Cryptozoic's DC Deck-Building Game is one of my favorite games in the genre thanks to its embrace of DC's world and characters, combined with easy to learn but tactically deep gameplay. Several additions have expanded the game in several ways, and now there's a set that brings the fantastical DC Metal storylines into the hit series. Aptly named DC Deck-Building Game: Dark Nights Metal, this standalone expansion delivers the addictive gameplay I love with the inclusion of several intriguing gameplay twists, providing the perfect jumping-on point for newcomers and another excellent installment to the franchise for longtime fans.
For those unfamiliar, the DC Deck-Building Game is a competitive-based experience for 2 to 5 players that has people choosing a hero (and their unique ability) and building their deck by purchasing new cards until they can start taking down supervillains. Most cards come with a set amount of Victory Points, and whoever ends up with the most Victory Points after the game concludes wins. That core framework doesn't change in Dark Nights Metal, and it's as delightful as ever, but there are some welcome additions.
For one, you can now draft more than one hero, and when you recruit another hero you also get access to their unique ability, adding even more skills to your arsenal. You can also lose that hero though thanks to another new wrinkle, which adds an element of danger to Weakness Cards. Weakness Cards have no positive attributes and no Victory Points when you are made to draft them into your deck, which was a big enough pain. However, in Metal, if you have 2 Weakness Cards in your hand your hero becomes captured by The Batman Who Laughs, who already starts the game with Batman in his grasp. That leaves you without your ability until you can recruit a new hero next turn, and to free them you'll have to take down a SuperVillain.
Being able to have more than one hero opens up the gameplay even more, but the bigger effect of Weakness cards balances that out. Weakness Cards were always a hindrance in the original game, but they weren't exactly dangerous. Now they actually feel like they can do some damage, and so you're more inclined to keep them out of your deck from the get-go, or if they've made it in anyway, the added danger puts an urgency on buying cards that allow you to destroy cards and clear out your deck.
This also ties into the new Breakthrough Cards, which replace the old Kick Cards. These are worth 2 Power just like Kick Cards, but it's what happens after you play them that makes a difference. Instead of just staying in your deck, after you play Breakthrough Cards you need to decide if you'll keep it or return it to its stack. If you return it, you get to destroy a Weakness Card you control. While you'll lose that Power to use later on, if you've got a few Weakness Cards floating around; this is a smart way to thin them out and prevent your hero from being captured.
The other major new element in the game comes in the form of Metal Cards, which still come in Hero, Equipment, Super Power, and Villain varieties like any other card, though they feature a shiny gloss finish. Metal is a Keyword that can trigger extra abilities in certain cards and using certain heroes, and they can pack a punch depending on how your deck is constructed. For one playthrough I used Cyborg as my main hero, who allows you +1 Power for each Metal card you control. That's handy in itself, but then adding cards like Electrum (which allows you to put Metal cards back into your hand), Cyborg One Million (if you played a Metal card gain +2 Power), and Brutal Chase (replace a card in the Line-Up and gain it if it's Metal) will expand your power and abilities even further.
The game wisely utilizes Greg Capullo's gorgeous artwork on many of the Metal cards, though there's excellent comic artwork throughout all of the cards. As with most releases in the franchise, Metal's cards are compatible with any other set as well.
Now, I am a particular fan of Rebirth, the cooperative-focused release in Cryptpzoic's DC Deck-Building line, and would have loved for there to be an optional cooperative mode here as well, especially with the Metal cards and multi-hero mechanics. That said, I still very much enjoy the competitive style as well, so while a co-op mode would be welcomed with open arms, it doesn't deter my enjoyment of a solely competitive experience.
If there was another small nitpick, certain rules and cards could use a bit more clarifying especially in one specific case, the recruitment of additional heroes. The rules make it clear you can do it but it never really clarifies how, at least in a very straightforward way, and I had to hop online to make sure I was applying that mechanic correctly. Again, a small thing obviously, but still worth noting.
DC Deck-Building Game: Dark Nights Metal brings in fantastic new additions to the already delightful recipe, and as a fan of Dark Nights Metal in the comics, this is a pure homerun. Those who don't have the same love for the Metal side of DC will still enjoy the new gameplay elements and tweaks, so fans are going to have a ball with the game regardless.
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Published By: Cryptozoic Entertainment
Game Design By: Matt Hyra
Game Design and Development By: Matt Dunn, Ben Stoll, and Nathaniel Yamaguchi
Review copy provided by Cryptozoic Entertainment1comments