Preliminary Look: DC Deckbuilder Batman Vs. Joker/DC Deckbuilder Villains: Forever Evil
Last night Ben came over after I got the girls down. He and I played the DC Deckbuilder Batman vs. Joker Duel, and DC Deckbuilder Villains: Forever Evil.
They were great! The earliest Cryptozoic deckbuilder releases weren't very well balanced, and they keep tightening up the system across all the franchises (DC, Street Fighter, LotR/Hobbit, NHL, Naruto, etc.) The deck is small, and we triggered one end condition (a KO) once, and the other (deck runs out) once.
The Batman/Joker game adopts a mechanic they premiered in the NHL deckbuilder (it's good-ish). On your turn, you can either buy cards or "confront" your opponent. There are 3 stacked character cards for Batman and the Joker, each with a different power. Thus, what you do in the early game shapes what you have in the mid-game, and so on. Lots of cards have "During a confrontation, do X" text, in addition to buying power. This is great for giving players extra motivation to be ambitious.
There's very little deck-thinning, and many useful card combinations. We both enjoyed the first game enough to swap characters and play again (I won as Batman with a KO, then as the Joker on points). The second time was a very quick game, not sure what made the difference.
Forever Evil took longer. We got a shaky start when I defeated the Flash. Much like in the other "regular" DC deckbuilder, and the card that turned up removed the best card in both our decks. Our decks bloated up when bad cards came up, and it felt like we stalled for a couple turns.
Again, the card balance is much better. Clayface is still massively under-costed, again. There are very few ways to deal with opponents' Locations, but many of those are less powerful. The next super-hero card's attacks are just as damaging and unfair as vanilla DC Deckbuilder.
More cards seemed to have choices, making the turns a little slower but more tactically satisfying. Combos abound.
If Ben didn't already own all these and I were in acquisition mode, I'd consider picking up either or both games if I came across a decent deal or trade. We played 3 total games, including unshrinking and unboxing, in under 4 hours, but it felt like time flew by.