Tabletop Review: ‘DC Comics Deck-Building Game Crisis Expansion Pack 3’ Introduces Suicide Squad and Crime Syndicate

DC Crisis Expansion 3
Image by Cryptozoic

The folks at Cryptozoic Entertainment are at it again, bringing even more variety to their DC Deck-Building universe, this time with even more villains and co-op play, in the oh-so-creatively-named Crisis Expansion Pack 3.

You’ll need a DC Deck-Building Game base set to play. I recommend Forever Evil so that you have more to do with your Victory Points, but any base set will work. Basic gameplay is the same: each player gets a deck of starter cards and uses those to buy more powerful heroes, villains, locations, super powers, and equipment so that they can buy even better gear, attack each other, or take out the super villain. When you defeat the last villain, you tally up the points awarded by your built deck to determine who’s the winner.

The Crisis 1 expansion introduced two new wrinkles to standard play. “Impossible Super-Villains” are harder to defeat and won’t let you destroy Weakness cards. “Crisis Mode” adds co-op gameplay, where players have to work together to overcome a gameplay obstacle (such as not being able to restock the line-up or having to destroy cards of a certain type) and forces you to destroy all villains bought or gained from the line-up in order to clear the Crisis. The Crisis 2 expansion brought the original heroes and villains from the first base set back, tweaked for the new modes. Crisis Expansion Pack 3 tweaks things again more by adding “Hidden Objectives” for each player, where everyone has separate, secret winning conditions, some of which can be met at any time.

The new cards for Crisis Expansion Pack 3 are some of my favorite so far. I’m a sucker for alternate universe “heroes-turned-villains” and the Crime Syndicate does not disappoint. These Impossible Super-Villains feature brutal initial attacks and, if you manage to add them to your deck, impressive abilities that let you dominate later in the game as you mine the Destroyed pile for cards.

DC Crisis 3 Super-Villains
Johnny Quick! (Photo by Anthony Karcz)

The oversized player cards are excellent as well. No heroes this time around, it’s all super-villains. There are some that work better in co-op play (such as Bane), some that are best at the traditional game (like Deathstroke), and those that are impossibly overpowered late in the game (Lex Luthor’s ability to bring in cards from outside the game can quickly make him a one-man team–nice if you’re playing solo). I’m a fan of the Suicide Squad, and they’re used with great purpose here, all of their abilities are tuned to operate best when playing in Hidden Objectives mode.

DC Crisis 3 Suicide Squad
He’s a shaaaaaaaark! (Photo by Anthony Karcz)

My only issue with Crisis 3 is how long Crisis mode games can take. With two players, you have nine Crisis events to clear, each one adding at least three to five rounds of play apiece as you try to maneuver around the Crisis conditions, destroy villains from the line-up as they appear, and contribute enough cards to meet the requirements to clear the Crisis. And that’s just so that you can then try to take out the Super-Villain! It’s fun, but it easily adds an hour to what can already be a 1-2 hour game. The basic cards that come in the expansion provide a lot of assistance in moving things along, but there are only 18 of them. Shuffling them into a standard 144 card deck means that you’re not going to be seeing them much.

One tip that did improve gameplay overall was finding and printing a game mat. The first game we played, a lot of time was lost digging through our Destroyed pile searching for card types. After perusing BoardGameGeek, I found a great printable that separated out all the destroyed cards by type (and had some amazing artwork too–I’m glad my printer was up to the task). I glued it down to some leftover foamcore and basked in the organization!

DC Crisis 3 Play Mat
If you have the ink and something big to glue it to – a printable play mat makes all the difference (Photo by Anthony Karcz)

Cryptozoic has done a stellar job with Crisis Expansion Pack 3. The artwork is amazing, as always, and the new cards have great synergy. I think I enjoy playing this more in “Impossible Super-Villain” mode rather than “Crisis Mode,” it reduces the playtime to something more manageable and gives you more opportunity to play with the Crime Syndicate Super-Villains. If you’re looking for something different to add to your core DC Deck-Builder or need more Super-Villains to add to your Forever Evil set, this is a great expansion to grab.

Cryptozoic provided a sample for review. Opinions are my own.

Writer, father of two, runner, Marvel-phile, recovered WoW addict, unrepentant Generation 1 Transformers nerd (seriously, I know more about G1 than is healthy). Author of the superhero novel: 'Nightingale: The League Cycle, Book One.'