R&D Blog - DC Deck-Building Variants

By Matt Hyra

Today, I wanted to share a couple of variants to the DC Comics Deck-Building Game to keep your players on their toes. We have tested these variants in-house, but feel free to modify them to suit your own play group’s taste. That’s the great thing about variants… you’re already changing the rules, so no reason you can’t change them a little more.


This is a variant game for up to five players that really changes the dynamics of the game. It is best played with at least three players. The more, the merrier. Each player is given a Player Marker, from Player One to Player Five, though you will hand out Player numbers only equal to the number of players in your game. It helps to write down the Player Markers on index cards, or you can feel free to do a print screen on my attempt at Player Markers.

Determine who will go first. Give him the Player One card. Then hand each player to Player One’s left a Player number card in ascending order. So in a 4-player game, the person to Player One’s left starts with the Player Two card and so on, and the Player Five card will not be used. Don’t get too used to your Player Marker. It will be passed to the left at the end of each round.

This variant has some similarities to card drafting. The Line-Up is only refilled to 5 cards at the start of Player One’s turn, and that player will change each round. However, a player may discard a card from their hand during their turn to add the top card of the main deck to the Line-Up, no matter how many cards are in the Line-Up. And you may do this multiple times during your turn if you wish.

The costs of cards are modified based on the Player Marker in front of you during your turn:

Player One: At the start of your turn, refill the Line-Up to 5 cards. Cards in the Line-Up cost you 1 more to buy.

Player Two: Cards in the Line-Up cost you face value to buy.

Player Three: Cards in the Line-Up cost you 1 less to buy.

Player Four: Cards in the Line-Up cost you 2 less to buy. So all 2-cost cards are free.

Player Five: The first card you buy from the Line-Up each turn costs 3 less. So a 3-cost card would be free.

The player who starts with the highest-numbered Player Marker (Player Four in a 4-player game) gets a “button.” Use anything from a hockey puck to a silver dollar. The button never moves. At the end of the button player’s turn, a new round begins. Player Markers then rotate one player to the left. The first Player One will now be Player Four in a 4-player game and takes the next turn as usual... as Player Four. The new Player One doesn’t take a turn until it comes around to him or her in clockwise order as usual. What this means is that play continues clockwise just like a regular game, and no player’s turn is ever skipped because the markers moved.

Note that this will scoot the Player One card further along each round, so the Line-Up won’t automatically refill to 5 at the end of each round. It only refills at the start of the new Player One’s turn. Also note that Kick and Super-Villain costs are not modified. If a Super-Villain is defeated, a new one will appear before the next player's turn starts as usual.

Feel free to print screen and cut these Player Markers out to use during play. You can figure out your own “button.”

This variant makes players evaluate the cards in their hand versus the cards in the Line-Up. Early on in the game, you can easily discard your Vulnerabilities to add cards to the Line-Up. Later in the game, you might have to discard Punches to see more cards. And if you manage to destroy a whole lot of your Starter cards, you won’t have any easy discards. So there is a bit of a “catch-up” in here is as well. A Weakness is no longer a 100% useless card. However, there are times when adding new cards to the Line-Up will help your opponents more than you. If there is a reasonable card to buy, do you risk putting out something that you can’t afford, and allow the player to your left to have access to it without “paying” for the privilege?

Super-Hidden Super-Villains

In this variant game, there is no Super-Villain stack. Instead of creating a Super-Villain stack as usual, shuffle all 12 Super-Villains into the main deck. When a Super-Villain enters the Line-Up, they make their First Appearance -- Attack against all players. Since the Line-Up can get clogged with high-cost Super-Villains, play with a six-card Line-Up, instead of the usual five.

Since there is no Super-Villain stack to end the game, play until you can’t refill the Line-Up back to six cards. Even if you have bested all 12 of the Super-Villains, the games goes on. This means you will see a lot more Super-Villains played during this variant than in a regular game.

Note: When the Hero J’onn J’onzz is played, he may play any Super-Villain in the Line-up, and then return it to the Line-Up. If there are none in the Line-Up, he doesn’t do anything at all. If there are multiple Super-Villains in the Line-Up, you only get to play one of them, but you get to choose which one.

This variant makes for a longer game, and the First Appearance— Attacks will not happen at predictable times. In regular games, the Super-Villains tend to get taken down quickly in the end, so there isn’t time to play them. That won’t happen here. 

Feel free to post your comments and variations on these variant in the forum. Have fun!


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Matt_Hyra's picture Matt Hyra

Matt Hyra has been designing games for 20 years, and has been Cryptozoic Entertainment's lead board game designer since its beginning in 2010. Some of Matt's recent games include Rick and Morty: The Pickle Rick Game, Epic Spell Wars: Panic at the Pleasure Palace, and DC Deck-Building Game: Rebirth.