DC Comics, and the Evolution of the Deck Building Game

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13 Responses

  1. Rob Searing says:


    Can’t agree with you more. (Just FYI – posted a link to your article up on Game Bugle – I really enjoy this post!).

    I have a huge family (7 children) and I’m constantly looking for fun games to introduce them into the hobby. Mice & Mystics has been a huge hit, but I’ve always wanted to get them into deck building, as I really enjoy the mechanic. My favorite has always been Thunderstone. Well, I’m a HUGE fan of Marvel Legendary and (if it’s me and my oldest or wife playing) prefer it to DC Deck building. But I can’t begin to tell you how easy it was to explain and play with my younger children (1st and 3rd grader). We had a ton of fun.

    I think people need to take it for what it is – a light, filler, deck building game that can help bring people into the genre – as well as provide us gamers a mechanism for teaching the mechanism to others. This will continue to be my go to intro game for new players!

    Thanks for the read!
    The Dice Tower

    • jmgariepy says:

      Rock on! A reply from The Dice Tower! You got some lucky kids, Rob. I remember when I was that age, my father would only play Parcheesi with me, and that’s because he didn’t have to think too hard about it while he watched the news. :p

  2. SPBTooL says:

    The DC Deck building game is nothing but a singular mechanic looking for a game, with a “Let’s make some money” license. Dominion at least has some choices to be made. The DC Deck Builder, like a lighter Ascension, only ever has an obvious choice to do. Having obvious choice is the same as having no choice at all.

    Calling it a good game because it can be easily played by many people is like saying cheese pizza is the best pizza because it doesn’t have any of the toppings that someone might hate. Choices that have meaningful affects in the out come are what make these hobby and card games fun and interesting. Anyone that gets into hobby game through the introduction of this game will later find a game that does the same thing better and not return to play this DC Deck Building activity.

    The DC Deck Builder is not a bad game but it is not a good one either. If you really need something this mindless while waiting for the next real game to be set up, pull out your phone and play bejeweled.

    I don’t believe this game can actually get anyone into board gaming. No where in this “review” did you say that the game was fun but you said it 3 times in the Marvel review. And Rob, I bet it is more you getting people into the hobby than this game. You may be using it as a tool but I expect that your talk during and after playing is about other games that you can now relate to them after experiencing the mechanics.

    The excited nature my son tells you about this new experience he has had of driving a car does not make my crappy old Neon a good car. It mechanically functions but it is not as good as better made, higher featured cars. That is exactly what most of the positive reviews you mention are. I will trust someone that has driven many different car more than my son. I can learn the tastes of these reviewers and adjust my judgments from that. When several different reviewers with differing tastes say the same thing you can get a good idea of the final product. This read like someone trying to validate their purchase by saying “At least its better than a game from Toys-R-Us.” This feels odd as I see in your Chicken Caesar review that you are okay with saying you dislike a game.

    • jmgariepy says:

      Hi SPBTooL, thanks for the response! I’m glad I could write an article that charged you up enough to comment. 😉

      Your argument is certainly valid. There’s a reason why I called this deck-building game “The most approachable” and not “the best”. It certainly isn’t my favorite, though I think it’s one of the better games I played this year. That’s a hell of a contradiction, and I’m aware that it makes me sound like a jaded reviewer who thinks some piece of shinola is good just because it’s different. I can’t help my opinion that I enjoyed this breath of fresh air, though. It would be more dishonest if I was to say otherwise.

      To clear something up: I didn’t purchase this game, then seek to justify my purchase, since I haven’t purchased this game. I was talking to Jeff Bourbeau from the Myriad Games podcast today, and telling him that I needed to grab a copy before the expansion came out. He gave me his. It’s an enchanted life I lead. You too could gain occasional free games if you dedicate 12 hours a week to writing game reviews. Snarky attitude aside, what I’m saying is that I feel like my four or so games wasn’t enough, and I want to play more of it… though, honestly, I’ll wait until the expansion comes out.

      You’re comparison to Bejewelled is an excellent one, by the way. Sometimes, I want to play a game that requires me to think, but not too hard. I also enjoy games that make me think real hard. Truth is, I enjoy a wide variety of play styles. DC Comics is an excellent beer-and-pretzles, ‘Why the hell is the neighbor singing. Doesn’t he realize these walls are paper thin’, ‘Could you please just let the dog out’ card game. It is not a complicated interlocking game like Marvel, nor is it a thinking man’s deck building game like… oh, maybe Nightfall?

      I have no problem with saying I don’t like a game. But I’ve worked as a game store clerk enough times to know that most games have a target audience, and, if I like an aspect of a game, that I should focus on that, and let the target audience know what I liked about the game. With DC, I like how straightforward an example of the genre it is. If DC’s target audience finds my article and it sounds like something they would get into, then I’ve done them a service. If readers with tastes like yours read my article, and I’ve cemented their decision to never play this game, then I’ve done a service there, as well.

      • SPBTooL says:

        Thanks for the reply. Hope i didn’t sound to negative.
        There have just been so many “I Love everything” reviews/reviewers over the years in the board game community. Yes I have been bit by some of those. Lately we have been getting more negative reviews of hyped games which I find to be a good thing.

        You shouldn’t be defending a game because it has had bad reviews. I’m sure that is not what you were doing. When referencing the opinion of other groups, reviewers and gamers, for a game you say is not made for them came across as pandering in my mind at the time. After reading some of your other posts I see that you have used your opinion verses group think several times. That is fine but not what I expected when reading what I though was going to be a purely objective review. The link that brought me here also first linked me to a page that only had the partial story so I ended up reading the “Other reviewers section” more than once.

  3. jmgariepy says:

    Oh, no problem! I’m happy to have the conversation. I love arguing. I’d make a pretty terrible reviewer if I didn’t. 😉

    I absolutely agree; I hate reviews that love everything. I’m also peeved with reviews that take a very surface approach to their subject matter. I understand the dilemma that industry reviewers find themselves in… if you want to make money, you shouldn’t go about pissing people off. I’m lucky, in and of the fact that I don’t want money – I want an audience, so when my book eventually drops, I can tap my audience. Meanwhile, I have great in-roads to the analog game community.

    What I do value, highly, is good design. You mentioned you read my Marvel and Chicken Caesar reviews, and, if you remember, I praised Devin Low for his design (while griping about the way Upper Deck handled it) and tossed a bunch of questions at Chicken Caesar’s choices. DC Comics is a well-designed game (flavor issues and level of challenge aside), so I’m going to appreciate it for what it is. You’re right to say the game is cheese pizza… I just don’t think that’s such a terrible thing, if it’s prepared right. I prefer Barbeque Chicken, to be honest, but I play three new games a week. I can’t complain that every pizza isn’t Barbeque Chicken.

    There’s another problem that comes up when one plays as many games as I do. There are a lot of games I don’t enjoy, but there are only so many reviews I can write in my life. In the end, I only write reviews for games I liked, did something unique, or for games I had a serious issue with. All those bland games get the pass. That’s going to skew things around here, since I’ll probably never write a quasi-negative review of Penny Arcade’s Deck Building Game, for example. It was fine… it just wasn’t for me. I don’t think I’d recommend it to anyone, except for true fans. Why bother write out that article? I’d rather the game shuffle under the carpet of obscurity.

    You’re right that I shouldn’t be defending a game because it has bad reviews. With DC, I saw a big divide between game reviewers and hardcore DBG players in forums, and casual reviewers and casual players I’ve shown the game to. I may have come down too hard on my own community, I’m not sure. It’s a funny dilemma when you think of it. If I’m to be honest about my play experiences, shouldn’t I also be honest about how I perceive the community, even when the community won’t like my opinion? I suppose the answer to that question is “I’m still figuring that out.” Both your post and Rob’s post help.

    I’m not pandering, though, I can see how that can be read into my article. Truth is: If I was pandering, I never would have mentioned the divide. Why mention all the negative reviews? That’s a horrible way to spin. I often play loose with my opinion, and let my readers come to whatever conclusions they lean towards. When I’m bucking a popular opinion, however, I should probably state my opinion toward the top of my articles in the future. I’d prefer to be misunderstood for all the right reasons. 🙂

  4. This looks like a fantastic deck building game! Thank you so much for sharing this very informative article!

  5. Shoe says:

    Awesome article! I totally agree on DC DBG. I wouldn’t say it’s anywhere near the “best” game in my collection, but it certainly gets a lot of playtime. Sometimes, you just want the cheese pizza.

    You did a great job articulating why a lot of DC DBG works. I’m actually designing a tabletop game with a friend, so this is a very useful post. I already passed this along to him, and I’m sure we’ll be referencing it a lot. Thanks!

    • jmgariepy says:

      Hey, thanks a lot Shoe! Here’s hoping that DBG design goes over well. You could certainly do much worse than to base your game on DC. By the way, Lord of the Rings DBG by Decipher just came out and uses the same engine, so you may want to check that game out too. I’d write a review for it, but we’re probably going to cover the ins and outs of it on Power to the Meeple Episode 7.

      • Shoe says:

        I really like Fantasy Flight’s LOTR living card game, and I already have DC, so I feel the LOTR DBG would be a waste of money. It just looks too similar to DC — like a reskin. I’m not into this “same engine” concept. I’d rather spend my dough on new games!

        I’ll have to check out your podcast. I didn’t know about it, but I see you’re only on episode 4. That’s a long time to #7! I’m gonna listen now because I’m a Quarriors fan, too, so I’m curious about the LOTR dice-building game.

        • jmgariepy says:

          It is, basically, a re-skin. It’s a pretty good re-skin with a bunch of little quirks, but I agree: If you have one, then maybe you should buy a different game to have a different experience.

          And, yeah, the podcast is always on a bit of a delay. We never had a problem with that in the Myriad Games podcast, since we just reviewed a single game, and if the review wasn’t timely, we could save the review for off-weeks. Power to the Meeple, though, has current events tied into it. The good news is that we don’t squirrel any material away, and when I say “we’re reviewing something” that the review is coming out shortly. The bad news is that we aren’t squirreling away anything. Tricky.

  1. February 22, 2013

    […] a HUGE fan of deck building games.  John Michael Gariepy posted a really good article on the progression of deck building.  Check it […]

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