Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, The Flash, Green Lantern, and Cyborg. The roster is set, but if you want to play the DC Comics Deck-building Game, you'll have to choose one of these heroes as your own. Each has a unique ability, allowing players at the table to adopt different strategies from turn 1.
While we reviewed Cryptozoic's Penny Arcade-themed deck-building game as a great intro to the genre, their DC Comics Deck-building Game looks to be decidedly more complex. For starters, it contains five different card types: Villains, Heroes, Equipment, Super Powers, and Locations.
Deck-building card games are a delicate balancing act, as players carefully add new cards to their decks with hopes of consistently drawing powerful 5-card hands. The added variety of card types amps up the complexity of these decisions, but the goal of each turn holds a singular focus: defeat Villains.
The DC Comics Deck-building Game is strictly a victory point competition. Each card you add to your deck has an end-of-game value in addition to its in-game abilities; defeating Villains just happens to be the best way to accumulate points while preventing your opponents from doing so.
So how do you go about taking down the likes of Lex Luthor and The Joker? Many cards will generate "Power" when they are played, and this single in-game currency is used to both acquire new cards and defeat the current Supervillain. When a player generates enough Power to take down a Villain, they'll add that card to their deck (converting them to the forces of good?). These cards have high victory point values and have powerful in-game effects, making them among the most valuable in the game.
Being the hero that defeats a Villain has another positive effect, though: you'll be immune from the next attack. Only one Villain exists on the table at any time, so when one gets defeated, a new Villain will step up to take its place. When that happens, a "First Appearance" attack will occur at the start of the next player's turn, weakening the next hand that each player (aside from the one with immunity) will draw.
It can be a bit unfair to describe new games in terms of other games, but with a crowded market of deckbuilding card games that share very similar mechanics, such comparisons are an unavoidable. At face value, the DC Comics Deck-build Game looks to be a mix of the previously-mentioned Penny Arcade: Gamers vs. Evil and the Ascension series from Gary Games.
The Penny Arcade game is one of only a few other deckbuilding games where players start with unique abilities (asymmetric gameplay), and it also puts a focus on defeating boss-type enemies. As for the comparison of Ascension, the DC game uses the signature "center row." Here, the DC game uses a 5 card "Line-Up," giving players just a few options to choose from each turn, rather than the typical huge stacks of cards that most deckbuilders throw at their players.
If you are lucky enough to be attending Comic Con next month, you can be one of the first to try out the DC Comics Deck-building Game. Cryptozoic will be setting up a pop-up store at 411 Market Street, where they'll be demoing and selling all of their recent releases.