James H. Waller
3Some Games, Inc.
2 - 4
Yes: Sidekicks & Storylines
Includes over 400 cards.
Feels like a superhero game should.
The included dry erase marker is a joke.
Storage could be better.
When you think of superhero deck building games, you might think of Marvel Legendary or the DC Comics Deck Building game. But, there is a fun alternative to these two industry stalwarts, should you tire of them or just fancy something new. Heroes of Metro City is a superhero deck building game set in its own universe; it doesn’t license theme or content. Based on traditional comic book archetypes, the powers and abilities found in Heroes of Metro City will be familiar to comic book fans, but the heroes and villains are new and unique.
Those that have played Dominion or Thunderstone will find the setup, rules, and gameplay to be decidedly familiar. The game is cooperative, players will have to work together in order to win, but only a single player will ultimately be victorious. So while you are definitely trying to win, if you don’t work with the other players to defeat the villains, they will destroy the city you are trying to protect and all players lose the game.
This is what makes the game shine. The gameplay, and choices therein, actually feel like they matter. If you don’t defeat the bad guys, they will win. And they let you feel how bad they are each and every turn. As with Dominion, Thunderstone, and other similar deck builders, there is a central supply from which all players may purchase cards. In Heroes of Metro City, this supply makes up the city. And the villains, of course, aim to destroy the city. They do this by trashing cards each time they are not defeated. And, they aren’t pushovers. For example, in a four player game, if at the end of one round no one has defeated one of the baddies, they will trash about 12 cards, or perhaps more depending on the evil you face. And the trashed cards aren’t player choice, oh no, that would be too easy. Each super villain and their minions have defined types of cards they go after. Should their trash ability be triggered when it cannot be completed (due to all cards of that type being removed from the supply) the villains win.
The theme and gameplay work well together. Neither feels like an afterthought or a forced mechanic/component. This is a refreshing change compared to some of the other games mentioned in this review. The teamwork needed to win also adds to the “superhero team” aspect of the game.
Heroes of Metro City improves on some design elements of its forefathers. Primarily, each part of a card (and other components) is numbered. These numbers correspond to the turn sequence, which is very helpful to those new to deck builders or new to this game in general. Numbering the different special abilities and other game aspects in this way really helps to cut down on any potential confusion that might arise. This is a very nice feature that I’d like to see incorporated in other games.
And, as much as I want to keep yammering on about everything I like about the game, there are a few things that aren’t so positive.
The first is minor and forgivable. Each copy of Heroes of Metro City comes with 4 name plates, one for each possibly player. These nameplates have a dry erase marker-friendly surface and the game comes complete with a dry erase marker. After all, every superhero needs an awesome superhero name right? Sadly, the dry erase marker that came with my copy was a dud; it didn’t work. I was robbed of the joy of coming up with a worthy name for my superhero and writing it down on my player board. And there was no dry erase marker to be found in our home. Sure, we had plenty of permanent and semi-permanent markers, but it wouldn’t be wise to use those. So, for our very first play though, we were robbed of a small joy. Sadface. I would have liked a little more thought/research put into the whole dry erase marker situation. Seems like the shelf life of the marker was not taken into consideration. Not a huge issue, really, but it was a slight letdown.
The second issue is less forgivable and relates to storage. A great game with poor storage options means that game simply doesn’t get as much table time as it should, at least that is how it is for us. The storage for this game isn’t awful by any means and it tries to be great, but it falls short. I assume cost was a determining factor here. My gripe is that the card slots are very short and thus allows the cards to lean forward or backward. The cards fit very loose in most of the slots as well, which increases the amount the cards lean. And the dice are left to just bounce around however they like. I don’t think it would have taken much to turn the current container into something great, and that’s why it upsets me I think. I can tell that some thought went into the storage container. Someone took the time to think about how the cards would be arranged, divided, and ultimately fit inside the box. And it seems like they clocked out one afternoon and just didn’t show back up for work. I don’t think I’d be nearly as upset if the storage container just plain out sucked. But it doesn’t. It is so close to being a great storage solution and that is what hurts.
For me, this game ranks above Legendary and on par with the DC Deck Builder (I’m only counting base set to base set here, expansions are not factored into my assessment). The game pulls you in more than Legendary and I never have to try to answer questions like why are two Venoms escaping? And it isn’t as hokey as the DC Deck Building Game because you are superheroes, damn it, so you’ll never play villain cards. Well, you will, actually, but they get turned upside down and are used for plot points (currency) to buy better cards. And, you totally don’t have to put them in your deck, you can trash them if desired. Heroes of Metro City gives greater control over customizing the superhero you want to build and play than either of the other two games. The Marvel and DC games are good at serving up licensed content, hey look it is Spider-Man/Superman! But they fail at providing any real depth or purpose. Legendary tries to do this, but because you’re drawing/playing multiple Thors and Hulks, the feeling somehow just isn’t right. In the DC Deck Builder, you are all “heroes” but you are somehow also all each other’s “foes” as well. And playing heroes, villains, random powers and equipment all on the same turn just doesn’t feel right. Both the Marvel and DC deck builders are fun; I’m not trying to say that they aren’t. Heroes of Metro City, however, does a better job at translating the superhero experience into a deck building game.
After one trip in the car, all of the cards spilled out into the box. I often pack games in my vehicle. How else am I expected to transport them to game night? I do not have this problem with other games. Opening a game box and finding all of the cards jumbled together in one huge messed up pile is sickening. Not only that, but it really takes the wind out of the sails of wanting to play the game; a lot of time as to be spent sorting all the cards. Storage Fail. (pic coming soon)