Marvel Review: Damage Control: Decks Are Dead, Long Life Stacks

I’m way above pure deck builders. I’ve been playing them since the OG Dominion, Ascension, and Thunderstone came out in the late 2000s and have developed an instinct for how to optimally play them as a result. Since most deck-building innovations are integrated as a mechanic into a larger game, when I play a pure deckbuilder, I very rarely face interesting decisions, which means I generally don’t choose to play them when they come up. introduce me a choice today.
Similarly, I have a general dislike for Marvel. I’m not really a comics guy, so my only interaction with the IP has been the MCU, and since superheroes have usurped slashers as the creative bankrupt poster children’s movie genre, when you add the description of the US military intervention as a cautionary tale good with the only opposition being either misguided or outright villainous, just not my bag.
I say all of this not to declare someone who likes both wrong, but to explain why when Damage Control ended up in our review inbox, I ignored it for a hot minute, hoping someone else would pick it up. But when it stayed in place, I looked at it grudgingly and, uh, it’s clean, I guess? It certainly has some cool stuff under the hood. Instead of the standard swamp playing cards for resources to buy cards from the market in your discard pile to buy victory points or damage your opponents which is starting to show its age and makes games feel like it’s spending the first handful of rounds Barely getting going, Damage Control approaches deckbuilding in its own way that bucked my instincts. Each start card can be played for one of the basic actions: demolish allows you to discard a face-up card to influence, uncover allows you to flip a card whose circle icon has no other card obfuscating it, triggering any event on the card. Finally, drawing simply adds any face-up cards to your hand and the vault removes the cards in your hand from circulation so you can actually score them.

Over the course of your turn, you’ll play cards and place them on the space for the action you resolved, continually deciding between playing an artifact you just picked up for its ability and scoring it for points. Every time you play an artifact, you’re not only spending influence that converts into endgame points, but you’re also betting that you’ll be able to cycle through your deck again before endgame kicks in. How the vault mechanic works means you’ll never be forced to reduce your starting cards; they are powerful enough as they are, what you should focus on is recovering and vaulting high point artifacts.

Now we come to the end of your turn, where you can spend the cards you played to recruit characters from the rotating market. Each character has their own variety of actions that you need to spend to pick them up and provide a varying combination of points and powers, and deciding which character fits into your game plan or whether it’s worth deviating this round to choose to set up someone particularly juicy provides. another quick decision point. Stuff like this is where Damage Control shines: when it’s hitting all or most of the cylinders, it’s a great fill + length game that offers a fresh take on an outdated genre.

The implication is that there’s a noticeable amount of time where Damage Control isn’t running smoothly, which means it’s time for me to talk about themed decks. Damage Control comes with four theme decks containing character and market cards; you’re supposed to pick two and shuffle their cards into the character and market decks before each game. Particularly discerning readers have already picked up on the problem here, where any addition to set up and break down time for a light and fast game really has an uphill battle to justify its existence, as no one wants to spend five minutes setting up and sorting decks. . on each side of a twenty minute game. Separate decks are another case of great hits and misses: pym picks up the fast pace to breakneck speeds with his powerful effects and events that let everyone draw a card. Outstanding, 10/10. Vibranium incentivizes the greed of playing artifacts instead of skipping them: Vibranium artifacts have extra triggers if you’ve played multiple on your turn, and their event deals out the influence you need to do so. Mystic is perfectly fine, adding a set collection item to qualify your vaulted artifacts and a slightly chaotic event of passing a card to your neighbor – useful, but scaled back because using it means excluding one of the best themes. Asgard is a total flop which really made me question the purpose of the themes in addition to the obvious expansion implications as it is overloaded by feel bad effects and an event that forces everyone to discard a card, which slows down the game. game. forced to do almost nothing during a round while also not advancing endgame conditions. Honestly, my copy will be permanently setup with pym and vibranium, but I can’t ignore that the way this game is packaged, people will end up playing with the mess of Asgard and adding setup and teardown by changing the time. improve every play. I’d like to see the unavoidable expansions have overview cards for themed decks like in Unfair, since then people could opt for experiences like Asgard early. I would have also appreciated a reference table in the rulebook with an approximate number of rounds for player counts and themes, as it would really help players make more informed decisions between jumping and playing artifacts.

Damage Control does really cool things by innovating in the outdated design space of pure deckbuilders. Just do yourself a favor and only play with pym and vibranium.

—Nick Dubs

Nick grew up reading fantasy novels and board game rules for fun, so he accepted that he was a jerk at a young age. When he’s not busy investigating the intricacies of a hobby he’ll never learn, Nick can be caught trying to cook an edible meal or befriending the local crows.

See below our list of partners and affiliates: