Light week on news, but I dive into an Amazing Spider-Man story from 2018, The Hunted. It’s an interesting story as it’s not a direct follow up but has some parallels to Kraven’s Last Hunt, even though they are set decades apart in terms of…
Probably should have done this list sooner with people needing to shelter in place during Covid-19 pandemic, but better late than never. I’m talking about games that work well with 2 players versus 2 player only games because I’m not sure that I’ve sat down…
Some unsurprising news coming out as New Mutants looks to be a movie set to be released that will now be getting a digital release instead. Along with that, a Marvel actor is interested in reprising their role in future Marvel films, and Spider-Man 3 news. Then for the main topic, I continue my watch through of the Marvel films with Guardians of the Galaxy 2.
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There’s actually some new news as Marvel and Disney have adjusted when the movies are coming out. Along with that in the news, a couple of rumors around Ant-Man 3. Plus I take a look at the Spider-Man story, Kraven’s Last Hunt that I just…
I’ve been toying around for a little while the idea that I might start doing some more top 10 lists. We might still do some video ones in the future, but finding the time with a toddler is tricky. So I wanted to do, from what I’ve played, go through my top games in a given mechanic or style.
This first list is going to be Deck Building Games, now on BGG, they combine pool and bag building games as well, but I’m only going to do deck building. However, it is going to include deck construction games as well. Because you are technically constructing the deck, it is just prior to the game, but it is also a large part of the game. I will call out those games. In deck building, you are constructing the deck to do something in the game, it might be getting victory points, it might be for buying more cards, fighting or many other things. Let’s see what my list looks like.
10 – The Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle Earth
It’s a long title and an interesting game, a deck construction game, you start out with an archetype and some character cards. But you can play against type, so maybe Gimli as a leader and Aragorn as a tank, and between scenarios you can spend experience to level up the deck and get better cards. How you use the cards is interesting, most of the time you are looking for successes on cards, but you can also use cards for a more permanent ability, but the better the ability, more likely it’s to have successes on it, which means you want it in the deck for your challenges so that you can pass them. It’s a good mechanic because it makes so many decisions tough. Plus, there’s a campaign for it, and an app driven story, this is weaker than Mansions of Madness 2nd Edition for that, but the app helps so much, if you’re a Lord of the Rings fan, it’s definitely a game to check out.
9 – Dragonfire
I haven’t played this game as much as I’d like though I have played both Dragonfire and Shadowrun: Crossfire, which are both built off of the same system. I’m going with Dragonfire because that’s the one that I own. The game offers interesting scenarios and challenges for the players to defeat, and you start out with your class which means that you are a little bit better at something than others. You get to purchase cards to improve your deck, but at the same time, you’re trying to deal with monsters and avoid becoming exhausted or taken out. It’s a tough game that I don’t feel like I fully have a grasp on the strategy for it yet, but I like the deck building aspect and I think that it does some interesting things with leveling up your characters. Definitely a fun time to play, and while I like the Shadowrun RPG theme better than the D&D RPG theme, I think that both are fun, so either works, just depends if you want fantasy or cyberpunk.
8 – Magic: The Gathering
MtG was a game that I loved and I’d play all the time for a while, but unfortunately I don’t have a group anymore for it. But I still love it for the deck construction aspect of it. You could build all sorts of crazy decks, and I think, almost as much as playing it, I loved finding an odd card that didn’t have an obvious way for it to work, but I would figure out a way to create a deck around it. Sometimes they were cool decks, and sometimes they failed horribly, but it was always fun to experiment. And then we got into commander which adds a challenge of only having a single copy of a card in the deck and a 100 yard deck, so there was always something new to try and build. I miss playing it as often sometimes, but it’s a classic and extremely popular game for a reason. It’s also addictive to open packs once you get into it.
7 – Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle
This is just a fun game as you get to play through the books, getting further in your education and improving your deck. You get to sling spells, get friends to help you and try and defeat everyone. The game starts out pretty simple, and I like that, because it can continue to add in mechanics and rules and cards for each book that you go to, which makes it more thematic. It does get longer the further in you go because, while you are theoretically getting better cards the longer it goes, in the later chapters, you’re dealing with the villains from the first books as well as the ones from the later books so that number always increases. But Harry Potter: Hogwarts Battle is just a good deck building game and a good theme that will draw people in.
6 – Ascension
This is the most generic deck building game on the list. In it, you have a basic starting deck, you get to buy more cards that allow you to buy more cards or fight monsters that show up. You can combo things together with card draw and constructs, and that’s probably the only unique bit is that you have constructs that you can play out and they stay out while heroes go into the discard at the end of the turn. So you can vary your strategy by either going construct heavy or maybe hero and attack heavy or buy heavy. Each of them gives you a chance to win because you get points for killing monsters, but you can also get points for getting cards and some constructs are worth a lot of points. This is my preferred introduction to deck building.
5 – Clank! In! Space!
Some games take themselves seriously, but Clank! In! Space! is not one of those games. You’re an adventurer/thief, stumbling around Lord Eradikus’s spaceship, trying not to make too much clank so that you don’t get tracked down and knocked out. The cards are all references to other sci-fi things, and it just works really well. It’s a deck builder where you have a few different types of cards that can combo together to create some epic turns, if it shuffles out right, plus it’s push your luck with deck building as well, because you can go further into the spaceship to get a better treasure, but it’ll take you longer to get out and Lord Eradikus might get you before that happens. But if he doesn’t, you’ll be in a much better spot to win. The game is light fun with good replayability.
4 – Aeon’s End: War Eternal
Aeon’s End: War Eternal is such an interesting deck building game that gives you a chance to not have to worry about the randomness of your deck. When you buy cards, they go into the discard, when you spend your cards on a turn, they go to the discard, but cards that you spend on a turn, you can sort those. That’s not a big deal if you’re shuffling the deck, but you’re not, when you run out of cards, you just flip your deck, so it gives you the ability to potentially set-up hands. Add in the game play, which has an interesting spell casting mechanic where you need to prep them, tough monsters to fight, and a town to defend, the game gives you so much replayability just out of the base box and then there is more in expansions and other editions. It’s just a nice twist on deck building that works really well for my style of play, plus it’s cooperative.
3 – Arkham Horror: The Card Game
Another deck contrusction game on the list, Arkham Horror: The Card Game is a great experience creating your character so that they can investigate, attack, or deal with whatever might come up better for a given story. And then you get to take them through a campaign, so it’s not just a one off game, so between games you get to improve your deck so that you’re more prepared for the next part of the story. And characters, depending on their skills will be able to use certain types of cards better or will need help on some skills, so will need more of those cards in their decks, you can really tailor your investigator how you want.
2 – Marvel Champions
It was hard to know where to slot this one in, it’s deck construction, so you build your deck before the game, but it is so much fun. I’ve been writing about it a bunch recently, and it just works for me, all it’s missing is a campaign, which we’re getting. In it, you play as a superhero who is taking on the likes of Rhino, Ultron, or Green Goblin. What makes this work and be an interesting deck construction game is the different archetypes. So you could play someone like Spider-Man with defensive cards in his deck to keep him standing longer without having to flip back to the Peter Parker side, or you could be aggressive hoping to end the game faster. It gives you so many options when you’re constructing your deck. It just feels like taking your superhero up against a villain who has some grand or small scheme.
1 – Xenoshyft: Onslaught
Why is this my favorite, it’s actually fairly low rank on BGG, but the game is just a ton of fun, and I think it does some interesting things for a deck builder. You are never short money, which is nice, but when you buy cards and you are creating your defenses to stop an alien bug attack on your mining base, you can help other people as well. So you build up your defenses, but you can also help build up others, so even if someone has a bad card draw, you’ll be able to help them, or vice-a-versa. It’s just an interesting thing that makes the game feel even more cooperative in it’s nature and not something that you can do in many other deck building games. Plus, you’re blasting alien bug monsters, and I’m always down for that.
I’ve left a few games off of here that do have deck construction or deck building in them because I think that, while it’s important for those games, t here are other things that are also as big a part. Tainted Grail: Fall of Avalon is one of them, but that one is a story driven survival game with deck construction being part of how you level up. The same goes for Gloomhaven, you can improve your hand of cards versus a deck there, but you can improve your modifier deck as you level up. I wanted to go with games where the deck construction is a huge part of the game. I think with the exception of Lord of the Rings: Journeys in Middle Earth, though you are using the deck for everything, you do need to really focus on the deck building part of the game.
There are a couple of notable deck building games that aren’t on the list. First, Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game, I just find that game to be okay. I think that there’s so much in the game now that it can be hard to keep track of everything and you can pretty easily end up with a less than ideal combo of heroes that don’t synergize as well as they could. If that happens, you just get stomped, and I feel like that is pretty common for that game. Dominion also didn’t make my list, and while I know that some of these games, if not all, wouldn’t have existed without Dominion, it doesn’t make Dominion a good game. It’s a pure deck building game, I’ll give it that, but it’s not thematic and it’s not nice to look at, and because it has a static market, someone who has played it more or played with a certain combo is going to be at an advantage because they know what to build immediately, and there’s always an optimal strategy. I like games that make me adjust as I go and stretch me that way, and I don’t think Dominion does that.
What are some of your favorite deck building games? Are there any, based off of what I like, that you think I should check out?
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There’s some movie and Disney+ rumors on characters who might be showing up in other shows. Plus, I talk about a new board game that I found, Marvel Champions, and if you’re a board game fan, is this a good Marvel and superhero experience? Any…
These two games are going to get compared to each other a lot, so it’s time to duke it out and see who the winner is. Or maybe there will be room for both of them in your collection, but for Board Game Battles, there…
I very much love Marvel, clearly, with doing the 10 Minute Marvel podcast. But I’ve held off on getting Marvel Champions for a little while, mainly because a Living Card Game (LCG) like it is, can end up costing a lot. And because, unlike Arkham Horror LCG, it wasn’t story driven, it’s more just facing off against a single bad guy. And the story was one part that I really have loved about Arkham Horror LCG. But, then, I was sucked in when they announced that Doctor Strange was going to be a character pack being released, and remembering that they are going to do story packs or campaign packs coming up here.
Like I said, Marvel Champions is Living Card Game. It’s something that Fantasy Flight Games has made into a thing, basically, it’s a card game where you can buy expansion packs for the game that progress the story, give you more content, or add in whatever it might be as you continue to play through everything. Marvel Champions is no different. The base game comes with five different heroes and couple of villains which would be enough to keep you going for a long time. However, they are releasing character packs and villain packs, so if you wanted to face off against the Green Goblin, you can buy a pack for that, or maybe you want to add Ms Marvel and Captain America to your team of characters you can play, that’s another two packs that you can add. But the nice thing, unless your a completionist, you don’t need everything or anything more than the base game to play a fun game. There are plenty of combinations, deck set-ups, and villains to keep an interesting game going for a long time.
In terms of game play, I would say that it reminds me a fair amount of Arkham Horror LCG, which it was built upon, just without as much story. Instead of there being a mythos phase, there is a villain phase, and the villain is scheming and putting out additional schemes and minions into play. These LCG games are deck construction games, though, thus far, I have only played with the premade Spider-Man deck against Rhino. On your turn you’re playing down hero cards that might be putting something like the Avengers Mansion into play or doing a crazy web flip kick into Rhino to do him damage, but to do these things, you need to pay for them. There are resources to pay for the cards on the cards themselves, so you have to decide, do you want to play a card for resources or put it into play. It can be tough, because all of the cards are useful in the right situation. After that, and attacking or thwarting the villains schemes, the villain activates and schemes. Then the villain does one of two things, they either scheme some more, or they attack you. This is determined by one of the coolest mechanics in the game (I’ll talk about that in a second). But you win if you can defeat the villain before the villain defeats your hero or completes their scheme.
So, how does the villain determine if they are going to attack you or if they are going to scheme. That depends on if you are the superhero, Spider-Man in this example, or their alter-ego, Peter Parker. Rhino doesn’t know that Peter Parker is Spider-Man, so he’s going to scheme assuming that he has previously dealt with Spider-Man, or maybe that Spider-Man is off somewhere else. But then you can flip into Spider-Man form and come in with a swinging web kick out of nowhere. Flipping between the two sides is a balancing act. Sometimes Rhino will have injured you too much so that you need to flip back to Peter Parker side to heal up, while other times Rhino might be so close to getting the scheme completed that you need to flip to Peter Parker side until you can deal with that threat on the scheme. The trick is can you balance it before one of the two loss conditions is triggered.
I also like how expandable the game is, I just got done saying that you don’t need to expand it, but it is an option. If you want to get a certain hero you can, they’ve come out with or announced, Captain America, Ms Marvel, Thor, Doctor Strange, Hulk, and Black Widow. So it’s a wide variety of characters you can play, and while I’ve only played as Spider-Man, I’ve heard that the characters do feel different. For example Iron Man, from the base box, has to build his armor up to get stronger. Black Panther has a lot of gadgets as well that he can use. Captain Marvel is more about punching. I’m sure that the other character packs will feel unique as well. But, I don’t feel the need to get all the packs. I’m not sure that I’ll get Hulk or Black Widow because I don’t know how much I’d play with them, but Doctor Strange and Thor, I’d probably play with a lot. Or Captain America, I might not play with him much, but that’s who my wife would probably pick to play as. So you can tailor it to your group and the same with villains, you can choose which ones you want to fight. This is also a downside for some as there can be a FOMO with the game since you might want to have everything for it.
Thus far, I’ve been enjoying the game a lot. I think it gives you a lot of interesting choices as you try and push your way through and take down the villain. I’ve only played Rhino vs Spider-Man, and even in two games, which I lost both, it seems like it can play differently, and it’s definitely a challenge. I like how I can push for attacking or then lay back and play a bit more defense if I need. I can see how building out and tweaking your own deck for the play style and hero you want against a certain villain would be a lot of fun to do, but that’s down the line for me. It’s definitely a game I can see getting more for, especially Doctor Strange. I was likely to like something Marvel no matter what, though I’m not a big fan of Marvel Legendary, so if I were to play a Marvel card game, Marvel Champions is the one for me.
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