DC Deck-Building Game: Rebirth — Overview

By Matt Hyra

DC Deck-Building Game: Rebirth will be in stores on July 31! There has been a lot of speculation on the forums about this new release and all of the differences between it and the main competitive format in the DC Deck-Building Game series, so I will try and clear up a lot of the mystery, but without spoilers!

It’s called “Rebirth” because DC rebooted their entire comic book line in 2016 with that name. For us, the game offered a great chance to bring back the Justice League after their debut in the original DC set. It also seemed like a good time to make a product that was cooperative from the start. However, since we know our playerbase loves a good scrap, there are also rules for competitive play. And there are even solo rules!


Rebirth is a Campaign game, but can also be played as single-session games. There are 8 Scenarios in the Campaign. The goal is to make it through all 8 Scenarios with as few “redos” as possible. There is a Campaign Log in the back of the rulebook you can use to keep track of how well you do during the Campaign. In future playthroughs, try to beat your previous score! Each Scenario may be attempted twice. If you fail twice, your score takes a hit, and then you move on to the next Scenario. Failing to defeat a Scenario has two additional drawbacks. One, you might fail to gain a Signature card for your Super Hero. Two, the Locations on the board might take damage and that damage remains from Scenario to Scenario. The more redos, the more damage the Locations are likely to take.


Your Super Hero
There are 8 different Super Heroes you can play as: Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, The Flash, Aquaman, Cyborg, and 2 Green Lanterns, Simon Baz and Jessica Cruz. The game is designed for 1-4 players, so even if your group is 4 players, you can still have a very fresh second playthrough with brand new Super Heroes. Mixing them up further for additional runs will always change the dynamic, so you’ll never have the same experience twice. Although there are “Legacy Game” elements to Rebirth, no cards are destroyed and nothing is permanently modified during a Campaign, so you can keep coming back to the game with no issues.

Your deck will reset at the end of each Scenario, whether you succeed or fail. At certain points during the Campaign, your Super Hero will improve their starting deck with Signature cards. Each Super Hero has 3 unique cards they can earn and each time you acquire one, it replaces a Punch. These 0-cost cards are better than Punches and they will play into your Super Hero’s inherent ability in some way or just allow you to help the team somehow.


Locations and Basic Cards
Rebirth features the 5-card Line-Up you know and love, but it’s presented in a much different fashion. Each Scenario card will list 5 Locations and whether you’ll be using Side A or Side B for each one. Side A has an Activated ability. You’ll typically pay some small cost to get the benefit listed on the Location, and you must be at the Location to use it (once per turn per Location). Side B names a Basic card stack. Basic cards are a new card type that replaces Kicks. There is no Kick stack in Rebirth. Instead, each of the 7 different Locations has a 5-card stack of Basic cards. You must be at a Location to buy a Basic card from the stack there (only 1 card per stack per turn).


There will be a mix of Side A’s and Side B’s in each Scenario. However, the Scenario card does not dictate where they are placed. They are shuffled (under the table is best) and placed in a circle at random. Game variance is your friend! In between Locations are the Line-Up slots where cards from the main deck enter the game. Each Location then gets a numbered token from 1-5. Number 1 is closest to the main deck and the rest are placed clockwise from there (see image below). The numbers are important for Villains and placing cards in the Line-Up, which I won’t fully cover here.


Moving your Super Hero around to find the cards you want to buy and confront the Villains you want to defeat is the biggest new element in Rebirth. You start the game with 6 Punches, 3 Runs, and 1 Helping Hand. The Runs are better than Vulnerabilities, as they give your Super Hero “Move 2.” Move is generated and spent just like Power. You can accumulate it, spend some now, and spend some later. There are 10 spaces on the “board” (though no board is necessary) and you may move clockwise and/or counterclockwise. Any number of Super Heroes may occupy the same space. How you spend your Move is up to you. Of course, you might wonder what to do if you don’t have any Move cards. Well, hopefully there is something in your current space that you can buy. Early in the game, if you know you won’t draw any Run cards during your next turn, position yourself now on a space that has cards you can afford/want so you’ll already be there on your next turn. Failing all that, ask for help! When a teammate plays their Helping Hand, you’ll have the opportunity to move your Super Hero 1 space. More on Helping Hands later.


Villains and Attacks
The Villains of Rebirth are all found in the main deck. The Super-Villains are seeded into the deck in stages during setup, so they won’t come out too soon or all at once. Each Villain (including Super-Villains) has a number from 1-5 in a red pentagon. That’s the Location the Villain wants to get to. Don’t let it get there or all hell will break loose! When a Villain enters the Line-Up, it might be right next to its Destination or halfway across the board. Villains move 1 space towards their Destination by the shortest means at the start of each player’s turn. However, if they are sharing a space with a Super Hero (that’s you!), they don’t move. You can stand up to evil, protect the city, and protect your friends by moving into a space with a Villain or at least in between them and their Destination.

Each Villain has an Attack. When a Super-Villain first enters the Line-Up, they immediately make their Attack against each player. Regular Villains don’t do this. Instead, a Villain will perform its Attack if it’s at its Destination or if it’s sharing a space with a Super Hero, but only at the start of that player’s turn. Super-Villains act the same way after making their First Appearance Attack, with one exception. When a Super-Villain is at its Destination and they make their Attack at the start of a player’s turn, if that Attack is not avoided, the Destination loses 1 Hit Point permanently. Each Location has 5 HP, and any damage is recorded on the Campaign Log, so damage remains from Scenario to Scenario. If a Location loses all of its HP, you can no longer use its Activated ability and all Basic Cards there are removed from the game. That hurts you in the current Scenario, but it’s probably even worse when that Location gets used again in a future Scenario. It will be worthless to you.

When you defeat a Villain, it does not go into your deck. Instead, it has a Reward listed that you get to resolve. Most of the time, the Reward allows you to choose a “target player” to reap the benefit. That means you can choose anyone, even yourself, which is what you’ll want to do in Competitive Mode. Note also that Villains have VPs, which is only relevant in Competitive Mode. Place your “kills” under your Super Hero and add those VPs to your score at the end of the game. By the way, Competitive Mode doesn’t use the Scenarios. It’s all explained in the rulebook, as is Solo Mode.


The Threat Track
I’m not going to spoil too much of the Threat Track now, except to show that there are 2 sides to it. The Threat Track starts at Threat Level 0. The “5” you see to the right is the final Threat Level. Each time a Super-Villain enters the field, the Threat Level increases by 1. When it reaches 5 (a 5th Super-Villain has appeared), the game goes into a final showdown. The game will only go on for another 3 rounds and you/your team must defeat a 5th Super-Villain before time runs out. In Cooperative Mode, your team loses if you fail to do so. In Competitive Mode, the game ends and you count VPs. Defeating 5 Super-Villains before time runs out is the default play mode, but the Scenario cards could modify this…

Most of the Threat Levels have an Ongoing effect that becomes part of the Scenario once that Threat Level has been reached. There is reminder text at the bottom of the track that says Ongoing effects remain even when the Threat Level rises, so you are never out of the woods. Some are one-shot effects, so those just happen immediately and can be forgotten for the rest of the Scenario. Rebirth comes with several tiles that modify the Threat Track. Most Scenarios will modify the track in some way. Sometimes they replace the printed text on the Threat Track (covering it), but sometimes they are placed alongside, and now you have two things to worry about for the rest of the Scenario.


The Assist keyword was first seen in Confrontations and now it’s back with a twist in Rebirth! In Confrontations, your teammate was always by your side, so both players could play an Assist card out of turn to help their buddy. In Rebirth, position matters. Each Assist card in Rebirth is written as “Assist, Range: X,” with X being a number between 0 and 4. Why not 5? Because no one is ever more than 5 spaces away from you and that would mean position doesn’t matter.

I mentioned I would talk more about Helping Hand, which every player starts with. It has an Assist, Range: 0. That means you can’t play it during a teammate’s turn unless they are in your space (Range 0). If a teammate is in your space (or moves into it), you can Assist them with your Helping Hand, assuming you have it in your hand. They get the +1 Power, and they also get to choose a player to move their Character. Note that only the Assist has a Range. The ability to target a player to Move has no Range! We call your pawn your Character to distinguish them from your oversized Super Hero card. Assisting a player means you will be down a card for your next turn. If there are no targets in Range for your Helping Hand, you can still play it during your own turn as usual. When you do, it is always a good idea to ask your teammates if any of them would like to Move 1 space (again, no range on this effect). If none need to, you can target yourself to Move 1 space.

Bolt of Zeus is an Assist card with Range: 2, which means your target can be any Character within Range 2. That includes your Character’s space, each adjacent space and each space adjacent to that space. Look at the board image above. Superman and Wonder Woman are at exactly Range 2 from each other, so if one of them has the Bolt in hand, they may play it to Assist the other.

Assist is an important keyword, as the Villains are no slouches in Rebirth. Getting the team into position near a Super-Villain to Assist each other will pay off time and again as you progress through the Scenarios. You may collect any number of Assists from any number of your teammates during your turn. It's like getting multiple extra draws!


I hope this article gets you excited about Rebirth, a totally new DC Deck-Building Game experience! Check out THE RULEBOOK now, for those of you who want to hit the ground running. In the meantime, if you have any comments, post them on our forums here: http://forums.cryptozoic.com/forumdisplay.php?f=87

If you have any questions, I might answer them, but I don’t want to give away too many more secrets!

Matt Hyra
Lead Designer, Rebirth


P.S. There are two more things I wanted to mention before ending this article. First, page 17 of the rulebook says that Weakness cards do not return to the Weakness stack when destroyed. This text was a holdover from previous rulebooks and is incorrect. The correct text appears at the top of page 16 in bold letters: “Destroyed Weakness cards are returned to their stack.”

Second, when opening the Scenario Packs, be sure to open them with the Scenario number facing you. The first thing you should see at the top of each Scenario card is the Rebirth logo. While pulling the cards out slowly, if you see something other than the Rebirth logo, slide them back in and flip the pack over before removing the cards. If you need a reminder, look at the back of the box. That is the correct way to open the packs. If you make a mistake, don’t look or mention it to anyone, so you can avoid spoiling the surprises.

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.