I just got this game last week, and since then managed to get in 4 games of it. Lets take a look how they do:
The cards are very good stock. They come in standard 65x90mm Magic-size and have great art on them. The layout is great and show all the information that is needed on them. The insert, however, has problems fitting all the cards once you sleeve them and you want to do so since this is a deck building game. The solution to this is to cut the insert to make more room or just remove it altogether and put some foam in between the two stacks of cards.
The rulebook pretty much covers everything you need to know, along with an FAQ for common questions. I had a couple of questions about character abilities that the designer answered, but it could have been more clear in the wording IMO. Overall, we didn't have much problems with the rules in our games.
One of the problems I have with deckbuilder games is that they take a long time to setup. With games like Barbarossa and Star Realms, this problem is eliminated and I'm quite happy that Emergents doesn't have this problem. Generally, you just shuffle all the cards that can be "bought" in a deck, place all the basic cards at the side, choose an Emergent character for each player and you're ready to play.
Now this is where things get interesting. Most people have played deckbuilding games in one form or another, so I'll compare it to that. This game isn't like Marvel's Legendary or Thunderstone. There is no VP collection to be had. Instead, like Star Realms you have a hp pool that gets depleted as the game goes on and the last player left standing wins!
This game has a few things different from other deckbuilders. For one, there's player interaction to be had, in that you can play cards to defend or counter opponent attacks during off your turn. Buying the correct amount of cards to counter your opponent's offence and deciding to play it is part of the strategy(playing counter/defence cards uses up those cards for your own turn, meaning you have less resources on your turn.)
Next, the game has the Erase mechanic. While other deckbuilders let you occasionally remove basic cards from your deck or delete cards from the shop, this is a central theme of the game. You WANT to stop your opponents from getting the cards they want but at the same time you want to trim your deck. The Erase cards you have do one or the other or both, so there are some choices here.
Lastly, and perhaps the best difference is the Emergents themselves. Each player gets to choose one Emergent to play, and they play different from each other. They are divided into four classes: Strongharms, Alcolytes, Non-Stops and Sculptors. Thematically, these are Supermen, Batmen, The Flash(s), and Green Lanterns. Mechanically, they each generally want to buy the cards from their own class, but its still good to mix it up to balance your deck and your Emergent. This is where the Erase mechanic comes into play, where you want to remove from the game the cards you don't want your opponent to buy. Sculptor in particular, get bonus abilities when they Erase cards.
I would say I love love this game! The various Emergent characters make the game feel fresh and different each game, as you try to buy the cards you want and tailor your deck to counter your opponent's Emergent and this is a great thing that stands it apart from other deckbuilders. The theme is great too, as you feel you are playing these characters rather than just buying cards for them, unlike Legendary, for example. And setting it up is very fast, part of the reason I backed it on KS. Cheers!
Thanks for the great and detailed review!
We will definitely look at the insert / tray issue for the next printing and future expansions!
Thanks for supporting independent games.