A Deckbuilding Look at DC Comics

DC: Super Power CardThe newest deckbuilders increasingly mix deckbuilding with other game mechanics to create more complex designs, so it was interesting to finally get to play Cryptozoic’s DC Comics, recently expanded by Heroes Unite (2014), which is a very classic deckbuilding design.

The Game

The DC Comics Deck-Building Game (2012) is a pure deckbuilding game that’s the most similar in feel to Ascension (2010) with a twist of Thunderstone (2009). As in Ascension there are a huge number of varied cards in the game, with just a few random cards available for purchase each round. As in Thunderstone, that’s supplemented by a monster (super villain) that you can kill (jail) if you a lot of money (power) to spend — and those monster/super-villains also act as the timer for the game.

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New to Me: Winter 2014 — The Season of the City

Every three months I write about the games I played in the last quarter that were new to me. They’re mostly new games, but a few classics that I’m seeing for the first time also show up. This time around, the games date from 2008-2013. You’ll also find that my write-ups for this article are a bit more verbose than usual, as I’ve started writing this snippets shortly after I play the games, when the memory is still fresher. —SA, 3/30/14


The Great

RampageRampage (2013). A dexterity game where you flick monsters around, drop them on buildings, and launch vehicles through the air. I’ve always loved the creativity of a city-building game (and we’ll be getting back to lots of those this time), but it turns out that the destruction of a city-leveling game is just as much fun. There’s some actual strategy here, as you try to collect sets of (eaten) meeples, but the fun is mainly in tearing things down.

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The Tao of Board Gaming IV

The Tao of Board GamingKoans I-III can be found in The Tao of Board Gaming I (December 2009). Koans IV-VI can be found in The Tao of Board Gaming II (April 2010). Koans VII-IX can be found in The Tao of Board Gaming III (October 2012).

X. The Serious Gamer and the Silly Game

Once there was a serious gamer who enjoyed playing more thoughtful games. He loved riding the edge of the bankruptcy express in Age of Steam, and enjoyed tallying his precise incomes and expenses in Power Grid. If there was a game that could make your eyes water as you counted out the math or that could make you wince as you figured out your moves three turns in advance, the serious gamer loved it.

But then a new game appeared at the gaming club, where you took on the role of monsters. You flicked discs around, threw wooden vehicles, and collapsed buildings constructed out of cardboard and meeples.

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A Deckbuilding Look at A Study in Emerald

A Study in EmeraldTo date, very few deckbuilding designers have returned for a follow-up try at the category. It was therefore really a pleasure to see a second deckbuilding design from Martin Wallace — one that feels both like an evolution of his A Few Acres of Snow and also like a new and innovative design.

The Game

A Study in Emerald (2013) is a big game that includes deckbuilding as one of several moving parts that together create an intriguing multi-faceted game design. Continue reading

Deckbuilding Interviews: Eric B. Vogel & Zeppelin Attack!

Zeppelin Attack!I’ve been writing about deckbuilding games here for a while, so I’m delighted that my friend, Eric Vogel, has a deckbuilding game of his own coming out from Evil Hat. It’s called Zeppelin Attack! and it’s a new Spirit of the Century-themed game. I played it while it was under development, and liked it quite a bit, so I asked Eric to talk to me about the new game and how it advances the deckbuilding form. —SA, 1/28/14


Shannon Appelcline: Thanks for talking about Zeppelin Attack! What led you to design a Deckbuilding game?

Eric B. Vogel: When Dominion first came out, my friends and I played it to death. We played it till we were sick of it. I thought it was incredibly clever, but it did not directly inspire me to make that kind of game. Later, when I played Thunderstone and then later Ascension, and it was clear that deckbuilding was going to be a genre and not just a game or two, I started to really have a desire to design one myself. Also, with the design of Armorica [a card management game —SA], I started to wrap my head around some of the technical issues involved in designing complex card games. A deckbuilding game seemed more like something within my grasp. So probably around 2010 I started really playing with ideas for a deckbuilding game.

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A Second Look at Expansions (or: The Expansion Expansion)

Several years ago, I looked at expansions in board games. At the time, I concentrated on how the expansions were integrated into the games, and offered the theory that expansions that were permanently added to games weren’t that great, but when you could (optionally) choose to use them or when you could replace some core game system (or even the whole game), things worked better.

It’s now six years later, and I’ve seen many more expansions come and go — some successful and some not — and so I wanted to attack the topic again by instead examining what game expansions do. Along the way, I’ll use examples from some of the more recent games I’ve been playing, such as 7 Wonders (2010), Innovation (2010), Kingdom Builder (2011), and Ascension (2010).

So, how do you expand a game?

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New to Me: Fall 2013

Though my new gaming was light in fall (primarily because my gaming was light in fall, due to the holidays), I’ve opted to publish my short list of new-to-me games while they’re all still fresh. (And it looks like I still managed almost a dozen new games.) As always this is an assessment of how much I like the games, rather than whether they’re great or not. I tend to prefer light-to-medium euros that don’t make me work too hard.


The Great

Caverna: The Cave FarmersCaverna: The Cave Farmers (2013). I thought Agricola (2007) was great the first time I played it, because it combined worker placement with scarcity and it also supported deep and thoughtful gameplay. It’s too long for me to play very often, but it’s still a great game that I love when I play. Caverna is essentially more of the same, but with fantasy theming, with some simplified game elements, with reduced randomness, and with an interesting new expeditions systems. Overall, it’s a great variant, that’s just (barely) far enough from the original that you might want to own both.

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