Review: DC Deck Building Game
While Legendary seemed to take the best of Penny Arcade & Ascension, this game seems to take the worst parts of those games. You get one row of things to work with and only one kind of resource (Legendary has recruitment and power, for example). You only get power to use, and this thing is supposed to be what gets you super powers, equipment, villains, heroes, and locations? It's just way too general. This doesn't work. The same resource should not be used for all of these things together, and that's where I take a lot of issue with it.
That's not to say there isn't some good to be had. There is a fine base for a game here. Every player is given a super hero card. They each have special abilities that will probably determine how you'll build your deck. This is a good trend I've been seeing in deck building games lately. When the available cards remain the same every game in one giant pool, it's a good idea to have motivation to build your deck a certain way. Without that, you often end up with people just trying to play the same deck, inevitably leading to a player having something strictly better than another player. This way, what's inferior for you can work out better for the next player.
The real heart of this game is in the card types. As I said, you've got villains, heroes, super powers, equipment, and locations. Super Heroes and Locations will all have effects that that work off of these effects, and there are a couple other themes in play here. There's also Super Villains to "defeat" (same as buy, really) that are a lot harder than anything else to get, but have the best effects. Unlike Legendary, those Super Villains go into your deck to be used later. That's one of the things I didn't like from Penny Arcade. When you get down to how the game actually plays, it's fairly solid. If you can disregard any flavor problems, there is a fundamentally reasonable game to play.
Therein lies the problem, though. Sure, I can get all behind the combination of effects I get to use, but that's it for the flavor. Your starter deck is full of punches for minor power and "vulnerabilities," just totally dumpy cards. I've seen deck building games all give you cards that give you admittedly junky cards, but they all have some kind of use. Even Dominion's Estates go toward your victory points. Usually the junk cards are useful in other ways, like a second currency, stats, or generic effects. Vulnerabilities are just waste. Then you get the idea that you're using power to buy all the cards you ever use. That's fine for villains, but you just can't translate it to anything else. Then for the villains, are we supposed to believe they've become reformed after you punch them enough? Then you get the stereotypical 3-2 card all deck building games have. This one is called Kick (to mimic the punch), and it's considered a Super Power. That's just all sorts of wrong.
On the individual cards themselves, there's plenty to love here. The Bat Signal gets you a hero right to your hand. Joker has a bunch of random effects. Ra's Al-Ghul goes to the bottom of your deck after you play him, kind of going with that revival idea. If you want an activity to do while staring at a bunch of DC art, you could certainly do worse. Most of the cards do give you a fine feel for what they're actually supposed to do.
Then you've got player interaction. Legendary is a fine combination of co-op and competitive. This one's all competitive. Just about the only player interaction you have here is attacking, basically done through villains. On the flip side, there are quite a few cards with defense on them. You'll mostly use it against the Super Villains, but they'll defend against your opponents, too. I'm all for competition, so this is fine by me. However, if you're all supposed to be playing as super heroes, attacking each other just breaks all sorts of fluff.