DC Deck Building Game: Rebirth Review (Spoiler Free)

DC Deck Building Game: Rebirth is a game by Matt Hyra and Nathaniel Yamaguchi, published by Cryptozoic Entertainment. It is for 1-4 players. In this game, players take on the role of super heroes from the DC universe as they attempt to complete a series of linked scenarios. They’ll need to move around the city and gain power to defeat the dastardly villains before time runs out. If they’re able to complete the scenarios in time, they’ll be declared the winners.

To begin, each player is dealt 2 random oversized Super Hero cards from which they must choose 1 to keep or players may alternatively choose to play as a specific hero instead. Each player will also take the corresponding standee of their chosen Super Hero, placing it on their Super Hero card, which is placed in front of them. Each player will also take 6 Punch cards, 1 Helping Hand card and 3 Run cards. The Threat Track is placed in the middle of the play area on the appropriate side; either Cooperative or Competitive based on which type of game players have agreed upon. The Threat Track token is placed on the 0 space. The appropriate Scenario Pack is now opened. For the first game, this would be Scenario #1. Players then consult the Scenario card from the pack for any modifications that may be needed to the Threat Track. The Scenario card will also provide the details of which Locations will be used during the game, as well as which side is used. The 5 Location tiles are mixed up and randomly placed in a circle in clockwise order, leaving room for a card to be placed between each tile. It should be noted that when placing the tiles, make sure that the correct side is face up. A Destination Token is placed on each tile, beginning with a 1 at the top of the circle and continuing in numerical order in clockwise fashion. The corresponding stack of Basic cards are placed on each of the Side B Location tiles. Once this is done, the Main Deck and Lineup is created. This is done by combining all the Hero, Villain, Equipment and Super Power cards together. The Super Villain cards are not added until later. The cards are shuffled together and then dealt out into 5 separate face down stacks. The Scenario card is followed for any modifications or additions to the stacks. The Super Villains are then shuffled together and 2 of these cards are added to stacks 2 – 5. Each stack is not shuffled separately before being combined into one stack by stacking stack 5 on the bottom all the way to stack 1 on the top. This completes the creation of the deck. The first 5 cards from the deck are dealt out face up into the lineup, which is between each of the Locations, starting to the right of Location 1 and continuing by placing cards in clockwise order around to the left of Location 1. The remaining cards from the Main Deck are placed near the play area, as are the Weakness cards. For later games, the Campaign Log is checked for any damage to Locations, which are then noted by having Damage or Destroyed tokens on them. Players will now shuffle their decks and draw 5 cards each. Players choose the first player and play now begins.

The game is played over a series of turns with players going back and forth taking turns until either the game is won or lost cooperatively. On a player’s turn they will follow 6 steps. On the first turn of the game, steps 2 – 4 are skipped. Before taking their turn, the player will place their Hero standee on one of the 5 Locations or on one of the 5 Line Up cards. For the first step, the player will perform any start of turn effects, following the instructions. For the second step, if a villain or villains share the same space as the active player’s character standee, then they will attack the active player. The effects are all resolved in order of the player’s choosing. The player may use a card with a Defense ability to avoid the attack . Once used, the player follows any text at the end of the Defense text of the card and gains the bonus for avoiding the attack. A discarded Defense card is placed into the player’s discard pile, while a revealed Defense card is kept in the player’s hand. If the player fails to defend against the attack, they must then perform the action on the Villain’s card, such as discarding a certain type of card. Next for step 3, any Villains not sharing a space with a character will move 1 space towards their destination using the shortest route possible. The villain’s destination is shown in the bottom right hand corner of the card’s artwork. It should be noted that if a villain shares a a space with a character then the villain is unable to move. For Step 4, the player will add the top card of the main deck to the Line Up. Placing it in the slot that has the fewest cards. If there’s a tie, the lower slot number is used. Next in Step 5, the player will play cards from their hand. In the first turn of the game, this step takes place following step 1. The player may play cards in any order that they choose, resolving the text from each card as it’s played. Most played cards will either provide Power or Move. In step 6, these are totaled up and used by the player. Power is the currency of the game and allows the player to buy cards in the space that their character standee is located. Bought cards are then placed in the player’s discard pile. Move is used to maneuver the character from their initial space using 1 Move point for each space moved. The player may combine both Move and Power to move around and buy more cards. It should be noted however that a player may only buy 1 Basic card from each stack during their turn. Players also have the ability to defeat a villain by using Power to pay the villain’s cost, just as if they were buying a card. When a villain is defeated, the player gains any rewards listed on the villain’s card. Defeated villains are destroyed and the card is not placed in a player’s discard pile. Once a player has played all the cards that they wish to play from their hand and finished any movements, attacks or purchases, they will then end their turn.

This brings us to the end of a player’s turn. At this time, the player will announce that they are ending their turn. They will then place any remaining cards in their hand into their discard pile. If there are any end of turn effects, these will happen now. The player then places any cards that they played into their discard pile as well. They will then draw 5 new cards from their deck. If there are no cards in their deck or are not enough to draw 5, their discard pile is shuffled together to create a new draw deck. Play then passes to the next player.

A few things should be noted, as new cards enter the line up from the main deck, villains and super villains will appear. Each time a super villain enters the line up, the threat token is moved up by 1 level on the threat track. This causes the text at this new level to be in effect. Super villains that enter the line up will also make an attack against each player, following the Attack text on their card. Regular villains do not cause the threat level to increase and only make their attacks when in the same space as a player’s hero. Also, some cards contain the Assist keyword on them. What this means is that the player may play this type of card during another player’s turn to give them the benefit from their card. Another keyword of note is Range. These cards will list a number beside the Range keyword. This indicates how far away the card can effect. Each line up slot and location tile is a space. The space that the character’s hero occupies is range 0. Each adjacent space is considered 1 space or range 1. That means that if a player’s hero is on a location tile, the next location tile is range 2 from them. This counts the card in the lineup between the 2 tiles and the next tile, each for 1 space.

The game continues with players moving, playing cards and fighting villains. This continues until either the heroes have completed the scenario, thus winning the game or having lost the game due to the threat track reaching level 5 and not being able to move any further due to there being no more spaces. If either of these happens, the game ends. The players then record any damage on any locations in the game on the campaign log. They will also remove make sure that any cards removed from the campaign are not used in future scenarios. If the player’s won, they will continue with the next scenario. If they lost, they must replay the scenario that they just lost. In this case, any cards removed from the campaign during the lost scenario are returned for replay. If the players win on their first attempt, they will mark the 1 box on the corresponding scenario of the campaign log. If they won on their second attempt, they will mark the 2 box. If they fail both attempts, they must mark the failed box and move on to the next scenario.

Like with most deck builders, this game contains a lot of cards. There are a variety of starter cards as well as cards for the main deck that consist of heroes, villains, super powers and equipment cards. It also contains the larger Super Hero cards as well as some basic cards, weakness cards and signature cards. The game also includes standees and bases for each of the 8 super heroes that comes with the game. There are large double sided location tiles, a threat track and threat tiles to be used during the different scenarios. There’s also various tokens that are included with the game. Everything from numbered destination tokens to damage and contained tokens. Each card contains artwork from the DC universe that looks really amazing. The cardboard pieces and boards are all really thick and great quality. The various scenario packs are resealable and contains some very cool surprises and fun stories to discover and play through. As a fan of the DC Deck Building Game, these cards and components have done nothing but reinforce my love for the game. It’s definitely nice to see a more physical form of your character running around the city defeating villains. Needless to say, I really enjoy the look and feel of each piece that comes with this game. It’s a definite step in the right direction if you ask me. One final thing of note, players should be aware that the first edition prints of this game had a minor snafu. When opening the sealed scenario packs, you should be sure that the large number on the pack is facing you. You should pull out the cards slowly and if you don’t see the Rebirth logo you should slide them back in and flip the pack over before removing the cards. That way you don’t spoil any of the surprises. Of course you can always do like I did after realizing there was a mistake. I simply opened the packages under the table and flipped the cards over and reinserted them back into the packs. That way everything would be correct when I opened them. Just something to be aware of.
9 out of 10

The rulebook for this game is very similar to those of the other DC Deck Building Game products. For one, the rules do tend to jump around a bit and aren’t quite as stream lined and easy to find what you’re looking for as I’d like. Some things you almost need a basic understanding of the game if you want to know just how to play this version. The one thing about these games is that each large box is a great jumping on place for new players to give it a go. If the rules are a bit muddled, it can be quite annoying and difficult to really get a feel for the thing. I myself found several times where I would be flipping back and forth in the book, searching for what something meant. For instance, when I was setting up the first game, I didn’t know where to place the threat tile that was to be added to the Threat Track. Did I place it on top of the Threat Track or out to the side and add the restrictions to those on the Threat Track? Ultimately I decided on the latter, but nothing was really clear or explained in the rule book. The thing is, new players may have trouble figuring this one out. To me, that makes the rulebook a bit of a negative blemish to the game. I will say as an avid player of the game, I am thankful for the added variants for solo play and for a competitive mode. It also mentions how to combine this game with the other DC Deck Building games, especially for the Multiverse box set. For me, the rules were only a mild annoyance but for new players it could be a huge obstacle to overcome. Just something to be aware of.
7 out of 10

Let me go ahead and say this from the start, I absolutely love playing this game. I thought that I liked the DC Deck Building Game before, but this version absolutely takes the cake. Everything that I loved about the original game is there, buying cards, defeating bad guys and building up my deck. The thing that makes this version even better is that for once, I feel like the purchases I make and the villains I beat actually matter. On top of that, I felt more like an actual hero as my character is moving around the city from location to location trying to either defeat or at least delay the villains long enough to get some help from an ally. I like that each hero has their own signature cards to make them a bit more unique from the other heroes. I also like how that so many things carry over from scenario to scenario. If a location is damaged or even destroyed, it can cause some major repercussions in the next scenario. I also like that now I’m able to see my hero as they move around the city. Before the game was merely about creating an efficient deck to help you wipe out the villains and score the most points. Now it’s more about stopping the villains to beat the scenario. For me this game has just taken a major leap forward in terms of improvements. Fans of any of the DC Deck Building Games will absolutely love this version, especially those players that like playing solo or enjoy more legacy style games. I personally have enjoyed this one a great deal. Let me tell you, it can be quite difficult at times, so don’t expect a cake walk. It will really challenge you and your ability to plan strategically. For this reason, fans of strategy games will enjoy the challenges that this one provides. Overall this is a great game. It is one that I would highly recommend. I love it and can’t wait to give it another go with some new characters.
9 out of 10

The DC Deck Building Game: Rebirth is a scenario driven game that capitalizes on the Cerberus game system found in several games and expansions from Cryptozoic Entertainment. It provides several ways to play and can also be combined with other products in the DC Deck Building Game universe. The game has an average play time with most game sessions lasting around an hour for most of the scenarios. Some scenarios will take a little longer. The cards and components are really great. As always, I love the artwork and all the pieces to this one. Miniatures or Mighty Meeples would have been nice, but I don’t mind the standees. The rulebook is a bit difficult especially for new players. Even us veteran players can have a bit of trouble understanding certain elements of the game. Just something to be aware of. The game itself leans towards the new hotness on the market, legacy games. While this isn’t exactly a legacy game, it does incorporate elements of the legacy game into the results of each scenario. Each scenario brings in new elements and gameplay that will truly enhance your love for the game. It did for me. This is one that fans of any of the DC Deck Building games should absolutely love. The strategy of moving characters around and trying to defeat the villains in the most efficient way will appeal to strategy fans. For me, this is more than just another entry into the Cerberus system, it’s a whole new way to play. This is a game that I would highly recommend. It is definitely one of my favorite new games of this year. It’s Super!
9 out of 10


For more information about this and other great games, please check out Cryptozoic Entertainment at their site.




About Gaming Bits - Jonathan Nelson

I'm a happily married man with 2 wonderful kids. I love my family very much. I'm a big fan of board, card and RPG games and have been playing for over 20 years. As a board and card game reviewer, I'm hoping that this blog will inform, educate and entertain you. If you like it, please tell your friends and have them join in on the conversations. Thanks and GAME ON!!
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