Head to head with Batman v Joker

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What is DC Deck Building Game: Rivals – Batman vs Joker?

It’s a serious entry for the longest name in tabletop gaming.

It’s also a spin-off from the successful DC Deck Building Game from Cryptozoic, with the twist that it’s a two player-only game. Which means it’s perfect material for this blog.

Gameplay

If you’re familiar with the original DC Deck Building Game, the basic mechanics are pretty much identical. Players start with a poor hand, which they use to purchase cards from a line-up in the centre of the table. Cards have different abilities in keeping with the theme of the game. Some are heroes, some villains or equipment and so on.

As the game progresses, the cards in each players hand become increasingly more powerful allowing them to purchase better and better cards.

In the original DC Deck Building Game, the objective was to defeat a small deck of Supervillain cards. Once these cards had been expended, and in their victors’ hands, the game was over and players counted up victory points and a winner was declared (different cards have a different victory point value).

In Rivals, however, the objective is for the two players to defeat each other – each player has three character cards, which are played in ascending value – the first has a cost of 9, the second 12 and the third 15.

When players feel their hand is strong enough, they can ‘confront’ their opponent, aiming to build up enough points to buy their opponent’s card from them. If all three cards are bought from an opponent, or the main deck is unable to refill the central line-up, the game is over.

Gameplay is very simple, and very familiar if you’ve played any deckbuilding game. I really enjoy the original DC Deck Building game – the mechanic, although criticised by some for its theme (should Batman really be able to buy and benefit from Joker’s abilities, or to buy villains?) – the artwork, everything just works for me.

You can also mix the cards in with the base set, but if you do this then you’ll need to sort them out again if you ever want to play Rivals on its own.

My only criticism is sometimes it can feel like two people are simply playing solitaire versions of the game, and occasionally interacting with each other when a card calls for them to do so.

Well, that’s not my only criticism. My other is this: why can I never win as the Joker? Seriously, I’ve played this game quite a lot, and neither I, nor my opponent, has ever won as the Joker. I don’t know if this is simply bad luck, or whether the cards are weighted a little better (somehow) towards Batman. I guess I’ll just need to play some more to find out.

Does it work with two players?

Rivals introduces more player interaction, which is a welcome change from the base game. Once a player has declared a conflict, their opponent can use any relevant cards in their hand to block, and fight back if they can.

It’s also quicker, lasting around 30 mins, or less if you’re very quick, so is ideal if you lead a busy life, don’t have a large gaming group, or need a game to play before your baby daughter wakes up and needs a hug, milk, blanket, cheese or something completely random.

I like this game and can see myself playing it for some time to come. I hope there will be more Rivals games, the DC Universe is rich with suitable characters. Batman v Lex Luthor anyone?

More information

Check out the game’s official page here.

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