R&D Blog - Jumping into DC Comics Deck-Building (Part 2)

By Matt Hyra

Click here if you haven't read Part 1.

In Part 1, we learned about the card types and how to start up a game. Now here's more meat to chew on as we wait for the release in a couple of weeks.

As you buy more cards and add them to your deck, you will find that you might want to get rid of some of your basic Starter cards, especially the good-for-nothing Vulnerabilities. After you've rid yourself of those, even Punch cards with just +1 Power will not be a welcome sight in your hand. To get rid of these cards, you will need some card destruction abilities. Last time, we saw Nth Metal. That one can catch the occasional unworthy card on top of your deck and get rid of it. But sometimes you don't want to leave it up to chance.

With a card like Heat Vision, you can choose which card you want to get rid of. Since every card you buy has a VP value of at least 1, even smaller two and three cost cards will be hard to part with. The game doesn't last so long as to make these low-cost cards worthless. In fact, many fun card combinations are made easier with these low-level support cards. The Starter cards all have a VP value of 0. However, there is something worse than 0…

Weakness cards are worth negative 1 VPs at end of game. As in, they reduce your total score. The deck has 20 cards in it. If they run out, you won't have to worry about gaining any more… though you should be worried as you probably have a lot of Weaknesses in your deck. However, in a typical game, the deck does not run out. Note that destroyed Weaknesses (the best thing to destroy!) are removed from the game and not placed back onto the Weakness stack.

These cards are not bought. Instead, you get them when you are attacked by someone like Scarecrow. When a player plays the Scarecrow card from his hand, the other players are going to be subject to the attack, but they have a chance to play a Defense card (like Super Speed previewed in Part 1) to avoid the effects of the attack.

These attack cards may or may not show up in a particular game, as they are subject to the randomness of the 114-card main deck. But in a game about Superheroes fighting Super-Villains, you've got to have some fighting going on, right?

Enter the Super-Villain stack. This stack is set up at the end of The Line-Up, so it's always in the game.

While the eight cost Ra's al Ghul begins each game on top of the Super-Villain stack, the costs of the Super-Villains range from 8 to 12 and the VP values range from 4 to 6. These cards are by far the best VP value for your Power. It just takes a little bit of time to work up the Power to defeat them.

There are twelve different Super-Villains available, but in a typical game, you will use just eight. That way you'll never know who (or what) you'll be up against each game. After Ra's al Gul, the rest of the Super-Villains in the deck are randomized, so you also won't know the order in which you'll be facing them.

When the Super-Villain on top of the stack is defeated, it creates a power vacuum and another Super-Villain takes its place. When it does, it makes a FIRST APPEARANCE—ATTACK against each player in the game. These attacks are bit more harsh than a typical Villain attack, so having a Defense at this time is as good as gold. Each Super-Villain does something different when it attacks all of the players. Note that if you defeat a Super-Villain and later play it, the FIRST APPEARANCE—ATTACK does not happen… only when they first appear. The abilities they do give you are at the top of the text box, and they are usually quite good.

The Super-Villain attacks against all players gives the game a lot of Super-Heroic flavor. Those who are not able to avoid the attack might have to destroy a valued card or discard a few cards. Maybe you'll even lose your Hero's special ability for a few turns. There is always a lot of tension when a player defeats a Super-Villain, as you know a new one will flip up soon. Note that a new Super-Villain doesn't flip up on the stack immediately. It only happens at the end of the current player's turn. So a player may never defeat more than one Super-Villain in a turn.

Since I've talked about Weaknesses and Super-Villains, I should also mention the only other cards that reside outside of The Line-Up: Kick cards.

Kicks give you +2 Power, which is pretty good, but every other three cost card in The Line-Up is probably going to be a bit better.

This stack of 16 cards is always available to buy. If you don't have enough Power to buy a card in The Line-Up, these cards are a good alternative. And you can buy more than one if you want to. The only Hero who will consider doing that is Superman. His Hero Power makes him want as many Superpowers as he can get. However, buying too many Kicks isn't going to do him much good.

Superman likes Super Powers… whaddya know? That's another thing that makes this game unique amongst deck-building games. You already know these characters. You know what they can do, who their friends are, and what equipment and abilities they have. When you play the game, you get to be a part of that character's story. And you're writing it. When you spot a card in The Line-Up that your Hero has used in the comics, chances are it's going to work well for your Hero. When you know and love the characters, equipment, locations, and abilities you are playing with, the game just means more to you.

With easy to learn rules and game text that can be easily deciphered, this game will find an audience amongst gamers and deck-building players, but also comic book readers. And, yes, we are already working on an expansion. After all of the positive feedback we received at the summer conventions, how could we not?


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.