Behind the Board: Jordy Adan, John Brieger, and Keith Matejka on Cartographers Heroes

Luke: Hey everyone, and welcome back to Behind the Board! Today we’re putting our interviewing capacity to the test, as we’re talking with 3 – count ’em – 3 of the awesome people behind Cartographers Heroes, the sequel to one of our favorite roll-and-writes.

Why don’t you guys introduce yourselves?

Jordy Adan: Hey everyone, I’m the designer of Cartographers and co-designer of Cartographers Heroes.

John Brieger: What’s up, folks? I developed Cartographers and co-designed Cartographers Heroes.

Keith Matejka: Hello hello! I’m the designer/publisher/owner of Thunderworks Games, as well as the publisher of both Cartographers and Cartographers Heroes.

Luke: An impressive crew we’ve gathered today! Before we jump into the group questions, I’ve got one specifically for Jordy to start things off.

Jordy: Fire away.

Luke: One of your first designs, Cartographers has skyrocketed in popularity since its release. What’s it been like seeing one of your flagship releases succeed in such a big way?

Jordy: It’s been amazing. Before the release of [Cartographers and Rolling Ranch], I was designing tabletop games just for fun. I was really into games as a hobby. Now this still holds true, but I also make games professionally, for a living. I feel Cartographers‘ popularity helped me to quick-start my path into the industry and opened many doors for me in the industry.

Luke: Opening the floor to everyone, how would you recommend aspiring designers strike out into the world of board game design in the year 2020?

Jordy: This year was crazy! Designers had to adapt and migrate to digital platforms. It was great to see this different approach to prototyping and showing games to publishers, especially for people like me, that live in a country where getting to a convention in the US/EU is quite expensive. I highly recommend that new designers learn digital tools, like Tabletop Simulator and Tabletopia, for quick prototyping and playing new games.

Keith: 2020 is a tough year to break into game design, to be honest. Conventions are often one of the best ways to meet publishers and network with other designers. Many publishers are accepting pitches, and the relationships you build at conventions can be priceless when trying to get a game signed. It might make more sense to just focus on doing design on a handful of games and get them ready to pitch in 2021. 

John: Without conventions, you’re relying a lot more on email and open submission calls to get your games in front of publishers that you don’t already know. One thing I’ve seen some colleagues doing is making pitch videos, and then including an animated GIF from the video in the body of their email — so even before the publisher has opened or watched the submission, they see a snippet of play.

Luke: For those inspired by the Cartographers series, do you think that the want for more roll-and-writes and flip-and-fills is quickly fading, or do you expect to see more people begging for new ways to experience this genre in the near future?

Keith: I think the roll/flip and write games are still doing well, though I don’t think there is as much room in the market for all-new roll/flip and write titles as there was one or two years ago. A lot of games in this genre were released roughly around the same time to capitalize on the surge in popularity. I expect the most popular games in the genre to continue to do well, while lesser performing titles will fade if they haven’t already. 

John: Keith nailed it. I think as the genre grows, we’ll continue to see people innovate and push the boundaries in roll and writes, as well as more games that integrate roll and write mechanisms into other genres. Like when deckbuilding first arrived on the board game scene, there was a rush of games, but we still continue to see new deck builders with unique takes on the genre flourish.

Jordy: As a lover of the genre myself, I still get excited about new roll-and-write games. But for each game I get excited about, there feels like there are a million others that get overlooked. I think eventually the number of new releases will settle down, but experimentation and innovation within the genre will continue forever.

Luke: So what are the tenents of a good roll-and-write/flip-and-fill? And how did this design philosophy of experimentation factor into the creation of the Cartographers system?

Jordy: For me, a good roll and write emerges from three aspects: allowing for flexible player counts, good cost/benefit, and innovation.

To start, Cartographers can be played, theoretically, at any player count possible. Of course, there are physical limitations to that, but just that possibility is enough.

Cost/benefit comes from the number of matches you can play before exploring everything the game has to offer versus its price. Having different scoring objectives allows the game to feel fresh for a long time, and the game is cheap to pick up.

Lastly, innovation can come in two forms: a new mechanism, like how Dominion introduced deckbuilding, or exploring an already existing mechanism/set of mechanisms further in a fresh new way. Cartographers does the second, adding a bit of interaction to a genre where you’re mostly minding your own business. Plus, it’s thematic, while most roll-and-writes aren’t.

Luke: Was Cartographers Heroes always something you intended or making, or was it born from the success of the original?

Keith: Cartographers Heroes came out of the success of Cartographers. John and Jordy both had ideas for how we expand the game and do different interesting things at the end of the Cartographers development cycle.

As soon as we saw how much players were enjoying Cartographers, we got to work on building more content for it, leveraging some of the cool ideas that just didn’t make it into the original game. We were also looking at how people were playing the game and we tried to make sure to include elements that players really wanted to see as well as creating more thematic moments for players.

Luke: Tell me a little about the genesis of the Hero cards. They have to be important if they made their way into the title!

John: The new monsters with abilities came first when brainstorming ideas for the expansion, and the heroes were added as a way to help balance out the added difficulty of the monsters. The heroes were all very similar during development; all heroes destroyed adjacent monster spaces. It was our graphic designer Luis who suggested having each hero have unique hit patterns. This was what really allowed them to shine as unique characters with flavor. I’m really happy with where these ended up.

Luke: Do you consider the Hero cards to be the equivalent of the Ruins cards from the first edition of the game or a little something extra to sprinkle into games?

Keith: I think they are different, but of similar weight. Drawing shapes with ruins in mind and drawing heroes are just different mental puzzles to enjoy. The Cartographers games support being able to stack both systems on top of each other, but we wanted to keep them in separate boxes. Ruins for the original game. Heroes and more complex ambush cards for the Heroes game.

If we had kept the ruins in the heroes box, the complexity would be significantly higher than the original game and we wanted to make sure the Heroes box is still very approachable for new players.

Luke: Where did the idea of Ambushes with special abilities and effects come from? Should we expect to see more down the road?

John: I had come into the Cartographers Heroes design cycle just as I had wrapped up development on Roll Player‘s Fiends and Familiars expansion, and designing special abilities for the Lenticular monster promos. I had been thinking a lot about how to deepen some of the theming ties to the world of Roll Player with this expansion, so where Cartographers featured primarily Minions, I wanted the new Monster ambushes to feel unique and thematic, capturing that sort of “here be dragons” mapmaking feeling. 

I wouldn’t be surprised to see more unique monsters down the road… 

Luke: In regards to this second set of Skill cards, was there a specific theme or focus when designing these that makes them different than the original set?

John: I designed the original Skills Mini-Expansion to build some additional connections to the world of Roll Player. The new set of Skills can be played on its own, or combined with the base set for even more variety. Jordy had shown me some ideas for new Skills via Facebook Messenger, and a few of the cards in Skills Mini Expansion 2 are based on those. Manipulate, which breaks the revealed shape in two, was one of his designs.

Luke: The map packs are a huge and exciting addition to the game system. How did you decide on the different map packs to release, and which one would you say is your favorite?

Keith: We set a goal of doing three map packs early. It felt like a good number to start with, and then, if they do well, we can explore (ha!) doing more.  Fans have really been liking how they mix up the gameplay and give them a different feel.  They also allow us to explore the Roll Player Universe a little with each one, which is super fun.

I personally really like the Nebblis pack out of the first three. I just like the idea of a volcano erupting and destroying what the cartographers already mapped. It makes me laugh.

John: The Affril map pack is based on Jordy’s original submission for the Cartographers expansion – there was a time when we thought maybe the entirety of Heroes would use the island shapes. It definitely is the map pack that changes the most about the way the game feels as you play.

Luke: What do you believe is the strongest element of the Cartographers design as a whole, especially now that so many different bits of pieces can be added or swapped in and out?

John: I think what makes Cartographers so satisfying is, that at the end of the game, you have a physical artifact of your play – the act of playing a game of Cartographers is truly the act of making a map. It’s a sort of meta theming that I don’t know if players always recognize. I think at some level, people feel satisfaction about having that map completed at the end of play in a way they might not if the game was, for example, all polyomino tiles that went back to the box.

Jordy: I agree with John, seeing what you’ve created when the game ends is fulfilling. Also, making the map is quite pleasing; there’s just the right amount of decisions and interaction so, in the end, the map feels like something you’ve created instead of it just being a byproduct of playing the game.

Luke: Are there any elements or ideas you hope to bring to the Cartographers experience sometime in the future?

Keith: We’ve been talking about different ideas as to how to expand the line even further if there is an appetite for it in the market. I think doing more map packs that have new mechanics and are set in different parts of the universe is a no-brainer.

John: I don’t want to make any promises on Keith’s/Thunderwork’s behalf, but Jordy and I did a brainstorming call and came up with some pretty wild ideas. If people continue playing and enjoying Cartographers, I hope we’ll be able to bring some of them to market.

Luke: Last question for the day: what do you hope players new and old will get to experience from playing Cartographers Heroes?

Jordy: I hope new players get to experience how fun and enjoyable it is to make your own maps while seasoned players can enjoy the fresh new content and explore all the possibilities they allow.

Keith: I just think mapmaking is a cool thing. I have fond memories of drawing out dungeons when I was a kid, and I love that element of world-building. Yes, I want players to enjoy maximizing their reputation by figuring out the puzzle of the game as best they can. But more importantly, I want players to end the game with a piece of artwork they created during the game. When players create something as part of the process of playing the game, I think that’s awesome.

John: For new players, I’m just excited for them to get to experience Jordy’s amazing game for the first time. I think it really tickles your brain. For returning players, I think people will appreciate the changes that the new monsters and scoring objectives bring in, and having more than double the content for the base game for scoring really broadens the setup possibilities.

Luke: Wow, guys, this has been awesome! Thanks so much for taking the time to talk with me about all this. For those interested in learning more, you can check out our review of Cartographer: Heroes, or you can head straight over to the Kickstarter page!

Are there any projects of yours folks should be looking for in the near future?

Keith: Well, keep an eye out for Roll Player Adventures to be released next summer. The next project after this in the Roll Player line is the first expansion for Lockup, entitled Breakout.

There are two additional projects on the horizon for Thunderworks Games outside of the Roll Player Universe coming in the next year. First, Cape May, a city-building game set in New Jersey, USA around the early 1900s featuring the illustrations of Michael Menzel. The second is a theme park building game featuring the artwork from Vincent DuTrait.

In terms of my design work, you can keep an eye out for the next game in the Skulk Hollow line called Maul Peak. Pencil First Games is the publisher, I believe they plan on running a Kickstarter in the winter or early spring.

John: In addition to Cartographers Heroes, another game I developed is on Kickstarter as of writing: Kabuto Sumo by designer Tony Miller. It’s an innovative dexterity strategy game that I think brings something genuinely new to the table.

Luke: Fantastic, I’ll be sure to keep an eye on all these! And if you, readers, would be interested in us covering any of these games in particular, feel free to let us know in the comments. Thanks as always for reading, and we’ll see ya’ll next week!

Marvel Champs Monday: A History of Kang

Hey folks, and welcome to a new series… within a series, called A History of… where we talk about the history of a Marvel character as it relates to their design in Marvel Champs. I’ve been helping to lead a comic book reading club on the Marvel Champions Discord dedicated to reading up on heroes and villains the weeks prior to their release in the game.

Keep in mind that, while I will try and keep spoilers to a minimum and focus on early plot points, you will likely run into spoiler-related notes in this article for Kang-related series. You’ve been warned!

Kang was a fairly interesting character to explore largely because he’s not a frequently used baddie. Appearing in only a handful of comics, mostly Avengers-specific books, Kang is best known for his time-traveling antics (likely one of the primary reasons why he doesn’t show up more regularly).

As the game design suggests, there are various Kang’s scattered through time. In an early series, a council of Kang’s attempt to judge and condemn other Kangs who aren’t living up to a code of honor he follows, which explains Kang the Conqueror and Kang Master of Time. As for the iterations you face in Phase II of the Kang fight:

  • Iron Lad is Kang as a kid attempting to thwart his own fate to become a villain
  • Rama-Tut is Kang in Egypt before he took on his masked persona
  • Immortus is an older, more contemplative version of Kang
  • Scarlet Centurion is sometimes depicted as his son and other times as another version of Kang… it’s not terribly clear

The phases of his scheme, while non-specific, references a few larger plots Kang attempts over the years. Kang’s Arrival refers to his first appearance, punctuated by him lounging in a chair. The Master of Time is a clear homage to the 2016 Avengers series, as is punctuated by the inclusion of Vision, Hercules, and Jane Foster’s Thor. And Kang’s Wrath appears similar to his assault on Earth in the Kang Dynasty story.

Kang is armed with various pieces of technology pulled from the future, primarily the 41st century, but most notably his wrist gun, called his Future Weapon here (kinda on the nose, dontcha think?) and his Temporal Shield. His only minions in his main deck, the Macrobots are pretty generic Sentinel-type beings that showed up in the earlier comics primarily.

But many of his most insidious cards, the Obligations, are clearly inspired by some of his time-hopping shenanigans. Things like Depowered, Stolen Memories, and Time-Travel Hijinks look to point to when Kang jumped through time to toy with the Avengers’ past in the 2016 series, attempting to weaken them in retribution for their actions against him. They are rather nasty and show a more ruthless, calculated villain looking to bring the heroes down a peg.

In this way, it feels like Kang is more based on these later interpretations of the hero than any early storylines. The dinosaur stuff is very clearly inspired by his appearance in the Inhumans storyline, a fact that has been confirmed on their streams in the past. A number of cards pull art directly from his battle in Young Avengers. In other words, it’s clear that this version of Kang isn’t afraid to get his hands dirty if it means him getting ahead, a strong deviation from early depictions of him.

The Anachronauts set uses Kang’s person squadron of generals, a group very rarely seen, to devastating effect. Some of their abilities are just cruel and gives you an idea of the type of company Kang kept in his armies. The Temporal cards shed light on how Kang, being a master of time, would pull soldiers from armies from across time, aiming to throw off his enemies while having a variety of tactics at his disposal. And his own modular set showcases his tenants of strategy; fear, ruthlessness, and persistence.

There are a lot people could read that could give them insight into the ideals of Kang, but for my money, I think the team at FFG looked to 3 series primarily to tell their story:

  • Young Avengers (2005) #1-6
  • Avengers (2016) #1-6
  • Uncanny Inhumans (2015) #1-4

If you’re looking to educate yourself on the primary inspirations for the time-traipsing baddie, you’ll have the best luck here.

What do you think? Do you feel other versions of Kang better encapsulate what we see here? Let me know your thoughts and recommendations in the comments, and we’ll see you next time!

Behind the Board: Danny Devine on Agropolis

Luke: Hey there folks, and welcome back to Behind the Board! This time around, we’re joined by Danny Devine, co-designer of the lauded Sprawlopolis and the currently Kickstarted… Kickstarting? …The sequel title that’s on Kickstarter, Agropolis!

Danny: You got there eventually.

Luke: [laughs] Pleasure to have you here, Danny.

Danny: Likewise. Glad to be here to talk a bit about Agropolis.

Luke: Ah, but first, let’s look back on the original wallet-game darling. Sprawloplis has been an incredible success over the last few years; how did the idea for the title come about?

Danny: The original idea came about after our first 18 card game, Circle The Wagons. We really liked the idea of the 3 unique scoring cards in each game and wondered if we could make a cooperative game that could use them as well. The first version of Sprawl was actually about building a pyramid but we soon realized it was a bit restrictive.

Luke: I can imagine. And it’s obvious that ya’ll did something right with that first release, considering the cavalcade of expansions that have been released and the outpouring of affection for it since.

Danny: It has been unreal, the fans of Sprawlopolis are amazing! It’s crazy seeing the number of plays it gets each month, the organized challenges where people post and check each other’s scores, and the forums where fans answer questions for new players. Thank you all for the support and for the thousands of cities you have all built!

Luke: And it looks like a lot more cities re going to be built in the near future, but this time in the country. How long has Agropolis been in the works?

Danny: I went and looked it up, the oldest prototype I could find was 5/31/2019. As you can see, it’s not as pretty as where we ended up. When we started, it had way too many animals, and scoring was nuts and super unbalanced…we also had pumpkins apparently.

Luke: It’s always fun to see how much designs grow and flourish over the course of the creation process. What about this design do you feel warranted making it into its own game rather than just another series of expansions for the original?

Danny: First off, Sprawl already has some really fun expansions, Beaches being my personal favorite.

Originally we discussed with Button Shy the possibility of just making holiday or themed versions of Sprawloplis, but as we talked we realized that the core of the game was solid enough that we could make standalone sequels that change the rules just a bit in order to open up ideas for new scoring goals and challenges. Kind of like how Ticket to Ride keeps finding ways to reinvent the core gameplay with each of their standalone expansions.

Luke: And I certainly think the game will benefit from this, especially in the long-term. What ideas did you try to capture here that the original didn’t or no longer could do to its design?

Danny: I would say the theme. We live in Reno, Nevada which has a lot of farms in the surrounding areas, so this game actually feels closer to home than Sprawl does. We took inspiration from places like Apple Hill, Napa Valley, and (let’s not kid ourselves) how creepy cornfields are!

Luke: In that vein, how do you feel Agropolis stands out from its predecessor?

Danny: The biggest shake-up, besides the theme (which we all fell in love with), is the Livestock. Each card contains 1 Livestock block, with up to 2 cows, chickens, or pig pens. This allowed us to make new scoring goals that could play off of different animals and numbers of pens which adds an extra layer of thought when placing your cards.

Luke: Yeah, I’ve definitely felt that tension of desperately waiting for a chicken card to score one of my goals.

Looking to the beautifully named Combopolis, how did you decide on such a slick manner to combine the 2 games into a single experience?

Danny: It was a goal from the very beginning of Agropolis; we knew that players were going to want a way to mix the games together, and the theme of city meets country was too fun to pass up. The implementation took a lot of work, though.

We started with no rule tweaks and just building a massive city. It looked cool but scoring it made you wish for death. It was actually Jason Tagmire, the founder of Button Shy, that proposed the much cleaner idea of one goal from each game, and 1 [from Combopolis]. That paired with the idea of using 1 card from either game each turn brought the idea home. It’s a really fun way to play the game.

Luke: It’s quite satisfying to put it all together. And speaking of new ways to play, for those looking for a new challenge, the “Feed Fee” mechanic makes the game really tough!

Danny: Yeah, we wanted to satisfy the hardcore Sprawloplis players, the ones that are sad when they beat a goal by more than 10 and really want that extra challenge (yes, they are out there and they are better at the game than I am!).

The need for this rule came down to math; depending on which other goals the Livestock goals are paired with, they can sometimes be easier. For example, a goal that requires pigs but no pigs appear on the backs of the other goal cards simply means you have more pigs to score off of in that game than others.

The “Feed Fee” rule was a way to adjust each game and make sure a skilled player in this situation would still need to make every one of those pigs count to make up the difference. Our goal was to mask this math problem in an adorable and easy to understand rule. So pretend I didn’t say any of that and just have fun feeding your cute little farm buddies; they look hungry!

Luke: [laughs] And I’m sure fans will be just as hungry for more Agropolis content down the road. Should we be expecting content for both titles moving forward, or has Sprawlopolis reached the end of its ever-winding highway?

Danny: I feel like I should just answer this one with a winky face emoji. Fans should expect more things to come from the “Opolis” family in the future, let’s just leave it at that before Button Shy hunts me down.

Luke: Is there anything in particular you hope players new and old feel when they get their hands of Agropolis?

Danny: I hope players feel clever. Both of these games are not easy to win, especially at first, but after a play or two, your brain starts to see plays you didn’t notice before. The first time you use a single card to connect a road, add to your base color bonus, and contribute to a goal is going to make you feel like the smartest city planner money can buy!

Luke: Before we end things off, are there any projects you’re currently working on that folks should keep an eye out for?

Danny: We are working with Button Shy again soon for a 2 player tactical area control game called Circle The Dragons (yes, we know were clever). I don’t think they have a date yet, but stay tuned! Outside of wallet land, I have a soon to be released tile-laying game called Kohaku and a classic feeling card game called Dragon Fruit on the horizon.

Luke: Awesome, thanks so much for taking the time to chat today, Danny. And thanks to all of you who stopped in to read up on Agropolis! Tune in next week for another exciting board game-related interview!

Cartographers Heroes – An Adventure Across the Realms

  • Designers: Jordy Adan and John Brieger
  • Artist: Davey Baker, Luis Francisco, and Lucas Ribeiro
  • Publisher: Thunderworks Games
  • Kickstarter Date: October 6th, 2020

Disclaimer: Cartographers: Heroes, the Nebblis map pack, and the Skills Mini-Expansion #2 were provided to us by Thunderworks Games for review.

Luke: Cartographers is a game I reviewed some time ago to my surprise and delight. A fascinating yet simple take on the flip-and-fill genre, it quickly usurped Welcome To… as my favorite title within the now burgeoning category of games. And considering its huge success, it’s no shock that we are here once again to talk about its standalone sequel.

Phil: On the surface, this game appears to be pretty by-the-books. You are a mapmaker looking to present the world with your interpretations of the world you explore. It may look entirely different than the map that other guy is making, but he’s probably a hack and can’t see quite right, so you should just trust that mine is the better of the 2.

Luke: What’s perhaps the most charming element of the Cartographers system is the ebb and flow of scoring. Each round, you will score only 2 of the 4 goals randomly selected for that game, and each goal will only score twice in total. So after the 2nd round, goal card B will never get scored again, making you consider all the scoring options and how to best plan so you don’t neglect a goal that could score you a ton of points a few rounds down the road.

Phil: This time around, there’s a whole new assortment of goal cards that can be mixed and matched with those from the base game, allowing for a huge variety of possibilities.

Luke: We also have 2 new maps, though they aren’t particularly different or crazy. That’s what the map packs are, but we’ll touch on those later.

Phil: Each round, players will flip the top card of the deck, filling into their map a combination of a shape and terrain type as is provided on the card. Some less optimal shapes can be placed for coins, extra points that are generated each round.

Luke: However, there are some special cards that lie in wait beneath the surface…

Phil: A new crew of monsters will appear at the worst moments, forcing you to pass your sheets to your neighbors and allow them to draw nasty shapes that will earn you negative points at the end of the round if they aren’t dealt with. These new beasts are far worse than your average ilk, though, coming with special abilities that will further incentivize how you plan your moves.

Luke: Luckily, some new heroes have entered your kingdom, helping you attack monster spaces and protect spaces from future invasions.

Phil: These are a cute addition but by far the weakest of the new content for us. Luckily, they are completely optional; we elected to remove them after a few plays and feel the hilarious pain of watching zombies and gorgons go to work on our kingdoms.

Luke: The game ends after 4 seasons, each growing shorter, amping the tension of the late game. Players will total their scores from all 4 rounds and whoever has the most points wins!

Phil: It’s very much the same game as its predecessor but with more stuff, which we love. If you dig on the first, you’ll likely love what this box has to offer.

Luke: But what of the side content, you may ask? Well, let’s take a look at the skills and map packs.

Phil: These skill cards work the same way as the last batch; players can spend coins to take 1 special action per round, giving you some flexibility as to how you tackle the game. We’ve tried the skills in the past and find that it muddies the experience, with players regularly asking for clarifications.

Luke: It’s a nice addition for those who are looking for it, and since it’s free, everyone who backs the Kickstarter will get to try it, but we find the game far more satisfying when we’re left to our wits and the flip of the cards.

Phil: The map packs, on the other hand, are fantastic, easily one of the most exciting elements of the game yet. Each is based on one of the regions featured in the Roll Player universe, Affril, Nebblis, and Undercity, challenging how players will tackle each game.

Luke: Affril forces players to spend coins in order to connect the various islands that compose the map, pressing you to make the most of the space you have to work with before spreading out.

Phil: And the Undercity cuts the board in 2, requiring that players build each shape entirely above- or below-ground, all while connecting to the entrance.

Luke: The map that we’ve gotten to play with, though, is the Nebblis map pack, one that sets a gigantic volcano in the board. Lava cards are shuffled into the season deck, and when 1 is drawn, players are forced to spread lava from the volcano, destroying spaces on the map. It’s a clever idea and loads of fun in practice. The maps are double-sided too, meaning you get some nice variety here.

Phil: I honestly may have to back the campaign just to get my hands on the other 2 map packs.

Verdict: Cartographers Heroes is exactly what we wanted out of a sequel for the game. More goals, more maps, and more clever ideas that make this series an absolute joy to play. We’d recommend you head over to the Kickstarter page and check it out for yourself!

Agropolis: Moving to the Country

  • Designers: Steven Aramini, Danny Devine, and Paul Kluka
  • Artist: Danny Devine
  • Publisher: Button Shy Games
  • Kickstarter Date: September 29th, 2020

Disclaimer: Agropolis, as well as a copy of Sprawlopolis, was provided to us by Button Shy Games for review.

Luke: Sprawlopolis is a game I’ve considered reviewing here in the past, largely because it’s a great game.

Phil: One of the best Button Shy games around.

Luke: But being a few years old and a game that most solo fans are already well aware of, I felt like we’d just be preaching to a choir who had already learned this month’s routine and was waiting for us to hit the rights notes.

Phil: Yet here we are, with Button Shy singing a slightly different but all too familiar tune with the release of Agropolis, a game that acts as its own pocket-sized puzzle while adding to the already expansive world of the original.

Luke: For those unfamiliar, Agropolis is a game where you are trying to expand a vast network of highways through your self-made city, but the mayor has provided you with some strict guidelines as to how he wants to see the roads branch out.

Phil: On the back of each highway card, there’s a unique goal. At the start of each game, 3 goals are randomly selected and used, meaning every game has a little spice of the unknown.

Luke: The numbers on those goal cards determine the score you are reaching for, often just out of reach and tantalizingly difficult to hit. But for those of you who have mastered the system by now, there’s an advanced difficulty mode introduced here. Depending on the combination of cards in play, you can make the game even more difficult, ramping up that already steep point threshold.

Phil: Once the goals are selected, a random starting card sets the scene in the middle of the table, and your brain burning construction project commences.

Luke: Each turn sees you holding 3 cards, selecting which one to connect to your current layout. Cards have to be set where they are oriented the same way, but otherwise, you have pretty free rein over how you arrange things. Hell, you can bulldoze an entire section and layer a new card over parts of the old set-up.

Phil: But while you have a lot of freedom of how you approach the game, you’ll be thinking about a number of factors that contribute to end-game scoring. Firstly, your largest grouping of each terrain type scores you points, meaning you’ll want to chain cards in obtuse manners to get those hunks of yellow grain growing.

Luke: Next, you’ll need to consider your roads. At the end of the game, each road you have is -1 point, encouraging you to condense as much as possible.

Phil: Oh, but that goal card would earn me a good bunch of points if I just set these roads waaaaaaaaaaaaaay over here…

Luke: And quickly you start to see the conundrums that form. With 3 cards in your hand each turn, that doesn’t seem like many choices, but then you can rotate them, lay them over other cards, place them this way and that, and soon you have a seemingly infinite number of permutations.

Phil: You can certainly suffer from analysis paralysis, but that’s fine. This is primarily built to be a solo game, and while you caaaaaaaaaaaaaan play it with more, you’ll have a much better time tackling this alone.

Luke: And wow, have I never had such a great time muttering to myself incessantly while I consider the layouts of a highway system in my life. Much like the original Agropolis teases your brain in a way that is immediately satisfying. Whether you’re taking long, drawn-out turns to consider every option or you’re just diving in headfirst, this little wallet packs a big punch.

Phil: And it only gets punchier when you consider the free Combopolis expansion.

Luke: Oh god… the games did a fusion dance?!?

Phil: With a svelte pack of 6 cards, you too can make these two games into one gigantic, sprawling cityscape of decisions. Setting a deck of Sprawlopolis cards to one side and Agropolis cards to the other, players will get 3 goal cards (1 from each game and one from the combo pack). Then, using another card from the combo pack as your starting location, you’re off to the races as always.

Luke: Except this time, your hand is 2 cards, 1 from each set.

Phil: Meaning that, in order to score well and not run out of options too early, you’ll need to balance how regularly you are adding cards from one set or the other. You’ll thread the needle of opportunity so you can fill out your board neatly and efficiently.

Luke: It’s an incredibly smart implementation and one that’s so dang easy to set up. Half of the battle to get a solo game (or really any board game) to the table is set up time, and Agropolis handles this so well.

Phil: It does help that it’s in a wallet.

Luke: Even still, the ability to whip this out at a moment’s notice and start playing makes it so accessible it’s hard to ignore.

Phil: If there’s one complaint to be had, the color palette this time around is a little more garish than its predecessor.

Luke: Sure, but all the colors had to be different for obvious reasons, and I think there’s a charm to the bolder, richer aesthetic this time around.

Verdict: If you love Sprawlopolis, you’ll love Agropolis just as much, adding some challenge options while letting you combine both into a hefty test of your skill. And if you haven’t had the opportunity to try the original for yourself, you owe it to yourself to give this series a go.

If this is a game that interests you, be sure to stop by their Kickstarter page and back a copy for yourself right now!

Marvel Champs Monday: The Real Final Boss

Note: This is a part of a collaboration of creator content, Hydra Rising. For more content from this series, click here.

Phil: Let’s be honest with ourselves; Red Skull is kind of a weeny in this game.

Luke: What? Nooooooooooo, he’s… he just takes a little time to build up his engine. An engine of evil!

Phil: Sure, but by the time he gets things going, it’s not too hard to punch him in the face real hard.

Luke: … Yeaaaaaaaaaah. Not to mention most of his side schemes help the player, which can really turn the tides.

Phil: It’s hard to ignore that, compared to the previous fight, Red Skull feels a little like a cakewalk.

Luke: It’s true; Zola is a force to be reckoned with, and not lightly. The pressure that he puts on players is downright diabolical, and it can be hard to ignore how brutal a fight it can be.

Phil: With an opening salvo of stealing your primary allies and bringing some beefy minions into play, Zola wastes no time making it known that he’s here to take the heroes down a peg. And unless you’re playing with Hawkeye, good luck dealing damage to him without taking a hefty amount back in exchange.

Luke: That’s assuming you have the chance to hit him at all; many minions will gain guard, extra hit points, extra stats, you name it. Soon enough, you’ll have an army of minions standing before you, wailing on you for a ton of damage. A Zola’s Mutate alone can be a challenge to deal with, especially early in the game when you’re still setting up shop.

Phil: And some of the attachments they get! Neurological Implants is an especially punishing one, but really any of them feel harsh and hard to ignore.

Luke: And don’t think you’ll be free of minions for too long; with every 3 test counters comes yet another minion to ruin your day.

Phil: And there are plenty of Test Subjects to keep you on your toes, forcing the waves on enemies onto you one way or the other.

Luke: As for his Treachery cards, I hate them both. Yes, both, as in only 2 different types can be found here. Mind Ray is immediately debilitating, activating Zola again while reducing your ability to deal with it. And Technological Advancements is subtle in its deadly nature, adding more threat and test counters to speed along Zola’s experiments.

Phil: There’s no getting around just how effective this villain set is at pushing players to their limits. You’ll need to get control of the board state fast and hold onto it as tightly as possible if you have a chance at success. Even when victory is *right there,* one misstep or a bad card draw can spell out the end.

Luke: It’s a fantastic fight and worth lauding, rivaling Ultron as the top adversary to take down.

Phil: Now just imagine Zola mixed with the M.O.D.O.K. modular set.

Luke: [vomits violently]

Phil: …Well, I guess that’s it for today. Thanks for stopping in, and let us know your thoughts down below. I’ll be sure Luke reads him after he’s done… you know-

Luke: [retches] Zola AND M.O.D.O.K.?!?

Phil: We’ll see ya’ll next week!

Marvel Champs Monday: Hydra Modular Melancholy

Note: This is a part of a collaboration of creator content, Hydra Rising. For more content from this series, click here.

Phil: Rise of Red Skull has provided players with a much-needed boost to their villains roster, with new adversaries to duke it out with and some exciting new deck-building options to consider.

Luke: If only the modular sets lived up to the other content in the box.

Phil: Duuuuuude, I thought we agreed we were going to be positive this article.

Luke: I’m sorry, I’m just too broken up about it. After the wildly disappointing mess that was Wrecking Crew, which came with 0 – count ’em – *0* modular sets, I was rearing to get 5 more modular sets to throw into the mix, same as the base set. And what did we get? 3 measly modular sets, one of which feels rather derivative.

Phil: I mean, 3 isn’t so bad-

Luke: The Green Goblin pack, a stand-alone villain pack, had *4* modular sets, each of which was incredibly different and is still a ton of fun to see in play. Electro is rude, Tombstone is the worst, and Scorpion is easily one of the most challenging modular sets released yet, not including Ronan.

Phil: That pack was a treasure-trove of content, wasn’t it? Good times…

Luke: So yeah, compared to modular sets of the past, the offering on display this time around is pretty lackluster to me. But let’s take a look at each and why I find them to be disappointing and indicative of a greater issue within the game.

Phil: Well, I think we can both agree that the best of the lot is Weapon Master. While the weapons included aren’t necessarily the most powerful, when combined with already powerful villains like Ultron or to villains that play off of attachments like Rhino, this can be a pretty brutal and exciting bunch of cards to add to the mix.

Luke: Even if the weapon effects are underwhelming, the fact that you have to spend resources to remove them from play can be overwhelming its own right. Attachments have a knack of wearing down the players whether you choose to deal with the effects or actively seek to remove them.

Phil: I know you’ve said that it was the inspiration for a custom campaign that you’re currently building?

Luke: Yeah, at some point in the near future I hope to share that with folks so they might provide some feedback. But enough about that! Let’s move on to Hydra Assault, a sneaky but somewhat unexciting set.

Phil: Leaning almost entirely on 2 new minions, Hydra Assault borrows from sets of the past, looking to make a nuisance of itself. The minions aren’t particularly difficult, but seek to undermine the player by removing Support cards from play and dealing extra damage.

Luke: To be fair, each minion introduces some subtle ways of being obnoxious, and Hail Hydra! helps keep them in play more often than not. Even when boosted, they can haunt players with less than savory cons.

Phil: I think what makes these guys kinda boring, though, is the theme. Sure, this is a Red Skull set that focuses on Hydra, but we already have a ton of Hydra agents already in the game. Many villain Nemeses employ Hydra soldiers and we already have Legions of Hydra. I’d have rather seen this as an extension of Arnim Zola’s experiments, something more creative than a new type of the guys in green spandex.

Luke: But the far bigger offender of this is Hydra Patrol. This modular encounter is a mess. Almost entirely based on Legions of Hydra but less punishing, it barely has anything unique or original about it.

Phil: We’ve seen Hydra Soldiers again and again in this game, so they aren’t anything new or special. And Hydra Regulars, while new, are also in Spider-Woman’s Nemesis set and have pretty boring stats, making them underwhelming and repetitive.

Luke: The only truly special card in this set is Hydra Patrol, which is basically is Hail Hydra! was a side scheme. Nothing about this set stands out as incredibly fun or exciting.

Phil: But what makes this all the worse is that this modular set is required for the Taskmaster fight, making it essentially an extension of that combat. Sure, you can use this fairly underwhelming set in other fights, but in my mind, this might as well not be a modular set, as I’ll just leave this attached to Taskmaster for the foreseeable future.

Luke: The idea of a modular set that is required for a specific villain really irks me in a big way. The point of modular sets, to me, is customizing a fight, making it more or less difficult and creating scenarios that otherwise wouldn’t be possible.

But by requiring a specific modular set for a certain villain, you are basically saying that this is an integral part of this fight but can be ripped out wholesale and be used elsewhere. Why couldn’t Taskmaster just require 2 modular sets, shifting his set-up to require a different side scheme to start in play?

Phil: It is a choice that seems to make little sense, devaluing the modular nature of that set. And if you are going to make a modular set that is required for a specific fight, why not make it a more unique experience? These generic Hydra soldiers could have easily been replaced by, I don’t know, a modular set that features the captured heroes from this same villain?

Luke: Or maybe the Experimental Weapons set from Crossbones? The cards already have their own name, unlike other sets that include separate decks.

Phil: At the end of the day, a modular set is far more satisfying when it is fully modular rather than sometimes required. But if FFG insists on them being there, why not make them more interesting?

Luke: Rise of Red Skull, while giving us some great content to play with, is certainly a mixed box in terms of how it’s presented and the quality of content. But for today, I think our message is clear; modular sets are methods of adjusting the difficulty of encounters that are fun and thematic while adding flavor. This is most certainly a factor that contributed to the disappointment that is Wrecking Crew, the least enjoyed set thus far. Hopefully, Kang’s set will show us a generally better experience in this set, benefitting from the knowledge of the past and future.

Phil: What do you think, are the modular sets as disappointing as we suggest? Let us know your thoughts down below, and we’ll see you next week!

Cosmic Encounter Duel: Intimate Chaos

  • Designers: Frank Brooks, Bill Eberle, Peter Olotka, and Greg Olotka
  • Artists: Sebastian Koziner, Jean-Baptiste Reynaud, and Regis Torres
  • Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
  • Release Date: June 2020

Luke: Cosmic Encounter has been revered since the ’80’s as a board game classic, embodying the philosophy that a game doesn’t have to be balanced to be a ton of fun. Leaning into the chaos of party games while providing a strict game system, the franchise has been re-released… what is it, 4 times now?

Phil: And with a ton of expansions under its belt, the series is one of the more recognizable titles you can find on a person’s shelf.

Luke: So when the 2-player variant was announced some time back, it wasn’t a huge surprise, although I went into this venture a little skeptically. I wasn’t a huge fan of the original, largely because of how long it takes to play and how there can be games where a player just doesn’t get to participate in all that much due to the whims of the cards.

Phil: It’s definitely an odd pick beyond the obvious bran recognition. How would they translate such a social title to bring about the same excitement with only 2 participants?

Luke: Each game starts with, predictably, players getting a random alien race, each with their own abilities. While some of the powers echo those of yester-year, all of these are unique and provide their own flavor.

Phil: Honestly, I like this art style much more than that of the original. There’s a cartoony look that lends itself to the goofiness of the game.

Luke: Players will start with 5 of their ships in the Warp (essentially a discard pile), 6 cards in hand, and a planet to fight over.

Phil: Each round, a card from one of the 3 fate decks is flipped, determining what happens that turn. After the first round, which forces players to encounter a planet, the bottom of the drawn card will dictate which deck to draw from next.

Luke: The pink deck is all about fighting over the planets, aka victory points, the yellow deck provides resources, and the blue deck is like an event deck, composed of a little of everything.

Phil: Most of the time, a planet will be on the line, as is the nature of the game. At the start of each duel, players will secret send between 0 and 4 ships to the planet, which should sound familiar to fans of the game. Then, players will have the chance to flip any Envoys they have favor with face-up.

Luke: Cards that represent the alien races of the original game, each Envy introduces a mandatory rule that, once flipped face-up, must be followed for the rest of the game. While you don’t know what any of them are at the beginning, if players get access to them, they can cause a ton of mischief.

Phil: After this, players will secretly choose a tactic and a combat card to use. Combat cards are what you have come to expect, valued between -2 and 42. Each player has their own deck now, so you know you’ll have access to 1 of every card over the course of the game.

Luke: Tactics, on the other hand, are flimsy standees that will interact with the ships before the fight. Most tactics will either attack the opponent’s ships or defend their own, with 1 allowing you to pass this action to recover tactics. If all of a player’s ships are removed from the planet prior to the combat, then the fight is over, meaning that this can have some impact over how you’ll plan.

Phil: After tactics and combat cards are revealed, the numbers are totaled, and whoever has the stronger attack value wins, claiming the planet for themselves. The loser returns what ships they still have on the planet to their supply, and play continues until a player runs out of ships (losing) or controls 5 planets (winning).

Luke: While Duel has a lot of the randomness of the original game, it also feels orderly. Maybe a little toooooooo orderly.

Phil: I thought you hated the more chaotic feel of the original. Make up your mind!

Luke: I do, but at least Cosmic Encounter has some personality of its own. Duel feels like a facsimile, an awkward attempt to recapture the magic that already exists and people are still invested in today.

In order to make this system work for only 2-players, a number of changes needed to be made to make the system feel more competitive and fair so you don’t just have a ton of blow-out, one-sided sessions. In the process, though, the game now feels homogenized, with every game feeling very similar.

Phil: The alien powers can help, but they rarely feel particularly involving beyond the art and style. And there are still those aliens that just feel better than others; in a multiplayer bonanza, that’s not all that big a deal, but when there are only 2 aliens to duke it out, the game just feels lopsided.

Luke: There’s something to be said for the new combat system, and it can feel clever occasionally, but there are way better combat games that I’d rather take the time to play, like Unmatched.

Phil: No matter how you slice it, I don’t think this is a game any one person is going to really fall in love with.

Verdict: If you loved the original Cosmic Encounter, this will feel to orderly and organized, with the chaos of social interactions and the big turnaround moments missing in action. If you weren’t a fan of the original, Duel still feels like a watered-down back-and-forth that can better be found in titles like Unmatched. No matter how you slice it, this should be an easy pass for most people.

Marvel Champs Monday: Words Have Meaning

Phil: Keywords are a big part of how we understand and interact with many of the cards in Marvel Champions, though some more so than others.

Luke: Keywords can certainly add a lot to any LCG, enhancing the system with new mechanics while making it easier to understand what a card does at a glance. Yet provide too many keywords or make many of them inconsequential, and you’ll end up diluting the language of the game, making it more obtuse with each expansion.

Phil: We thought we’d look at each of the keywords for Marvel Champs that have been released up to this point and talk about which ones add a lot to the game, which ones have fallen flat, and which ones could use some more love from the game devs.

Luke: Let’s get into it!

Guard and Overkill

Phil: One of the most intuitive and easily implemented of the keywords, Guard adds an obstacle to deal with before slamming the big bad with everything you’ve got. They can make some attacks less optimal, as heroes may be forced to waste excess damage output to deal with minions, and can have some nasty effects associated with them that will pressure you to deal with them.

Luke: Luckily, the game provides us with one of the easier workarounds for this problem, Overkill. By letting us crash through minions, we can potentially kill 2 birds with 1 Hulk Smash!

Phil: Similar to the Crisis symbols on schemes, this additional pressure can make for tense scenarios where you and your friends are surrounded by beefy Guards who make it increasingly difficult to deal with the Villain at hand.

Luke: They can be a little annoying if they become overly present in a single encounter, but having that additional pressure can go a long way to making a fight feel more intense than it may otherwise.

Quickstrike, Retaliate, Ranged, and Incite

Phil: Depending on how many allies you flood the board with or what Aspect you’re working with, you may find yourself flush with health and able to take on just about any enemy you may face. Enter two terrifying terms.

Luke: Quickstrike can take you by surprise, dishing a bonus in very inopportune moments. I’ve certainly gotten killed by it once or twice in the past.

Phil: But Retaliate, that’s the true terror. Consistent damage that wears down aggressive allies, takes away Tough statuses, and generally becomes a sizable burden to deal with.

Luke: By far one of the more punishing keywords thus far, Retaliate makes each attack feel like a tough choice. Is it worth it to deal 2 damage to Arnim just to take 1 as well? Every swing has to be weighed and considered, and it makes for earnestly exciting fights.

Phil: What’s more, it’s so empowering when you have it. Black Panther and Hulk welcome the attacks of minions so they can wear themselves out on their armored suits and thick skin.

Luke: Due to how it can be used for or against the players while also impacting how you interact with the game, Retaliate may be my favorite keyword so far.

Phil: Enter Ranged, a keyword that outright avoids Retaliate. While primarily seen with Hawkeye’s arrows, Ranged will be a strong tool for players to take advantage of when dealing with some of the more defensive villains down the road.

Luke: On top of all of that, there’s Incite, a term that does damage when it comes into play… to the scheme.

Phil: What Incite we have seen is of smaller values, but any boost to how far along the scheme is can spell death, especially when you aren’t anticipating it.

In this way, Incite acts in similar ways to its health-draining brethren, killing any chance the players have at success at a moment’s notice.

Toughness and Piercing

Luke: Toughness provides characters with a Tough status as they enter play, making them a force to be reckoned with from the onset. That is, unless they’re smacked with a Piercing attack, removing the Tough status before it can be of any use.

Phil: There’s nothing quite like setting yourself up to have a Tough status take a punishing hit only to have it cut down, slamming you full-force in the face.

Luke: It makes a rather valuable resource more selective in its use, which is probably for the best. Tough is an incredibly powerful tool, so having a counter to it only makes sense.

Phil: It seems that this was a big goal in the creation of Rise of Red Skull; making counters for what keywords are already in play. It’s a smart implementation, especially this early in the game’s life, and will likely service the future of this system well.

Permanent and Surge

Luke: The Encounter deck. Ever the instigator of bad things to come. And when bad things come, they come in droves. Enter Surge, that dreaded term that makes more bad things come out of the deck than there ever should.

Phil: Nothing is quite as frightening as discovering that more cards need to come out of the deck than initially anticipated, as ever card is the promise of something sinister on the horizon.

Luke: Permanent, on the other hand, stands in the middle of the battleground, middle-fingers raised in the air, saying “Deal with it!”

Phil: Both of these keywords force players to deal with more of the bad stuff than usual, but in opposite ways. One creates a boundary that will never be overcome, whereas the other floods the play space with more evils to face. They look to pressure us into tight spots and seeing how we might react.

Uses and Restricted

Luke: Sometimes, there need to be limits on how buck-wild a player can make a deck, and these 2 keywords look to rein in the machinations of players in some manageable ways.

Phil: Restricted makes it so a deck can only have so many cards of a certain power-level in their deck, whereas Uses limits how many times a card can be used before it’s removed from the board, limiting its abilities.

Luke: This is standard deck-building stuff and hardly worth noting, but they’re worth addressing in a cursory manner due to their importance to the system.

Setup

Phil: A new terms meant to facilitate campaigns, Setup simply allows players to start the game with this card in play.

Luke: As it stands, it’s a fairly bland term, but I could see some heroes or future cards benefiting from this a lot. Imagine a character like Hawkeye starting the game with his bow already in play!


Phil: So, what’s to be gleaned from all this?

Luke: Well, it’s clear that there are various counters set in place for some of the stronger elements of the game. Retaliate and Tough now have very clear answers that remove their effects from play. This helps to support the idea that there’s no one right way to play or any one stratagem that makes the game easier to tackle.

Phil: Other than allies-

Luke: Yes, we get it, allies are super good. But I think we’re starting to see villains and mechanics set in motion that slow down minions or make them less effective when dealing with the hurdles Marvel Champs sets out before its players.

Phil: Additionally, there are a lot of keywords that have yet to be used to their fullest. Setup, Permanent, and Restricted are all terms that are only seen occasionally thus far. The promise of more down the road is very exciting.

Luke: Lastly, I would say the most involving keywords are the ones both sides can harness. Toughness, Retaliate, Piercing, Overkill, these are all effects we can use just as easily as the villains can, and make them more nuanced and involved to consider, unlike something like Surge, which is more one-note because only the villains have access to it.

Phil: I for one am looking forward to what other keywords are on the horizon. What keywords are you all waiting to see implemented? Let us know in the comments, and we’ll see ya’ll next week!

Marvel Champions: Hulk – “Hulk is Hulk!!!”

  • Designers: N/A
  • Artist: N/A
  • Publisher: Fantasy Flight Games
  • Release Date: August 2020

Luke: Hulk is a particularly strange hero to discuss.

Phil: No dude, that was last month.

Luke: While Thor had previously been criticized for being very one-note, Hulk takes that to a whole new level, with less of an engine and more of a spattering of events intermingled with turns where you scream into a pillow in frustration and sadness. Only with the assistance of some online deck recommendations was I able to get Hulk to feel both fun and manageable, namely with a Leadership deck.

Phil: Not exactly a particularly thematic choice.

Luke: Perhaps not. But with the smallest collective hand-size out of any hero and 1 way to remove any threat in his core set, it’s hard to deny that Hulk is… Hulk, for better or worse.

Phil: I find myself having the least fun with those heroes that feel tied to a single method of play or restrictive in their choice of Aspect, and while Hulk could theoretically embody any Aspect in Standard play, if you’re going to take on Expert, you better strap in for a rough time.

Luke: And not a rough time like a good challenge so much as drawing into hands that do little to nothing and then throwing the remainders away because you can’t afford any more threat.

Phil: Hulk’s core ability is thematic, sure, and unique in its aggressive playstyle, but coupled with such a teeny hand-size makes it feel like a particularly harsh punishment. You better draw into just the right set of cards or flip to your Alter Ego, because otherwise, that copy of Hawkeye you can’t pay for is going in the trash.

Luke: What’s more, the extreme reliance on a single type of resource, while thematic, restricts how Hulk’s deck is built in many ways while making him very vulnerable to specific threats.

Phil: Anything that requires you to pay a set of resources to remove from the board is just something you’ll have to deal with unless a teammate can help out. But filling your deck with a more diverse pool of resources will often punish you, making your Hulk-specific cards notably less helpful.

Luke: Limitless Strength obviously helps with this, but even that’s restricted to your hero form, understandably. Everything in Hulk’s arsenal feels so precarious, so precise, that you’ll find more and more turns where you have little else to do.

Phil: And you better hope you don’t get tapped or stunned by the villain, because holy $#%&, you will get nothing done that turn, possibly multiple turns depending on how bad your luck is.

Luke: To be frank, Hulk is incredibly vulnerable to a lot with very little to make up for it. Sure, he can blast through minions and deal a ton of damage, but the trade-off feels a little too extreme, even for me.

Phil: As for the cards that come in this set, there are some pretty spicy options that are brought to the table. The new Aggression allies are a much-needed addition that brings a ton of neat additions to the table.

Luke: Toe to Toe and “You’ll Pay For That!” are a ton of fun, presenting the 5th Aspect we never got to see in a fun and exciting way.

Phil: Beat Cop, Inspiring Presence, Electrostatic Armor, Martial Prowess, there’s rarely a dud in this set beyond To the Rescue! and Resourceful.

Luke: Simply put, I’d recommend this set for the cards contained rather than for the hero proudly displayed on the box. I have no doubt that, in due time, Hulk will get some cards that will make him fr more viable, but as it stands, it just doesn’t feel like much fun to build a deck for him, let alone play him.

Phil: And who knows? Maybe Rise of Red Skull will bring a bunch of new toys for Bruce to play with, but we’ll have to wait and see. What were your thoughts on Hulk’s set? Let us know your favorite card in the comments, and we’ll see you next week!