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Playing With Myself - DC Deck Building Game: Rebirth

The original DC Deckbuilding Game came out way back in 2012 and while expansions are still produced for it, the most recent being based on the Dark Knights: Metal crossover event, it wouldn’t hurt to say that an update was needed. Borrowing the moving villain mechanic from Marvel-based competitor, Legendary, as well as adding movement for your selected hero as well, the folks at Cryptozoic Games very aptly borrowed the name of the banner that brought a shift in tone to DC’s comics in the wake of their Convergence crossover for their next entry into the series: Rebirth. With even more additional game mechanics, such as legacy gaming and a handful of scenarios, each impacting gameplay in some way, shape of form, did game designers breathe new life into their long-running franchise or unleashed a convoluted mess onto gamers? Let’s find out!

To set the stage for my review, I have to share the circumstances behind when I played the game. The girlfriend and I had come into temporary possession of a cabin about 17 miles from Leavenworth, a heavily German-themed resort town here in Washington State. Her mission was to use it simply as a place to sleep in-between each of the three Labor Day concerts of a certain band and their cult-like following. This left me alone in the place for the bulk of the days there…perfect board-game playing environs.

I’ll admit, the first time I got the game out, I was ready to quit after just a few turns. A villain hit the board in the initial line-up thanks to particularly bad shuffling on my part, and, as is a feature of this game each villain has a destination they want to reach, well, damned if Cheetah didn’t spawn right beside her destination. That proved to be a pain in the ass, but I’m actually getting ahead of myself here. Let’s get down to the basics.

Instead of the line-up in the usual DC Comics Deck-Building Game, this time the line-up is in the shape of a circle, between each card of the line-up, you have a location…such as the Batcave, Arkham Asylum, the Daily Planet, Police Station and so forth. And you can't just go buying any card in the line-up, you have to move your hero to the card you want to purchase before doing so. Any villain or super-villain will move to the destination noted on their card and it’s your job to stop them from getting there and, failing that, then you’ve got to capture them before they do 5 points of damage to that location. Fail to do that and that location, as well as any benefits that might come from it, are destroyed. Each scenario card tells you how to set up the board, which locations will be used, what cards to be used, if there are any side-quests the players can indulge in and what the victory conditions are.

So how do these new mechanics handle? Well, like I said, several rounds into my first playthrough and I was ready to rage-quit. It all kind of seemed a bit much. I did power through though and my next playthrough of scenario 2 went a bit more smoothly…long…very long, but smoothly. And this ends up being my main complaint for the game. While it has a solo mode, if you’re going to play it that way, make sure you’re stranded in a mountain cabin for a very long period of time…because playing in this mode is a slog. You get a companion hero of your choice but really all they’re good for is locking up any villains that pop up while you’re on the other side of the board or tangled up with a villain of your own. You can’t take advantage of any of that characters powers or abilities and, if I’m being honest, that not only sucks but seems like such a wasted opportunity for solo players to mix and match, seeing what hero combo clicks for any particular situation. While I appreciate that the set-up of most scenarios hold back on super-villains entering the game until you get one to two-fifths into the main deck, this slow acquisition of cards and power-ups feels like an eternity, especially since most win conditions require you to defeat FIVE super-villains.

With assist mechanisms and the faster rate of card purchases in the multi-player version of the game, DC Deck Building Game Rebirth seems like it would be a lot of fun as villains pop up with greater frequency and players scrambling to stop them…but when you’re all on your lonesome? Sometimes you’re only able to buy a card at a time, thus only one refresh from the main deck, nothing for either of your characters to do except ditch cards you don’t need or can’t use all while you wait for the next turn to start up so you can do it again. Like I said, since I had at least 12 hours to waste everyday while on vacation, the game proved to be a fantastic time-sink. But if you’re looking to just play a quick game between other things to do on say a day off from work? I’m not sure I can recommend this for that purpose.

While a good update to the original game, introducing several new mechanics that take a little getting used to but are easily picked up after a single playthrough, the fact that solo play proves to be an interminable slog at times makes this a difficult recommendation. Sure, I still found it enjoyable, but that’s because I certainly had the time to spare. Realistically, many players aren’t going to have that. Additionally, with the new mechanics surrounding locations interwoven into the line-up as well as the different scenarios, set-up and take-down times now enter into the equation. I still stand by the speculation that when played with multiple people, DC Deck Building Game Rebirth seems like it would be a lot of fun, but if you’re playing it solo, unless you’re really dedicated…I’d give it a pass for quicker plays.I mean, yeah, I did end up liking it overall, but I’m not sure I can recommend it and for that reason, we’re forced to give it a Plain Cat, middle of the road rating.

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