Deck building games have picked up quite a few adherents over recent years, myself among them. My personal favorite happens to be the DC Deck Building Game by Cryptozoic, which, no surprise, is based on the DC characters we know and love. It’s a pretty straightforward and streamlined example of the deck-building genre, simple enough for anyone to play and win but deep enough to be replayable and offer you a host of different strategies. The game’s main distinction is that you can take on the roles of your favorite super-heroes and villains, each with their own special power to help guide your deck composition.
Once you get hooked on DC Deck Building, there’s plenty of modules and add-ons to pick up. It’s awesome, but also intimidating. The four main modules (Base Set, Heroes Unite, Forever Evil, and Teen Titans) have over 200 cards each as well as their own internal synergies and balances. Throw in all the Crisis and Crossover packs, and you’re dealing with an absolutely massive amount of cards. You can’t just throw ’em all in a pile and hope for the best! I’m here to offer you a few ways to start making the most of your collection and mix up the game after playing a few times.
Make Some Theme DecksCredit: DC Comics
With all four modules, you’re covering a pretty big selection of heroes, along with their associated adversaries, powers, and tools. If you group them into associated “families”, you can make decks based on the worlds of specific heroes. I worked up a decklist based on the classic Batman-Superman team-up, for example, using only cards associated with ol’ Bats and Kal-El. It’s a little trimmer than the typical deck, after subtracting cards that didn’t have any synergy, but considering most games don’t run out the deck anyway, that should be fine.
It’s easy to imagine other decklists along these lines. How about Green Lantern and Green Arrow? Or to take it to a slightly different direction, what about using the cards to fit a certain storyline? It would be really fun and totally possible to create a decklist using characters and villains important in the Justice League Unlimited cartoon!
Play Your Games With Some Variant RulesCredit: DC Comics
DC Deck Building really invites house rules and homebrewing; each module even comes with some suggestions for variant play. One of my personal favorite suggestions, which me and my friends tweaked just a bit, is the idea of the “Super Hero Draft” (which just gets crazier and more fun the more modules you have.)
Basically, you lay out all of the potential Super Hero and Super Villain characters for the game you’re about to play. You shouldn’t put out all of them, just 3-4 times the number of players, and no random picking – make sure the choices all have a chance to synergize with the deck you built. From there, every player rolls. Starting with the high roll, everyone eliminates a character from being picked. Then, you make one more round of eliminations. Finally, everyone gets to pick their character, but you pick in the reverse order of your eliminations (so low roll picks first).
If you have a smaller number of players (2-3), you could also try a variant where you pick two characters at the start of the game. Having two special abilities to coordinate allows for even crazier combos and a faster, more intense game that should make up for your emptier table. Or a two-player variant where one plays a Super Hero, the other a Super Villain. The hero destroys villains when they “purchase” them, rather than gaining them, and they instead gain 1 VP. The villain has a similar rule change, only they do so for heroes. Once you’ve got a few games under your belt, it’s fun and easy to come up with ideas like these.
Build Decks Based On StrategiesCredit: DC Comics
This is definitely the trickiest and most time-consuming idea, so I’ve saved it for last. Each module, as I’ve said before, is built around some careful internal synergies. But there’s definitely overlap between the effects of cards in different sets, and if you take the time to pour through them, you can build cool combos between multiple sets. You can see my decklist here based on the destruction mechanic, a major part of Forever Evil but made more powerful and streamlined by introducing cards from other sets (flip through the tabs on the bottom if you can’t see it).
There’s other opportunity here too: could you make a deck that grants a boon to somewhat underpowered Super Heroes (like Robin and Kyle Rayner)? Or one that revolves around manipulating the top cards of your deck?
Be sure to share any cool ideas you’ve had for DC Deck Building in the comments!
Featured image credit: DC Comics