Ian Clark's Pop Culture Club: 2013 welcomes a fresh crop of great new card games
There is a fresh wave of card games on the market now. All are worth checking out, if you like the themes.
Two of them are comic book-based (Legendary: A Marvel Deck Building Game and DC Comics Deck Building Game) and one is Star Wars: The Card Game. All three released over the past month and offer something for fans of those franchises.
Star Wars (Fantasy Flight Games, $40): One of America's top game companies, Fantasy Flight Games took over the SW license from Wizards of the Coast a few years ago and took its time making sure the products they were releasing were going to be worthy of the franchise.
FFG's commitment to quality was evident in the Star Wars card game. Two years ago, at the GenCon gaming convention, FFG unveiled a demonstration model of the Star Wars card game. It didn't quite work and instead of trying to force the issue, FFG decided to scrap the game entirely and start from scratch.
The delay was worth it. The game (for two players) captures the flavor and feel of that galaxy far, far away perfectly through objectives and missions straight from the movies.
One player takes on the good guys of the Rebel Alliance while their opponent plays the evil Empire. The game has a timing mechanism of sorts with the Death Star tracker. If it reaches 12, the bad guys win.
The Empire player moves the tracker up one each turn. The Rebel player wins the game by completing its objectives (lowering the tracker each time). Destroy three Empire objectives and the good guys have won the day.
The Star Wars Card Game: Another of the "living" card games from FFG, which means you can play the base set forever and be perfectly happy, but if you choose to you can also buy expansion packs. But unlike collectable games, you know what you get in each expansion pack.
The first expansion cycle will be "Hoth" the ice planet from "The Empire Strikes Back." The game uses all new artwork instead of recycling the same images from the movies you've seen a hundred times and overall is very well done. It's a must-have for Star Wars fans.
Legendary (Upper Deck, $60): Since Dominion came out in 2008, many other deck building games have tried to capture the same idea while adding some theme to it. The Legendary game is one of the best so far.
One to five players work together to try and stop a comic book bad guy from seeing his evil plan to fruition. You can customize the deck with different bad guys and good guys each time, making different combinations.
For a Marvel Comics fan, this one captures the feel beautifully. Well-known comic book storylines are used in the game and each hero is portrayed just right.
"Legendary takes some of the most iconic storylines from the Marvel Universe and condenses them into an easy to learn deck building game," said Manchester's Matt Alix. "The superheroes' abilities in the game are also a good representation of their comic book counterparts as well as the abilities of the villains."
DC Deck Building Game (Cryptozoic Entertainment, $45): This is the most recent release and as such, I have not had a chance to play it yet. The early reviews are mostly positive, however. It's for two to five players and you win by having the most victory points at the end.
Much as other deck building games, you start with a set hand of cards to work with and each turn you choose new ones to add to your deck. You choose one of the iconic DC heroes such as Batman or Superman and you need to stop an evil villain. I'm looking forward to checking it out.
Most of these games should be available on the shelf or to order at local shops such as The Game Castle in Londonderry and Harrison's Comics in the Manchester Mall and Salem stores.
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Ian Clark's Pop Culture Club appears weekly in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Check out his podcast "Nerdherders" on iTunes or at www.3nerds.us. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.