Power and Responsibility
The Villains and Vigilantes Card Game was designed to support deck construction. However, the Base Set and Mind Over Matter expansion both focused on pre-constructed decks that showed off the system, but provided limited opportunities to really explore all the customization options in the game.
Part of the motivation for all the new content expansions was to open up the game and allow the players to explore all the available options within the game. With all the new heroes, villains, missions and powers available, the number of combinations in now unlimited. This is great, but might leave some players overwhelmed with options. Do you use 3 heroes? Or focus on just one? With all the powers available, which will you focus on? You can choose your own missions and victory conditions. Which ones will you choose?
As a designer, this flexibility is one of the things I’m most proud of. As a player, deck design is one of the things I enjoy most about the game. But for players seeking some guidance, this post will cover some of the principles of deck construction that I use in my own decks.
The easiest way to get started is really to just dive in and do what appeals to you. Choose a super or supers that with powers you like. Select some missions that seem appropriate to them. Grab the support and plot cards you need for those missions. Select the power cards to provide a good mix of offence, defense, movement and support options, in roughly equal measure. And then take it for a spin.
I like to keep my Action Deck under 60 cards, for good flow. For pairing heroes and villains, it’s good to choose characters with some powers in common to share cards. Otherwise, every hero and villain is intended to be roughly as “good” as any other. So, go with what interests you, fits your style, and seems fun.
Choose your Missions
For the most part, the heroes are there to stop and capture the villains. Choosing missions for them is pretty easy, and most players focus on incarceration with Seeking Justice and Lockdown. You’ll want a third mission for when the villains are locked up, or to score those final mojo points. Destroying the villain’s headquarters, delivering sanctimonious speeches, and maintaining your secret identity at your day job are all valid options.
Most heroes go focusing on capturing villains but there are other options. Some heroes recruit their own thugs and then hand them over to the villains, just so they can Clean Up the Streets. Or try your own combinations of missions. There are many ways to fight crime.
Villains have even more options. Some villains want to take the fight directly to the heroes. Others just want to evade capture while they pursue some sinister scheme. Pursue either strategy or a combination of them both. Choose the missions that interest you or seem to fit the villains you’re using.
When you’re building the deck, in addition to choosing your 3 missions, it’s good to think about what you’re starting mission will be. Your starting mission will guide your actions in the beginning of the game. It’s good to choose something with minimal set-up requirements so you can dive into the action without fishing for the cards to complete the mission.
The Villains and Vigilantes Card Game is unusual in that you can choose whether you want to control 1, 2, or 3 main supers. Any character can be used solo or as part of a team and each deck-type has its own advantages and disadvantages.
Single super decks are the easiest to construct, tend to be the most focused, and have the best card-flow. Use these advantages against opponents with more characters and more firepower. Try to split up their team, go for quick KOes to even the odds, and try to avoid locations and situations where you’re outnumbered.
Any super can be the star of their own deck. But characters with level 3 powers can be good choices. They gives you access to some of the most powerful cards at a power level that can’t be duplicated in a deck. When building solo decks, simply focus on all the character’s powers and choose the cards that will make the most of that character's abilities.
The pre-constructed decks have focused on two-character decks, and for good reasons. With two characters you can get a good balance of card flow, overlapping and complementary powers, variety, and raw power. And if one of your supers goes down, you’ve got options to continue the fight and perform rescues while one character is recovering.
When choosing characters for two super decks, it’s helpful to choose character with some overlapping powers. You can choose to focus on a single power by choosing character that share a level 2. This is a good way to get a core set of cards playable by both members of your team. You should still include some cards to take advantage of all the characters’ powers, since each power has its own advantages and unique capabilities. But power overlap, within the rules constraints, helps with card-flow and can keep you from being stuck with a bunch of unplayable cards if one character goes down.
You might think that decks with 3 heroes or 3 villains would be the most powerful, but that is not generally the case. The rules force power diversity, and the 5-card hand limit is a serious constraint. With three characters, it is even more important to have some level of power-overlap so that multiple characters can play your cards. Choose 2 or 3 powers to focus on at levels 1 or 2 and try to insure each of your characters will be useful. When three character decks are really flowing well, they can be devastating. But it’s also easy to stall out with them if the cards in your hand don’t match well with the position and situation of your characters. Three character decks are the hardest deck type to build and play.
Everyone Needs Support
The support deck is critical to every game. For deck-construction most of your choices will be pretty easy. Every deck should contain one or more copies of On the Mend, On the Move, and Biff. Add the cards, like Bring Em’ to Justice, or Unmask that you’ll need for your missions. If you’re using any items, be sure to include I Can Use This. Check your character’s power sets for useful support cards. Card flow enhancers like Bright Idea and Something Up My Sleeve are useful to make sure you can get to those missions and other critical cards.
Every deck can contain up to 11 support cards. There isn’t really a good reason to have less than that. Fill out the Support Deck with the cards you think will be most useful.
Pulling it All Together
The engine of every deck will be the Power cards. Every power has its own options for offence, defense, movement, and other useful activities. Choose a good balance of those to suit your characters. Every super has one or more unique, signature Power cards. But sure to include those in your decks. Include a few Plot cards that are crucial to your Missions and support your objectives (But remember you can only play one Plot card per turn, so don’t overdo it). Your character’s powers will guide you to most of your Power card choices, but remember cards like Recover and Pushing It that are useful to all characters and fit into many decks.
You have a lot of choices to make and there are number of factors - characters, missions, plots, powers, and support cards that have to come together to make an effective deck. You can start simple - make single hero or single-villain decks that just want to dive in and go after the enemy. Or experiment with different missions, characters, and power combinations to find your favorite.
Hero or villain, avatar of justice or criminal mastermind, the Villains and Vigilantes Card Game is designed to allow you to create your own comic book experience. Suit up, take to the skies, and stay vigilant!