Cryptozoic Entertainment's hit DC Deck-Builder series has already delivered an addictive competitive-based card game with numerous expansions, but there's been one key element missing. That would be cooperative play, and while one of the game's expansions did bring that to the game, it was clearly an add-on and didn't hit the same high note of the competitive mode. That's why Cryptozoic's newest iteration of the series is so welcome, as DC Deck-Building Game: Rebirth reworks the core mechanics and bakes in Co-Op from the ground up, building an even more compelling version of the hit series in the process.
For those unfamiliar, the DC Deck-Building Game has players picking one of their favorite heroes and using power from their hand to purchase Super Power, Hero, Location, Utility, and Villain cards to add to their deck. Over time, you create a deck powerful enough to take out the supervillains and claim victory, but things are changed up a bit in Rebirth. Your main goal is still to defeat the game's Supervillains, but you'll be working together this time around, and you'll need to move between locations, assist teammates, and take advantage of new cards to claim victory.
The biggest change is how locations are used. In the previous game, you could add location cards to your deck, which had ongoing effects. In Rebirth, your chosen scenario will reveal which five locations will be used, but in this case, you'll be moving between them to obtain new cards for your deck. They also serve another purpose, as these locations are each assigned a number, and when villains or supervillains enter the game, they have a number that corresponds to one of these locations. Their goal is to get to that location, and your goal is to make sure that doesn't happen, lest you experience even more attacks from them.
These locations offer unique Basic Cards like the Bat-signal or Flight, though in some instances they will also offer ways to move Villains or Discard and, in some cases, Destroy cards from your deck. To buy a location's card you'll need to be on that space (unless a special card like Withdrawal lets you buy it at range), so you'll use cards with the Move action to bounce back and forth.
This is where the strategy really comes in, as you'll need to work together as a team to put yourselves in the best position to win. For example, one particular game started out easy, giving our team of Green Lantern (Jessica Cruz) and Aquaman a few turns to get some new Cards. Things went downhill quickly when multiple Villains and Supervillains showed up in a row, meaning we needed to divide and conquer. One Villain, in particular, was extremely close to their destination, but luckily Aquaman got to that space in time to keep them occupied until Jessica could get rid of her Villain and come and help out. We could've just taken a turn or two to nab more Power to use on future turns or let them run amok and damage us or the Locations themselves until we dealt with the other Villain, and the game is filled with those difficult decisions.
Throwing another wrench into the mix is the Threat Track, which increases as more supervillains fill the board. This can range from just adding an extra card to the board to bolstering supervillains' and making them even harder to destroy. That's not to say there aren't some other mechanics to even the odds, as later scenarios introduce Side Missions, which, once fulfilled, will net you helpful allies (like the awesome Krypto) and abilities.
The introduction of Assist Cards helps make you feel like you're operating as a unit instead of several lone wolves, which you can use on an ally to give them the benefit of the card. This is handy when Wonder Woman, for instance, is lacking enough movement to get to a particular Villain or coveted card. Using your Assist Card will short you one card on your next turn, but it might be what you need to do for the betterment of the team.
Replayability is high in Rebirth, thanks to the mix of heroes (the game launches with seven heroes to choose from) and varied scenarios, which switch up the locations, Threat Track layout, and Side Missions for each one.
It's difficult to find a nitpick with the game, but it would've been wonderful to have miniatures for the heroes as opposed to the cardboard standees, and the game could've benefited even more from a few more scenarios and locations. That said, those are insanely small nitpicks and shouldn't take away from how polished and entertaining the core gameplay loop in DC Rebirth is.
Whether you're new to DC Comics or a longtime fan, you're going to love how DC Deck-Building Game: Rebirth captures the spirit being part of the Justice League. The game was already great, but Rebirth's focus on cooperative play has made a great game even greater.
Rating: 5 out of 5
Published By: Cryptozoic Entertainment
Designed By: Matt Hyra, Jared Saramago, and Nathaniel Yamaguchi