Friday, January 2, 2015

DC Comics Deck Building Game: Heroes Unite, by Erik V Larsen

Here's another guest review from Raoul Mowatt, original Nerd Nighter! 

The first expansion to the DC Comics DC Deck-Building Game does a lot of what an expansion should do: bring a bunch of twists to the base game so that the experience of playing it is just familiar enough to remind you of what you loved about the original and just new enough so as to deepen the play experience.
If you’re unfamiliar with the original DC Comic Deck-Building Game, check out my review of it here.
Heroes Unite, despite its name, is not a cooperative game. It introduces seven new DC superheroes to play as: Shazam, Hawkman, Red Tornado, Black Canary, Batgirl, Nightwing and Booster Gold. (Some copies of the game include a promo Starfire.) For supervillains, it features such New 52 characters as K’El, Graves and Helspont. So some of the deeper cuts of the DC Universe. For some, playing less iconic characters might detract a little.
Though the characters are less famous than those in the original, they tend to be more powerful. I’ve found it’s easier to have broken turns and decks in Heroes United.


Shazam’s ability is that he can pay 4 Power and take the top card off of the main stack and put it on top of his deck (or in his discard). He can do that as many times as he can generate 4 Power. This could be a very high reward – getting a card that normally costs 8 early on with the ability pretty much means game over for everyone else, since it will likely have a snowball effect. And it’s a relatively low risk – even the cheaper cards are still fine in the game.
Hawkman gives +1 Power for each Hero you play, while Black Canary does the same for Villains. It’s easy enough to build around those Super Heroes and have a great deck just on the face of it.
But Saint Walker costs five Power and is worth one victory point at the end of the game for each unique Hero you have. Sciencell costs six power and is worth one victory point for each unique Villain. In any deck, it is relatively simple to have Saint Walker and Sciencell worth more victory points than a Super Villain at a lower Power cost. In a Hawkman deck, Saint Walker can easily be worth double-digits, and same with Sciencell in a Black Canary deck.
Another twist: Heroes Unite introduces a new potential victory condition. There is a series of Equipment cards called Power Rings, after the devices worn by the Green Lanterns and their rivals. Power Rings are not only strong in their own right but also are worth victory points equal to the number of power rings you have. But then there is Kyle Rayner, a seven Power Hero who will flat-out win you the game if you play him and three Power Rings in one turn. I have not seen that pulled off, but I have certainly had fun trying.
It’s fairly easy to have a runaway leader issue in the expansion, particularly in a heads-up match.
Bottom line: Heroes Unite ups the power curve quite a bit from the base set, and for some, that affords the opportunity to have fun doing some fairly crazy things.