DC Crisis Expansion Pack 1 Preview

By Matt Hyra

GenCon is almost upon us, so that means the Crisis Expansion is almost here! Get ready for an all-new co-operative game mode known as CRISIS! The DC Comics universe is famous for its universe-shattering crises over the years. One of the most popular and devastating of all time was the Crisis on Infinite Earths, which celebrates its 30th Anniversary next year. This expansion isn’t the story of just one crisis. It’s a collection of many crises and giant events that DC Super Heroes have faced over the past several decades.

One of the ways the game will change in Crisis Co-op is with the introduction of Crisis Super Heroes. The original eight Justice League Super Heroes from the first set are reimagined here with abilities that allow players to work together. Help your teammates draw cards, destroy cards, and various other niceties.

To win a game of Crisis Co-op, simply defeat each Super-Villain in the stack before the main deck runs out. Simple, right?

There are a few significant rule modifications in Crisis Mode:

  • When you buy or gain a Villain from the Line-Up, destroy it.
  • When you defeat a Super-Villain, remove it from the game.
  • Instead of refilling the Line-Up at the end of each player’s turn, add 1 card to the Line-Up at the end of each player’s turn. This puts a clock on the game, so you can’t just sit back and wait until everything is perfect before you act.

This Crisis Pack features a new card type: Crisis! Crisis cards sit in a stack next to the Super-Villains and most of them have an Ongoing ability that will make things tough for the Super Heroes.

One more wrench in the gears:

  • You cannot attempt to beat a Crisis while there are Villains in the Line-Up.

The story being told here is that the Villains in the Line-Up are working for the current Super-Villain, causing all sorts of mayhem. You can’t deal with the real problem until you get rid of the distractions.

There are 15 Crisis cards in the set. You play with a variable number of them based on the number of players. So the game maintains a fair balance of difficulty no matter how many Super Heroes are on the case. The first Crisis you will face each game is Arkham Breakout. The rest are random, and I’m only going to spoil the card names of the other 14 here:

  • A Death in the Family
  • Alternate Reality
  • Atlantis Attacks
  • Collapsing Parallel Worlds
  • Dimension Shift
  • Electromagnetic Pulse
  • Final Countdown
  • Identity Crisis
  • Kryptonite Meteor
  • Legion of Doom
  • Rise of the Rot
  • Untouchable Villain
  • Wave of Terror
  • World Domination

When you finally beat a Crisis, it leaves play and that opens up the path to the Super-Villain. That’s right, another rule:

  • You can’t defeat a Super-Villain while a Crisis is in play.

When playing a Crisis Co-op game, players will have to face “Impossible Mode” Super-Villains. The original Super-Villains from the first set have been reimagined with new and tougher First Appearance – Attacks and souped up play abilities. Their ability text won’t matter much in a Crisis game, however, as they never end up in your deck. A few of the Super-Villains have Stack Ongoing abilities, which modify things while that Super-Villain is on the stack. Check out the first one, Ra’s al Ghul. The last Super-Villain is also pre-set. The rest are randomized.

Ra’s Stack Ongoing ability combos with Arkham Breakout, wouldn’t you say?

When a Super-Villain is finally defeated, a new Crisis card is flipped and resolved if necessary. Then the new Super-Villain appears and makes his First Appearance – Attack. It’s like each of the Super-Villains has cooked up his own evil little plot to keep the Super Heroes at bay.

Competitive Play
The reason Ra’s has a play ability is that these Super-Villains can also be used in “Impossible” competitive play. There are actually 13 Super-Villains in the box. One of them is the Crisis Final Super-Villain and is not used in competitive play. We’ve added a secret new Super-Villain to the mix, however, so there are still 12 available for Impossible Mode play.

Another change in Impossible Mode (Crisis uses Impossible Mode as well) is:

  • When a Weakness is destroyed, place it back on the Weakness stack.

Also included in the set are six brand-new competitive Super Heroes to spice up your competitive games:

Green Arrow


Zatanna Zatara


Swamp Thing

Animal Man

This might sound like a lot of new stuff already, but we aren’t done yet! Additionally there are 32 new cards for the main deck. These cards can be shuffled into any current main deck for a bit of new spice, or custom craft your own main deck. These cards work well in both competitive and Crisis, but some of them are VERY good in Crisis mode. Here’s an example of one: Magician's Corset.

The new cards play off of the new Super Heroes in the box, so look at the above list and you might be able to guess what else is coming.

Note also the larger text! We will now be using larger text on cards that have room, reserving the smaller text only for the long text boxes.

For your first game of Crisis, we recommend using the first DC Comics set. Heroes Unite works great as well with the Crisis Expansion Pack 1, but the new cards are more thematically linked to the original set than Heroes Unite.

The 32 new cards should be added to the main deck for your first play. You’ll need the extra 32 cards worth of time! However, if you feel you’re invincible, try it without the extra 32 cards. There is a page in the rulebook  listing many different ways to make it harder and a couple of ways to make it easier.

Let us know how you fare on the forums!

The Crisis Expansion is going to change the way you look at the DC Comics Deck-building Game. I can’t wait to watch people try it out at GenCon. But please: No spoiling the Crisis Cards or the Final Super-Villain to the rest of the community!


Matt_Hyra's picture Matt Hyra

Matt Hyra has been designing games for 20 years, and has been Cryptozoic Entertainment's lead board game designer since its beginning in 2010. Some of Matt's recent games include Rick and Morty: The Pickle Rick Game, Epic Spell Wars: Panic at the Pleasure Palace, and DC Deck-Building Game: Rebirth.