Dale Yu: Review of DC Comics Deck Building Game: Teen Titans

 

DC Comics Deck Building Game: Teen Titans

  • Designer: Richard Brady
  • Publisher: Cryptozoic
  • Players: 2-5
  • Ages: 15+
  • Time: 30-45 minutes
  • Times played: 4 sessions with review copy provided by Cryptozoic

DC Teen Titans

As you probably are aware, I’m a big fan of deckbuilders, and everytime that I come across a new one, I like to give it a whirl to see how it stacks up.  Since the genre’s invention in 2009, there have been many different takes on the genre – and because of that, each one has been worth trying out to see what new idea(s) it might bring to the table.

In Teen Titans, you take on the role of Raven or Beast Boy (or 6 other heroes from DC Comics), and you goal is to hone your abilities to take down the most Super Villains possible (and thus have the most victory points).  You start with a ten card deck comprised of 7 punch cards and 3 Vulnerability cards.  The punch cards are your basic attack while the Vulnerability cards represent your weaknesses – and they are inert in game play.

the starting cards

the starting cards

choose your hero

choose your hero

Once the starting decks are created, you then shuffle the Main Deck – this is a 113 card deck which contains the other cards that you will add to your decks.  You also need to create the Super Villain stack.  There are usually 8 supervillains in each game (you are given 12 in the box) – though the rules tell you that you must use a specific card as the first card in the Supervillain deck (Slade Wilson) as well as specifying which card is always the last one in the deck (Trigon).  The 6 Supervillain cards in the middle of the deck can be drawn at random from the remaining supply.

villains

villains

The game is then set up as such… The Main Deck is place in the center of the table, and the top 5 cards are drawn and placed face up in the “Lineup”.  At the end of this line, you will find the other decks in the game – the Supervillain deck, the deck of Kick cards and the deck of Weakness cards.

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Now it’s time to start play.  The first player draws a hand of 5 cards from his deck (at any point in the game, if you need to draw a card and you cannot, you shuffle up your discard pile and make a new deck to draw from.  You then play your cards in any order.  Many of the cards generate “Power”, and this is the currency in the game that you use to buy more cards.  Some cards also have special actions on them.  As soon as you play a card, you resolve all the actions on that card.  You may buy as many cards as you want on your turn – provided that your played cards have generated enough power to pay for them!  You may buy cards at any point on your turn, and once purchased, the new cards are placed immediately in your discard pile.  You can continue to play more cards even after you have purchased a card.  You are not obligated to play all your cards, and you may draw some cards (i.e. vulnerability cards) which actually have no effect and only serve to weaken your hand.

Some of the cards that you play have the word “Ongoing” on them – these cards stay in front of you when you play them until something forces them from play. There is no limit to the number of Ongoing cards that you can have in play.

Some of the cards from the Main Deck are Attack cards – these are cards that target the other players in the game and might cause them to discards cards or pass cards to other players.  Some of the attacks may cause you to add a Weakness card to your deck – these cards have no action and they subtract a VP from your total at the end of the game. Targeted players have to follow the directions on the Attack card unless they have a Defense card in their hand that they play in response to the Attack.

Additionally, each superhero has a special ability (some actually have two!).  At any point on your turn that it makes sense, you can use the ability written on your superhero card.

As I mentioned above, you use your Power to buy cards from the Lineup.  However, if you generate enough power, you can use it to take down the top card from the Supervillain deck.  The cost of these is higher than regular cards, but so is their VP value.

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Whenever you’re done with your turn – you simply announce that you’re done.  Any cards left in your hand are placed in your discard pile.  Then, you resolve any “at the end of your turn” effects on played cards.  Then, all played cards from this turn are also placed in your discard pile.  You replenish the Lineup so that there are 5 cards available for the next player.  Then, you draw 5 cards to generate your hand for next turn so you can start planning…

You also flip up the top card of the Supervillain deck if a card is not already face up.  With every new Supervillain, there is a special “First Appearance: Attack” action on that card.  All players will have to face the consequences of this Attack unless they have a Defense card in their hands.  (Note that Supervillain cards also have regular Actions printed on them – when you play the card from your hand, it uses this regular action, not the First Appearance Attack action.)

The game continues on until one of the two end-game criteria is met:

  • You cannot flip up a new Super Villain onto that deck – or
  • You cannot fill up the Lineup to 5 cards.

At that point, you collect all of your cards (in play, in your hand, in your deck, in your discard pile) and sum up the victory points on them.  Most cards will have positive VPs on them, though the Weakness cards will subtract VPs from your total.  The player with the most VPs wins the game.  If there is a tie, the player with the most Supervillain cards in their deck is the winner.

My thoughts on the game

I think that this is a nice entry to the deckbuilding genre.  Because of the DC Comics license, I think that there are likely a good number of buyers of this game that will be new to boardgaming.  While there have been plenty of deckbuilders in the past 6 years, it’s still not the easiest sort of game to learn.  The rulebook of this Teen Titans game does a really good job at teaching people how to play the game.

The game is a very tactical one given the way the whole Main Deck is shuffled with only 5 cards available for you to choose from on your turn.   The good news about this is that it really streamlines your decision process – in many other deckbuilding games, you might have 10 or 12 cards to choose from – here, you just make the best of each hand as you play through it.

The cards are quite easy to understand and follow – we really did not have to refer to the rules much to figure out what the cards did.  There are a few cards that have specific clarifications in the rulebook, but we really never needed to look.  The cards all made sense to us.

The artwork was nice and certainly evoked fond memories of when I used to read comic books as a child.  As I am not current on my DC comics, I can only assume that they are using the same artists that illustrate their books.

The entire game is self-contained, and you can get many games right out of the box.  However, it should be noted that this game is part of a larger series of DC Comics Deckbuilding games (at least 4 other base games and 4 crossover expansion sets) – so you can combine the different sets together to get a new feel for your game.  Though I have not played the other sets, it does appear that this set focuses more on the Ongoing trait of cards than previous sets.

This has been a good introduction for me into the world of the DC Comics Deckbuilding game.  We’ve had a really good time playing it so far, and I would be interested to see how the other sets fit in with this one.

 

Ratings from the Opinionated Gamers

  • I love it!
  • I like it. Dale Y
  • Neutral.
  • Not for me…

 

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About Dale Yu

Dale Yu is the Editor of the Opinionated Gamers. He can occasionally be found working as a volunteer administrator for BoardGameGeek, and he previously wrote for BoardGame News.
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