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Superbeings Jumbo Card Game Kickstarter Preview

Quick Look:

Info:
Designer: Rick Medina
Artists: Justin Hillgrove
Publisher: Alienplay Games
Year Published: 2017
No. of Players: 2-4
Ages: 10+
Playing Time: 45-120 Minutes

Find more info on BoardGameGeek.com

WARNING: This is a preview of Superbeings Jumbo Card Game. I was sent a prototype version of the game. All components and rules are prototype and subject to change.

The designer is planning two versions of this game: a 120-card 2-player set, and a 300+ deluxe 4-player version. I am reviewing a prototype of the 120-card version of this game. Cards are still being tweaked for balance.

Superbeings is a fast-paced tactical card game where 2-4 teams of heroes face off in an epic battle to the death. It’s in the same family as Magic and Pokémon, but there’s plenty to set it apart and make it worth playing. As always, every card has unique characteristics that interact with others in a complex way, but it’s all self-explanatory. The only time I had to reference the rulebook was to verify the number of action points required for a specific action, and I only did that twice.


Each turn you will draw a battle card and get 3 bankable action points to maneuver and heal your fighters. After that (if none of your cards have effects that trigger in early attack phase), you will roll a giant d12 to see how many bankable attack points you will have. Each hero has a superpower that applies to specific situations, an attack that usually costs between 2 and 5 attack points, and an effect that triggers once it gets its second kill. After the second kill, it will go on the bottom of your draw deck for a much-deserved nap, but usually they will do something really nifty before they go. This leaves a gap in your front line that you need to fill with one of your backliners. If your front line is empty, you are eliminated, so you might want to have some action points banked so you can move somebody up in the last phase.

Review:

Vague Overview:
I’m glossing over a lot of detail. You can see all the cards and the complete rulebook by going to superbeingsgame.com.

There are tons of different characters, alliances, and types, but cards all fall into one of two categories: Supers and Battle cards.

Supers have a character printed on both sides (one is defense the other attack). These will form your front and back lines. You will start with three random Superbeings of rank 3 or less in your front line. Over the course of the game, you will summon more Superbeings to your back line and move them around strategically in order to be able to take out the other teams’ fighters and ultimately achieve one of the three elimination conditions. The last team standing wins.

Cards with a red back are Battle cards. These are utility cards that provide powerful one-time, two-time, or permanent-while-in-play effects. These are played whenever appropriate and don’t cost action points.

The game also comes with condition markers and a bunch of dice (d2, d6, d12, d20) to roll for various purposes.


Setup Basics:
-Build your deck according to the rule variants or use one of the recommended lists.
-Shuffle your battle cards and set them to the side.
-Shuffle your Supers (fighters) and set them to the side.
-Determine the first player.
-The first player sets up their front line by drawing three Supers from the top of their deck and placing them in front of you on the defensive side (all cards come into the game on the defensive side).
-The next player does the same
-Give everyone two “zero” tokens and two d12s to use as point trackers.
-Place all the tokens and remaining dice near the board.

Now you can start playing.
Superbeings is played in rounds with each player’s turn divided into 5 phases.
1. Start
2. Action
3. Early attack
4. Attack
5. End phase

Start Phase.
If applicable, roll to see if your shields or invisibility are still working, and draw one battle card.

Action phase:
Gain 3 action points (add 3 to the number on your jumbo yellow die). You can spend those action points to declare a leader (one Super who can attack backliners and gets an action point discount), summoning new Supers, moving them around, or flipping them between their attack and defense sides. If you like, you can save points to use in the end phase or the next round as long as you don’t exceed 12. I can’t imagine a situation where you would want to bank more than 12. Action points are tight in this.

Early Attack:
Trigger super powers that specify Early Attack phase, otherwise ignore.

Attack phase:
Roll the jumbo d12 and increase your attack die by that many points.
Each character has one unique attack detailed on their card. The general rule is that they can only attack the frontline card directly in front of them, but a lot of Supers can target specific or even multiple opponents. To perform a character’s attack, you simply reduce your attack points by the number of stars on the top left of the attacker’s card. Characters can only attack if they are on the attack (POW) side. Sometimes you have to roll to see if something hits, how many points of damage it causes, or if a secondary effect goes off. Other times you will simply deal the specified damage. If the defender has a card or ability that can mitigate your attack they play/activate it. You can attack as many times as you like with whoever you like as long as you have the attack points to spend. Again, it’s all pretty self-explanatory.

End phase:
If you have action points left you can use them now or save them for the next round. This is good for going defensive. More on that later.


Key Factors:
-You can only have three Supers in your frontline and three in your backline.
-Supers come into play defensive and on your back row, but if you have the AP to move them up and flip them, you can attack the same round.
-You’ll be rolling lots of dice, so if you don’t like the cold math of something like Hearthstone, this may be a better option for you.


-This has more of a real battle feel than most battle games I’ve played, partially due to the relative attack and defense positions. A player on the defense side can’t attack, but they are way harder to kill.

-If an attack exceeds their defense HP, they flip to their attack side. Extra damage points don’t carry over. The attacker can then attack them again and again as long as they have the points to spend. By flipping a character from the POW (attack) to the PRO (Protected) side, you feel like you are ducking or hiding behind a rock. Flipping is one AP, and AP are hard to come by, so it is a sacrifice, but not so much that it isn’t worth doing. You need to move your Supers around and duck strategically if you want to win this game. There are a lot of options, and bloodlust will only take you so far.

-Supers can be moved out of your way by putting them on the bottom of your deck for 1 AP on your Action phase or by sacrificing them. Sacrificed characters give you AP equal to their rank, but count against your total number and value of dead Supers. This is a super-dangerous mechanic to use, but wiggle room is always good.

-Each Super can be activated to attack as many times as you can afford. None of that one-and-done tapping stuff.

-Cards are huge, like comically oversized. The print is big and easy to read, so if you have been looking for a battle game to play with your grandparents, this is it.

-There are three ways to win; all are last player standing.
Players are eliminated when:
1. Their last frontline character dies.
2. 15 points worth of their Supers have been killed/sacrificed. Supers are worth points equal to their rank.
3. 5 of their supers have been killed/sacrificed.

The Good:
  • Superbeings is fun and highly strategic. My wife doesn’t usually like battle games, and even she likes this.
  • The basic and augmented defensive mechanics are well implemented.  
  • Each Super’s attack is different, so you have a reason to maneuver thoughtfully.
  • The rulebook is very well-made and easy to reference.
  • Cool art.
  • Cards are self-explanatory.
  • Easy to learn.
  • Fast to teach.
  • The cards are numbered and color-coded so you can find what you are looking for pretty fast.
  • The 120-card version has enough cards to play 3 players if you are using 30 card decks, which I recommend. A 50-card deck with 25 fighters and 25 battle cards makes it hard to get the specific fighters you want. There are Superteam battle cards that require you to have 3 specific fighters on the field, and I don’t ever see that happening with 25 fighters. With a 2-player game you’ll probably use 7-12 fighters.
  • More expansions are already planned.
  • Simple enough for entry-level/young gamers, but complex enough to satisfy a seasoned palate.
  • There is a quick start version that cuts out all the complexity in case you want to play with a little kid.
  • There’s a lot of story and flavor text if you’re into that, but it doesn’t clog up the works like it sometimes does.
  • It’s not a money pit like so many of these games. You have everything you need included in the base game.
  • There are a lot of character types, each with their own abilities and effects.
  • It can be taught in as little as fifteen minutes.
  • Setup and break down times are about 2-3 minutes once your decks are built. As with any deck-builder you can spend the rest of your life tweaking decks, but it’s not necessary.
  • There are 6 different options for deck building formats, and 2 options for deck size (30 or 50 cards). So, whatever your preference, Superbeings has you covered.


The Bad:
When they say JUMBO CARD GAME, they mean it. The cards are a little too big. They are hard to shuffle and take up a lot of space. They make me think of flash cards, which initially made me expect this to be a light, kids game. I’d have preferred tarot-sized cards.

POW and PRO are not as intuitive as Attack and Defense. It could have been clearer if they put the HP on a shield and a heart. Not a big deal, but it is slightly annoying when learning the game.

Keeping track of points on dice means you have to keep the cats away, be careful not to bump the table, etc.


The quick start variant is too trimmed down. What good are Superbeings if they don’t have superpowers? It all comes down to who the dice like better. We used these rules the first time we played. I saw the potential for the full game to be cool, but if I wasn’t reviewing it, I probably couldn’t have gotten it back to the table. This isn’t difficult enough to need quick-start rules. IMO, if they are going to include this variant they should take Kodama’s lead and say it’s a kid’s version.

Final Thoughts:
Superbeings is a really cool game that will appeal to all ages. I hate dice almost as much as they hate me, but this is balanced enough that the rolling of successes and damage works thematically and doesn’t detract from my enjoyment. It has just the right level of complexity to be fun and engaging without inducing analysis paralysis.

Mage Wars is probably my favorite tactical card-game, but half the game is spent flipping through your spell book reading tiny text and checking the rule-book to verify effects. This is a much cleaner play experience than that. I also play a lot of Hearthstone, but Superbeing’s guarding mechanic provides a much more authentic battle feel. This is definitely among the best games of this type that I’ve played. I’m giving it 8 super meeples.


I am giving Superbeings Jumbo Card Game 8 out of 10 super meeples.

810

Check out Superbeings Jumbo Card Game on:

              

On KICKSTARTER between now and September 22, 2017 

About the Author:


Stephen Gulik is a transdimensional cockroach, doomsday prophet, author, and editor at sausage-press.com. When he’s not manipulating energy fields to alter the space-time continuum, he’s playing or designing board games. He has four cats and drinks too much coffee.
Superbeings Jumbo Card Game Kickstarter Preview Superbeings Jumbo Card Game Kickstarter Preview Reviewed by Dane Trimble on August 23, 2017 Rating: 5

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