made our hero Alec Holland’s life hell. Bringing these horrors to life is Yanick Paquette. Not only are hi figures disturbing and frightening but his panels pull the reader into the story in a way that really drives home the horror. Swamp Thing has a history of horror in much the same manner as Animal Man, seems the two are popular targets for prolific creators. Alan Moore redefined the character for Vertigo Comics many years ago. His take on the character expanded the mythos a great deal and it’s thanks to the roots he put in place that the character has been so successful here (not to undersell Snyder’s contributions, which are great). As with anything Moore does, the title has a palpable sense of atmosphere and a pacing that keeps you on your toes.

Know of any spooky comics that we left out? Give us your thoughts in the comments section.