Tabletop Review: DC Comics Deck Building Game: Justice Society of America (Crossover Pack 1)

DC Comics Deck Building Game: Justice Society of America (Crossover Pack 1)
Publisher: Cryptozoic Entertainment
Cost: $10.00 ($6.90 at Miniature Market)
Release Date: 03/25/2015
Get it Here: MiniatureMarket.com

Unlike the four full deck building games released by Cryptozoic Entertainment, the first in a series of “Crossover Packs” provides just the Super Heroes, Super Villains and a few extra cards. These are then swapped out with the corresponding cards from one of the three core games (the original, Heroes Unite and Forever Evil). Because all three games are compatible and interchangeable with each other, this lets you play the game you already own without purchasing yet another core game. Granted, the flavor of each of the three core games is very different, but as they play exactly the same, offering something like this JSA Crossover Pack is smart, and also lets those on a more limited budget experience some variety to their game. I like the idea, and because I was able to get the pack for so cheap, I happily picked it up to go with all of our other Cerebus Engine games. Really, it was Power Girl and Dr. Fate as playable characters that I was most excited for, and I can easily say the pack was worth the purchase.

Your Crossover Pack comes with seven Super Hero cards, eight Super Villains and ten new cards to put in or swap out for other cards from your core deck set. If you’re new to DC Comic Deck Building Games, here’s a quick overview of these cards. Each player chooses a Super Hero (or is assigned it at random), and then you progress through the game, buying cards to make your deck and defeating a series of Super Villains. With the core DC Comics Deck Building Games, the order of the bad guys is random, save for the first. With this Crossover Pack, the order of all eight villains is all the same, with each one requiring a higher total Power score to defeat. When a Super Villain is defeated, it is added to your deck. Once all Super Villains are defeated, or the Main Deck you purchase cards from is exhausted, the game ends and you count up your Victory Points. Whoever has the most wins. Simple right?

So let’s talk the villains first. In order, you have Solomon Grundy, Mordu, Icicle, Kobra, the Ultra-Humanite, Gentlemen Ghost, Eclipso and Gog. I love this collection of bad guys. They’re a delight to all JSA fans (especially those who enjoyed Geoff John’s run on the comic) and they stand out from the choices in the core game. My only quibble is that Eclipso should probably be the last (and most powerful) bad guy, if only because he IS the original Spectre/Wrath of God. Ultra-Humanity and Gentlemen Ghost have the harshest effects to your deck when they appear, but all the Super-Villains will serve to annoy you as well as make you feel like you have accomplished something once you have finally vanquished them.

Your Super Hero choices are Alan Scott, Jay Garrick, Wildcat, Mr. Terrific, Dr. Fate, Power Girl and Stargirl. It’s a fine mix, and you can’t really dispute any of the choices character-wise. Alan Scott lets you draw an extra card each time you play a Super Power card, but then only if the cost of the card was originally 0. So it can be helpful, but only slightly, and it is too random for my liking. Jay Garrick lets you look at the top card of your deck each time you are required to draw one or more cards due to a card’s effect. You can discard the top card before you start your official draw if you choose. Again, a little too random for my liking, but it can be powerful. Wildcat lets you draw a card if you play a Hero or Villain card from your deck, along with a punch card. This gives Wildcat’s player incentive to stick with the cards his deck begins with (Starters), and works great with the Solomon Grundy boss card.

The next four Super Heroes are perhaps the best. Mr. Terrific lets you discard a Punch card to reveal the top three cards in your deck. If there is an Equipment card amongst them, you get to draw it. Regardless, you put the other cards back in any order you choose on top of your deck. That’s some fine deck control there. Stargirl lets you draw and discard every time you avoid an attack or play a defense card. This is fantastic with a deck like Forever Evil, where attacks are far more frequent. Power Girl lets you draw a Punch card from your discard pile every time you play a different Super Power card. This can add up really quickly and makes her a fantastic choice for the end game bosses. Finally Dr. Fate lets you gain +1 Power every time you play two cards with consecutive costs. He also draws a card when he plays three consecutive cost cards. Having these two abilities is pretty great, and it makes him the most versatile choice in the set.

The final ten cards that come in the Crossover Pack are for placing in your main deck. There are two equipment cards (Hourglass and T-Spheres), and Hourglass is great for keeping a high Power card in your hand. There are three hero cards in Citizen Steel, Dr. Mid-Nite and Liberty Belle. All three are great, but Citizen Steel is amazing, especially against higher Power cost Super Villains. He lowers the total Power needed by 1 for each Punch card played this turn. For characters like Power Girl and Wildcat, he’s going to be a top priority to obtain for your deck. There is one location, Monument Point, which lets you draw a card for the first Punch card you play in a turn. As you can see, JSA makes those lowly Punch cards far more valuable than the other DC deck choices. There are two Super Powers in Girl Power and Mystic Bolts, which are both decent. Finally, there are two Villain cards. Scythe is a good way to inflict Weaknesses on your opponent and Degaton is a great way to build up power.

Overall, the Justice Society of America is a decent first Crossover Pack. It’s pretty expensive though. With a MSRP of $10, you’re paying forty cents a card, which is a lot. However, you can easily find it for a lot less. I ended up paying about twenty-seven and a half cents per card, which is still probably a bit high, but then I’m frugal. If you’re a big fan of the DC Comics Deck Building Game, you’ll probably want to get this Crossover Pack. The JSA has some subtle, but notable, changes in winning strategies for players, and the new Super Villains/Heroes give the game a nice face lift for those bored with the same old characters.

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