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Subject: DC's hopeless game of catchup: a review rss

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Ashley Reigns
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This is a good game in one way: a beginners deck building game.

It's a mediocre to bad game in many ways. DC is really dropping the ball in every market except for TV cartoons and probably comics(I can't keep up with them and never tried). They are trailing so far behind Marvel in movies and in games. It feels like someone there thought "Crap, Marvel is making bank on that Legendary game, we need to do something."

Cryptozoic is genius, because they have this empty template that can host almost any license. This game is unthematic, but carries basic deck building staples.

First, you choose a DC super hero with a variable player power that makes no sense for its ability. I played Aquaman first and he allows you to put anything with cost 5 or less on your deck. I can't even come up with a thematic explanation for that. Another player was Green Lantern who gave 3 extra power if you played 3 differently named cards that cost 1 or more. Again why is that GL's power?

Then the game is setup with one super villain face up, starting with Ra's al Ghul. Once someone has enough power and tackles him, a new super villain comes out. They immediately attack all players, with again non thematic deck building punishments. While there are characters like Sinestro who are thematic, he makes all players reveal their hand and discard a card for each hero revealed ie. scaring them away, many are like Darkseid who makes all players discard two cards unless they show a villain. The super villain attacking is probably as thematic as the game gets.

In the middle of the players, is a 5 card lineup from a deck full of a mixture of cards. This is very Ascension like except that there is one form of currency: power. Some cards have power, which is used to fight villains and buy new heroes, super powers, equipment...locations? They all go in your deck, so someone is brain washing those villains to work for you and your hero is gaining Superman's Heat vision, or Bulletproof or the Batmobile.

Superman has synergy with superpowers and Batman likewise with equipment. There's one sub villain that creates synergy if you play at least 2 more of them this turn. There are a couple of cards like Green Arrow (oh yeah, Arrow is a good show) that gives you more points for having more differently named heroes in your deck and so on, but none of it feels thematic, it's like getting a child a training potty with a ninja turtle face. Doesn't matter if it's a turtle, it's still basically a toilet seat.

All cards have a delegated amount of victory points, again like Ascension. So you take turns playing your 5 card hands, collecting cards until all of the super villains are defeated. There we're turns where we couldn't play anything due to super villain attacks, but there was no challenge and we ended with a four point difference in score.

I do not recommend this to seasoned gamers for fear of disappointment. However, if you want to introduce a casual gamer to deck builders, this isn't a bad start, but I'd probably get Legendary, Ascension or Dominion instead.
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Andy Stout
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shortansweet wrote:
There are a couple of cards like Green Arrow (oh yeah, Arrow is a good show) that gives you more points for having more differently named heroes in your deck and so on, but none of it feels thematic, it's like getting a child a training potty with a ninja turtle face. Doesn't matter if it's a turtle, it's still basically a toilet seat.

Love it!

Of course you're dead-on. There are plenty of games with weak theming; Dominion, for example. But Dominion's theme and general approach gear you towards understanding that it's an abstract game, basically. It's themeless, but that's okay, because the cards just have names like "Village" and "Throne Room" anyway. This game, on the other hand, is ANTI-thematic: the cards actively fight AGAINST the theme. I see Superman, Gorilla Grodd, Green Lantern...I immediately expect some sort of powers related to their characters. Instead, mind-controlling Gorilla Grodd is apparently functionally equivalent to Superman's Super-strength. Both of them let you...buy things? The fact that there are recognizable, distinctive characters on the cards instead just makes me ANGRY.

Even if it dealt with the major, major theme problem, though...the game's just the lamest, simplest deckbuilder.
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Michael McGlade
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To each his own. I agree that it's more for beginners, but I've played a few other deck building games (Ascension, Dominion, and Mage Knight) and none of them really stuck.

I'm actually glad that the game isn't thematic. Had it been, I feel like it would have just been something like Smash Up or Sentinels of the Multiverse. And those are good games and all, but there isn't any creativity or uniqueness there. I enjoy playing as Superman who thinks he is Batman (focusing on equipment instead of super powers) or playing Super Strength with the Flash; I know that it makes no sense, but it's not like the game is canon.

Maybe I like beginner themed games or maybe I'm an idiot, but I had a bad experience with the few times I played Legendary. My group of friends had similar issues and the game just ended up being a waste of money. Whereas the DC DBG has been a huge hit. Ascension was big for awhile, so maybe the simplicity of one form of currency was the reason we all stuck to the DC DBG or maybe we are all just idiots. But we're certainly fine and happy with it.

~Zuty
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David Harding
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shortansweet wrote:
It feels like someone there thought "Crap, Marvel is making bank on that Legendary game, we need to do something."


FYI this came out the exact same month as Legendary - there was no competition, both games were just coincidentally in development at the same time. If anything, Marvel may have thought "Sentinels of the Multiverse is awesome, we should cash in on that," as those two games have more in common than Legendary and DCDBG do.

But as you say, this is not a game of theme or story. This is a game about gathering cards with points on them. Most points wins. Many popular and famous games have no integrated theme and that's fine by me, but if you like games like that, go elsewhere than DCDBG. As you refer to, the game engine came before the DC licence. Upper Deck did what they wanted with the Marvel licence, Cryptozoic did this with DC.

Many people like more abstract games - the fact that the first big box expansion for DCDBG has just been released, another is on its way, and other smaller expansions are going to be released suggests that this game is selling well.
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Fernando Robert Yu
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This indeed does not hold a candle to Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game, as the latter game is more thematic and tells a much better story. However, I think DC was not intended to do this, as the entire system is geared for the more casual crowd. In fact, the system is repeated in several other games, but with different themes (ie Lord of the Rings, Street Fighter), just like Heroscape. The entire concept is not for me though.
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Benj Davis
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It's definitely weak on theme, but the gameplay is way smoother than Legendary (plus I hate hate hate its pretensions to cooperation).
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Judy Krauss
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There is a solo variant for this game that adds more logic and complexity to the game, separating out the villains and placing them in locations that have different gameplay stats.

I agree that the rules out of the box are rather simplistic and break the theme by allowing players to use villains in their hero decks. As a game, the DC Comics Deck-Building Game works and it can be fun, but it wastes the opportunity to use all the thematic aspects of the different types of cards.

With this solitaire variant:

http://www.boardgamegeek.com/thread/1105640/new-solo-variant

the "DC superheroes versus comic book villains" theme comes through more strongly and there is more strategy in the gameplay.
I like it a lot.


BTW, there is another solitaire variant that sticks pretty close to the original rules and plays a lot like Friday without the end-game and makes a good lightweight game.
http://www.boardgamegeek.com/filepage/92787/dc-comics-dbg-so...
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Benjamin West
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I'm so grateful DCDBG is nothing like Legendary. Legendary is definitely not the game for me. At least with DCDBG, I can always get more people to play, as it accessible and lots of fun.
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John H
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shortansweet wrote:

I do not recommend this to seasoned gamers for fear of disappointment. However, if you want to introduce a casual gamer to deck builders, this isn't a bad start, but I'd probably get Legendary, Ascension or Dominion instead.


This review cracks me up to no end. It blasts this game for having little theme and THEN recommends Dominion, one of the most themeless soulless games that makes a claim to popularity?

From the title alone, this seems suspiciously like a Marvel fanboy "review" but that may not be the case.

However, everyone has their own views and vantage points, so I'll simply offer my own in this thread to balance out the views in the review.

Counterpoint #1) DCDBG has more theme than any of the three games the reviewer recommends.

Legendary falls very flat themewise with its bogus semi-coop mechanic, equally unthematic gameplay elements (page through Legendary low ratings comments for examples), and monotonous art. The reviewer starts his review of the DC game with the most themeless heroes (Aquaman and GL) neglecting to mention Flash and Batman play extremely well thematically. Our group thinks Aquaman is pretty thematic actually as we feel his power is the weakest :-).

Counterpoint #2) DCDBG has MANY plus points over Legendary.

1. Lower price: fact
2. Shorter setup time: fact
3. More varied art: fact
4. Funner gameplay: opinion, of course
5. Better mechanics: opinion
6. Better victory conditions: opinion

Counterpoint #3) DC is not in "hopeless catchup" of Marvel.

The reason it is easy to spout the hopeless catchup phrase is that the Marvel movie franchises are kicking butt, and that there have been more Marvel Zombies out there than DC fanboys since the heyday of the X-books. However, considering the following areas where DC is not playing "catchup" (all opinion of course)

1) DC's animated series and animated movies blow Marvel's out of the water.

2) DC's kids comics and chapter books (Superpets among them) are much more varied, numerous, and better written than Marvel's (Important for dads to know!)

3) DC's TV shows have been better (Arrow, Smallville, Lois & Clark...) though I've heard Agents of SHIELD is very good. Small sample sizes though, yes.

4) DC Universe themed boardgames have been better than Marvel based ones at this stage, outside of opinions on the deckbuilders.

Admittedly not much to go on for either brand, but I feel the recent Batman: Gotham City Strategy Game and Arkham City Escape game are much, much better than the now out of print Marvel Heroes game I played a few times and sold off.

--------------

I think the above opinions can generally be agreed with by an objective observer. My contention that DC Comics have always been better written in general than Marvel Comics since Stan Lee's writing stint ended is of course my own strong personal bias :-).


SUMMARY:

So those are my counterpoints. I respect the OP's opinions, but I feel the review is very high on opinion and comes from valid but biased viewpoints, as opposed to being a more balanced and objective review.

Obviously, hardcore ("seasoned" as the OP refers to them) Eurogamers and BGG addicts who love analysis-heavy games like Le Havre are not going to like DCDBG. I agree 100% that this game is not for them. However, that in no way makes it a bad game :-).


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Matt Shinners
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gamezendo.com wrote:

From the title alone, this seems suspiciously like a Marvel fanboy "review" but that may not be the case.

I respect the OP's opinions


Sure seems like you do.

Quote:

I think the above opinions can generally be agreed with by an objective observer.


Yep, you're right and he's wrong. Objectively.

shake

-Edit-
Specifically, point 1. Which I would say you're subjectively wrong about. Well, I'd say you're objectively wrong about it, but that's a subjective view. If you only look at the negative reviews of Legendary, then yes, you'll see people pointing out thematic issues. If you do the same here, you'll see the same thing - in fact, I think you'll see it more here. However, if you look at the positive reviews, I've seen thematic issues come up a lot more in this game than Legendary.
 
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Peter Cooper
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I have written negative reviews before, and have been horribly insulted by people who liked the product I was reviewing. So, while I love the DC deck building game and I disagree with shortansweet on lots of points, I think it is an important addition to the reviews, particularly for people who are reading through to see if they want to buy the game (I frequently use BGG reviews when looking at games).

Thanks for your review.
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Zeke
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The power attribute makes perfect sense. The only currency superheroes and villains alike understand is violence, and the threat of violence. Dish out enough punches and kicks, and you can cajole any villain or hero to join your force of miscreants. Add some Heat-Vision in there, and you can even threaten the Anti-Monitor into compliance.

The values are a little wrong. When it takes more punching to buy Black Manta vs. buying Doomsday, you know something is a little off.

Fluff aside, I love how easy it is to setup and play. I have a lunch group that regularly plays this and they aren't regular gamers…they prefer this game by far over my favorite deck builder Arctic Scavengers. When I ask them why they say this "It's easy to play, and every game is different."
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Carquinyoli

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Thanks for the review.
I may not share your point of view, but critical review always give other kind of information very useful. I usually never buy a game before reading some negative review.

Now, let's talk

Super-heroe's abilities making no sense: In my opinion they do!!
So I'll justify those that you couldn't.
- Green Lantern: GL in the comics can create anything from his imagination. Anything he imagine, can be created through will-power. And that's it!! any type of card he owns is useful to him. The more things he has (he can think of), the more powerful he is.
- Aquaman (yep, a bit tough to justify ): He's the King of the Oceans, and his telepathic abilities with the sea-creatures are widely known. When I play him, despite the art on each card I imagine that the Line up (and his deck) are his minions/sea-creatures. The cheapest ones (= the less intelligent ones) can be mind-controled, making them appear on top of his deck (=they help him when they are controlled=bought). Yeah, there's an effort from my side, but it absolutely works and put mechanics into theme.

Villains (the fact that you can buy them) means collateral damage. In the comics, when Heroes they face a Villain, city furniture is destroyed and people dies or are hurt. That's the sense. It works for me.

What is Superman doing with Batmobile when he can fly? well, think of Batman's helping him.

The game's set-up is quicker, and it provides more interaction than Dominion. People in my group got tired pretty quick of Dominion, while they seem to like this one a lot more.

Regarding movie/tv-shows, I'd say that the first really GOOD movies about superheroes were Nolan's Batman. Since then, super-heroe movies are not something exclusive for freaks and fanboys. On my opinion, Marvel has followed DC's lead.
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Adam
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Carquinyoli said it best I think "Thanks for the review.
I may not share your point of view, ...." the rest doesn't matter lol. I think most people won't share OP's point of view to be honest
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Ashley Reigns
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huffa2 wrote:
FYI this came out the exact same month as Legendary - there was no competition, both games were just coincidentally in development at the same time.


Good to know. I was admittedly too sidetracked/lazy to investigate. That comment was definitely more a reaction to upcoming movies, and probably brashly tied to my feelings of this game.

gamezendo.com wrote:


1. Lower price: fact
2. Shorter setup time: fact
3. More varied art: fact
4. Funner gameplay: opinion, of course
5. Better mechanics: opinion
6. Better victory conditions: opinion


1, 2 and 3 I definitely agree with.

gamezendo.com wrote:

Counterpoint #3) DC is not in "hopeless catchup" of Marvel.

The reason it is easy to spout the hopeless catchup phrase is that the Marvel movie franchises are kicking butt, and that there have been more Marvel Zombies out there than DC fanboys since the heyday of the X-books. However, considering the following areas where DC is not playing "catchup" (all opinion of course)

1) DC's animated series and animated movies blow Marvel's out of the water.

2) DC's kids comics and chapter books (Superpets among them) are much more varied, numerous, and better written than Marvel's (Important for dads to know!)

3) DC's TV shows have been better (Arrow, Smallville, Lois & Clark...) though I've heard Agents of SHIELD is very good. Small sample sizes though, yes.

4) DC Universe themed boardgames have been better than Marvel based ones at this stage, outside of opinions on the deckbuilders.


1 and 3 definitely yes. 2 I don't keep up with but good to know.
4 also good to know, I've been wondering about the Batman game and have heard similarly good things in our local store.

Overall I do agree the game play is smoother, but I like heavier games. I did not mean to imply anyone is stupid. But to some unfamiliar with those types of mechanics I think this game handles them in a non-convoluted way. I just wanted more from the game, and it could have been my expectations that made it fall so hard for me.

I mentioned Dominion only because it is the classic, the original cliche if you will. But yes the theme there is spotty and quiet.

Thank you for the responses.
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Benj Davis
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See, I don't think Legendary really is notably heavier, just built in a way that makes play often very halting. The chaining combo thing is nifty, but feels like it hasn't been built around well.
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Les Cheung
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I think that the DC DBG doesn't attempt to make up a sound "story" and so it is left intentionally to the players to decide what is happening during play.

Obviously, some players do not like this as much as Legendary's "Scheme/Villain Deck assembly" solution in trying to create a coherent narrative.

However, I don't think that Legendary has solved this entirely either. (I won't rehash these as others have stated its problems elsewhere.)

I enjoy both games for what they are. DC is a lot of fun as amongst a casual group, many of the character's (both heroes and villains) are familiar to a lot of players who may not follow the comics/cartoons. The variety of combos and the use of a wide variety of villains/locations/items/powers/skills keeps the game pretty simple but unpredictable. How a casual game can be criticized for being a casual game is a bit odd to me.

Legendary feels more like a sandbox game in its construction. I put in the ingredients and either choose specifics or do everything randomly to create the villain and hero decks as well as choice of victory conditions. Some combinations of cards/characters work better than others but you will never know this unless you try every combo out or if you are a seasoned comic book fan and you know what characters should fight which villains and what the best "scheme" to use is for a recreation of a popular storyline.

For a casual crowd (choosing everything randomly), setup can produce some odd thematic choices. Why would Galactus want to "take over the Daily Bugle"? How can street level heroes battle him and actually eke out a tie? Why would Galactus' Heralds start in the Sewer and then want to "escape" the city?

but when Legendary works, it does work well and I do think it is good deeper game too.

Both titles have very different objectives in trying to create games based on popular characters. The question shouldn't be "which game is better?" but rather, "whats coming next?" (expansions or an entirely new use of either license by another company)



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