Posted by: imaginician | September 13, 2012

Metro City is Worth Saving

(This review originally appeared on Boardgamegeek.com)

Heroes of Metro City Kickstarter

Heroes of Metro City is a superhero-themed deck building game that is, as of this writing, seeking Kickstarter funding. I backed the game at the $1 level to obtain the print-and-play rules and cards to assess the game. Not long after, I had the chance to demo the game with the 3Some Games team at Gen Con. I liked what I saw well enough to up my pledge considerably, and now I would like to share my impressions and an overview of the game with others who are considering whether or not to back.

A brief summary for those unfamiliar with deck building games: in a deck builder, players start with a small personal deck of cards from which they draw a hand each turn. During their turn, they use those cards to execute actions, and/or gain more cards to add into their deck. These additional cards are typically more complex and allow the player to do more interesting and strategic things as the game progresses.

Those who are familiar with Dominion will find some familiar mechanisms here, but there are also some interesting twists. Only a subset of the cards in the box is used in an individual game, and many of these are in the center of the table available for purchase by players. There are four types of center cards: Powers, Energy, Plot and Enemy. Power cards allow players to attack enemies, draw cards, change dice rolls, etc. Energy is the resource used to play Power cards. Plot cards are the currency used to buy new cards. If defeated, Enemy cards can be added to the player’s deck to provide more Plot points to buy cards from the center of the table.

Each player starts the game with a symmetrical deck of ten cards: five Plot (currency) cards and five Energy cards. However, in one of the unique mechanisms of the game, players then spend an amount of Plot Points to add some additional Power or Energy cards to their starting deck from the cards in the center of the table. Turn order determines how many points a player has to spend, with players later in the turn order receiving more points. These starting powers allow a player to tailor his deck towards a particular hero concept and to his preferred style of play before even beginning regular play.

One of the ways the game ties in to its theme is the next step – everyone writes her hero name down on a Hero Placard. Relating your hero’s name to one of the cards in play on the center of the table allows you to claim that card’s bonus every time you play it. For example, a hero named Iron Will would be able to draw an additional card into her hand every time she plays the Technological Marvel Energy card because that is the card’s bonus if the hero name includes the name of any metal.

The Hero Placard also relates to play of Energy cards. Each Placard has four energy slots. During his turn, a player can play one Energy card to some, all or none of the open slots on their Placard. Energy cards charge Powers played during the turn. Slotted Energy cards stay in play, though a player can choose to discard one during the cleanup phase of the turn in preparation for playing a more powerful one on a future turn.

But what would a superhero game be without villains and dangers? Each game an Archenemy is selected, each of which wields a different destructive power that alters the way the game unfolds. This is placed on the table along with the stack of Minion cards and the stack of Villain cards. The top card of all three enemy decks is turned face up to reveal the dastardly devils currently marauding through Metro City and threatening its innocent citizens.

Once those setup steps are complete, regular play begins.

Each turn a player starts by playing Energy and Power cards from their hand during the Activate Powers phase, and then evaluates the effects of damage, card drawing, dice altering and other effects.

Then, during the Fight Enemies step, a player’s damage output is applied to the most powerful of the three available adversaries that they can defeat. If they can defeat the Archenemy, then the heroes have won the day and saved Metro City! (And that particular hero player has won the game.) If she can defeat the Villain or Minion, preferably the Villain since he is more powerful, the defeated enemy card is either added to her hand, and is worth the printed Plot points for purchasing cards or removed from the game.

After combat the player can purchase one new Power or Energy card by spending Plot points from their hand during the Story Development step.

The enemies of justice strike back during the City Destruction phase. Fortunately the police and military are on-hand to aid the heroes. One 12-sided die is rolled for each surviving enemy. If a target number is equaled or exceeded, that enemy’s attack is thwarted. This target number is based on the number of players and the particular enemy. Several Powers can alter the dice results, which makes this phase much less random than it might seem. Each enemy that was not stopped executes its Destruction Power. These might force the discard of a player’s card, or a card in the center of the table, or other effect. If it is not possible to fulfill the Archenemy’s Destruction Power, then the Archenemy has destroyed so much of the city that the heroes have been defeated and lose the game. For example, when Lady Tundra is not stopped, she discards two Energy cards from the center. If there are not two Energy cards remaining when her Destruction Power triggers, then she has defeated the heroes and turned Metro City into a snowy wasteland.

Overall, Heroes of the Metro City is a compelling game with promising artwork (see their Kickstarter page for artists they are enlisting) and just enough differences to make it stand out in the surprisingly crowded field of games inspired by Dominion. I think there is a lot about it that should appeal to fans of either superheroes or deck building games, and encourage you to give the game a closer look and consider backing the Kickstarter.

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Responses

  1. I am always a sucker for a super-hero themed game. However, I am NOT a fan of the Kickstarter system, so I’ll wait until your copy arrives.


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