Aquaman isn’t so bad after all
This post originally appeared on my old blog: PinkMeeple
So in this blog post my 16 year old son Jeffrey gets a turn.
I picked up DC Comics Deck-Building Game in a recent Math Trade on BoardGameGeek. I thought it might be a good introduction to deck building as a mechanic that my son has not yet experienced. Why not go to Dominion first? I’m not a fan of the theme of Dominion from what I’ve seen from the various reviews online. At the same token, I’ve never given it a try. However in his defense, my son (and myself as well) likes superhero anything. He doesn’t care so much whether it’s Marvel or DC as he likes both. He doesn’t know the whole mythos of either universe but knows enough of the characters, that either DC Deck Builder or Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game will make sense. (Legendary we don’t own yet, but he says he wants to try it) We played several games over the weekend it came in the mail and his first impression was that he loved it. In fact, so much so, he said it’s “one of his favorite games of all the games we own.” Simply, each player selects a role randomly. They include: Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, Flash, and others. As you get better at the game you could choose two at random and then select which one you want to be. My son had a habit of getting Aquaman. Now, Aquaman is the butt of all jokes in the DC universe especially if you’ve seen Robot Chicken or Big Bang Theory but in this game he is actually a very cool character to be since his ability allows for cards that costs 5 Power or less that you gain can go right to the top of your deck to be used the next turn. Each player starts with 7 Punch cards worth 1 Power and 3 Vulnerability which are worth 0. The Vulnerability cards just clog your deck so you can’t get as much power in a turn. Weaknesses work the same way except they are also worth -1 VP each at the end of the game. So as the game progresses you want to get rid of those when the opportunity arises. Like most deck builders, you shuffle, then deal 5 cards to yourself, purchase as many cards as you want up the available Power you have in your hand. Everything then goes into the Discard pile (unless a card’s ability changes that rule), then next player has a turn while you deal yourself 5 new cards. When you run out of cards, you shuffle your Discard pile to make a new deck. Rinse and repeat. Over the course of the game, you are buying special equipment, or locations that offer ongoing abilities, super powers, heroes, with special card abilities and villains. Think of buying villains like Solomon Grundy or the Penguin as defeating them and the power you gain later when you play them as experience you gained in your battles against them. You can also defeat Super Villains which cost much more power to defeat and when they first appear, unless you have a defense ability card in your hand, you must suffer the penalty of an Attack which includes losing a card in your hand to your Discard pile or worse. When this deck runs dry (there are 8) the game is over and you total up the Victory Points. The player with the most points wins. Also, if the main draw deck runs out the game ends. Jeffrey liked the fact that the game play is simple and can be taught in just a couple of minutes. He liked how it plays fast and usually we want to play again right after the game ends. The artwork is really nice, and although I wish the text was bigger on the cards (my usual beef), with a little effort and looking over my glasses I could make them out. After a lot of plays I can see where the replayability could run out as you will see the same cards over and over. There is an expansion out called Heroes Unite which is a stand-alone game but can also be mixed with the base game for more variety. Later this year, is another stand-alone game being released called Forever Evil where you can play a villain role. Again, here you can mix these cards in with the other two sets. I know that some people have an issue with the gameplay in that as you acquire cards, you might buy cards that don’t relate with your role card. For example, you might be Batman and acquire cards like the Batmobile, or the Bat Signal – makes sense. But often times you are acquiring other cards like Heat Vision or Wonder Woman’s Lasso. I look at it like this: you might be Batman but you are calling in reinforcements to do battle from other heroes. So if we’re on the same “good guy” team, why isn’t this a co-op? Well, I think the competitive nature of the game is such that we are working together as “The Justice League” but secretly we keep track of the villains we defeat much like Legolas and Gimli did in The Lord of the Rings – friendly competition among heroes.
I can see where the game would become tiresome if overplayed with no expansions. But it is simple, fast and plays in less than hour for experienced players who are familiar with all the card types and their abilities. This comes fast with only a couple of plays.
Jeffrey does want to try Legendary as this is also a deck builder but cooperative. Set in the Marvel Universe, the game play is a little different than DC but the basic concept of accumulating power and combo-ing those with other cards for maximum effect. This game will stay in my collection for a while since I can teach Natalya this game when she gets older. The box says ages 15 and up. I am not sure why this is. As long as you can read the text on the cards and do simple math, the game is easy. Anyway, a great gateway game to deck building and if you like superheroes, it’s even better. And don’t feel bad if you get Aquaman – his trident is a pretty awesome card too.