The first co-op expansion for the DC Comics deckbuilding game, Crisis Expansion 1 expands on the cards and heroes in the initial base game while adding a new mode of co-op play. The Villains are coming, and you have to stop them. You will win or lose together! Costing $20, is Crisis expansion 1 worth it, or does it fail to create a team of villains worth the fight? Before proceeding, it is important to note that this expansion works with ANY of the core games, not just the first game, and can easily be added to Heroes Untie, Team Titans, Forever Evil, etc.
Here is a picture of some of the cards in the game thanks to W Eric Martin
This expansion has 3 main components to it. We’ll go through each in detail, starting with Crisis Mode, then doing Impossible Mode, and ending with the new cards for the main deck.
What is Crisis Mode?
Crisis mode is the new way to play the game. It adds a co-op theme to the game, and functions differently in a few ways. Essentially, the core of crisis mode is that you have to defeat all the Supervillains in the stack before the main deck runs out of cards. If you don’t, you lose. If you do, the whole team wins. There are special heroes that you use for Crisis mode to deal with the changes in the game, and each one has an ability that can trigger for any hero in the game. You also use the Impossible Mode villains and a new set of cards called Crisis cards.
Crisis cards are problems that you have to solve before you can defeat the villain. Each crisis card changes the rules somehow, like causing each villain to attack you when it is flipped into the lineup. To defeat them, you have to do something, like have every member on the team discard a card with a different cost, or destroy 4 heroes in your hand/discard pile (as a team), or have at least 1 card that costs 2 on the top of someone’s deck and destroy it. However, there is a kicker. Before you can even attempt to solve the Crisis, there can be no villains in the lineup. Whenever you would buy a villain in this mode of the game, instead of putting it into your discard pile it is placed in the destroyed pile. This means that you won’t be getting any villains during the game unless a specific card effect causes you to gain them. After you defeat all the villains, you can attempt to solve the crisis and, if solved, can defeat the Supervillain now or on a later turn. There is only 1 crisis card per villain. Additionally, there are more villains/crisis cards then you will use in the game, so there is a little variety there as well. You will use all the villains in a 2 player game, however, but not all the crisis cards.
Here is a handy chart to defeating Supervillains:
1) Defeat all villains in lineup
2) Complete the crisis (only if no villains in lineup)
3) Defeat the Supervillain
4) Flip a new supervillain, resolve attack, and also flip a new crisis card and resolve any attacks/effects.
5) Repeat until you beat the last villain, which is always the same.
A lot of the attacks and crisis cards deal with adding cards from the main deck to the lineup as well as really messing over your plans. I won’t add any specifics here, but some of the crisis cards can SERIOUSLY ruin all of your plans. Additionally, instead of filling the line up to 5 cards at the end of each turn, you add the top card of the main deck to the line up. This prevents you from gaming the system and not flipping anything over because the game is about to end, there are no villains out, etc., but it can also cause problems if somebody cleared the lineup with a lot of power and you only have 1 card option to buy.
Here is a picture of the heroes that you use in Crisis mode thanks to Krscho
As you can see, they all have a special designation saying they are for Crisis Mode only. These are the same heroes from the base game just changed to work in the co-op Each hero has a smaller, specific power that can work for themselves or on another hero. Some of these are not so great, like the Flash’s power, which lets you draw a card, or Superman’s power, which does the same, while others are quite useful, like Wonder Woman’s, Aquaman’s, or Green Lantern. Others, like Cyborg, Batman, and Martian Manhunter, are situational and depend on what is going on with the team. I don’t really like the Crisis heroes because I feel that they really picked some odd powers here to trigger for the whole team, especially Batman’s, and Flash/Superman. While I understand the need to make the heroes weaker so you don’t just run over the Supervillains in the game, I wish that they picked some more exciting options instead of just drawing a card or getting a new hand. How about trading cards, or giving someone +2 power, etc? That would be really interesting.
All in all Crisis mode is a different way to play the game, but that does not mean it is a good way to play the game. Crisis mode takes 2-3 times as long to play as a normal game, especially if you have more players. The game scales with more villains/crisis cards with less players, but some of the crisis cards can be other there forever if you have to have all 5 players discard a card with a different cost or type. It just takes time to get the right combo of cards in everyone’s hand. My biggest issue with crisis is the amount of time it takes. I play DC as a quick, filler game, not the main game of the evening. If I spend 2-3 hours playing a game I will pick something different, like Mage Knight, Arkham Horror, etc, not DC. This is the biggest issue with the game, and even scaling it down by removing cards from the main deck, villain pile, and the crisis pile makes the game still feel long and sluggish. It just feels a bit tacked on and not what I wanted in the co-op expansion. Additionally, since the main deck is the trigger for the game, you have to go through it and pull out/add cards to keep it the same size. You can pull out the heroes from the base game and add the new heroes in this expansion, for example. This adds additional time to the setup/takedown that make this more akin to Legendary to set up. That is not something I am interested in, I traded away Legendary for that reason. We normally just shuffle all the cards we own together (base game, heroes unite, this crisis, crisis 2, and the crossover pack 3 plus some promos) and cut the deck into half. This roughly creates the same sized main deck and adds variety to what kind of cards we will draw. Crisis is something we play very, very occasionally, but is not something we would play on a regular basis.
What is Impossible Mode?
Fans of the Lord of the Rings deckbuilding game will recognize Impossible Mode. Impossible mode changes one rule. Whenever a weakness is destroyed it is placed back on the weakness stack instead of in the destroyed pile. Additionally, all of the villains are harder to defeat, have more powerful abilities, and give you more benefits when you play them. There are impossible mode copies of all of the 12 villains from the base game in this expansion. To compare, Raz in the base game costs 8 to defeat and gives +3 power when played, here he costs 9 to defeat, has the ability that if you don’t buy a card from the lineup during you turn you flip the top card of the main deck and add it to the line up, and gives you +4 power when played. Lex Luthor costs more to buy, but lets you draw 4 cards instead of 3. Etc. etc. I really like impossible mode. It adds that extra umph to the game that I feel like it needs. I rarely play with the regular villains and use the impossible ones instead. They are harder to defeat, some of them have unblockable attacks, and they just make the game more interesting. Impossible mode is amazing and is quite fun to play. It adds a little bit to the playtime of the game, but once people start getting the villains they go fast.
New Main Deck Cards/Heroes
Finally, this expansion adds new cards from the main deck and new heroes for competitive play. Here is a picture of the heroes thanks to Krscho
The heroes are a mixed bag. Green Arrow is ok, but gets diminishing returns as you destroy starter cards. I don’t like heroes tied to starter cards. I would rather destroy the starter card and not use my power instead of keeping these crappy cards in my deck. Robin is insane, and can get some crazy combos going with equipment pulls. He is one of the most powerful heroes in the game if you can get equipment. Animal Man is a decent hero. A great ability, but you won’t always be able to use it. It also won’t really start being useful until the midgame when you have destroyed some cards and added some new card types to your deck. Zatanna is… I want to like her, but she really doesn’t do much for me. If it was a card that cost 0, that would be worth it. I usually use her to save a good card of defense for a later round, or to just draw a card if my hand stinks, but her ability is not that great and is not really that useful. Again, if I could dump my crappy cards for a bad hand later, I’d do it. My good cards? Not so much. Constantine is another situation hero as well. He is great during the mid/end game for clearing out those kicks, cheaper cards, etc., but it all depends on what you flip. Unless you have a reliable way to put cards on top of your deck, it is a huge gamble if he is worth using or not. Finally we have Swamp Thing. He is either the most powerful or the most worthless hero in the game depending on if you flip any locations. I like his power, and it can really get insane with 3 or more locations out, but at the same time I find myself buying locations while playing him simply to deny the benefits of card draw to my opponents. He has a great ability if locations come up, but you’ll want to weigh the cost/benefits of letting Superman get his Fortress of Solitude, or Batman his cave, etc. It just depends on what cards you and they have in your decks.
Besides the new heroes there are 30+ new cards for the main deck. There is nothing amazing about these cards, but new cards are always a great thing to have. They have wide variety in card type, function, cost, and abilities, and bring additional spice into the game. I enjoy most of the new cards and usually just shuffle them in with my main deck when I play competitively. I’m not a fan of the “pull all equipment from x set and replace with y set” rule that Cryptozoic has since it takes time to do this and I’d rather just have everything in one big pile. It adds variety, lets you see different cards, and changes how you play the game based on what you flip. All in all, the new heroes are a mixed bag, the new cards are as well, but most of them are at least decent/comparable to the power levels of the base game, and I don’t think any of them are insanely powerful or insanely weak.
Crisis 1 is worth picking up simply for Impossible Mode, more heroes, and more cards for the main deck. I cannot recommend playing Crisis mode frequently unless you really, really, really like it. I think we have only played 5 times vs. the 40+ times we have done just impossible mode. It just takes too long and really is not fun at all. That being said, I would recommend getting this expansion due to the other new cards in it, and highly recommend having a throwdown against the Impossible mode villains as often as possible!
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While I understand the need to make the heroes weaker so you don’t just run over the Supervillains in the game, I wish that they picked some more exciting options instead of just drawing a card or getting a new hand. How about trading cards, or giving someone +2 power, etc? That would be really interesting.
I disagree with Crisis heroes being 'weaker'. They are designed with 'teamwork' in mind, and as such some really can't be directly compared to 'normal' Super Heroes.
Cyborg, for example, would be grossly overpowered in a normal game.
Green Lantern would be horrible in a normal game.
Constantine is another situation hero as well....Unless you have a reliable way to put cards on top of your deck, it is a huge gamble if he is worth using or not.
There are actually two parts to his ability:
1)Once during each of your turns, reveal the top card of your deck.
2)If its cost is 1 or greater, you may play it and it has +1 Power. If you do, destroy it at the end of your turn.
Peeking is free, destruction is optional. Being able to freely peek at the top card of your deck can have it's advantages. Although the usefulness of that depends on getting other cards in your deck that care about knowing what the top card is.